When you read this list below, you might think, “Wait a minute, they’ve made a mistake - it’s upside down!" But it’s not, it’s quite deliberate.
acet UK is run by a board of volunteers who receive no financial compensation of any kind. Their integrity and unwavering commitment to the mission of acet UK have been instrumental in motivating other volunteers to our cause. It is them who form the foundation of our organisation, so they go at the bottom, serving the CEO, who serves and supports the managers who, in turn, support and champion their teams, who are inspiring and empowering young people and educators!
That’s why, when someone in our team becomes a manager, they start by always prioritizing themselves last. That doesn’t mean they think less of themselves, just that they think of themselves less! That’s why you’ll find those who work in schools at the top of the list and managers and directors at the bottom!
We are deliberately trying to do things differently and that's why this page appears to be "upside down”!
Rachel Burnell, Schools Worker
Before joining acet UK, I worked for a local pregnancy centre, delivering relationships and sex education to students in primary and secondary schools. I also work part-time as the children’s and youth leader in a West London church, so am very involved in pastoral care in the local community. Prior to this, I was a primary school teacher for a number of years and have always loved to work with young people to see them grow and flourish.
For the past six years, I have also been a foster carer, and looking after a teenager has taught me a lot about the many challenges young people face today around relationships and sex in our ever-increasingly digital world. I am really excited about the prospect of working at acet UK and making a difference in the lives of these young people. Having been an Esteem member for the past few years I have learned so much from the acet UK team about what good RSE should look like. I am extremely passionate to continue the vision of reaching all young people to help them grow in their self-esteem and ability to make healthy relationship choices.
Megan Stoner, Schools Worker
I became part of the acet UK team in March 2023 having worked with youth and children in a diversity of settings: youth projects, in primary and secondary schools, as a support worker, and as a children’s church worker. I studied at Edinburgh University completing a MA in Sociology of Health followed by an MSc in Outdoor Education as these balance my passion for experiential education and hands-on, relational learning for the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. I am passionate about empowering young people to realise their full potential and value through relationships and sex education to make healthy choices in their everyday challenges.
I grew up primarily in Slovakia and Austria and a few other places in between. As a proud third-culture kid, I love new adventures, exploring places, having a good laugh about getting lost, or trying interesting foods. I have also worked for 5 years in various camps and conferences across Europe helping young people embrace their multicultural identities.
One of my core values is treating every day as a gift of life so my vision as a part of the acet team is to come alongside young people and equip them with the tools and resilience to have healthy relationships with themselves and each other. Doing this also in supporting and training educators, youth workers, parents, families, and communities to support the formation of stronger, resilient generations is why I am so passionate about acet UK’s work here in the UK but also globally around the world!
Sharon John, Schools Worker
First and foremost, I am the mother of a teenage son who is my pride and joy. I was born in London to Caribbean parents, and have enjoyed living on three different continents, namely Europe (Britain), North America (The Caribbean), and Asia (The UAE).
By profession, I am a Primary trained teacher, and have worked both within the UK state and international British curricula. My teaching career has been mainly in Primary education however, I have also worked in the UK secondary education system as a specialist primary trained teacher aimed at supporting secondary-aged students who were still working at Primary level. I am also a Union activist and will be President of my Union district in September 2023.
In the past, I have been a foster carer to four young people between the ages of six and sixteen; a challenging but rewarding experience.
My role with acet UK is Schools Worker with the Esteem Racial Identity project, and I look forward to continuing to make a difference to young people and their parents and carers through this role.
Lizzie Finney, International Support Officer
I joined acet UK’s team in August 2022 at the end of a master’s in International Political Economy at the University of Sheffield. A module called ‘Global Health and Global Politics’ introduced me to the topic of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) which I became so passionate about that I subsequently focussed on SRH in each essay after this.
I’m passionate about helping everyone, nationally and internationally, engage more with SRH and to develop positive attitudes to themselves and others. Internationally, I have visited Uganda twice to work for a charity in Kampala. Most recently, I travelled to Lisbon for a short trip to work amongst migrants and refugees as part of a discipleship year at a church in Sheffield. I love advocating and empowering people, especially girls, to have healthier attitudes towards sex or to recover from past trauma as victims.
I’m incredibly excited to be working for such an amazing organisation that is at the forefront of fighting SRH injustices and issues in the UK and abroad.
Finn Denley-Samson, Administration Assistant
I joined acet UK in 2022, bringing with me my previous experience of working in administration in the charity sector.
Kelly-Joy Brannan, Administrator
I joined the acet UK team in August 2019 as Administrator after graduating from a three-year Theology and Leadership School based in Redding, California. I’m passionate about helping organizations become the best they can be through excellence in administration and have 7 years of administrative experience under my belt. I have also worked with young people in many different capacities including youth work, mentoring and teaching. I love seeing young people discover their unlimited potential and thrive as they grow in confidence and self-belief.
It is a privilege to be part of an organization that is creating such positive and impactful change not just on a national level but internationally. I’m delighted to work alongside a team of people with a genuine desire to see the lives of young people transformed and love that I get to be part of the story acet UK is writing; one that I believe is leaving an incredible legacy that will benefit future generations of young people.
Ben Hockley, Finance Officer
I joined acet UK as the Finance Officer in October 2016. I have a degree in Economics from Lancaster University and have worked in Finance since January 2008. My previous job was executing the finance function for an online retailer of Christian resources, which has given me valuable experience and insight into both finance and working in the Christian world.
I am excited to now work for an organisation where having a positive impact on people’s lives all around the world is the primary objective rather than profit. It gives me great satisfaction to play a part in supporting both the delivery of our compassionate education and training here in the UK and the provision of financial support and resources for our international partners to perform their life changing work overseas.
Paul Semakula, Schools Work Coordinator
Prior to joining acet UK, I had been studying both full time and part-time for the past 5 years, gaining a BA and an MA in theology, in addition to being a minister in my local church. During my studies, I worked within schools in the London area, supporting young people with their academic and behavioural development. Over the years, I have grown a passion for young people, having had first-hand experience with some of the many difficulties they face, both within and outside of school, and I have always had a heart to reach out to them in a more holistic way.
Having joined acet UK in 2018 as a Schools Worker, helping to deliver the Esteem programme within the London borough of Southwark. I am now working as the Training Coordinator for London and the South, delivering all of our training programs, from our full accredited training to teacher INSET days. The training enables all who work with young people to gain valuable skills and knowledge in RSE, aiding them to deliver high-quality lessons that meet the needs of their young people.
I believe it is important to see young people changed and transformed in the area of relationships and sex, as well as seeing the narrative surrounding relationships and sex becoming more positive, nurturing and healthier for our young people.
Sarah Smith, Fundraising Manager
I began my journey into relationships and sex education in 2005 when I trained as a volunteer Esteem educator and started delivering lessons in schools, alongside my job as an account manager for a global HR consultancy. In 2007, I left the business world to fully invest myself in relationships and sex education, having developed a growing awareness of the need for young people to have opportunities to talk about these topics, and the need for training so that youth workers and teachers were better equipped to create these opportunities.
Since then, I've worked in Mbale in Uganda for two years, adapting the Esteem programme and delivering it to hundreds of young people there; helped to establish and grow Esteem as its own charity; delivered sessions to thousands of young people in Southwark; and trained hundreds of youth workers across the UK and beyond. During this time I have completed a wide range of relevant training myself, including the National PSHE CPD programme, and I am an accredited trainer with Open College Network.
I became the CEO of acet UK in August 2015, following the merger between Esteem and acet UK in 2014. It was a real privilege to lead the organisation for 4 and a half years, growing our work in the UK and growing the capacity of our international partners. I have now changed roles to enable me to be a foster carer! I am delighted to be continuing working for acet UK as Fundraising Manager, raising funds for all the fantastic work we are doing.
Gareth Cheesman, Esteem Network Director
My working life started in community and church youth work. Whilst working as a community youth worker, I was trained by acet UK to deliver relationships and sex education (RSE). I then worked for 6 years for a school's work charity, delivering RSE across Chester high schools. During this time, I worked with over 5000 young people focusing on the simple message that there is hope in a better view of relationships and sex.
I joined acet UK in January 2015 and, as Esteem Network Director, I train and support eductors from charities, churches and schools in tackling the delicate issues of relationships and sex. It is my role to help them be the best they can be in this essential field. I also deliver RSE in schools across the North West and spend some time training and supporting acet UK's international partners. I feel my main motivation has always been around helping people reach their full potential. For me a vital issue in this is relationships and sex education. I am excited to see how acet UK grows over the next few years.
Rachael Denley-Samson, Operations Manager
My past experience equipped me well for my extremely varied and interesting role at acet UK, where I assist our UK team of Esteem educators, support the board of trustees and CEO, and liaise with our international partners. I have been able to draw on my 6 years as an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ administrator of a small charity; the finance experience I gained from working in various management positions; the international development elements of my BSc; plus 8 years’ teaching experience!
I am passionate about the work that my role supports at acet UK. As a qualified teacher, with a heart for young people’s emotional and relational needs, I really enjoyed participating in the Esteem training course - and would highly recommend it. And, as a parent of two teenage children, I have a vested interest in supporting the next generation in developing healthy self-esteem and relationships.
Catherine Healey, Chief Executive
I know that we cannot do everything, but believe we must do everything we can!
I have enjoyed over 20 years volunteering in church youth clubs and camps throughout Wales where I became known as the “sex lady” for speaking about relationships and sex education, particularly to university students.
After 20 years of community development, I then spent 10 years in international and early childhood development in South Africa starting up several charities and businesses to support them. I also developed a project to shift the lives of over 28,000 children orphaned by HIV and AIDS. I designed, developed and delivered training to over 1,000 functionally illiterate caregivers, in 4 languages and then spent the next two years organising medical clinics and running disaster relief work for the world’s poorest country, Madagascar. A keynote speaker at last year’s Humanitarian Forum and International Disaster Management show, I love inspiring strategic and transformational change!
I hosted a popular relationships radio show specifically giving advice to parents bringing up children, and have written and illustrated several books. In my spare time, I’ve had great fun painting well over 1,000 educational murals, in schools, clinics and hospitals across southern Africa, warning of the perils of HIV, TB, Malaria and Rabies and the benefits of breastfeeding.
I am passionate about fighting injustice and developing and enabling young people to reach their God-given potential.
I became CEO of acet UK at the start of 2020 and am most excited about our vision to transform culture.
Meg Tynan, Trustee
I am a wife to Matt who is a primary school teacher and mother to two sons and our British Bulldog Mozzi. We live in Wales and it was in Wales that I met Catherine when I was a teenager, I can still vividly remember the sessions she ran in our church youth group on sex education, she was always open honest and unshockable which is what I seek to mirror in my own teaching within church.
I have a diploma in Youth and Community work but have been a children’s Pastor in our local church for the last 5 years. I am passionate about helping broken people and seeing people reach their full God-given potential! I am super excited to be part of acet UK and can’t wait to witness firsthand the impact that the ACET family has on lives of young people and communities.
I actually did the Esteem training with Paul and have loved being able to access all the resources - I can’t wait to start using them in our local schools as well as in church.
Chris Turland, Trustee
I am a Chartered Accountant with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. I am currently the Chief Operating Officer of a boutique investment management firm based in London. My expertise includes strategic financial oversight, budget setting and approval, risk management and oversight, governance, HR and taxation. I am also responsible for financial oversight of a medium-sized baptist church in Tring, and chair of its related OFSTED registered Preschool.
Damilola Verity, Trustee
The conversation of relationships and sex education (RSE) has been a topic I’ve been passionate about from a young age. I failed to understand why the topic was deemed taboo and felt determined to encourage the normality of RSE from a Christian perspective.
As a youth leader, I adopted ways to encourage and create an atmosphere for young people to ask questions whilst ensuring safeguarding policies. I helped to facilitate training in safeguarding to other volunteers as well as leading panels at events determined to demonstrate safe and healthy conversations about RSE.
Having the opportunity to be a part of the vision and team on how we equip young people around the country on the topic of RSE provides me with joy and complete anticipation. I’m a strong believer in educating young people for safer relationships along with being passionate to aid and equip churches across the UK with the right materials to achieve the same result. With parents, churches and volunteers combining their efforts on enabling healthy conversations and with our resources, we can look forward to a generation fully prepared and aware of their sexual health. acet UK is a powerful charity with a great foundation and a strong message
Tom Brown, Trustee
I manage Dods Training; working with governments and parliaments around the world to provide world-class policy, communications and public administration training solutions. I previously started and grew their international training business and before joining Dods worked for a foreign policy think tank.
I hold a Masters in Politics from University of Manchester, specialising in Chinese politics and Sino-Indian relations.
Neil Casey, Trustee
An experienced charity sector professional, I bring with me the wealth of more than 30 years’ experience in the not for profit sector, the majority of that time spent working in senior management and executive positions. I am particularly adept at helping define strategy, determining operational plans to deliver strategy, shaping, developing and managing teams and implementing operational plans which deliver results. I have worked extensively with not-for-profit boards, helping them to develop governance best practice. I am a good communicator with experience in broadcast media and public settings.
Paul Spencer, Trustee
I am married to Sally and have four, now grown up, children. I have lived in Ealing, West London, all my life apart from a short break to study Physics at the University of Bath.
I work as a Software Development Director, in a leading international software company. I have worked in many different roles gaining experience in both technology and people management.
I am currently chair of acet UK, having previously served as a board member for several years. I am also a long-standing trustee of my church.