Senior Management Team

Jane is an experienced and energetic charity sector leader, with 15 years’ experience influencing public policy, building new audiences, and increasing income, raising the profile of and support for third sector organisations including the National Autistic Society, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Rethink Mental Illness. 

As an experienced charity leader, Jane has spent her career raising the profile of issues that impact on people’s lives through influencing public policy, building new audiences and increasing income generation. She helped to measurably change public perceptions of mental health and autism. 

Carol Payne, Deputy Chief Executive
As Deputy Chief Executive, Carol is responsible for the full portfolio of Speech and Language UK and Communication Trust projects and is leading our team of Lead Advisors, Speech and Language Advisors, Speech and Language UK Associates and Project Support staff.

Carol began her career as a Speech and Language Therapist – working first in Kettering and then West Sussex. She then became Team Leader for the Schools’ Speech and Language Service working for Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust, then was promoted to the role of Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager providing S&LT services across Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex where she also served as the Allied Health Professional representative on the Professional Executive Committee.

From 2007-2019, Carol was the Head of Special Needs, Disability and Psychology at Wandsworth Borough Council where she led the implementation of the SEND reforms, managing a wide range of professional staff and leading the strategic development of special educational needs and disability provision across the borough.

Neil Maslen, Director of Education
As the senior educationalist in the organisation, Neil’s role is to ensure the very highest quality education in our two schools and provide sector intelligence and professional guidance to work across the organisation that requires educational input. He is also the safeguarding lead for the organisation.

Neil has worked in education for over 20 years, which includes 15 years as a senior leader and headteacher and more recently as a school improvement lead in a large multi-academy trust. His experience spans both the primary and secondary phases and he has supported schools with a range of Ofsted judgements. In addition, he has facilitated on a range of National Professional Qualifications, such as the NPQML, NPQSL and NPQLT.

Louisa Reeves, Director of Policy and Evidence
Louisa leads on Speech and Language UK’s policy and public affairs strategy. Working to ensure that politicians and senior decision makers know about the importance of talking and understanding words to children’s futures.  She combines her experience as a speech and language therapist and her knowledge of the organisation to ensure that we talk about speech and language challenges and their solutions with authority and expertise to a wide range of influencers as well as partner organisations. She also leads on ensuring that we take an evaluative approach to all our work, making sure our tools and training are evidence informed and thoroughly evaluated. 

Samir Afhim, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications
Samir is a successful and transformative charity leader with an extensive history of delivering sustainable income generation, digital maturity, infrastructure, and culture change.

Samir is highly experienced in strategy development with extensive experience of leading strategy review processes and ensuring with key stakeholders across, governance, staff, and beneficiary/supporters.  

He is also an expert in infrastructure renovation delivering the digital transformation and full systems/process/culture change at multiple organisations, through user centred design and agile project management methodologies.

Career highlights include outperforming income budget by £2 million during the pandemic by developing and embedding a digital first agile approach to development delivery across the charity as Director of Fundraising and Communications at Freedom from Torture and tripling income and delivering a completely new systems infrastructure as Director of Income Generation at Crohn's and Colitis UK. 

Sarah Pearson, Director of Finance and IT
Sarah is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and holds the ICAEW diploma in charity accounting.  She has specialised in charities and not-for-profit entities for over twenty years, beginning her career in accountancy and audit practice, and then moving after qualifying to work directly in the not-for-profit sector.

Sarah has extensive experience of working in leadership roles encompassing both financial and other operational aspects within diverse and growing charities.  She has particular experience in managing change, financial strategy, investments, and large-scale capital projects.

Jenny McConnell, Principal, Dawn House
Jenny is a speech and language therapist and joined Dawn House School in 1993 having worked in the NHS for 6 years. Jenny helped to design the collaborative working model that we use today to meet the academic, social and language needs of our children so effectively.

Jenny later became a Speech and Language Therapy co-ordinator in school and then Head of Therapy. During this time Jenny gained further leadership qualifications and was appointed Principal in 2017. Jenny is passionate about ensuring that children with speech, language and communication needs get the support that they need.

Majella Delaney, Principal, Meath
Majella is a qualified Primary school teacher who taught in Ireland for seven years before moving to London to gain more experience and challenge herself in her field. She has taught in a range of urban and rural schools in both mainstream and special education. She is also a qualified SENCo and has completed the National Professional Qualification for senior leaders and has a range of experience in middle and senior leader positions. Before joining Meath school, she was Vice Principal for Inclusion in a large mainstream school with specialist resource provision for Speech, language and communication which gained accreditation as a centre of excellence for Inclusion and is currently a flagship school for inclusion. She joined Meath in September 2020 as Deputy Headteacher and was appointed Principal in October 2022. 


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