Our staff and trustees
Catherine Roche is the Chief Executive of Place2Be. She began her career in teaching before completing an MBA and joining KPMG. Her pro bono support for Place2Be from 1996 inspired her to join the charity as Chief Operating Officer in 2003 and then Deputy CEO. In 2014 she became Chief Executive and has led the organisation’s development since then. In 2019, Catherine was elected to the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network Board. She is also a school governor of her local secondary school and a non-Executive Director of GoodCorporation.
Dr Niki Cooper
Niki is a trained counsellor who joined Place2Be in 2002 as a School Project Manager before moving into the Learning Team, where she co-authored Place2Be’s Postgraduate Diploma course. As Head of Learning, she developed Place2Be’s professional qualifications pathway. She was appointed Clinical Director in 2019.
Chief Financial Officer
Nick qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young in Manchester and has since worked with a mixture of corporates and not-for-profit entities. Nick was CFO at Place2Be from 2013 to 2018 and returned as CFO in February 2020.
Director of Mental Health Workforce Development
With over a decade in programme design and delivery, Sarah joined Place2Be in 2018 as a Programme Leader. She previously led leadership development programmes in education with the Future Leaders Trust and then Ambition School Leadership. She is a Gestalt psychotherapist with a small private practice.
Director of People and Culture
Wande is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, with a post-graduate degree in personnel management and a Level 7 CIPD accredited certification in organisational development and design. Before joining Place2Be in 2021, she led HR teams at Livability, the National Autistic Society and Homes for Haringey.
Director of Fundraising
Jacqui has over 20 years’ fundraising experience including at Shelter, Macmillan Cancer Support and Whizz-Kidz. She held senior positions at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity where she was responsible for raising an annual income of £9m, and chaired the charity’s Leadership Group.
Director of Marketing and Communications
With over 20 years’ experience in marketing and communications, Sarah has held senior roles in media organisations including the BBC, where she delivered change-management programmes and launched high-profile brands. Sarah began her career in the Civil Service and NHS, working on national health promotion campaigns.
Director of Operations
Si joined the Royal Navy from college specialising as an Aircrew Officer for much of his career. He has an MBA and joined Place2Be from British Airways where he held roles in operations and business transformation, focusing on people change programmes.
Dame Benny Refson DBE
Benita is the Founder and former Chief Executive of Place2Be. A qualified counsellor and school governor who has supported children throughout her career, she was awarded an OBE for her services to children and families in 2007 and a DBE for her services to education in 2016.
Simon Mackenzie Smith
Chair of Trustees
Simon has nearly 40 years of finance experience in accountancy and investment banking. He is chairman of the automotive company Dowlais Group plc and a non-executive director of Interpath Advisory Limited.
Adrian is a Corporate Partner and Global co-Head of the Real Estate Sector at Clifford Chance LLP. He has over 25 years' experience in corporate finance transactions in real estate.
Aamir was founder and CEO of furniture retailer Dwell. He was awarded Lloyds TSB Asian Retail Entrepreneur Jewel award in 2008. Aamir has worked as a foster carer with disadvantaged LGBT teenagers and is a Non-Executive Director at East London NHS Foundation Trust.
Sandy Begbie CBE
Sandy is Chief Executive at SFE and holds several senior and Non-Executive roles including Chair of the National Advisory Board, Career Ready. He was awarded a CBE for Services to Business and Social Inclusion.
HHJ Anuja Dhir KC
Anuja was appointed as an Old Bailey Judge in 2017. She also sits in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and is a Judicial Appointments Commissioner. She was Governor of the City Academy Hackney and is currently Governor of (Haberdasher) Borough Academy and a Trustee for Mansion House Scholarships.
Richard is a former civil servant and an influential health leader. He has previously served as Director for Finance, Strategy and the NHS at the Department of Health, Deputy Chair of NHS Improvement and Non-Executive Director of NHS England. Richard currently serves as Chair of the South East London Integrated Care Board (ICB).
Liz spent 30 years in the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, primarily in assessing clinical trials. She was the CEO and board member for Drug Abuse Science which developed medications to treat alcoholism and drug addiction.
Siân was a Financial Services Tax Partner at KPMG LLP and, for three decades, advised clients on international corporate tax issues, particularly in relation to mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and re-organisations.
Professor Osama Khan is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic, at the University of Surrey. He serves on the board of Farnborough College of Technology, TEF Advisory Group and Student Minds Advisory Group, among others, and has 24 years of experience teaching, including at University of Surrey and University of Cambridge.
Elpha is a barrister practising in all areas of the law relating to children. She has extensive experience in care proceedings, adoption and private law disputes within families.
John is an Education Leadership Mentor, Advisor and Public Speaker. He has over 35 years’ experience in the education sector, including leading one of the largest Multi Academy Trusts in the country for the last decade. John has dedicated his career to raising the bar for all young people and closing the attainment gap for the disadvantaged. John is one of founders of the National Institute for Teaching and has also co-authored the bestselling self-help guide for teachers, Why are you Shouting at Us?. He currently serves as a Trustee for E-ACT and is the independent Chair of the Education Investment Area Board for Blackpool.
Dr Margaret Murphy
Margaret is a qualified doctor and a psychiatrist specialising in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is a Clinical Advisor at the Anna Freud Centre, a tutor on the University of Cambridge medical undergraduate course and an Advisor at the Care Quality Commission.
Tim is Non-Executive Chair at LGC and has followed an international career in technology and science. He has held non-executive roles for the UK Government Department of International Development and Oxfam and presently for the UK Government Home Office. He was awarded a CBE in 2020 for services to UK Government in Digital Technology.
Prof Stephen Scott CBE
Stephen is Professor of Child Health and Behaviour at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. He is Director of the National Academy for Parenting Research, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital and Chair of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Adviser to the Board of Trustees
David was President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) from 2017-2022. He is a former social worker, university lecturer, local authority senior manager and political advisor. He has worked with NHS, local government and professional bodies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies. David is a fellow of the British American Project and co-founder of human rights body Operation Black Vote.