Our Team

Our Team

The Place2Be team are leaders in the field of children's mental health and well-being and have a wealth of experience in counselling, education, child psychiatry and philanthropy.

Chief Executive

Catherine RocheCatherine Roche, Chief Executive
Catherine Roche has been Chief Executive at Place2Be since January 2014. She was Chief Operating Officer from 2003 and has been instrumental in enabling growth and development of the organisation since that time. Catherine trained as a secondary school teacher in Ireland, moved to France to teach in a state school and later adult education. Awarded the Shannon Fellowship, Catherine completed an MBA (Boston University) and then joined KPMG Consulting. She worked with a wide range of private and public sector clients across Europe and the US on a range of business strategy and organisation development assignments. Catherine first became involved with Place2Be in 1996, giving pro bono advice and support and has remained hooked and learning ever since. 

She holds a BA (Hons) in English and French and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, both from University College Cork and an MBA from Boston University. In 2018, Catherine was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Psychology by the University of East London. In March 2019 she was elected to the Board of the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network.


Dame Benita Refson DBE
Benita RefsonBenita is Founder of Place2Be and a qualified counsellor. Benita was CEO for 20 years until 2014 when she stepped down and was appointed life time President and continues to support the organisation enthusiastically through her role as President.

Benita received an OBE for Services to Children and Families in 2007; was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of East London in 2009; in 2014 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Institute of Education, University of London and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Birthday 2016 Honours List in recognition of services to education. Currently Benita is Trustee of Children of Success Schools, FORWARD TRUST and a Governor at Bridge Academy Hackney.

Executive Team

Jan McCarthy, Director of People
Jan MccarthyJan McCarthy is a Fellow of the CIPD and has over 25 years' HR experience in banking and the not-for-profit sector. For the past 4 years she has been an independent HR consultant working with  business start-ups and charities where one of her early clients was Place2Be. An experienced senior manager, she was Director of HR at a large national disability charity employing 3,500 staff and 4,000 volunteers, working with schools, FE Colleges and community services for adults and young people. Jan has an MSc in Human Resource Development, Diploma in Training and Development and is also a qualified Workplace Mediator. Jan is a Fellowship and Chartered membership assessor for the CIPD and is a Trustee of a Homeless Charity for Young People.

Dr Patrick Johnston, Director of Learning and Practice
Website Circle For Photo Patrick JohnstonPatrick obtained his BSc in Physiology at the University of Ireland, Galway before completing a PhD in Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. Alongside his research, Patrick has extensive experience working at the Behaviour Genetics Clinic at the South London and Maudsley Hospital. Before joining Place2Be, he was most recently Assistant Head at Highgate School, where his responsibilities included the strategic development of the school’s pupil wellbeing and mental health strategy.

Jenny Raine, Chief Financial Officer
Jenny RaineJenny trained as a Chartered Accountant with PwC and, after a short period working in industry, has had a varied career in the not for profit sector.  The majority of this has been in the NHS with over 10 years as a Director in a Trust providing Mental Health services. More recently Jenny spent 3 years as the Bursar of a Cambridge University College. Immediately before joining Place2Be Jenny held an interim role as Chief Financial Officer for one of the most financially challenged Clinical Commissioning Groups supporting them to develop and deliver a financial recovery plan.  Jenny has held Trustee positions in a number of charities supporting them with their strategic financial and risk management.

Sarah Williams-Robbins, Director of Marketing and Communications
Sarah Williams-RobbinsSarah joined Place2Be in December 2018, after spending the past 18 years in senior roles within media organisations, including the BBC.

With a background in consumer-facing marketing and communications campaigns and media relations, her track record includes delivering successful change-management programmes and launching high-profile brands.

Most recently, Sarah led communications at international media company A+E Networks, where she launched its corporate website, developed a CSR strategy and helped the company to be named the ‘Best Place to Work in TV’ by Broadcast magazine. Sarah began her career in the Government Communication Service, working on national health promotion campaigns.

Dr Niki Cooper (DPsych, MA, PGdip Couns, MBACP(Accred)), Clinical Director
Niki Cooper

After starting her working life in theatre, Niki retrained as a counsellor and supported couples and young people as a community-based counsellor in London.

She 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 oversaw the development of Place2Be’s professional qualifications pathway from Level 2 to Masters. Her doctoral thesis was a critical examination of this pathway and the impact it has had on child counselling. She became Clinical Director in 2019.

She is the co-author of a chapter in the Sage Handbook for Counselling Children and Young People 2nd Ed. (2018) and the Therapy Today article ‘Silenced: the black students’ experience’, with Eugene Ellis.

Our Senior Team

Jonathan Wood, National Manager, Wales & Scotland

Jonathan WoodJonathan Wood has worked in the voluntary sector for 35 years, with 20 of those as a psychotherapist/art therapist. He has also managed counselling-based projects for those 20 years. Jonathan joined Place2Be in 2006 as Edinburgh Cluster Manager, becoming National Manager for Scotland in 2008. More recently he took up the role of Service Manager for Scotland. He has an MSC in Psychological Counselling, a PG Diploma in Art Therapy, a Diploma in Transpersonal Psychology and an MBA. Registered as an art therapist with the Health Professions Council, Jonathan has worked in the fields of homelessness, drug addiction, learning disability, mental health and children and families.

Debbie Simmons, Head of Service Midlands/North
Debbie Simmons
Debbie joined Place2Be in 2016 and has supported families with complex needs for nearly 30 years. She has Diplomas in Management & Leadership and Childhood Studies and a PGDip in CAMHS Service Transformation. Her work on rehabilitation and reintegration within HMP led her to complete an MSC in Substance Misuse and she went on to focus on early intervention within the mental health sector after managing children and family services that experienced high risk taking behaviours. She is trained in MI, CBT techniques and application with children and has CBT and CYPIAPT Certificate in Supervision. Most recently, Debbie managed mental health services for children and families accessing social services and emotional well-being services in schools.

Dr Raffaella Katsanis, Head of Service South
RaffaellaRaffaella is a Clinical Psychologist and UKCP-accredited Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor with a Masters in Psychoanalytic studies. She has worked in crisis intervention, therapeutic communities and mental health services for all ages, but has extensive experience with families and specialises in supporting adults experiencing severe mental health difficulties including depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. As Head of Service with Place2Be she helps plan, design and implement services across London in partnership with CAMHS and local authorities.

Sarah Golden, Head of Evaluation
Sarah GoldenSarah leads the Research and Evaluation team at Place2Be. She has been a researcher for 20 years working in policy research for 15 years and more recently in the charity sector. Sarah is experienced in a range of both quantitative and qualitative research and analysis skills and techniques, in particular interpreting the outcomes of mixed methodology research to explore the outcomes of interventions in education and communities. With her team, Sarah ensures Place2Be has robust research and evidence to inform practice and communicate our valuable work to funders, commissioners and policy makers.

Dr Stephen Adams-Langley, Senior Clinical Consultant
Stephen Adams LangleyDr Stephen Adams-Langley has practiced as a psychotherapist and counsellor for 20 years, working with children, young people and adults. He has held senior clinical and management roles at Place2Be for the past 15 years, managing a number of Place2Be's services in Nottingham, Medway and Cardiff, as well as in Enfield, Lambeth, Camden and Shoreditch. He was awarded his Research Doctorate in Psychotherapy from Middlesex University (Metanoia Institute) together with the Jennifer Elton Wilson prize for his Professional Development Paper in 2012. He has an MA in Psychotherapy and Counselling, a post-qualifying Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy and a BA (Honours) in English.

Wendy Kimberley, Head of Learning - Schools
Wendy KimberleyWendy has a background in mental health and children's social work and is an experienced practice teacher. She has worked in statutory settings with children and families from diverse communities, including disabled children. She was Professional Development Manager in a busy London borough and was instrumental in setting up a trainee social work scheme. She joined Place2Be in 2018 and, having mentored and supported many practitioners to gain confidence through professional and academic qualifications, she now manages the development of the Mental Health Champions programmes. She has the CQSW, an MSc Sociology (Social Policy), 60m level credits in professional education and training and an ILM Leadership and Management qualification.

Sharon Cole, Head of Safeguarding
Sharon ColeSharon has worked at Place2Be since August 2013, having worked with vulnerable children and families in a variety of positions across public and 3rd sector organisations. This involved working with looked after children, schools and alternative provisions, children services, Women's Aid and other children's charities.

Sharon was therapeutically trained in Psychodynamic counselling and Psychotherapy at Regents College, she is also has accreditation from the NSPCC as a Safeguarding and Child Protection Trainer.

Carol Glover, Interim Head of Communications
Carol GloverCarol is Head of Communications at Place2Be having previously headed up campaigns, communications and marketing at a number of UK health and education charities. These charities have ranged in focus from promoting physical health and reducing childhood obesity, mental health and anti-stigma, innovations in dementia care for older people, through to mentoring young people to broaden their horizons and raise career aspirations. She has also worked for the Department of Health and was a journalist and business magazine editor for 10 years, specialising in management development, corporate governance and business ethics.

She has been Chair of Trustees for the Highbury Vale Blackstock Trust and Elizabeth House, which is a community centre and hub for children’s and youth services, for five years.


Simon Mackenzie Smith (Chair)
Simon is Chairman of UK & Ireland Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and has over 30 years’ experience in the finance sector. He is also a member of the Heart of the City Council and the Campaign Council at the National Portrait Gallery.

William Russell (Deputy Chair)
William is an Alderman and Sheriff (2016-17) of the City of London and Director of Red Savannah, Congham Hall Hotel and Knightsbridge Schools International. He worked for First Boston and Merrill Lynch for many years and became a trustee of Place2Be in 2014 and Deputy Chair in 2015.

Louise, Countess St Aldwyn
Louise holds a Diploma in Humanistic Counselling and Supervision. She has worked as an addiction therapist for adults, adolescents and families for over 20 years. More recently Louise trained at Place2Be and undertook a Counselling Placement in a Place2Be school.

Sandy Begbie, CBE
Sandy Begbie was appointed as Chief Transformation Officer at Tesco Bank on 11 February 2019 prior to that he was Director, Global People, Organisation & Culture Integration at Standard Life Aberdeen plc. He is the Lead Executive for the Joint Venture Heng And Standard Life in China and the Asia business based in Hong Kong. He was awarded ‘Most Influential HR Director in the UK 2016’ and ‘One of the 10 Most Influential HR Directors of the Decade in 2015’. After 3 years as Chairman of Career Ready, Scottish Advisory Board (SAB), Sandy was appointed as Chairman of the National Advisory Board (NAB) covering all 4 UK nations. He is also an Ambassador for Developing Young Workforce (DYW) group which tackles Edinburgh and Lothian youth unemployment. Sandy became a Non-Executive Director to the Open University Board in 2016 and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in August 2018 for services to business and social inclusion.

Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell
Stephen was a Member of Parliament from 1979-2015 and had a long and industrious political career, with particular focus on Finance, Health, Education and Employment. He was Secretary of State for Health and the first elected Chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee. He is also a businessman and advisor on Healthcare and the Public Sector.

Liz Greetham
Liz has 30 years' experience of the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, primarily in assessing clinical trials of products across all therapeutic categories. She is the former CEO and Board Member of Drug Abuse Science, a private company dedicated to developing prescription medications to treat alcoholism and heroin and cocaine addiction.

Siân Hill
Siân retired as Partner, Financial Services Tax at KPMG LLP in 2018. She has over 30 year's experience advising clients on international corporate tax issues particularly those arising on mergers and acquisitions, disposals and corporate restructuring and re-organisations.

Elpha LeCointe
Elpha LeCointe 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.

Adrian Levy 
Adrian is a Partner and Global Co-Head of Real Estate Sector at international law firm Clifford Chance LLP.

Sir Charlie Mayfield
Former Army Officer and respected British businessman, Sir Charlie is the Fifth Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and is also Chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. He received a knighthood in June 2013 for Services to Business.

Stephen Scott CBE FRCPsych & FMedSci
Stephen Scott is Professor of Child Health and Behaviour at Kings College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Director of the National Academy for Parenting Research. He works clinically as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital with a multidisciplinary team. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a rare honour for a practising clinician.

Dr Joseph Spence
Dr Joseph Spence has been Master of Dulwich College since 2009. He was Headmaster of Oakham School from 2002, having previously taught history and politics. He jointly leads Southwark Schools Learning Partnership (SSLP), a collaboration of the senior maintained and independent schools in the borough.

Professor Eric Taylor
Eric is an Emeritus professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at King's College London. He is also a Trustee for the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health and for the National Academy of Parenting Research.

Find out more

  • How we support schools

    A safe space in schools for children to work through their challenges

    How we support schools
  • Impact

    We increase children's social skills, confidence and learning potential

  • Why it matters

    Early support stops children's troubles growing with them

    Why it matters

Jacob's story

Jacob's teacher was worried that he was withdrawn in class and suggested he went to see Place2Be

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