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Introducing our staff

Our dedicated team is passionate about making a difference to the lives of the most disadvantaged children.

Fiona Spellman

Chief Executive

Fiona began her career as a maths teacher. She worked at two challenging secondary schools in Manchester and London, getting first-hand insight into the challenges facing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fiona left teaching in 2011 to join SHINE as a Programme Manager, focusing on improving school achievement mostly in London. In August 2017 Fiona was appointed as CEO to lead SHINE’s mission to tackle educational inequality in the North of England.

Improving education for the most disadvantaged children is my life’s passion. I love working amongst such committed people and I love that every day is different. If I won the lottery I’d still do the job I do. Not many people can say that.

Helen Rafferty

Senior Programme Manager

Helen has worked in science education. This has included setting up and supporting national teacher and student networks for the Institute of Physics, and leading evaluation and research for the British Science Association. She has also worked as a consultant engineer, lectured in maths and physics at the University of Leeds, and gained a PhD in Computational Electronics. Helen designs and delivers the strategy for our grant-making in the North of England.

In my role at SHINE I’m proud to be able to catalyse the very best that education has to offer across the North. I firmly believe in the children, teachers and people of the North, and I’m proud to be able to build better outcomes in school education for children and families across the region.

Helen Leese

Executive Assistant and Systems Manager

Helen has worked in Executive Assistant and PA roles for more than 30 years in both the charity and commercial sectors. As Executive Assistant and Systems Manager she supports the Chief Executive and ensures the smooth operation of the charity.

It’s great to be surrounded by a group of people who are so committed to making a difference to the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Shortly after joining SHINE I visited one of our projects and it was amazing to see how it helps children become the best they can be.

Eleanor Heathcote

Programme Manager

Eleanor taught at primary and secondary level in deprived areas of inner-city Leeds and Bradford for 15 years before joining SHINE in 2019. She manages the annual Let Teachers SHINE competition.

SHINE is a great organisation to work for. I’m proud to be part of a small, flexible team committed to making a difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people. The teachers and organisations delivering education projects are truly inspirational and I feel privileged to be able to support them.

Matthew Roberts

Senior Development Manager

Matthew has worked with the UK’s leading arts organisations, grant makers and philanthropists to build support for transformational outreach and education projects. At SHINE Matthew works with the CEO to deliver the fundraising strategy.

Throughout my career I have been privileged to see how entrepreneurial people can make such a positive change to children’s lives. At SHINE I am proud to help support philanthropists on their giving journey and help organisations to invest in projects that are life changing for young people across the North.

Adrian Braddy

Communications Manager

Before joining SHINE, Adrian spent 20 years as a journalist, including 15 as editor of regional newspapers and magazines in the North of England. Adrian handles all of SHINE’s communications, including the website, social media and publications.

As a son of two teachers and a dad of two children currently progressing through school, I am passionate about education provision in the North. It is a real honour to be able to share some of the inspirational stories behind the projects that SHINE supports.

Leanne Marquis

Programme Manager

Leanne comes from a programme management background. She’s worked in a range of roles across the charity sector focusing on her passion for youth development. This has included leading a team of volunteers in Nicaragua to deliver the International Citizen Service Entrepreneur project, and managing the National Citizen Service programme in North Yorkshire. Leanne manages our projects in the North of England.

I believe in a world where everyone can thrive no matter what their start in life. I’ve been so inspired by the innovation of the projects SHINE has funded. I feel honoured to be working with schools, charities and other organisations to boost school achievement across the North of England.

Yvonne Graham

Grants Assistant

Yvonne has a strong background in all aspects of administration. She has previously worked for 23 years as a Project Officer in a number of sectors including health. Yvonne feels passionate about all children getting the best possible start to allow them to thrive after leaving school. She supports the grants team at SHINE.

As a parent myself, I understand the challenges that surround children’s education and I am passionate about championing SHINE’s mission.