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Our team

Introducing the team behind the magic, here you can get to know our skilled team whose strong commitment to our cause drives positive change every day.

Luke Beard

Luke Beard

Fundraising Officer

Luke joined Vision Action in May 2023. His Fundraising journey started at an arts charity gaining valuable experience managing their membership programmes, major donors, legacy & corporate partnerships. Previous to working in Fundraising, Luke owned his own musical theatre stage school focusing on giving kids confidence through performance.

In his spare time Luke likes to stay active in the gym, visiting National Trust locations and enjoys baking.

To contact Luke, email luke.beard@visionaction.org.uk

James Riggs

James Riggs

Chief Executive Officer

James is an experienced senior leader of UK charities and has for many years worked alongside ministerial departments, NGOs and the private sector. He spent ten years as director of programmes, and CEO for two NGOs based in West Africa, and has also worked in Kenya, Zambia, and India, as well as at an international school in China. Most recently, as a consultant, he has worked closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on their UK Aid and What Works Hub programmes. He also holds a master’s degree in development studies from SOAS, University of London.

In his spare time James likes to stay active and enjoys walking in the Dorset countryside and spending time with his young family. You can contact James on james.riggs@visionaction.org.uk

Gerald Macarthy

Gerald Macarthy

Project Officer

Gerald was born in the Western area of Sierra Leone and attended St. Anthony’s Boys Primary School. Later, he attended St. Edwards Secondary School where he attained his higher school certificate and later went to Njala University where he got his first degree. He also got a Master’s in Business Administration (Project Management). 

He has worked for different international Non -Governmental Organisations, such as Christopher Blind Mission/ United Methodist Church, CARE International, Action Conter La Faime, Marie Stopes and ActionAid International and now Vision Action, to name a few. In total, he has more than ten years working experience on project management. 

To contact Gerald, you can e-mail him at gerald.macarthy@visionaction.org.uk 

Emma Thomas

Emma Thomas

Emma Thomas is the Head of Corporate Strategy and Impact for UK Export Finance, the UK’s Export Credit Agency and a ministerial government department. Her responsibilities range from overseeing strategic risk, fiscal events, and the annual planning cycle, to pioneering a new approach to better understand, evaluate and communicate the impact of UKEF’s support across economic, environmental and social outcomes.

Emma previously led the Green Trade Strategy team at the Department for International Trade where she played a leading role shaping the Government’s policy to end support for fossil fuel projects overseas and spent time leading a Commonwealth initiative for the UK Government based in South Africa. She has also held policy roles at BEIS and the Ministry of Justice. Prior to joining the UK Government, Emma worked for a development consultancy focused on fragile and conflict-affected states where she managed the delivery of a programme in Somalia. She also spent a short period living and working in Laos for an iNGO.

Emma has a MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development from SOAS, where she wrote her thesis on service delivery and state legitimacy in Somalia, and a BA in Art History & Spanish from UCL. She is passionate about tackling society’s most complex challenges and empowering others to deliver positive change that has real-world impact.

In her free time, Emma enjoys writing, visiting art galleries, going to the theatre, and being active.

Jamie Howard

Jamie Howard

Jamie Howard is the CEO of a Canadian entrepreneur’s business with operating companies across Canada, the UK and Europe, where his range of responsibilities run from the development of long-term strategies to resolving day-to-day crises. Currently based in Toronto, Jamie moved to Canada from New Jersey in the United States, where he worked for five years for the Swiss Bank UBS, leading a large team focused on fraud risk management and compliance. Before moving to the US he worked for the British Government for 24 years with roles in the Ministry of Defence, the Department of International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and has lived and served in numerous countries within Europe, the Middle East, the US and East Africa.

Jamie has a MSc in strategy and planning, and an MA in Russian history; his Batchelor’s degree is from the University of Essex and is in history and international relations.

A father of two boys, Jamie’s interests are largely theirs, but when time permits he enjoys tinkering with old cars, diving and reading anything about history.

Professor Nora Colton

Professor Nora Colton

Chair

Professor Nora Ann Colton is Director of Education at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital where she oversees the development of a joint education strategy aimed at bringing these two organisations together to offer world leading education in vision and eye health. Nora was previously the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the University of East London where she oversaw all academic affairs. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She serves as a nonexecutive and governor on a number of boards. Before coming to the UK, she was a Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Drew University in New Jersey, USA. She received her D.Phil. from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, in economics with a specialisation in the Middle East. She is fluent in Arabic. She has been a visiting Professor at American University in Beirut and the University of Electronic Science and Technology in Chengdu, China.

David Mwitumwa

David Mwitumwa

Programme Coordinator

David Mwitumwa has been working for the Vision Action Zambia Office since 2008.  David supports all aspects of the Zambia programme and provides Technical Support on Vision Centres and optical equipment both in Zambia and globally across all the countries Vision Action supports. He has overseen the setup and training for Vision centres in Zambia, Ethiopia and Angola. Before joining Vision Action, David worked for Zambia Electricity Supply Co-operations (ZESCO) as a lines patrol officer under the National Control Centre (NCC).

To contact David, email david.mwitumwa@visionaction.org.uk

Lucy Soar

Lucy Soar

Treasurer

Lucy is very pleased to be a member of the Vision Action Board, and our Treasurer.

Lucy Soar is a senior finance and international development professional with 25 years’ post-qualification experience in financial management, and specialised knowledge of grant management and donor compliance.

She is a chartered accountant and spent 15 years in senior finance roles in a range of not-for profit and public sector organizations. She has worked in international development for over 14 years and has an MSc in Development Management.

Before becoming an independent consultant, Lucy worked as a grant manager at Frontline AIDS. She has extensive experience of managing multi-million dollar programmes funded by major institutional funders.

In September 2016 Lucy set up her own consulting company and has undertaken assignments for a range of clients, including ActionAid, BBC Media Action, IPPF, VSO, ShelterBox and Sightsavers. She has worked with international and local organizations in the UK, Africa, Asia, and Central America to provide specialised advice and training on donor compliance, financial and risk management, policy development, internal audit and capacity building. She also carries out humanitarian quality assurance audits for HQAI.

Dr Ving Fai Chan

Dr Ving Fai Chan

Dr Ving Fai Chan is a Malaysian Optometrist who lectures (Global Eye Health) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). He completed his master’s degree from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Doctorate in Optometry from the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

Having lived and worked in Africa for 10 years, he works to address the persistent grass-root level barriers towards successful eyecare initiatives in low- and middle-income countries. His work focuses on designing and testing innovative and pragmatic approaches to address eye health challenges in resource-constrained countries. He contributed to the establishment of the first School of Optometry in Eritrea, where he lived for 3 years. He then worked as the Research Manager for an international eyecare NGO, primarily studying the impact of spectacle corrections on different populations in Africa to assist advocacy efforts.

In addition to his role at QUB, he is an Honorary Lecturer at UKZN (South Africa), the Research Adviser of the Tanzanian Optometry Association and a member of the WHO Primary Eye Care Intervention Technical Working Group. His current major research studies are in South Africa, Zanzibar, Nigeria, India and China.

Ian Kerr

Ian Kerr

Ian has been involved in fundraising and overseas aid and development since starting ActionAid, one of Europe’s larger NGO’s, usually in fundraising or project development roles. These have taken him to 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He has recently served on the international board of The Brooke and their affiliate boards in India and Pakistan and until 2020 chaired Virtual Doctors, a health charity working in East Africa.

Ian was one of the UK’s most experienced fundraisers winning the Consultant of the Year award and helped set up the Institute of Fundraising and served on the board of the Association of Fundraising Consultants. He designed successful appeals for Deafblind UK, Orbis and Talking Newspapers. Ian has been a Fellow of both the British Institute of Management and the Administrative Accounting Institute. Since retiring he has been an volunteer ambassador for VisionCare for the homeless in Brighton, a trustee of Raystede Animal Sanctuary, socialised a hearing dog and he plays tennis and walks his dogs daily.

Tony Hulton

Tony Hulton

Tony Hulton is the Group Director for Corporate Affairs & ESG at Daraz, an Alibaba Group company. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive of Vision for a Nation Foundation having previously worked as a senior technical advisor at the Department for International Development. Tony has experience of development finance and programming across Africa and South Asia and has worked in a range of capacities to help businesses to set up and grow their operations in frontier and emerging markets. Tony has an MBA from Henley Business School, MA from KCL in International Security and his bachelor’s is from the London School of Economics.  He has spent much of his life living and working in Asia and MENA, married with three children and enjoys trail running, skiing and mountaineering.

Professor Hannah Faal

Professor Hannah Faal

Born in Calabar, Nigeria; Hannah received the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1975 before relocating to The Gambia in 1980 with her family to work as the sole ophthalmologist, serving a population then of 800,000. She initiated the concept of comprehensive national eye care programming resulting in a fall in the prevalence of blindness from 0.7% to 0.4% between 1986-1996.

Hannah is internationally recognised as one of the founders of the VISION 2020 initiative and served as President of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) from 1999-2004. Hannah has also served as an advisor to the Prevention of Blindness programme of the World Health Organization (WHO), contributing to the focus on refractive error, low vision services and inclusive education. Active in research, she has authored over 60 publications with over 2000 citations and is a reviewer for journals.

On retirement in 2011, Hannah took on an adjunct professorship in international eye health in Nigeria. She is also currently Trustee of the Moorfields Korle Bu Trust, member Scientific Advisory Board of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Global Advisory Board of Our Children’s Vision and chairs the Africa Research Vision Institute.

Ahalya Subramanian

Ahalya Subramanian

Ahalya is an optometrist and currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Optometry and Visual Sciences at City, University of London, which she joined in 2006. She runs the visual impairment clinic at the university and her main focus area is improving the quality of life of vision impaired people, with particular emphasis on technology and improving reading ability. Ahalya gained a first-class degree from the Elite School of Optometry in Chennai, India, and subsequently worked there as a lecturer. In 2000, she came to the UK to take up a position as a research assistant at the University of Manchester, and during this time completed her PhD in visual impairment. Outside of work Ahalya enjoys watching her son’s football matches, gardening and walking her dog.

Emerica King

Emerica King

Country Director

Emerica holds a master’s in business administration degree and a B.Sc. Economics and Social Studies Degree with many other certificates in Strategic Planning, Programme and financial Management and implementation, marketing, grants management, advocacy and facilitation to name a few. She started her career in the Banking Industry then moved into the Private sector before moving into the International Non-Governmental Organization’s space. She has over 30 years’ experience working in these sectors especially in the health sector – Sightsavers and Marie Stopes where she spent over 20 years. Emerica has a passion for women, children and the underserved. She is a member of some women groups where she volunteers. She is married with two lovely boys.

To contact Emerica, you can e-mail her at emerica.king@visionaction.org.uk

Allieu Saccoh

Allieu Saccoh

Programme Officer

Allieu FB. Saccoh is the Programme Coordinator for Vision Aid Overseas. A position he has held for the past five years, from April 2016. He is a Sierra Leonean and hails from Kenema District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Allieu Like the country director, is a Health Care Worker and a Public Health Specialist with both Clinical and Public Health experience. Together with the Country Director, he has successfully coordinated and completed eye care projects with VAO in Sierra Leone.

To contact Allieu, email Allieu.Saccoh@visionaction.org.uk

Morei Yambasu

Morei Yambasu

Driver (Eastern Province)

Morie is a professional driver and mechanic who has served VAO for over 7 years. His professional driving and mechanic experience has seen a lot of UK volunteer outreach activities to Sierra Leone very successful and safe.

Angeline Samuels

Angeline Samuels

Finance Officer

Angeline F Samuels is the Finance Officer for Vision Aid Overseas a position she has held for 2 years, from June 2019. She is a Sierra Leonean and hails from Bombali District in the northern province of Sierra Leonean. She has very good financial expertise in both private and public sectors and has worked for local, national and international organizations in Sierra Leone.

Robert Alibo

Robert Alibo

Country Manager

Robert started his career as a professional teacher, later joining the not-for-profit arena in 2006. He has close to sixteen years’ experience in development work.

Before joining VAO in March 2022, Robert was the Country Manager – Ghana for Vision for a Nation Foundation for over three years. He also worked in various roles with World Vision Ghana, PATH, and JSI Inc and led teams in implementing flagship USAID projects including the USAID-MalariaCare and USAID-Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Projects in Ghana.

Robert has a BA in Social Work from the University of Ghana and a postgraduate degree in International Public Health Nutrition from the University of Westminster which he undertook under the Westminster University International Scholarship award.

To contact Robert, email robert.alibo@visionaction.org.uk

Charles Koduah

Charles Koduah

Eye Health Lead

Charles joined VAO in March 2022. He is a trained optometrist with over 8 years clinical experience from working in a district hospital. He is also a certified WHO Primary Eye Care (PEC) trainer and very passionate about fighting avoidable blindness in the poor and marginalised communities.

Over the last 3 years, Charles has been working with Vision For a Nation (VFAN) as the eye health lead, coordinating the school eye health programme and the PEC trainings across 10 districts in the Central and Upper East regions of Ghana.

Charles has also been coordinating with the National Eye Care Unit (NECU) and the other Eye Health NGO’s in Ghana for the implementation of the VFAN’s nationwide PEC programme.

To contact Charles, email charles.koduah@visionaction.org.uk

Reina Marie-Antoinette Der

Reina Marie-Antoinette Der

MEAL Lead

Reina Marie-Antoinette Der is a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning professional with over 9 years of work experience in the developemtn sector focusing on project implementation, monitoring, evaluation and learning and data management. Her work experience has evolved around a blend of project design and implementation of public health interventions such as HIV/AIDS, Hypertension and Eye care, digital health interventions, health systems strengthening and Research Reina, holds a masters in Public Health and is passionate about ending Non-communicable diseases and Neglected tropical diseases. Reina has a backgrond in Public Health, Programme Management, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Digital Health and Non-Communicable Disease.

To contact Reina, email reina.der@visionaction.org.uk

Titus Oosterink Alzumah

Titus Oosterink Alzumah

Regional Coordinator -UER

Titus is a development expert with over Ten (10) years’ experience in program planning and implementation. He has a background in Development Studies and Sociology and has worked most of his working life in Public Health. Titus is a self-motivated and a results-oriented person who is interested in contributing to the development of Vulnerable groups especially women and children and supporting the vulnerable people to achieve their full potentials in life.

Titus started his development career with Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization as a Regional Coordinator for malaria and HIV/AIDS, He also worked with John Snow Inc. Research &Training Institute’s SPRING project as a District Coordinator in its nutrition project funded by USAID, then to PLAN International Ghana as a Field Education Officer and a Programme Manager at Youth Harvest Ghana in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive health, he also worked with Vision for A Nation Foundation’s Primary Eye Care Programme as Regional Coordinator-Upper east Region. Titus Currently works with Vision Aid Overseas as a Regional Coordinator for the Upper East Region, working closely with key stakeholders like the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, and other relevant actors in Primary Eye Care.

Titus brings on board his strength in community mobilization and collaboration, working with stakeholders and volunteers.

To contact Titus, email titus.alzumah@visionaction.org.uk

Belachew Paulos

Belachew Paulos

Country Director

Belachew Paulos joined Vision Action in April 2016. He was born in a small town in Ethiopia called Yirgacheffe, 395 km away from the capital city, Addis Ababa.

In 2012, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Optometry from Hawassa University. Since graduating, he has been working as an Optometrist at Zewditu memorial hospital in Addis Ababa. In his spare time, Belachew is the President of the Ethiopian Optometry Association.

To contact Belachew, email belachew.paulos@visionaidoverseas.org
Judith Trigg

Judith Trigg

Volunteer Programme Lead

Judith joined Vision Action in 2014 and coordinates requests from our country programmes for support through our volunteer programme. This includes facilitating remote work groups, overseas assignments and training courses. Judith also assists with administrate projects and procurement. She has visited all our programme countries, gaining a good understanding of how our Professional Volunteers can enhance our programmes. Prior to joining Vision Action, Judith had 9 years’ experience in a management role in the voluntary sector, having previously had a career in business travel. In her free time, she enjoys live music, travel and spending time with her family.

To contact Judith, email judith.trigg@visionaction.org.uk

Evelyn Ngaanuma

Evelyn Ngaanuma

Global Programme Manager

Evelyn is a reliable and trusted programme specialist with more than ten years of experiences in programme planning, implementation, data management and analysis, multi-sectoral coordination, monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management. She has an appreciable working experience with the United Nations and UNICEF, its processes and policies on Results Based Management and their application in advancing national, sub national and multi-sectoral programming. She also has experience in leveraging partnerships and leading multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholders (government, NGOs/CSOs, UN, children and young people) groups in planning and implementing programmes to advocate for and promote attainment of human rights. She has good interpersonal skills, a team player and an excellent drive for results.

Evelyn holds an Executive Master’s in Business Administration from the Kwame Nkrumah University of science and Technology (Ghana). She started her development work with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, Ghana) as Project Officer in 2005. She also worked with Care International (Ghana) as Project Officer on the Climate Change and Livelihood Adaptation Project. Then joined UNICEF Ghana as Programme Officer in 2012 and later in 2020 transitioned to UNICEF Lesotho as a Planning and budget Officer.

Tiwonge Mwase-Vuma

Tiwonge Mwase-Vuma

Director of Finance and Operations

Tiwonge joined Vision Aid Overseas in May 2022. Originally from Malawi, Tiwonge has worked for five other International Non-Governmental Organisations over the past 9 years in both Malawi and the UK. These organization include War Child UK, BBC Media Action and Partners In Health.

Tiwonge is a fully qualified Chartered Accountant (ACCA) and brings a wealth of experience in grant management, process improvement and project implementation. He has a passion for working within healthcare, having latterly worked as Finance and Operations Manager for Vision for a Nation Foundation. His current role involves managing finance, HR and IT across all country programmes.

To contact Tiwonge, email tiwonge.mwase-vuma@visionaction.org.uk

Trudy Moody

Trudy Moody

Finance and Admin Officer

Trudy joined Vision Aid Overseas in September 2009 as Finance and Administration Officer. Her role has developed a lot over the years as the charity has grown and she primarily manages the income and expenditure of the charity, including regular donations, memberships and Gift Aid. She supports all the teams at the charity, including Fundraising and Programmes. Before joining VAO, Trudy spent many years working in HR at both British Airways and a pharmaceutical company.

To contact Trudy, email trudy.moody@visionaction.org.uk