Meet the Team
Michael O'Toole, Chief Executive
Michael joined Mentor in October 2014, having been the first Crown Representative for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector between 2012 and 2014. Working within the Cabinet Office, he helped to open more public services to the voluntary sector, influencing public sector commissioning and policy, building strategic engagement between government and the sector, and helping voluntary sector organisations, especially those serving more disadvantaged groups, to win and deliver multi-million pound public service contracts.
Michael previously headed up 3SC, the social enterprise partnership representing some 1,500 members and before that led business development, marketing and communications at the information charity BSS and was a Director at Connaught plc. He has been a Trustee of three charities and led the establishment of a new charitable consortium in the children’s services early intervention sector. Email Michael.
Watch a short video of Michael talking about Mentor's work on the About Us page.
Heather McVeigh, Scotland Director
From a standing start in 2008, Heather has developed Mentor's Edinburgh office which now has a critical role in consultations on drug policy and practice, including a special expertise in kinship care. Mentor Scotland has grown substantially in the last eight years and is delivering a number of major projects designed to have a sustained impact on the national landscape.
Heather began her career as a lawyer and her alcohol education programme was awarded a special merit by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Email Heather.
Jeremy Sare, Director of Policy and Communications
Jeremy joined Mentor in October 2016 as Director for Policy and Communications, following their merger with Angelus. He was previously responsible for Communications and Operations at the Angelus Foundation, where he first starting working in 2010. Jeremy played a key role in campaigning for the Psychoactive Substances Act which has severely disrupted the supply of these new substances.
Jeremy has worked in the drugs field since 2001 when he was Secretary to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs at the Home Office. He also worked as Head of Drug Legislation and Classification. In 2007, he completed a postgraduate diploma at the London School of Journalism and became a freelance journalist writing regularly for the Guardian, British Medical Journal and New Statesman. Email Jeremy.
Irahyma Paredes, Head of Fundraising
Irahyma joined Mentor in June 2015 as Head of Fundraising. She has four years’ experience in the international development sector managing multiple fundraising areas, ranging from individual giving to trusts and foundations. She is passionate about working with charities that support children and young people, especially those in vulnerable or disadvantaged situations.
Prior to joining Mentor she worked for an international development charity with 500 projects in 80 countries, learning a lot about the charity sector – and the world! She holds a BSc in International Economics and Finance and a MSc in Economics. She works for Mentor part-time and on the days that she is not in the office she is busy being a mum. Email Irahyma.
Kate O'Brien, Director of Programmes
Kate joined Mentor in September 2015 as Director of Programmes, following 11 years at Save the Children focusing on international humanitarian programme development. Most recently, Kate led the development of strategic partnerships as part of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, a charitable subsidiary of Save the Children that aims to empower people around the world to prepare for, and respond to, disasters in their own countries.
Prior to her work at the Academy, Kate led Save the Children's Humanitarian People Development and Training team where she oversaw the development of sector-leading programmes with the UK Department for International Development and European Commission. Primarily, this was focused on child protection and humanitarian response. Kate also has a strong background in partnership development and collaboration, programme design and management, fundraising, sales and marketing.
Kate started off her career in the corporate sector in educational publishing and has also worked for Cancer Research UK and the European Parliament in Brussels. Kate is passionate about talent development, skills building and collaboration in order to enable the most disadvantaged young people to find their purpose. Email Kate.
Gez Lawson, Development Manager (Scotland)
Gez has worked for Mentor UK since July 2010. He managed the highly successful peer education alcohol project which delivered alcohol education to young people across Scotland. He is currently training a group of young people as volunteer development officers, supporting them to develop their own peer led substance misuse prevention initiatives for young people across Scotland. Gez also provides support, consultation and training for young people and practitioners involved in peer education throughout Scotland. Email Gez.
Ben Thurman, Policy & Research Officer
Ben joined Mentor in 2013 to conduct research with kinship care families as part of the government-funded Relative Support project. Since then he has worked extensively on kinship care policy in Scotland, and his role has grown to incorporate Scottish and UK-wide policy relating to prevention, alcohol and drugs, and children and young people. Ben came to Mentor with experience in research and evaluation, gained from two years working in rural development and education for non-profits in India; and in journalism, having written for a variety of print and online publications. He studied history at the University of Edinburgh, where he has also worked as a Research Assistant on a number of projects since graduating. Email Ben.
Nathalie Hussa, Fundraising Officer
Nathalie joined Mentor in May 2016 as Fundraising Officer after completing an internship at a children's rights organisation in Ecuador. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Kent and a Master's degree in Human Rights from University College London. Nathalie has volunteered for a number of charities and is passionate about the non-profit sector. When she is not working at Mentor, she spends her time volunteering for Amnesty International and planning her travels abroad! Email Nathalie.
Emily Hicks, Policy & Communications Officer
Emily joined Mentor in October 2016 following their merger with Angelus, which she joined in June 2015 due to an interest in drug countercultures. As Mentor's Communications and Policy Officer, Emily campaigns in the community and on social media to raise awareness on the harms of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), while researching and reporting on drug trends. After obtaining a postgraduate degree in Political Communications and a Bachelor's in Journalism, she decided to work on mental health issues and at secondary schools.
Jade Forester, Marketing & Communiations Officer
Jade joined Mentor in March 2015 as Marketing and Communications Officer and is responsible for Mentor's organisational communications, including the website and social media channels. Jade has a strong background in digital communications and community engagement for non-profits, and has a passion for third sector work, particularly the work of organisations that support and empower young people. Jade holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and War & Peace Studies from the University of Maine at Farmington, where she was actively engaged with many student organisations, including a number of social justice, human rights and peer support groups. Email Jade.
Sue Tilley, Financial Officer
Sue joined Mentor in 2009 as a finance consultant. Following a career in accounting, Sue has been working in the charity sector since 1991, when she realised that her voluntary work was more fulfilling than her daytime job. She has been a Board member of various charities, both UK and International, and has been a speaker at many International conferences with a focus on strategy, governance and finance. She was one of the first intakes for an MSc in Charity Law & Finance, and her experience with both small and large charities helps to inform her work with Mentor.
Sue's work also takes her to Brussels, where statutory accounts are prepared to EU regulations, and she has previously prepared accounts for a US registered non-profit under IRS501 regulations.
Amanda Hood, Office Manager
Amanda joined Mentor in May 2011 after working in the public and local government sector. She is responsible for day to day running of the office and making payments etc. Amanda works four day per week and when she is not in London she enjoys travelling around Europe as well as attempting to make her flowers and vegetables grow! Email Amanda.