Leila Thomas, Programme Director, Founder
Leila’s ideas and sheer determination have resulted in Urban Synergy being able to help hundreds of young people since its inception in 2007. Alarmed at the incidence of violence and disenfranchisement affecting young people of colour, she decided enough was enough and created an organisation to help support and encourage them to success.
A Technical Project Manager for Thomson Reuters by day, Leila says, “I love my day job but volunteering my time in this way is so worthwhile. I hope to build the self-respect of the young people we mentor – and who knows maybe some of these young people will in turn become future role models for future mentees.”. Leila also has an NVQ Level 1 in Youth Work qualification.
Dianne Johnson, Programme Director & Chair
Dianne joined Urban Synergy from day one and is passionate about making a difference to young people’s lives. A naturally gifted ‘networker’, she is responsible for building Urban Synergy’s mentor network. She also oversees Urban Synergy’s training content and project development. Dianne also holds NVQ Level 1 and Level 2 in Youth Work qualifications and volunteered with young people at Groundworks Youth Clubs
A procurement executive, Dianne has worked for some of the world’s biggest corporates. Of her reason for joining Urban Synergy she says, “I felt it was time to stop talking, and instead take some practical steps towards helping the youth in our communities.”. Dianne is mum to teenage daughter, Louisa who can often be found using her budding photography skills at Urban Synergy events.
Donovan Davidson, Finance Director
Donovan is the organisation’s main “numbers man”. An accountant for a major London-based UK property company, Donovan joined Urban Synergy to “try and help make a difference for kids in our communities who might just need that extra bit of support.”
Known for being calm and for his love of sharing a joke or two, Donovan counts reading, music, watching movies and sports as just some of the things he enjoys. He’s also footie mad and manages and plays with a Sunday league football team.
Trevor Cole, Programme Director, Technology Manager
As a very early volunteer for Urban Synergy, Trevor has taken on a variety of roles including contributing to the strategic direction of Urban Synergy and coordinating catering for social events. He is currently a member of the Urban Synergy Steering Committee.
Trevor was Urban Synergy’s first mentor deployed in the field and with the support of the Urban Synergy team he is making a real difference to a young man’s education and aspirations. A project manager and software developer with experience in the mobile telecommunications, digital and interactive television and geophysical data processing industries, Trevor also shared founder Leila Thomas’ dream of making a difference. Trevor and fellow techie, Nigel Williams are working on various technical projects for Urban Synergy.
Lesley-Anne Miller, Client Liaison Manager
Leslie-Anne joined Urban Synergy almost at its inception because she wanted to, “inspire, share life experience, encourage, motivate and give my time to young people in need. Ultimately I want to help change someone’s life and perception of their life in a way that makes a difference to them…and their future.” As Urban Synergy’s Client Liaison Manager, Leslie-Anne is often the first point of contact for potential mentors, mentees, schools, parents and guardians. She is also instrumental in producing Urban Synergy’s annual fundraising event and in helping to plan a full calendar of exciting events for mentors and mentees.
Charmaine Charles, Mentee Development Coordinator
With a busy career in the IT industry, Charmaine also looks after Urban Synergy’s compliance and procedures as Company Secretary. But it’s her work with young people that gives her a huge sense of satisfaction. Charmaine has NVQ Level 1 and Level 2 in Youth Work qualifications and 5 years experience, and is currently volunteering and working with young people at Groundworks Youth Clubs
Between Charmaine’s love of photography, fashion, antiques and roller-skating, she can often be found heading up trips for Urban Synergy’s young people. As well as volunteering at Urban Synergy, she also supports another local community youth intervention project helping young people some of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Courtney Griffiths QC, Chair
Courtney was as born in Kingston, Jamaica, and criminal law was an integral part of his experience and the process of his acculturisation into British society.Courtenay came to the Bar directly from university. He was always interested in politics and had long understood that black-letter law was not, in itself, a sufficient grounding for a proper application of the criminal law. Time spent as Legal Assistant to the Greater London Council’s Police Support Committee, and as a Revson Fellow at the City College in New York, completed his education. He returned to full time practice now able to articulate what hitherto had only been understood viscerally.
Ed Simpson, Company Secretary
Ed is an experienced corporate/commercial lawyer who combines wide-ranging technical legal expertise with hands-on business experience to provide pragmatic solution-driven advice to businesses.
Edward qualified as a Solicitor in 1991 and after 5 years at City firm Ashurst became an in-house lawyer. He worked for more than 10 years in this role for a number of leading companies including Telewest, Dragon Oil, Angel Trains and latterly BTG where he led the legal team.
Realising that in-house lawyers are extremely proficient at applying their legal expertise practically in the realities of the commercial world and can play a valuable role in any organisation, he set up his own business in 2007 with a view to making senior and experienced in-house lawyers available to all businesses.
He has particular experience in complex commercial contract work involving software and intellectual property rights, corporate issues faced by SMEs, litigation management, and employment law. Edward also has extensive experience of helping clients contracting in the USA and continental Europe.
Dr. Keith Davidson, Education
The Teaching Awards: London winner of the DfES Award for Governor of the Year 2006 and national runner up
Award for Outstanding Contribution to Parenting Symposium 2008, Kingston, Jamaica
Management and Leadership Practitioner
Management and leadership practitioner for the past 33 years, operating in both the private and public sectors. My knowledge and expertise in these areas have been developed from the following experiences:
- Director for the Newbold College Company Ltd
- Ofsted School Inspector (1993 – 2000)
- Project director for the Grant Maintained Status project for The John Loughborough School (1994 – 1998)
- Founder of the School Leadership Development Programme (SLDP) for Adventist School Leaders
- Member of the Teaching Awards Panel for London (2007 – Present)
Paul Lawrence, Equal Opportunities
Partner at LSTC Consultancy providing one 2 one coaching, personal development workshops, seminars, presentations and in-house training programs. We work with schools, youth groups, community groups and business with one aim; to improve the performance of the participants. Improved self esteem, goal setting and communication skills are just a few of the benefits of our programs.
Actively involved in Urban Synergy – LSTC has trained all of Urban Synergy’s Mentors.
Patrick Clark, HR
Director at Edf. Patrick was born in Jamaica and came with his siblings to live in England with his parents when he was eight. He attended a number of schools within his first 10 years in the country and found himself in a remedial class when he started his secondary school. He went on to attain O-levels, however, and joined the London Electricity Board as a technical engineer apprentice in 1978.
Today, Patrick is Director of Connections, which means he has responsibility for all new connections to EDF Energy’s distribution networks. It is the biggest business of its kind in the UK. As well as running Connections, Patrick manages EDF Energy Networks’ contracting company.
Zena Martin, PR/Communications/Marketing
I am a Board director level, marketing communications professional, with expertise in the advertising, in-house marketing and public relations fields. An American-British dual citizen, I have acquired significant experience across various industries, in the US, UK/Europe, The Middle East and Africa, including: Consumer Technology, B2B Technology, Telecommunications, FMCG, Media and Public Sector Services. Most recently, I have been consulting across all of these industries, with a client portfolio, including the likes of Kellogg’s, BlackBerry, Rebtel, Tetley, Sky, LOCOG, ECIS, the NHS and DWP.
When not working, I spend much of my free time volunteering for charities, including sitting on the Boards of The Scout Association and The RSA (Royal Society of Arts). I am also a frequent, keynote speaker and media pundit on the subject of marketing communications.
Marketing Communications, Advertising, Public Relations. Mainstream, Diversity, Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Speaking. Industry expertise includes: FMCG, Consumer and B2B Telecoms and Technology, The Arts, Charities and Healthcare, Baking
Garry Green, Charity Community Fundraising
Garry has been a member of Tooks Chambers since 2002. He specialises in criminal defence and is a committed advocate who is not afraid of advancing his client’s case and ensuring proper protection of their interests. He has a strong and varied practice representing clients across a wide spectrum of offences from homicide, firearms and drugs to evasion of customs duty and court martials.
Actively involved in Urban Synergy – Role Model
Eddie Nester (BBC), Media
He was most recently seen in the BBC’s Canterbury Tales and is a former Casualty star. He currently co-presents BBC London 94.9 FM’s show Drivetime with Kath Melandri. Eddie Nestor replaced Henry Bonsu on Drivetime who left to pursue other broadcasting opportunities.
He was voted The Speech Broadcaster of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2007. (Sony Radio Academy Award winners)
Michael Isola, Business
Goldman Sachs Asset Management – Middle East and New Markets Institutional Sales
Actively involved in Urban Synergy and Driving force behind ‘Think Further’ Academic Seminar