Meet the Commissioners

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Sir Stephen O’Brien CBE, Chair of the London Communities Commission

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Sir Stephen O’Brien CBE is Chairman of London Works and a Trustee of the Mayors Fund For London, Barts Charity and Foundation For Future London. He is a Vice President of Business in the Community and is especially interested in mental health.

Stephen has lived in East London for many years. His great passion is for building the communities of East London through the provision of good healthcare, housing, education and employment.

Previously Stephen was Chairman of Barts Health NHS Trust, NHS Tower Hamlets, the University of East London, International Health Partners, London First, Teach First and Charles Fulton and Co Ltd. He was the first Chief Executive of Business in the Community and supports several charities in their fundraising.


David Adair, Head of Community Affairs, Corporate Sustainability at PricewaterhouseCoopers UK

20120207 Copyright onEdition 2012© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition PwC have opened a new social enterprise business centre in London, to support both new and existing social enterprise businesses, providing up to 145 apprenticeships/work experiences for homeless people and mentors nationwide. More information - Renee Wilson Mobile: +44 (0) 7809 756 377 or Rowena mearley : -7841 563 180 If you require a higher resolution image or you have any other onEdition photographic enquiries, please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email This image is copyright the photographer 2012©. This image has been supplied by onEdition and must be credited onEdition. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email

David joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2001, bringing with him extensive knowledge and experience from the voluntary sector, having developed the Prince’s Trust team programme through Challenge South after the Brixton riots and held various posts in the creative industries in relation to social inclusion and social mobility.

David heads up PwC’s national community affairs team in the UK, part of Corporate Sustainability, responsibilities include national community partnerships and the PwC Foundation.

David is a member of the World Forum on Social Enterprise having presented in San Francisco (2010) and Brazil (2012) on collaborative cross sector partnerships. David initiated and developed PwC’s own social enterprise hub the Fire Station in London incorporating ‘Brigade’ in conjunction with Beyond Food and DeVere venues, a restaurant training those at risk of homelessness in culinary skills. The Fire Station also houses the School for Social Entrepreneurs, a Centre for Social Impact, Social Enterprise UK and the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club. There are currently 6 Centres for Social Impact across the UK with 3 in Scotland.

David has worked with other PwC territories to replicate the UK social enterprise model such as Milan (2015) , where PwC are developing a restaurant with prisoners inspired by the Brigade model

David is a Trustee of the PwC Foundation, sits on the PwC Charities Management Board and externally he chairs the Southwark Business Forum and is a Director of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS).

David was named SEUK’s Social Enterprise Champion of the Year and a BitC Game changer in 2012 and awarded the Global CSR Excellence & Leadership Award at the World CSR Congress in Mumbai 2013.

David has a keen interest in both social inclusion and the arts and is an ambassador for the Unicorn Theatre London.


Geraldine Blake, Chief Executive, Community Links

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Geraldine’s background is community research and development, with a focus on engaging communities in improving public services and regenerating neighbourhoods. From 1993-2003 she set up and ran a community consultancy, GAP Research, specialising in training and supporting residents and public sector agencies to collaborate on service improvement. During this time she chaired the award winning Get Set regeneration programme, which supported local people to develop ‘Citizen’s Strategies’ to tackle long standing local problems.

In 2003, Geraldine joined Community Links, an innovative community organisation that tackles the causes and consequences of exclusion in east London. She set up Links UK, which shares experience from the ground up with practitioners and policy makers nationwide through a programme of publications, events, research and campaigning, and practitioner led consultancy and training. In 2009, Geraldine became Chief Executive of Community Links, and since then has led the organisation through significant changes as public sector funding has rapidly reduced, doubling independent and earned income whilst consolidating and redesigning services to the community.

In 2010, Geraldine was awarded the BITC Marks & Spencer Sieff Award for individuals who have best collaborated with business to benefit society.


Paul Buchanan, Executive Director responsible for Business in the Community’s work on community issues

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Paul has worked at BITC since 2001 and is a member of BITC’s executive management team. Paul has previously held a variety of roles including London Regional Director, London Membership Director, Head of Membership Recruitment and North East Business Development Manager. He is passionate about the role of business in creating more resilient, vibrant and successful communities.

Previously Paul worked in IT strategy at British Airways in their head office at Waterside.

Paul is the Chairman of The Boxing Academy which is an innovative and impactful school for young people at risk of exclusion. Paul is also a trustee of Techo UK (the European arm of Techo) which is a nonprofit organisation mobilising youth volunteers to fight extreme poverty in Latin America, by constructing transitional housing and implementing social inclusion programs.

He has a love of travel and experiencing different cultures having spent six months in south America; six months in India; and six months living in Cambodia, and is also an avid cyclist who enjoys touring. Paul is married with three young daughters.


Sarah Ebanja, Chair, Bernie Grants Arts Centre


Sarah currently works closely with the wider community in Haringey as Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Bernie Grant Performing Arts Centre. She has extensive experience of working to improve the lives of communities, having worked at a top level in local government for Lewisham, Hackney and Islington Councils and as Deputy Chief Executive of the London Development Agency.

Sarah provides a range of project, management, and strategy development that draw upon her 20+ years’ experience as a senior officer in London’s local and regional government.


Sir Sam Everington, MBBS, MRCGP, Barrister, OBE

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Sam has been a GP in Tower Hamlets since 1989, is chair of Tower Hamlet’s CCG and a Board member of NHSCC. He is part of the Bromley By Bow GP partnership, with over 100 projects under its roof supporting the wider determinants of health. He is governor of a local primary school and was one of the founders of THEDOC – Tower Hamlets GP Out of Hours Service.

Sam is a qualified Barrister, a member of BMA Council and Vice President of the BMA. In 1999 he received an OBE for services to inner city primary care in 2006, The

International Award of Excellence in Health Care and in 2015 a knighthood for services to primary care.  He is a director of Community Health Partnerships (NHS Lift). He has published a number of papers with Professor Aneez Esmail on discrimination in the NHS. He is a Trustee of the Kings Fund and Fellow of Queen Mary University of London. He has previously been a member of GMC Council, Cabinet appointed Ambassador for Social Enterprise, Acting Chair of the BMA. He is a trained woodcarver, welder and Day skipper and speaks Norwegian.


Lucy de Groot CBE

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Lucy de Groot spent ten years as a community activist in north Islington, Manchester and Hackney. Through working on economic regeneration she moved into local government and has since had senior roles in local and central government, as Executive Director of the Improvement and Development Agency for local government, Director of Public Services at the Treasury and Chief Executive of Bristol City Council. She recently retired as the Chief Executive of the national charity CSV (now Volunteering Matters).

Currently, Lay Member and Audit Chair of the Islington Clinical Commissioning Group, a Trustee of the Baring Foundation, Vice Chair of Governors the Working Men’s College in Camden and Board member of JoinIn, the sport volunteering charity. She has lived in north Islington for the past 15 years and received her CBE for services to local government in 2009.

Guy Insull


Guy is the Appeal Director at homeless charity Caritas Anchor House. He has been with Caritas Anchor House since 2009, leading the Fundraising and Marketing department, and is responsible for raising the £15.3m target of their Home and Hope Appeal, of which there is £2.5million remaining. He has strong experience in corporate business, having previously worked as a Director at Mars Inc. and a career in City banking.

Neil Johnston,
CEO Paddington Development Trust


Neil has worked in creative industries, community regeneration and economic development in the UK, USA, Africa and Europe for over 40 years. After a career in creative arts and business he established and grew a number of social enterprises connected to Community Development Trusts. Until recently he was a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting.

In 1986, after running two successful creative businesses he became a founding Director of the Portobello Trust and in 1997 Chief Executive of the then newly formed Paddington Development Trust. Working in some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the heart of London and together with the PDT Board and staff team, he has developed an award winning organisation dedicated to social and economic equality and sustainable social activism that empowers individual citizens and builds community resilience.

Paddington Development Trust pioneered neighbourhood working before it became policy in 2000 and was an early pathfinder for neighbourhood management and renewal programmes, including Local Area Agreements. This inevitably involved close working relationships with two large Local Authorities, the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where he worked for ten years. PDT won the BURA and ACE awards for community regeneration in 2006/7 and the City of London Sustainable Communities award in 2015.

Neil is currently a Director of Julies Bicycle, a small company committed to carbon reduction and environmental sustainability in creative industries. He operates an organic small-holding producing top fruit and apple juice in Northamptonshire where he now lives.


Christine Mead, Behaviour Change Commissioner, Public Health, H&F, RBKC & WCC

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Christine has a background in community development , starting work in the third sector in village development projects in India and Portugal.  She has an interest in what helps communities change and develop, and went on to train as a counsellor and pyschotherapist to understand the psychological elements which support people to change. She has also worked in the private sector debriefing people following traumatic accidents at work, and delivering leadership development programmes.

Much of her work in the last twenty years has focused on the area of health and communities. She worked for Terrence Higgins Trust, managing counselling, health trainer, volunteer and peer support services in London, and then moved in to commissioning self management services in the NHS, and Public Health Behaviour Change  services for local authorities.


Eithne Rynne, CEO of LVSC


Born and educated in Ireland, Eithne has lived and worked in London for 25 years. Eithne started her career in social work rapidly rising to senior roles within the Voluntary and Community sector.

Eithne has a wealth of experience of the Third sector and her roles have seen her working closely with Central and Local Government and the Business sector. Eithne joined London Voluntary Service Council in 2012 from Greater London Volunteering where she enjoyed a strong representative presence and worked closely with her members to raise the profile of volunteering across London and the UK.

Eithne has extensive leadership experience in a broad spectrum of organisations, most recently as Director of Greater London Volunteering, Community Links Bromley and Chief Executive of the Federation of Irish Societies. Eithne has:

  • Significant track record in managing and leading organisations
  • Extensive campaigning and networking skills
  • Experience of Public, Private and Third sector organisations
  • Extensive experience of negotiating and influencing at senior level
  • Experienced at developing and maintaining strong partnerships and relationships


David Warner, Director of London Funders

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David joined London Funders in September 2013, and has been working for almost 30 years in the charity sector, mostly recently spending 10 years as Chief Executive of a national animal rescue and rehoming charity. Previous roles included a period working as an Independent Consultant working with funders and funded charities in London, with the rest of his career being spent working in homelessness and supported housing, including time working in direct access hostels, as a Regional Director at Stonham Housing Association, and 5 years as Director of Homeless Network (the umbrella body for homelessness charities in London) prior to its merger with National Homeless Alliance to create Homeless Link.

Over the last 30 years David has held a number of non-executive and trustee roles, including being a trustee and treasurer at LVSC, and Chair of the Revolving Doors Agency.

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