Donkey pulling cart with woman walking
Donkey pulling cart with woman walking

Our trustees

SPANA’s trustees are responsible for ensuring our charity is pursuing its long-term goals, effectively managing its finances and successfully fulfilling its charitable obligations, while operating in line with all legal requirements and the wishes of our supporters.

Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes – Chair

Mary-Lorraine brings extensive experience of both the charity sector and the business world to her role as SPANA’s Chair of Trustees, having spent her career serving as Chief Executive for such organisations as Portmeirion Potteries PLC, Pilkington’s Tiles Group PLC and Twycross Zoo. A keen animal lover and long-standing SPANA supporter, Mary-Lorraine has been a Trustee of SPANA since January 2017 and became our Chair of Trustees in February 2021.

Gavin R H Helmer – Deputy Chair

A leading financial services expert, Gavin has held a number of senior management roles at Credit Suisse, Standard Bank, UBS and Barclays. Gavin has been a trustee of SPANA since June 2014 and became our Deputy Chair in February 2021. In addition to serving as our Deputy Chair of Trustees, Gavin also Chairs our Finance and Audit Committee.

Monica Blagescu

Monica is a non-profit executive with 20 years of experience in international development and humanitarian response, having held leadership, programme management and policy advisory roles for charities, bilateral donors and the UN. Alongside a diverse consulting portfolio, she is currently a member of UK’s Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team and Deputy Chair of the Geneva-based H2H Network. Monica lives with her family in Kenya.

Dr Jacqueline Boyd

Jackie is an Animal Scientist with a particular interest in canine and equine science and has wide-ranging practical, academic and commercial experience in this sector. Humane and prosocial education for supporting animal wellbeing and human-animal interaction is a key interest and Jackie regularly gives guest lectures on this subject, as well as being involved in SPANA’s Services Committee, which includes the education provision. Jackie lives in Nottinghamshire and juggles a busy working life alongside caring for, training and competing her five cocker spaniels, as well as a Welsh pony, chickens, cats and quail!

Rob Gethen Smith

A digital technology and business change specialist, Rob currently works as Director of Business and Digital Consulting at Equantis and is also Chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Digital and Technology Group. Rob’s experience spans both the commercial and charity sectors, from his time as Global Programmes Director at Unit4, Head of Partnerships at m-hance and Director of Customer Engagement at Blackbaud, through to his work in Chief Information Officer roles at Anthony Nolan, the Southbank Centre, the Tate and Macmillan Cancer Support. Rob is Chair of SPANA’s Fundraising and Marketing Committee and is also Chair of our subsidiary charity, SPANA Australia.

Melissa Liszewski

Melissa has worked on community-based animal welfare initiatives in more than 30 countries around the world since 2005. Currently leading the global Community Engagement Program at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and previously leading the global Community Development team at Brooke, she is experienced in developing sustainable animal health and husbandry systems, as well as community-led approaches to disaster risk reduction and wildlife conservation. Melissa holds a master’s degree in animal science with specialisations in international development and social science.

Gavin Parker

A senior banking professional with established offshore, corporate, commercial and personal banking experience, Gavin has successfully employed his skills in strategic thinking and re-energising organisations for leading domestic and international businesses. In his early career, Gavin worked as a Relationship Manager focusing on providing banking services to the Charities and Not-for-profit sector. Gavin is a member of the Finance and Audit committee and our whistleblowing trustee.