Under the leadership of Chair Professor Eunice Simmons, the new trustees – Ryan Shorthouse, Tahmid Chowdhury, Heather Hodge and Shakira Martin – will work with our founding trustees to guide TASO’s spin-out into an independent charity and our work to improve equality in higher education.
In welcoming the new trustees, Professor Eunice Simmons, Chair of TASO’s Board of Trustees, said:
“I am very pleased to welcome Shakira, Tahmid, Ryan and Heather to TASO’s Board of Trustees. They bring with them a wealth of diverse experience and a strong commitment to equality and social mobility. They will play a significant role in guiding TASO’s work, as it expands and delivers on its vision to eliminate equality gaps in higher education. I look forward to working with them to ensure TASO is an effective and impactful organisation.”
Dr Omar Khan, Director TASO
I’m really looking forward to working with such a strong board to help more disadvantaged and underrepresented groups access higher education, succeed in their studies, and progress to suitable employment. These appointments will help TASO deliver on its mission to improve lives through evidence-informed practice.
Ryan is a writer, thinker and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Chief Executive of the UK think tank, Bright Blue. Ryan was previously a Research Fellow for the think tank the Social Market Foundation. Ryan is a Senior Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. He is a trustee of the Early Intervention Foundation, and was previously a trustee for the Young Women’s Trust (2014-2019) and the Daycare Trust (2010-2015). He sits on the advisory council of the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and Shelter’s Big Conversation on Social Housing. He is a mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation and a governor of a new secondary school in East London.
“TASO will be a vital institution demonstrating that the quantity and quality of higher education experienced in this country should and can increase. It will be essential for enhancing individual and national flourishing. We are building a profoundly ethical and crusading organisation that will become a transformative and world-leading What Works Centre.”
Tahmid Chowdhury is an Account Director at M&C Saatchi World Services and the Co-Founder of Here for Good, a charity providing free immigration services to European citizens living in the UK. At MCS, Tahmid works as a communications and project management specialist, supporting a range of government and community projects around the world in addressing complex problem sets. He volunteers as Joint-CEO at Here for Good, building a team of over 10 staff in the past two years and leading on the charity’s partnerships, governance, legal, and finance. In 2020, he was recognised for his work by being named on the Forbes Under 30 list as a leading social entrepreneur. Tahmid is also a Trustee of The Access Project, an education social mobility charity of which he is an alum; and can otherwise be found cheering on his one true love, Arsenal FC.
“I am delighted and excited to be joining the Board of TASO, a remarkable organisation that is already making a real difference to people’s lives. A significant part of my charity work in recent years has been focused on grassroots delivery. Whilst this is extremely important, it needs to be underpinned by tangible research and insights in order to be effective. That’s where TASO comes in. Increasingly in recent months, people have shown that they want to live in a fair and just society. This is only possible if we eliminate the equality gap. I’m glad to have the opportunity to play a part in helping TASO do just that.”
Heather is a chartered accountant with over thirty years of experience in financial services, in both long-established and start-up organisations. She has been a leader of international teams, often through periods of significant change, and has lived and worked internationally, most recently in Hong Kong. Her most recent role was at HSBC, where she was the Global Head of Stress Testing, working with boards and cross-functional teams to deliver complex analysis to the Bank of England and other financial regulators.
Heather has an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, a Master’s in Organizational Behaviour from Birkbeck, University of London and a Professional Certificate in Coaching. She is a keen runner, who has previously served as a Run Director at her local parkrun and is now a trustee of her local sports club.
“I am delighted to be joining the board of TASO and look forward to being able to make a contribution to the important cause of eliminating equality gaps in higher education. Being the first person in my family to go to university, I am a strong believer in the benefits of education and its power to transform lives. I look forward to working with the TASO team and my fellow trustees.”
Shakira Martin is Head of Student Experience at Rose Bruford College and founder of The Class of 2020 initiative. Prior to this, Shakira served as Vice President Further Education (2015-17) at the National Union of Students, before becoming National President (2017-19), representing 7 million young people studying in further and higher education – being only the second person to hold the post from an FE background, and the first black women to have held the role in the NUS’ 96-year history. Shakira holds a diploma in Teacher Training and has a Level 7 diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute and has just started MA in Student Engagement in HE at the University of Winchester. Alongside this Shakira sits on a number of boards with include Lambeth College, Villiers Park and until February 2020 sat on the OFS student panel.
“I am honoured to be joining the TASO board. Access, equality and inclusion to education is something very close to my heart and very personal to my journey to get me to where I am today. In these difficult times with so much going on for many different people its crucial we remain grounded to ensure education is accessible. Education and the generation of students currently studying, and those yet to step into our institutions, will be the ones who move our country forward. I am proud to be working with a board that is committed to ensuring this remains a priority within this “new world” – using research and evidence to keep access to education, social mobility and social justice on the top of the agenda in these crucial times.”
The new trustees will be joining our founding trustees:
- Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester (Chair)
- Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of Public Policy and Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London
- Maddalaine Ansell, Director Education at the British Council
- Jane McNeil, Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor Education at Nottingham Trent University