Our people are our biggest asset and come from a diverse range of backgrounds. What they all share is a common desire to use their skills and experience to ensure that every child has the chance to grow and prosper through access to quality education.
Vikas Pota, Chief Executive
Vikas became the Varkey Foundation’s first CEO in September 2010 and currently serves on a number of global education panels. These include the Girls & Female education panel; the Teachers Task Force; and the Global Alliance of Corporate Partners for Education – all for UNESCO. He also leads the development of the Global Education and Skills Forum and was selected as a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum in 2013.
Previously, Vikas was the Managing Director of a corporate affairs & communications consultancy business in London. Prior to this, he established the directorate of an independent parliamentary group in the British Houses of Parliament. He also serves as Group Director of Corporate Affairs at GEMS Education.
Cate Noble, Chief Operating Officer
Cate Noble is the Chief Operating Officer of the Varkey Foundation. She is a business leader with 15 years’ experience of strategy and transformation in the education, public and not-for-profit sectors. She has worked across a range of international markets encompassing the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia and Africa. She has particular expertise in institutional strategy and design (from early years to higher education), programme design and implementation, and education partnerships, and She was previously a Director at PwC, and prior to that Head of Development at Education Development Trust.
Desmond Bermingham, Director of Programmes
Desmond has over 20 years of experience in education and international development and has held education leadership positions with the World Bank, Save the Children, the Department for International Development (DFID) and, most recently, Sheikha Moza of Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation.
Desmond has a degree in English Literature from St John’s College, Oxford; master’s degrees in education and global development management; and a doctorate in international education policy. Desmond has written several articles and papers on international education, development and financing including a policy brief on post 2015 goals for UNESCO National Commission in the UK and a paper (with Nicholas Burnett) on innovative financing for education. He was formerly a teacher in secondary schools in inner city London. Desmond divides his team between homes in London and Georgetown, Guyana.
Emma Broadbent, Impact Manager
Emma is a development specialist with over 10 years professional experience working in Africa and Asia. Her particular experience and expertise lies in research and evidence-based programme development, having worked in various governance and education programmes in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Bangladesh. Emma holds a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Jesus College, Cambridge and an MA in Conflict, Security, and Development from Kings College London. She was also a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, from 2006.
Alice Cornish, Head of Education
Alice is responsible for ensuring the technical quality of all Varkey Foundation programmes and activities.
Alice has over 8 years’ experience working in the education sector and has designed and implemented education programmes around the world. Before joining the Varkey Foundation, she worked in the Education and Skills Consulting team at PwC and for GEMS Education Solutions. Alice qualified as an English teacher through the UK’s Teach First programme and holds a Masters in History from the University of Edinburgh.
Peter Knight, Finance Manager
Pete has extensive experience in both the education and charity sectors. Pete was Head of Finance and Administration with Kumon Educational for seven years during which there was significant growth in student numbers in the UK. Whilst with Kumon Pete opened a branch in Athens, Greece and spent time as Interim General Manager of Kumon Deutschland. Pete has been involved in charity finance for a number of years having held senior positions with community development charity Locality and the disability charity Scope. Pete is a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and has an MBA. He is also an accredited personal performance and youth impact coach and a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner and has coached many young people both independently and on the Uprising programme founded by the Young Foundation.
Nicole Lui, Regional Director
Nicole manages and strengthens the impact of the Varkey Foundation’s regional operations and supports global initiatives
Jonathan Simons, Director of Policy and Advocacy
Previously, Jonathan was Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange, where he wrote over 15 major reports, book chapters and policy papers across all aspects of education. He appeared regularly in print and broadcast - including Today, Newsnight, World at One, Adam Boulton, and Jeremy Vine. He also once gave a speech to a Socialist Workers’ Party conference where he advocated the complete Academisation of all England’s schools.
Jonathan has also worked at Serco Group, as Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office, and as Head of Education in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Outside of work Jonathan is the Chair of Governors and Co-Founder of Greenwich Free School, a Trustee of Reach4 Multi Academy Trust, and a Trustee of Ambition School Leadership. He writes a regular column for the TES newspaper on politics and education policy.
Nisha Vora, HR Manager
Nisha joined the Foundation in January 2016 and is responsible for all areas of Human Resources for the Foundation including recruitment. Prior to working at the Foundation Nisha worked in the Financial Services sector for over six years in HR and has also worked as a Recruitment Consultant. She graduated with a Business Degree and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources.
Rebecca Warbrick, Senior Marketing Manager
Rebecca leads all marketing across the Foundation to shine a spotlight on the importance of teachers, as well as continuing overall management of the Foundation’s Advocacy work including the Global Teacher Prize, the annual $1million Award to an exceptional teacher.
Rebecca has 15 years of experience in marketing and prior to her role at the Foundation, worked in the charity and medical sectors. She has a degree in Business and Marketing.
Agustin Porres – Country Director, Argentina
Agustin is an experienced Education and Public Policy professional with successful achievements in the development of innovative approaches to education and the development of creative solutions to solve challenges around education. Entrepreneurial minded with the ability to quickly adapt to changing markets, Agustin has worked for many years in the public sector in Argentina as an official at the Ministry of Education of the City of Buenos Aires and the Agency of Social Security; leading the Education Policy area at Fundacion Contemporanea.
Before joining the Varkey Foundation as Country Manager to Argentina, Agustin was the Executive Director at FormarHub Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports innovative approaches to education between Latin America and the United States. Agustin has Master Degree in Public Policy with specialization in education from the McCourt School of Public Policy in Georgetown University, Washington D.C. He has postgraduate in Politics, Government and Administration at the Catholic University of Argentina with a teacher certification in Philosophy.
Leonora Dowley, Country Director, Ghana
Leonora is the Country Director for the Varkey Foundation’s programmes in Ghana – Making Ghanaian Girls Great and Train for Tomorrow.
Over the past year, Leonora has worked on the Varkey Foundation’s teacher training project in Uganda, and the DfID funded GEC project currently being delivered in Ghana. She is currently working with Results for Development on a landscape study of health and education innovations across West Africa.
A former head of Philosophy and Religion at a London school, she has implemented successful improvement programmes with students and teachers to impact educational outcomes. She is a trained teacher with a Master’s degree in education, specialising in literacy, gender and childhood development, and has published work about student gender, female literacy, and learning engagement. She has a wide range of education experience, having taught in Uganda, France and Hong Kong, and currently mentors Open University students in Bangladesh who are taking courses in social development.
Charlotte Oloya, Project Manager, Uganda
Charlotte manages the Varkey Foundation teacher training programme in Uganda which aims at creating a sustainable approach to education by ensuring the skills required to improve pedagogy are embedded within Ugandan schools. She comes to the Varkey Foundation with over 10 years’ experience working with and managing projects in charity organisations across Africa and in the United Kingdom.
Prior to joining the Varkey Foundation, Charlotte worked with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in war-torn Northern Uganda where she was involved in, among others, community sensitisation on the right to education, especially for the girl child. Charlotte has been involved in high level policy advocacy, trained armed forces and the community on human rights, monitored places of detention and worked with the Uganda Human Rights Commission to get compensation for victims of human rights violations.