Our directors and leadership group

Our leadership group is made up of our UK-based directors and our regional directors.

Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive 

Justin Derbyshire, Interim Chief Executive, HelpAge International

Justin is the Chief Executive at HelpAge International from March 2017. Justin joined HelpAge International in 2014 as the Director of Programmes and was responsible for our regional offices in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean and the Humanitarian team. In his time to date, he has overseen the emergency responses in Nepal and Ukraine, driven the regional and country strategic reviews and led the implementation of the organisational wide change process.

Previously Justin worked at Save the Children UK, where he headed up the East Africa regional team, overseeing their interests and projects in their largest region. He was instrumental in growing their programmes and increasing their portfolio in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia whilst ensuring the successful delivery of complex and large projects. He sat on their organisational risk committee and the programme board for the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.

Prior to Save the Children, Justin worked for Merlin in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and in London, where he was overseeing the five east Africa country programmes. 

Follow Justin on Twitter @JJDerbyshire

Cherian Mathews, Director of Global Impact and Resourcing

Cherian Mathews, Director of Global Impact and Resourcing

Cherian joined HelpAge International in October 2017 as the Director of Global Impact and Resourcing. Prior to this, Cherian worked with Oxfam GB as International Programme Director where he provided strategic leadership and direction to Oxfam GB programmes in Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Since joining Oxfam in 2003, he undertook strategic leadership roles in managing long-term development, humanitarian and campaigns work at the country and regional levels. He was the Asia Regional Director and led major humanitarian responses in the region, including the 2014 typhoon in the Philippines and 2015 Nepal earthquake response.

Cherian also represented Oxfam at high level policy events as part of global campaigning work, on food and climate, and inequality. 

Before joining Oxfam, Cherian worked with Action Aid as a regional manager and provided leadership on programme development, policy advocacy, partnerships management and fund raising.

Kate Wedgwood, Director of Network, Advocacy, Communications and Campaigns

Kate Wedgwood, Director of Network, Advocacy, Communications and Campaigns

Kate joined HelpAge in 2015 from the Department for International Development (DFID) where she worked initially in the head office as Head of Communications for the Africa Division and Head of Cabinet for the Director for West and Southern Africa. She later became Head of Programmes and Deputy Head of DFID Uganda.

Prior to joining DFID, Kate worked for 15 years for Save the Children, initially as Water Programme Manager in Malawi and then as Country Director for China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Before Save the Children, she worked in Latin America initially as a research fellow for CEPIS, the Pan American Environmental Health and Engineering Centre in Peru, and then for the Nicaraguan government leading a flagship rural water supply programme.

In 2012, Kate was seconded from DFID to the Nike Foundation/DFID collaborative initiative Girl Hub to head up Girl Hub Rwanda where she established a branded media platform for adolescent girls and catalysed an enabling environment that would make Rwanda a lead in Africa on investing in girls.

In September 2014, Kate became Africa Regional Adviser for Girl Hub, providing management for its operations in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria, and giving technical advice to DFID girl-centred programmes in Africa.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateFWedgwood

Asif Sawar, Chief Operating Officer

Asif Sawar, Director of Finance

Asif joined HelpAge International in 2008 and became Director of Finance and Corporate Services in October 2014.  In September 2016 he was appointed as Chief Operating Officer. 

Before joining HelpAge, he worked for Save the Children in Pakistan, Sudan, Rwanda, Kosovo and Indonesia where he provided financial, HR and logistical support after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.


Regional directors

Barbara Shenstone, Regional Director, Eurasia and Middle East 

Barbara Shenstone

Barbara Shenstone brings to HelpAge International more than 30 years’ experience in international development, managing programmes of humanitarian and development assistance in countries and territories emerging from or experiencing political, social and economic crisis.

From 2007 to 2011, she served as Director of UNRWA in the West Bank, managing the agency’s $140 million programme providing essential services in primary education, vocational training, primary healthcare, and relief and social services for more than 600,000 Palestine refugees.

She joined UNOCHA in 2011 to lead its office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for three years, and in 2014 assumed leadership of UNOCHA's office in eastern Turkey, supporting cross-border emergency relief into Syria.

Previous work took her with the international NGO CARE to countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chechnya, Iraq, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Barbara has also worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Canadian International Development Agency. She began her international career as a volunteer teacher with World University Service of Canada in Africa.

She is a Canadian citizen, and holds an MA in International Relations (Conflict Analysis) from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Eduardo Klien, Regional Director, Asia

Eduardo Klien, Regional Director, East Asia and Pacific

Eduardo joined HelpAge as Asia/Pacific Regional Representative in September 2004. He has worked in Asia for the last 12 years. Previous posts included working for Oxfam GB as Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa and Regional Director for Mexico/Central America.

Eduardo has extensive experience of working in social and economic development with both governments and international organisations.

He is an economist by profession and has been a lecturer in Economics in the Universities of Mexico and Nicaragua. He has also been a Visiting Research Fellow in the Queen Elizabeth House of the University of Oxford.

Eduardo is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Ageing of the University of Oxford.

Prafulla Mishra, Regional Director, Africa

Prafulla Mishra

With a professional career spanning over two decades, Prafulla has significant experience of leading country and regional programmes in both humanitarian and development work in the East Africa region. 

Before joining HelpAge International in June 2014, he worked for the International Rescue Committee and more recently the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Prafulla has also worked for 12 years in leadership positions with Oxfam in India and M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, India.

He has programmatic experience and expertise in a range of themes including ecology and natural resource management, disaster risk reduction, livelihoods, gender, governance and human rights, child and youth protection and primary health.

Area heads

Lina Alqurah, Head of Network Coordination and Development, Eurasia and Middle East

Lina Alqurah, Head of Network Coordination and Development, Eurasia and Middle East at HelpAge International

Lina Alqurah came to HelpAge International from Action Against Hunger, where she worked as the Regional Advocacy Manager with a mandate that covers Iraq, Yemen and Jordan. Before that she worked for the Search for Common Ground, Freedom House Jordan, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and the Sisterhood is Global Institute Jordan.

Lina has a wide knowledge and lengthy experience in human rights, gender equality, human development and humanitarian aid.



Patricia Conboy, Head of Global Ageing, Advocacy and Campaigning

Patricia Conboy

Patricia joined HelpAge in 2016. She has extensive professional experience in policy on ageing and older people. 

Previously, she was Director of Older & Bolder, an alliance of NGOs that campaigned successfully with older people for the delivery of a national strategy on ageing in Ireland, for access to adequate income, health and care in later life, and for the inclusion of older people's voices in public debates on ageing.

Patricia has also been a member of the Oversight Board of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Follow Patricia on Twitter @PatriciaConboy1.


Baralee Meesukh, Head of Network Coordination and Development, Asia-Pacific

Baralee Meesukh, Head of Network Coordinator and Development, Asia-Pacific

Baralee has over 15 years' experience in strategic communications and advocacy.  Her diverse experience includes working in communications and political and economic analysis at the Australian diplomatic mission in Bangkok, news producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and communication consultant for various international agencies.

Prior to joining HelpAge in 2016, Baralee spent over six years at Asian Harm Reduction Network to promote improvements in healthcare services for people who use drugs throughout the Asia-Pacific region. She was a founding member of the 12D network, a group of Thai NGOs advocating for comprehensive healthcare policy for people who use drugs in Thailand.

Follow Baralee on Twitter @BaraleeMeesukh

Justine Reader, Head of Operations

Justine joined HelpAge International in January 2017. She has had an extensive career working within the health and charity sectors, including in prisons, hospital and community environments. She has over 15 years management experience in designing and running innovative and high quality services for individuals with complex needs.  

Amleset Tewodros, Head of Programmes - Africa

Amleset Tewodros

Amleset Tewodros has over two decades of experience in development and humanitarian work in sub-Sahraran Africa. She has been involved research, policy influencing and advocacy work at national and international level, focusing on older people's access to healthcare, income, and protection from violence and discrimination.

She is passionate about gender, social justice and human rights issues. She holds a masters in Sociology from the University of Nairobi and a BA in Management and Public Administration from Addis Ababa University.


Patrick Wilson, Head of Communications and Digital

Patrick joined HelpAge in summer 2017. He has more than 20 years' experience in strategic communications management in higher education, research, NGOs and government agencies in the UK and internationally, most recently as Head of Communications at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from 2011-17.     

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