Halima Begum, CEO

Halima Begum
Halima Begum

Oxfam's CEO, Leadership and Trustees

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible to Trustees for the management of Oxfam, and is supported by a Strategic Leadership Team and other key roles.

Oxfam's Leadership Team

I am excited to be joining Oxfam - an organisation that pushes for change to overcome poverty and inequalities around the world while being part of the fabric of the British high street.

At a time when the world is beset by conflict and climate change, inequality and division, Oxfam has crucial role in supporting communities’ efforts to escape poverty and ensuring that their voices cannot be ignored by those who hold power.

As I transition to my new role at Oxfam, I carry with me the invaluable experiences and lessons learned during my tenure at ActionAid UK, from humanitarian work in Gaza and ongoing work on anti-racism and decolonisation to unwavering commitment to the rights of women and girls around the world.

I joined Oxfam GB in January 2020, in what was a new role responsible for driving the implementation of our new strategic vision. From October 2020, my role changed with an increase in responsibility, incorporating the global operations of Oxfam GB and I was appointed Chief Transformation Officer. My purpose remains to facilitate the transformation work needed to achieve the OGB strategy and enable a once-in-a-decade change to the confederation’s global operating model, while delivering OGB’s international operations efficiently, to a high standard and in line with our values and commitments to be safe, feminist and partner-led.

My skills and experience are in designing and delivering complex transformation for organisations. I have held a number of strategic leadership, programme, project and operational roles for the Cabinet Office, Oxford Brookes University and the Open University amongst others. I have mainly worked in the public and not-for-profit sectors, having a deep, long-held belief in the profound impact they have on the lives of the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

I'm delighted to be working with Oxfam colleagues, both in the UK and internationally, who are clearly inspired by the work they do, and I feel very privileged to be a part of this journey.

I’m delighted to have joined Oxfam (in February 2023), having donated to and shopped in Oxfam shops for as long as I can remember. I have a real sense of excitement for my role and being part of Oxfam.

I trained at PwC and during my thirteen years there worked on FTSE 100, private equity and owner-manager businesses and charities. In 2011 I moved to become Director of Financial Governance at Save the Children International, where I oversaw the set-up of the head office finance function for the newly formed organisation and was part of the team which transitioned 50 countries and $1billion of programming into the new entity over a 2.5 year period.

In 2014 I joined Comic Relief in the wide-ranging role of Executive Director of Finance & Resources. I then spent three years at Be the Business, a start-up with a mission to improve UK productivity.

Outside of work, our daughter and Labrador keep me and my husband busy. Crafting and muddy walks fill most of my spare time! I'm also a trustee of the Outward Bound Trust and a director of Blaze Trails CIC, a Community Interest Company supporting parents to get out walking with their babies.

I joined Oxfam GB as Chief Impact Officer in December 2022, following more than 20 years’ experience in strategic and operational roles around the globe in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Most recently I was Executive Director of Impact and Investment at Comic Relief where I helped lead a redesign of their funding journey, centring the voices of people closest to the issues – and solutions – from design right through to decision-making. Getting the foundations right is a key step to achieving a more equal world where no-one is left behind and communities have both voice and power.

I’m passionate about reimagining the aid and development system, and was a Founding Trustee of the Start Network - working to tackle the biggest systemic problems in the humanitarian sector.

This desire for change, and moving from words to action, is what drew me to Oxfam – and particularly our journey to transform for a radically better world.

I hold a Masters in International Relations (Conflict, Security and Development) from the University of Sussex and live in Brighton. When not working, I can often be found in the sea recharging my batteries.

My love of charity shopping brought me to Oxfam in 2007. Prior to this I had spent nine years developing my marketing skills with an international household cleaning products brand. I came to Oxfam to head up the Retail Marketing and Communications Teams.

My focus was to support our wonderful shop teams with their mission to raise money for Oxfam’s vital work. Over the years I led some exciting projects to celebrate our shops, including the launch of the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange (now known as Shwopping) in 2008, the launch of our Tag Your Bag gift aid scheme which raises millions of extra pounds every year from your donations, the Big Bra Hunt in 2012 which brought in over 500,000 bra donations and the first Second Hand September in 2019 when over 60,000 people joined us to say yes to second hand.

Since 2019 I have been leading Planning and Strategy for Oxfam’s Engagement division, supporting teams to develop and deliver fundraising and communications activities with new ways of working which align to our anti-racist and feminist culture. In 2023 I joined the senior leadership team where my focus continues to be culture change and ways of working to help us deliver on our mission for radical impact.

I joined Oxfam GB as Chief People Officer in October 2023 having been a supporter for many years.

I’m passionate about what Oxfam stands for and jumped at the chance to play a part in its mission to end inequality and shift power to the communities we serve.

In my role I provide leadership of HR activity, with a strong focus on evolving Oxfam’s internal culture.

Prior to joining Oxfam, I was Chief People Officer for the EMEA region of DDB, a creative advertising agency. One of my main aims there was to help create a culture in which creativity was able to flourish by creating the environment for team members to bring their whole selves to the agency and do their best work.

Outside of work I enjoy music festivals, yoga, travelling, and learning to roller-skate.

Other key roles

Eelco Vugs, Oxfam International Director of Safeguarding, provides strategic leadership of safeguarding across the confederation. Oxfam GB’s Global Head of Safeguarding works closely with him in a matrix management relationship to ensure strategic alignment.

Eelco has extensive leadership experience in safeguarding and child protection within governmental and non-governmental organisations (the British Council and Salvation Army among others), including work in Australia, Asia and Europe.

Oxfam’s Board of Trustees

Oxfam's trustees are ultimately responsible in law for the charity, its assets and activities.

They form the Council of Trustees, which is the governing body of the Association of Oxfam (a not-for-profit limited-liability company). They are appointed because of their commitment to Oxfam and their experience and skills which enable them to undertake the responsibilities of trusteeship of a large and complex charity. 

Reports on council meetings can be found on the plans, reports and policies pages.

Charles Gurassa has been Chair of Oxfam GB since October 2020. He has extensive senior leadership and governance experience, including managing transformative change – and a passion for Oxfam’s values and work.

Charles is Chair of the Guardian Media Group, having previously been Chair of Channel 4 until 2022, and has been a Trustee of English Heritage since 2015. From 2005-2014 he served in board-level roles for the National Trust, including as Deputy Chair from 2013-14 and as Chair of National Trust Enterprises (2006-2013). Charles has also supported the Migration Museum in London as Chair since 2021 having been a Trustee since 2014 and chaired Genesis Housing Group, a housing association, from 2010-2017.

Other current and recent non-executive positions include:

2018 – current: Great Rail Journeys Chair

2011– end 2020: EasyJet Deputy Chair

2013 – 2019: Merlin Entertainments Group Senior Independent Director

In addition to not-for-profit and non-executive experience, Charles brings decades of executive experience, including as former chief executive of both Thomson Travel and TUI Northern Europe. He started his career as a youth worker with Youth Action York before moving into the travel and tourism sector. Charles made the decision in 2003 to step back from full-time executive roles for family reasons and since then has held a diverse range of non-executive positions.

Charles lives in London but loves to spend time in Italy. His hobbies include music, theatre, tennis, and football (he’s a Chelsea fan).

Angela Cluff is a fundraising consultant. She works with UK and international charities and not for profit organisations to transform fundraising performance. She has a special interest in major donor fundraising and the power of philanthropy.

Before becoming a fundraiser, Angela's career was in commercial marketing, advertising, and market research. Her fundraising career has spanned senior roles across a range of fundraising streams and organisations, including NSPCC where she played a leading role in creating and implementing the ground-breaking FULL STOP campaign.

Angela has been a fundraising consultant for the last 20 years, as a director of The Management Centre and now as an independent freelancer.

Angela is a regular speaker at national and international fundraising conferences on a wide range of topics, is an occasional writer and was a contributor to the Commission on the Donor Experience.

Les is a chartered accountant with 40 years of experience in various finance roles in the private and public sector. He retired in 2017 as finance director in the Department for International Development. Prior to that, he was finance director at the Student Loans Company and before that, finance director at Glasgow Housing Association. His private sector roles were in British Energy, Scottish Power and PwC.

He was recently a member of the Board of the International Institute for Environmental Development (IIED), the policy and action research organisation which promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. He has previously had non-executive roles with the Scottish Legal Aid Board, which is responsible for managing legal aid in Scotland, and with Quarriers, Scotland's leading social care charity. He chaired the audit committee in all three of these organisations.

In his spare time, Les enjoys cycling and has been spotted in the Alps and the Pyrenees (though finds the hills around Glasgow much easier).

Les joined the Council of Oxfam GB as Treasurer-designate in December 2018 and became Treasurer in July 2019.

Andrew has been engaged with charities and wider civil society for over 30 years and has a longstanding commitment to the INGO sector. He is a chartered accountant and was Finance Director and Deputy Chief Executive of ActionAid UK (1986-1991) and Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Barnardo's (1992-1995). He then moved to the BBC as Chief Operating Officer of BBC World Service (1995-2004). He was the first chief executive of the Charity Commission for England & Wales (2004-2010) and then editor of Charity Finance magazine (until 2015). Andrew's extensive non-executive and trustee experience includes serving as a non-executive board member of the Information Commission (2010-2015), the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (2009-2016) and Chair of the Fundraising Standards Board (2015-2016). He is a former trustee of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, VSO and UNICEF UK, and is author of The Governance and Management of Charities. Andrew received the Outstanding Achievement Award for longstanding commitment and service to the voluntary sector at the Charity Awards 2008.

Currently, Andrew is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at Bayes Business School, London, helping to run its postgraduate MSc course in Charity Studies. Andrew is a member of Oxfam GB's Audit and Risk Committee.

Ken Caldwell joined the Oxfam GB Board in 2016 and has been Chair of the Oxfam GB Programme Committee since 2019. He is also one of our Honorary Officers.

He has held a wide variety of leadership roles in international non-profit organisations, both in executive and non-executive roles.

His executive leadership roles include serving as Executive Director of WaterAid International, as International Programmes Director at Save the Children, and as Deputy Director of VSO. He has also led a research and consulting practice working with leading global international NGO federations on issues of strategy, governance, and programme effectiveness. In his earlier career he worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.

In his non-executive roles, he is currently the Chair of BRAC UK and a member of the BRAC Global Board and is also a Board member of Farm Africa. His past non-executive roles include serving as a Board member of the Institute of Development Studies, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Children's Society, the National Centre for Social Research, and the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Development. He was also the founding Chair of BOND.

"I was called to the Ghana Bar in 1996 and the plan was to go into private legal practice until I found myself in the Gambia working as a Legal Officer with the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights. It was there that I discovered my true calling, I believe. This was 1997/98 - at the height of Sani Abacha's excesses, and several civil society organisations (from Nigeria especially) engaged the Commission actively and fought for democracy and the respect for and protection of human rights in their countries. This fight for social justice was one I fully identified with and wanted to be a part of. I have not looked back since.

In 2004, I coordinated the work of the over 200-member coalition that pushed for a legal framework to protect survivors of domestic violence in Ghana and I have been an active member of the women's movement. Through my work with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) as Governance Program Officer and Country Coordinator for Nigeria I pushed for an enabling environment for civic engagement, consolidating democracy, transparency and accountability in governance, the respect, promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights in the sub-region. As the Regional Policy Advisor for West Africa for Ibis West Africa, I contributed to the organisation's work on improving natural resource governance, local governance and education, especially in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Currently, I head the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), an organization with a mission to strengthen the capacity of civil society primarily in West Africa, but also beyond, to become more effective, efficient and sustainable in the fight for social justice and contribution to development.

Oxfam GB's mission of ending poverty and fighting inequality resonates with me on several levels and it is both a pleasure and privilege for me to join the team as a Trustee. I hope to contribute all I can towards achieving this noble mission and trust that I'll learn a lot too."

Tunde is a Senior Partner with McKinsey & Company, Inc, a global management consultancy firm that advises leading institutions on a range of issues. He is based in London and leads the UK Digital Practice for the firm. He primarily works with Financial Institutions and Public Sector clients on strategy, operations, technology and organisation topics. He holds an MEng degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Imperial College, London.

He has been a supporter of Oxfam for more than a decade - working with members of the LT and Oxfam colleagues on topics spanning the set up of Just Energy, Shop logistics improvements, Fundraising Innovation, Culture and Private sector collaboration amongst many topics. Tunde has been a member of Oxfam's Trustee Audit & Finance Group since 2015.

Tunde is energised and impressed by the passion and commitment Oxfam colleagues bring to tackling critical social issues. He is excited to together find ways to amplify this impact, taking advantage where helpful of the insights he has gained seeing the practices and techniques employed by many highly effective organisations.

Annie Hudson joined the Oxfam GB Board in January 2020 and is the lead Trustee for safeguarding. She has a professional background in social work, safeguarding and children’s services. She is Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (for England). Formerly, she was Director of Children’s Services at Bristol City Council and then at London Borough of Lambeth. She was also previously Chief Executive of The College of Social Work.

Earlier in her career Annie worked as a social worker, and as an academic where she researched and published on child protection and young women’s experiences of care. As Bristol's Director of Children's Services, Annie worked with the BBC on the highly acclaimed 'Protecting our Children' TV series. In 2012 she was given a national Social Worker of the Year award for her 'outstanding contribution to social work'.

As Oxfam’s lead trustee for safeguarding, she chairs our Safeguarding & Ethics Committee; with many others, she has been seeking to make sure that these issues are fully integral to all aspects of Oxfam's vital and inspirational work across the world.

Hellen Grace Akwii-Wangusa, a Ugandan, a mother and grandmother of 4. She was born to a teacher who was later ordained into Priesthood, and a Mother who did development work as the Mothers Unions (MU) Worker. Hellen was awarded a University Women’s Scholarship, a Fulbright Scholarship and in 2001, a Commonwealth Research Grant.

Hellen’s career path started as a Lecturer at Makerere University in the Department of Literature, as well as working part-time with the Mothers Union (MU), and as a Women’s Provincial worker. After a short training at Manchester University, she was appointed to coordinate the African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON), which had chapters in 20 African countries. The focus of AWEPON was Economic policy analysis and gender-based research and advocacy. In that position, Hellen trained and secured funding for a minimum of 34 African women annually, to participate in influencing decisions and advocate for pro-poor and gender sensitive economic policies at the United Nations, The World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings and the World Economic and Social Fora.

In 2004, she was appointed by UNDP to coordinate Africa Civil Society Organisations implementing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) programmes in 16 African countries. Next, Hellen served as the Personal Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Observer at the United Nations (UN).

Hellen serves as the Chair of the Action Aid International Board, as an advisory member of Christian Aid International and the KARIBU Foundation-Norway, she is also a member of the Technical Task Force of the African Union.

Hellen holds a BA/DipEduc from Makerere University, an MA in Modern Letters and Women’s Studies from Tulsa University, USA, an Hon. PhD in International Relations and a second Hon. PhD in Civic Law.

Martha Mackenzie is the Executive Director of the Civic Power Fund, a new pooled fund dedicated to community organising.

The Civic Power Fund aims to build the power of communities to win change that matters to them. It does this by raising resources from large foundations, trusts, and philanthropies and redistributing them to grassroots community organisers and activists. The Fund prioritises communities excluded from full participation in democracy because of their race, gender, disability, class, sexuality, or immigration status. It aims to break down barriers to funding for these communities and provides long-term support to build bottom-up social movements.

Martha brings a background in organising, campaigning, fundraising and charity leadership. Prior to joining the Civic Power Fund, she was Head of Global Humanitarian Advocacy at UNICEF headquarters in New York. Here she led UNICEF's Global Covid-19 Advocacy and helped to establish UNICEF's Advocacy Capacity Building Initiative; boosting the campaigning capacity of their country teams. Before moving to the USA, she was Head of Government Relations and Director of UK Poverty Campaigns at Save the Children UK. Here she led a major sector-wide push to strengthen safeguarding and streamline criminal record background checks. She also helped to establish the Aid Alliance, a group of 46 international development who are still working together to build public and political support for UK Aid.

Martha has been an Oxfam supporter for as long as she can remember. From taking part in bakesales at primary school to joining the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh and volunteering in her local Oxfam shop. She is thrilled to be part of Oxfam's work to shift power to the communities they serve.

Mitesh Patel joined Oxfam GB as a Trustee in November 2022. He is an entrepreneur with significant executive-level experience in large retail groups.

Mitesh is the co-founder of Lenstore and developed the business from a broom cupboard above his parents' shop into one of Europe's largest online optical retailers. He was a member of the Vision Express Executive Team, and at the age of 35 became the youngest member of the GrandVision Global Management Team - at the time the world's largest optical group.

He brings plenty of non-executive and charity experience, having previously been a non-executive director at Pizza Hut Restaurants, a member of the Companies Committee at the General Optical Council, and a Trustee of DePaul UK - the youth homelessness charity where he was also Chair of the DePaul Trading Company.

Mitesh lives in London with his wife, three children and two dogs. His hobbies include creative writing, village cricket and visiting Oxfam shops in search of a bargain.

Balwant joined Oxfam GB as Trustee in November 2022. He has more than 30 years of experience leading philanthropic, development and humanitarian organisations and initiatives. He has worked in more than 25 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, North and Central America, and the former Soviet Union, and lived in Singapore, the UK, Vietnam, North Iraq, Russia, Sweden, the US, India, Ireland and Switzerland.

His expertise includes leadership and organisational development, strategy, governance, diversity, impact and programmes for health, HIV/AIDS, education, human rights and humanitarian response. Originally trained as a physician, he holds an MBA with top honours and a postgraduate diploma in health services management.

Most recently, Balwant was the Executive Director of Sphere which establishes, promotes and reviews humanitarian standards for disasters and crises. Before that he was CEO of Kusuma Trust UK, a philanthropic foundation, for eight years. Earlier roles include Global Director of an innovative maternal and child health initiative across Africa and Asia funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Regional Director for South & Central Asia with Save the Children and Executive Director of Doctors of the World in New York.

Balwant continues to advise, facilitate and mentor on leadership, international development, humanitarian programmes, philanthropy, governance and diversity. He is passionate about social justice, volunteers with various organisations and loves cooking, photography and travel.