Bethia Mcneil, Chief Executive, Centre for Youth Impact

Bethia is the Centre’s Chief Executive and has been with the Centre since its launch in September 2014. Prior to joining the team to set up the Centre, Bethia worked at the Dartington Social Research Unit, the Young Foundation, the National Youth Agency and NIACE (now the Learning and Work Institute), in a variety of policy and research roles. She has also worked in further and higher education as a teacher and trainer.

Bethia leads the Centre’s strategy and relationships with its many partners and collaborators. She is also part of the project teams for the Centre’s main strands of work, including the Youth Investment Fund and the Youth Programme Quality Intervention (YPQI) Pilot. Bethia is particularly interested in the relationship between quality and impact in youth work and provision for young people, and in the theory and practice of measurement, especially within collaboratives. Bethia is a 2012 Clore Social Fellow and a Senior Visiting Fellow at Nottingham Trent University.


Kate Tobin, Scotland Director, Dartington Service Design Lab

Kate Tobin is the Scotland Director of the Dartington Service Design Lab. She has a strong interest is bringing together people and evidence in order to design children’s services that are needed, wanted and likely to make a difference.


Over the last ten years Kate has worked on randomised controlled trials, implementation of evidence-based programmes, place-based reform efforts, epidemiological projects, and supported charities to help improve their impact. She is committed to developing human-centred, science-informed design approaches.


Kate has published in School Mental Health, Children and Youth Service Review, International Journal of Conflict and Violence and Child Care in Practice. She holds a BA (Hons) in Psychology and MRes in Research Methods in Psychology from the University of Strathclyde. Kate has been trained in design thinking and innovative design methods by the IIT Institute of Design, Chicago.


Steve Walker, Director of Children and Families, Leeds City Council

Steve Walker is the Director for Children and Family Services for Leeds City Council, the second largest metropolitan authority in the country. Steve qualified as a social worker in 1984 and has over thirty years’ experience in children’s social care as a practitioner, manager, researcher and policy maker. Steve joined Leeds as Deputy Director for Social Care in 2011 and has been part of the transformation that has seen Children’s Services in Leeds go from ‘inadequate’ in 2010 to ‘Good’ in 2015 and ‘Outstanding’ in 2018. 


Michael Sanders, Executive Director, What Works for Children's Social Care

Michael is the Executive Director of What Works for Children’s Social Care. Prior to joining the centre, Michael served as Chief Scientist at the Behavioural Insights Team, where he led evaluations and research projects including four evaluations for the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme, and lead analytical projects looking at decision making at the front door of children’s social care.

Michael is a Reader in Public Policy at King’s College London and an Associate Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.


Fozia Irfan, CEO at Beds and Luton Community Foundation

Fozia is Chief Executive at the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, a grantmaking organisation which provides over £1m funding to local communities. Fozia is also a trustee of the Association of Charitable Foundations and the Funders Alliance for Race Equality, advocating for a deeper understanding of inequality and how to effectively address it through funding. Fozia was also part of the National Steering Group of the Local Trust in its research on Empowered Communities in the 2020’s, and a commissioner of the Inclusive Growth Commission in 2019.  A qualified solicitor, Fozia has just completed a Masters in Grantmaking, Philanthropy and Social Investment at Cass Business School with a specialism in comparative approaches to addressing inequality.


Dr Nick Axford, Associate Professor (Reader) in Health Services, University of Plymouth

Nick is Associate Professor in Health Services at the University of Plymouth and a Senior Associate at the Dartington Service Design Lab. His research interests are evidence-based prevention and early intervention to improve child well-being, notably designing services and evaluating their implementation and effectiveness. He has completed studies in a range of subject areas, such as antisocial behaviour, bullying, child maltreatment, early childhood development and social-emotional learning. He is particularly interested in forms of intervention that have the potential to achieve impact at scale, and in methods for developing and testing these - including co-production and rapid cycle testing. @nick_axford


James Noble, Impact Management Lead, Inspiring Impact

James Noble is a social researcher with over 20 years’ experience across a range of settings. In his work at NPC he advises charities and social enterprises on different evidence collection approaches and helps them to make sense of their results. He is the author of NPC’s new guidance on the theory of change approach (, and has also written on topics such as qualitative research, sampling, questionnaire design and data collection for education start-ups.


Paul Perkins, Head of Local Systems Change – Children’s Communities, Save the Children


Owen Carter, Co-Founder & Managing Director, ImpactEd

Owen is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of ImpactEd, a non-profit organisation partnering with schools and education organisations to support them in evaluating the impact of the programmes they run. Prior to running ImpactEd, he led a number of research and evaluation projects at education charity The Brilliant Club, and developed a digital platform for teacher professional development at Optimus Education. Owen is a winner of the 2018 Teach First Innovation Award, and named one of PwC’s ‘Tomorrow’s Business Leaders.’


Rebecca Martin, Impact and Partnerships Manager, ImpactEd

Rebecca is Impact and Partnerships Manager at ImpactEd, leading on our research and evaluation partnerships with third sector organisations and universities. She has previously worked for the Civil Service and Teach First in partnership management and project coordination roles. Rebecca is particularly passionate about social justice and improving access to education.


Iman Haji, Research & Programme Coordinator, Khulisa

Iman Haji is the Research and Programme Coordinator at the award-winning national charity, Khulisa. Iman leads on building Khulisa’s research agenda and has presented papers at the first International Conference on Reducing Youth Exclusion held at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, The Howard League International Conference and The British Society of Criminology annual conference.

Along with Khulisa’s Director of Innovation & Evidence she has also written a chapter for the Monument Fellowship book “Curing Violence”, an edited collection which explores how we can become a less violent society. With a background in criminal defence before her time with Khulisa, her work now focuses on the importance of trauma-informed practice and the development of social and emotional well-being as the foundation to reducing (re)offending and improving life outcomes for people.

To further Khulisa’s objective to influence policy and practice, Iman is currently leading Khulisa’s involvement in the Youth Empowerment and Innovation Project, a transnational European project which advocates for the use of evidence and asset-based approaches to tackle social exclusion and radicalisation among young people.


Edd Fry, Listening Fund Project Manager, The Blagrave Trust


Sarah Williams, Research and Learning Officer, Centre for Youth Impact


Kelly Bradshaw-Walsh, Director of Research, Design and Insight, Centre for Youth Impact