WHO WE ARE

Think Equal is the global education initiative that calls for a system change in education to end the discriminatory mindset and cycle of violence across our world. Think Equal calls on governments and education ministers to adopt its tangible free programme mediating all aspects of experiential social and emotional learning for children aged 3-6. A committee of experts and global thought leaders have helped design and deliver the Think Equal Programme.

“If we are to teach real peace

in this world, we shall have

to begin with the children”

MAHATMA GANDHI 

Leslee Udwin
Founder 
Leslee was voted by the NY Times the No 2 Most Impactful Woman of 2015 (second to Hillary Clinton), and has been awarded the prestigious Swedish Anna Lindh Human Rights Prize (previously won by Madeleine Albright). In 2019, she received the Activism in Arts and Education award from the UN Women for Peace Association, UN Association USA’s Global Citizen of 2019, and the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award. She has also been named Safe’s Global Hero of 2015, and Global Thinker by Foreign Policy. A BAFTA and multi-award winning filmmaker and Human Rights Campaigner, Leslee’s documentary “India’s Daughter”, has been critically acclaimed around the globe, won 32 awards (including the Peabody Award and the Amnesty International Media Award for Best Documentary 2016) and sparked a global movement to end violence against women and girls. The searing insights yielded by the 2 and a half year journey making “India’s Daughter”, led Leslee to turn her back on filmmaking and devote herself to Think Equal.

 THE TEAM 

Giulia D’Amico
CEO

Giulia has expertise in technology, education, social transformative projects and government relations, with a special focus on emerging and developing countries. For over a decade she has been developing products, programs and youth policies for LEGO, MIT Media-lab One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the Italian Government working closely with international institutions. As CEO of OLPC, she led the growth of the program expanding it in over 85 countries across the world. Her work with the United Nations agencies focuses on developing public-private partnerships frameworks to support Governments and local stakeholders in innovating their school systems and fostering employability to their young populations.  

Vijay Christian
Director of Finance and Resources
 

Vijay has a passion for charity work and has been working in the charity sector for the last 15 years. He has experience and skills to set up a charity’s financial policies and make the charity sustainable. He has been part of the leadership teams and helped create the vision, mission and strategies for organisations. He is a Registered Chartered Manager with Chartered Management Institute, UK and holds MSc. in International Accounting and Finance from London. He moved to the UK in 2008 from India. In addition to English, he can speak Gujarati and Hindi fluently. He has an interest in politics and religion. He enjoys spending time with his 2 little children.

Amber Paulson
Director of Education

Amber has been working in education settings both internationally and in the U.S.A for over ten years. After teaching primary school in the United States for several years, Amber achieved an MA in Education and International Development from the Institute of Education at University College London. Following this, she joined the Think Equal team, as the programme’s vision and mission statement are well aligned with her past experience and future goals. She has trained in multiple Social Emotional Learning techniques and holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, which includes Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development authorisation. As Think Equal’s Director of Education, Amber has guided curricular and pedagogical developments, including the expansion of the programme’s age reach, development of teacher training content, alignment of Think Equal’s core content with international curricula and extending the programme to be implemented in home settings. 

Emily Hyett
Programme Manager

With ten years of international work experience, including time spent volunteering with children’s charities and human rights organisations, Emily joined Think Equal after graduating with an MA in Education, Gender and International Development from the Institute of Education at University College London. As Programme Manager, she coordinates programme rollouts globally and oversees training and implementation of pilot programmes, reporting to the Director of Programmes.

Kate Shaikly
Programme Officer

Kate Shaikly is a teacher, leadership & management professional who has been working within the education sector for the past 5 years. Kate has experience in education and overcoming social challenges to accessing education. She holds a PGCE and an MA in Educational Leadership from UCL; her master’s dissertation focused on the impact of developing philosophical skills in learners. An adaptable, personable & flexible leader, Kate is able to present complex ideas to a variety of audiences including staff, students and professionals. Kate is a Teach First Ambassador and has developed school curriculums for ages 11 to 18 whilst liaising with colleagues, education & policy professionals. As Programme Officer, Kate is responsible for the UK rollout of Think Equal, and providing additional support to the Programme Manager.

Manavi Bahl
Programme Officer

Manavi is a graduate in Sociology from Delhi University and post graduate in Gender Studies from Pune University and has a keen interest in working with children to be able to provide them with tools for an empowered life. In the past, she has conducted workshops in India on various issues such as Child Sexual Abuse, Gender and Sexuality, Menstraution and Menstrual Hygiene, Self- Esteem – to name a few. At Think Equal, she is responsible for the partnerships and projects being carried out in India. Apart from English, Manavi is fluent in Hindi and Punjabi and is an ardent animal lover.

Tia Fields
Digital Media Coordinator

Tia has experience in the media industry, having worked over a number of years with clients ranging from Wagamama and Liverpool Victoria, to the Music Video Awards. With a degree in Media Production, and skilled in a number of different media, Tia joined the Think Equal team in 2019. As Digital Media Coordinator she is responsible for the creation and development of media used by Think Equal, including videos and social media. Tia is also responsible for the commissioning, editing and typesetting of all storybooks used in the programme, with overall responsibility for ensuring their high quality, and the smooth running of the book department. 

GLOBAL CONSULTANTS 

Julie Ridge

Education Consultant

Julie, a former teacher and school Vice Principal, has 17 years of experience in Early Years education, adult EFL, and school leadership. Holding an MA in Education and International Development from UCL and a BA in childhood studies, Julie is passionate about human rights, education for change and children’s holistic wellbeing (having taught yoga to early years and preschool students in the past). Julie is enthusiastically committed to helping children and youth reach their full potential, and supporting marginalised children and adults internationally.
As an Education Consultant with Think Equal, Julie is helping to ensure caregivers can implement Think Equal activities in their homes by creating Think Equal Home Kits, which are based on Think Equal lessons. 

TRUSTEES

Francine Bates O.B.E 
Chair

Francine is an honorary Fellow, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; and holds a BA Hons in History (University of North London); an Honorary Doctorate, (Middlesex University); Post-graduate Diploma in Public Relations (University of Stirling). Francine has been Special Policy Advisor to the Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, UK Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. She was CEO of: The Lullaby Trust, Contact a Family, and Deputy CEO of Carers Association UK. She is Vice-Chair of AbleChild Africa and was non-executive Director of the Royal Marsden  Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Francine was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2006.

Viv Bird FRSA

Viv Bird is a literacy and education professional and former CEO of BookTrust, the UK’s largest reading charity whose programmes include Bookstart, the world’s first free books programmme for pre-school children. Previously Viv was at the National Literacy Trust during which time she wrote a number of influential literacy policy and research papers. Viv’s international experience includes being Chair of EU Read for five years and, since 2013, Board Member of the European Literacy Policy Network (ELINET). Viv is a member of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group. 

Jacob Bier

Recognised as one of Denmark’s 2-3 leading corporate lawyers, Jacob also served as Danish law firm, Plesner’s, head of Corporate Group and Vice Chairman of the firm. Since 2015 Jacob has been an investor, non-executive director, business advisor (including as Senior Advisor to US investment banking firm, Greenhill) and co-founder of Bier Brothers Ltd. Jacob currently serves as chairman, director or board member of five commercial enterprises and three not for profit organisations.

Barbara Isaacs

Barbara completed an Adv.Mont.Dip, BA, and MA degree in Early Years Education under the guidance of Tina Bruce. Barbara was the Chief Education Officer for the Montessori St Nicholas Charity and Montessori Centre International, UK, where she has also served as Director of National Strategies. She is currently Global Ambassador for Montessori Centre International. She trained with Montessori St. Nicholas in the early 1980’s and continued to study in the fields of Montessori education and early years. She is the author of Bringing Montessori into Your Early Years Setting and Understanding the Montessori Approach. Over the past 25 years, Barbara has trained and supported the training of Montessori teachers in her capacity as a lecturer both at Montessori St. Nicholas, London Montessori Centre and Montessori Centre International. 

Karim Bechir

Karim is a management consultant at Oliver Wyman with a special interest in the role that Education plays in society at large. His focus is on improving social mobility and social inequality, particularly in emerging markets. He has experience leading various Inclusion & Diversity initiatives and recently published a report on London’s social mobility issues in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund for London. Karim led Think Equal’s first rollout in Sri Lanka and joined as a Trustee in July 2019, with a focus on growth, operations and digital strategy.

COMMITTEE OF ADVISORS 

Helen Lumgair

Founder of The Educationalist, and the ENABLE Early Years Conference, BA (Hons) Early Years Teaching, Montessori Intl Dip, MCI, Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Therapy, Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Mediator. Helen worked in Montessori and Prep Schools in the United Kingdom, and as a private teacher for families globally, including heads of state. Her extensive experience includes creating, extending, adapting, and implementing curricula to meet the needs of children with a range of learning dispositions, with a focus on the development of holistic strategies to meet the needs of every learner. 

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD

Sir Ken is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education, and in business. He is Professor Emeritus and was Professor of Education at the University of Warwick and holds honorary degrees from Rhode Island School of Design; the Open University; the Central School of Speech & Drama; Birmingham City University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Oklahoma State University. Sir Ken was awarded the Athena Award for services to the arts and education; Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States; the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award; Gordon Parks Award for achievements in education; and the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Royal Society of Arts.  Listed as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity” and ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders. Sir Ken works with governments and education systems in Europe, Asia and the USA, and was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

Barbara Isaacs

Barbara completed an Adv.Mont.Dip, BA, and MA degree in Early Years Education under the guidance of Tina Bruce. Barbara was the Chief Education Officer for the Montessori St Nicholas Charity and Montessori Centre International, UK, where she has also served as Director of National Strategies. She is currently Global Ambassador for Montessori Centre International. She trained with Montessori St. Nicholas in the early 1980’s and continued to study in the fields of Montessori education and early years. She is the author of Bringing Montessori into Your Early Years Setting and Understanding the Montessori Approach. Over the past 25 years, Barbara has trained and supported the training of Montessori teachers in her capacity as a lecturer both at Montessori St. Nicholas, London Montessori Centre and Montessori Centre International. 

Dr. Urvashi Sahni

Urvashi is a non-resident fellow of Brookings Institution, a member of Hillary Clinton’s CHARGE commitment and Founder of the Study Hall Educational Foundation. She is a social entrepreneur, and educationalist of over 30 years standing and a leading expert in curriculum reform, school governance, and teacher training in collaboration with national and state governments and NGOs in India. Urvashi holds a Masters degree and PhD from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. She was the first of Berkeley’s graduates to be awarded the prestigious International HAAS award for her contributions to education in her home country. Her schools reach out to over 6000 students in rural and urban areas, more than half of which come from extremely poor and challenging backgrounds. She was awarded The Ashoka Fellowship for her work with Digital Study Hall, a program that uses technology to reach out to thousands of teachers, teacher-trainees and students from underserved areas.

Valerie Lovegreen

Valerie holds a BA in Elementary Education (Rhode Island College), an MA in Communicative Disorders (University of Central Florida), and is presently working on a Doctoral Degree in Psychology (Northcentral University). She has been a Speech and Language Pathologist for more than 25 years. She is a Certified Trainer for the Feuerstein Institute, training both Instrumental Enrichment Standard and Basic levels. Her areas of expertise are in improving reading, auditory processing, discipline and behaviour, and social skills. She has started a small private school for students with varied learning abilities, has worked in a multidisciplinary clinic, and has served as a clinical director, principal and guidance counsellor, in a K -12 school and full therapy clinic. Valerie trains adults in Instrumental Enrichment and does clinical work with learners aged from 2 onwards.  She provides consulting services for schools, working with students and providing guidance and training for teachers and parents. She trains, mentors and provides therapy to improve critical thinking, communication, & collaboration.

Dr. Sheila Wamahiu

PhD in Education (Kenyatta University, Nairobi) and MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad). An international Education, Gender and Development Consultant, her career has spanned over 30 years working as an academic, researcher, development worker, teacher, trainer and journalist. She has been Education Programme Officer in NYHQ, Head of Development Studies and Senior Lecturer (Kenyatta University, Kenya), External Examiner for the Department of Women and Gender Studies, (Makerere University, Uganda), and Chief of Education in Uganda. Sheila is the Founding Chair, Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK). She was nominated to be a member of FAWE at the global level in recognition of her contribution to girls’ education in the region. She has also served on the Advisory Board of UWEZO Kenya and the Girls’ Education Movement (GEM) in Uganda. She has led a national study on Value-Based Education in Kenya.

Dr. Robin Stern

Robin Stern, Ph.D., is the associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. A licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, she holds a doctorate in applied psychology from New York University and a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Centre for Mental Health. Robin is a co-developer of RULER, and co-creator and lead facilitator for Yale’s Institutes. In collaboration with Facebook, she created a reporting process for cyber bullying incidents and a help center for bullied children. She is a member of the Emotional Intelligence Consortium and was a fellow in the Public Voices Fellowship.

Brían Ó Maoileoin 

Brían has a Masters degree in Educational Management from the University of Sheffield, and studied at the National University of Ireland in Limerick, specializing in Primary Education and the Irish Language.  He is the Primary School Principal at United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), Singapore, and has served on the College’s Board of Governors. UWCSEA is part of the United World Colleges movement, which was founded in 1962 with the aim of bringing together young people from areas of post-war conflict to act as champions of peace through an education based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding. Brían sits on the Advisory Board of the Common Ground Collaborative and advised on the design of its Global Citizen component.

Vicky Colbert

Vicky Colbert is the Founder and Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva, and co-creator of the Escuela Nueva pedagogical model, known for its effectiveness in improving the quality and relevance of basic education in underprivileged schools across Colombia and beyond. Escuela Nueva has become a part of Colombia’s national education policy with a significant impact on academic achievement.  The model has been recognized by UNESCO and the World Bank as among the most outstanding reforms in developing countries worldwide. She served as Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Education and as UNICEF’s Regional Education Adviser for Latin American and the Caribbean. Vicky is an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the 2013 WISE Prize for Education Laureate.

Professor Richard J. Davidson, PhD

William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Davidson’s research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices, and he has received numerous awards for his research, including the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Society. He has published over 400 articles, numerous chapters and reviews and edited 14 books, was the Founding Co-Editor of the new American Psychological Association journal EMOTION and is Past-President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. Professor Davidson is the author (with Sharon Begley) of “The Emotional Life of Your Brain” published in 2012 and co-author with Daniel Goleman of “Altered Traits” published in 2017. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017 and in 2018, appointed to the Governing Board of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

Yuwei Xu

PhD in cross-cultural study on Gender and Teaching in early childhood settings (University of Glasgow). Yuwei taught Early Childhood Education (ECE) at Jingu College, Tianjin Normal University. Yuwei specialises in qualitative research methodology, statistical research, and quantitative method tools. His teaching experiences vary from early childhood sectors, primary and secondary schools, and higher education to adult education and continuing teacher training in China, England and Scotland. He was a lecturer on the BA (Honours) Early Childhood Studies Program at the Department of Children, Young People and Families (Leeds Trinity University).

ACADEMIC PARTNERS

STRATEGIC AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS