Meet Our People
At the Trust, our staff and stakeholders come together to be their authentic selves and work to bring about democratic change in our education system.
Our team is made up of highly qualified staff and facilitators driven to make a positive contribution to the lives of young people.
Justin Maroy - Chief Executive Officer
Justin joined the Trust as CEO in July 2021 bringing international experience at an executive level. As CEO, Justin is responsible for the strategic direction and development of the charity, supporting and guiding the Phoenix team, and managing stakeholder relations. Prior to this, he was President & CEO at Maroy Foundation in central Africa where he was responsible for a team of 22 staff and 5 senior leadership, expanding and supporting a network of schools across South Kivu in eastern Congo, and managing Maroy Foundation Hospital alongside the Chief Medical Officer. Justin is deeply committed to rights-respecting education that provides young people with a genuine stake in their education. Justin possesses non-executive experience in financial services and is a Trustee at Integration Support Services.
Siana Bangura - Head of the Changemakers Lab
Siana is a writer, producer, poet, performer, and community organiser hailing from South East London and now living, working, and creating between London and the West Midlands. A multi-disciplinary leader, Siana leads the Changemakers Lab and focuses on setting the vision, strategy, and effectiveness of the Lab whilst supporting young people to co-create, launch, and sustain powerful campaigns. She is the author of critically acclaimed debut collection, ‘Elephant’, a book of poetry meditating on black British womanhood and life growing up in London; she is also the founder and former editor of No Fly on the WALL. Siana is the producer of ‘1500 & Counting’, a documentary film investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK, and the founder of Courageous Films. She also campaigns against the arms trade and other forms of state violence. With experience in indie publishing, journalism, and campaigns under her belt, Siana’s wide portfolio of work focuses on bringing voices traditionally on the margins to the centre.
Artemis is a parent, home educator, childminder, forest school leader and qualified teacher. An engineer by training, their background is in environmental policy but since becoming a parent, education and children’s rights have become the focus of their intellectual curiosity. They have been the founder and director of The Garden, a self-directed learning community for young people in Bristol since 2016, and the co-founder of UBI Lab Bristol since 2020. They are also a cabaret performer and show producer.
Helen Smith McGuire - Senior Coordinator
Helen Smith McGuire is a business owner, campaigner and educator. Born and raised in the rural north, she experienced masses of freedom and nature as a child which has laid the foundation for her values as an adult. Company Director of Messy Monkeys for over 10 years, Helen brings her admin management skills to Phoenix Education, alongside her passion for developmentally appropriate, child-led learning. Helen was pivotal in organising the Let Kids Be Kid’s strike in 2017 and campaigns with the More Than A Score coalition lobbying for a change to high stakes assessment in primary schools. Helen is also a home educating parent who has spent time world schooling her children and working in democratic education in Spain.
Our experienced Board of Trustees encompasses skilled members, many of whom possess lived experience of democratic education. The Board supports the staff team in making sure that all decisions put the needs of young people at the centre whilst sharing overall accountability for the Charity’s management and sustainability.
Rachel Roberts - Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees & Guardian Member
Rachel Roberts has experienced Democratic Education from multiple perspectives. She was a student herself at Sands School, England, studied Democratic Education as part of her Sociology degree at the University of York and was a teacher at the Freie Schule Leipzig, Germany. Following this experience as a practitioner Rachel worked as Director of the Phoenix Education Trust, UK. In advocating for democratic education she has made numerous keynote speeches at IDEC and EUDEC conferences, has written for the Guardian and recorded an episode of Radio Four Thought for the BBC. She is a careers consultant specialising in EDI, entrepreneurship, and sustainability within the higher education sector. Rachel is also a yoga teacher who spends as much time as possible outdoors immersing herself in nature and adventure sports.
Sophie Lovett - Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees
Sophie taught in secondary schools for ten years before becoming a mother prompted a change of direction. She is passionate about progressive approaches to education and how this underpins social and environmental justice. Alongside her unschooling journey with her own children, Sophie is working on a book about how parents and educators can empower children to create a better world. She is also an activist and facilitator, and can be found jumping into wild waters whenever she gets the chance.
Abi Knipe - Board Trustee
As a trustee, Abi shares overall accountability for the charity’s management with other members of the Board. She brings to this role experience in fundraising strategy, project management, and charity governance. Outside of her voluntary role with Phoenix, Abi works with a coalition of international human rights funders to identify and resource strategies to disrupt hostile rhetoric and regulation that constrain civic participation and protest. She is inspired by Phoenix’s commitment to an education system that centres respect, justice, and young people’s leadership.
Jessica Gribble - Board Trustee & Guardian Member
This is Jess’ second term as a trustee at Phoenix. She has attended democratic schools throughout her education. Jess brings with her experience of teaching in the state sector and in democratic schools, expertise in facilitating student voice in mainstream settings and advanced social research skills. Outside of her voluntary role with Phoenix, Jess currently works as a maths teacher in London and freelance social researcher. She is dedicated to Phoenix’s values of respecting the right of a child to be heard and is passionate about the trust’s capacity to maintain a network of forward thinking educators.
Thea Pilkin - Board Trustee
Thea has been teaching in primary schools for 15 years. Since beginning a journey into unschooling her own children, she discovered self-directed learning and her passion for alternative forms of education was ignited. She recently began a Master’s degree in Social Pedagogy Leadership, examining hierarchy and the way we relate to each other, and is interested in how power dynamics intersect with the experience of education. She is honoured to be a part of Phoenix and the movement to ‘bridge the gap’ between mainstream education and free learning principles, and hopes to set up an alternative education setting in the future.
Ava James - Board Trustee
I've been working with Phoenix as part of The Changemakers Lab and establishing the Not A Trend campaign. I have been able to understand how the Trust works and I feel like I have genuinely grown into a partner over the past few years so I am delighted to join the board of Trustees. It is so important to have youth representation in all levels of society and I will bring a uniquely lived voice to the team. I have a passion and experiences for breaking damaging divisions that pit teachers against students and as such my work has always been youth-led but explicitly not youth-exclusive. We must work together - I'm excited to help Phoenix continue to make this happen.
Catherine Starkey - Board Trustee
Catherine is an early years specialist and parent with experience working as an educator, leader, trainer, and public speaker in the United Kingdom and internationally for over 15 years. Catherine is passionate about the concept of play and creativity in education, and about working in collaboration with children throughout their educational journey. She specialises in the Reggio Emilia approach and similar ‘discovery led’ philosophies that nurture children’s natural curiosity and advocate a strong image of children. Catherine is honoured to be a Trustee with Phoenix Education and she is dedicated to its mission to promote the voice of children and galvanise innovation in education.
The Guardian Member system is a system of governance unique to The Phoenix Education Trust.
The Board of Guardian Members plays an important role in providing an impartial check and balance that further holds the Board of Trustees to account and ensures that the charity operates in alignment with its fundamental values.
Alice Astor - Founding Member
Alice is a founder member of The Phoenix Education Trust. Alice is the granddaughter of Nancy Astor, the first woman seated as a Member of Parliament in the UK, serving from 1919 to 1945, and daughter of David Astor, a progressive ‘king’ of the Golden Age of British print. Coming from a strong family history of social justice, Alice is an organic farmer who has devoted much of her life to bringing up her four children on her organic farm. She was Chair of the Board of Trustees in the early years of the Trust and since her retirement is enjoying supporting the important work of Phoenix Education as a Guardian Member.
Henry Redhead - Guardian Member
Henry is a grandson of A.S. Neill who founded Summerhill School in 1921. He attended Summerhill for the whole of his school years, he taught music there for twelve years, and is presently a Deputy Principal at the school his grandfather founded. Henry travel’s the world doing talks about education and the Summerhill method and philosophy. He has been involved with the Trust on many occasions including hosting the Freedom to Learn Forum at Summerhill in 2018.
Laura Quick - Guardian Member
Laura is a teacher and researcher and has worked in mainstream and democratic schools. She is currently working on a research project looking at the experiences of schooling for children labelled ‘low attainers’. She has worked with Phoenix in a variety of capacities for many years and was formerly a trustee. She is passionate about the work Phoenix does giving a voice to young people marginalised within education.
Kai'a Bellamy - Guardian Member
I was home educated until age seven, and then attended two Human Scale, Democratic schools from age seven to seventeen. My mum Amanda was Teacher in Charge at Park School, and my dad Sean helped found Sands School and still works there. As you can imagine this shaped my understanding of what education could be. I had the freedom to learn in a way that felt natural and enjoyable to me - whether that was in a classroom or up a tree! And always felt respected by the adults around me, I could tell that they genuinely valued my opinions and wanted to hear what I had to say. After secondary school I went on to Exeter College where I studied Philosophy, Biology, and Environmental Studies which I found quite challenging. Not because the subjects themselves were particularly difficult, but because I felt I lost the freedom, autonomy, and respect I had learnt to expect from Sands and Park. This strengthened my conviction that all young people should feel respected, autonomous, and able to learn in the way that works for them. In 2019 I completed my BSc in Integrated Wildlife Conservation at UWE Bristol, and now work for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Wildlife and nature conservation is my passion and I love helping people to understand and love the natural world. I think that engaging young people in the wonderful natural world that surrounds them is vital to their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as the best way to nurture a generation that deeply cares about nature on a personal level. The most important things I learnt from my education were how to learn in my own way, how to ask questions without being embarrassed that I didn't know all the answers, and how to think for myself. These are skills that Phoenix is helping integrate into the UK schooling system, as well as amplifying student voices and showing young people that being yourself is not only acceptable, but precious and incredible. I am so proud to be a Guardian Member of this amazing organisation.
Lena Kraus - Guardian Member
Lena Kraus is a writer, translator and publisher who has been involved with Democratic Education since 2012, and with Phoenix since 2019. She has worked at a Democratic School (Kapriole, Germany) as well as at state schools (UK and Germany). Her main interest with regard to Democratic Education is social justice, both in terms of equity within Democratic learning environments as well as Democratic Education as a social justice tool -- she has researched factors of accessibility in Democratic Education contexts and presented the indications both in Democratic Education settings as well as mainstream academia. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh.
Amanda Bellamy - Guardian Member
I trained as a Primary School Teacher (Bachelor of Education (2:1) with Biology) over 35 years ago. I have taught in the state sector as well as independent schools and offered private Dyslexia tutoring. Throughout this time, I have been fascinated by the how and the why children learn best. I was interested not only with what and how they learnt at school but what helped them to have a lifelong love of learning. Human beings are social beings. I now believe that although the quality of the teaching makes a huge difference to learning it is the relationship and trust that a young person has with an educator that is the catalyst which allows a deep and lifelong love of learning to develop. I was the Headteacher of Park School in Devon for over 10 years. Park School is the one of the longest running alternativesprimary school in the UK. It is an independent primary school where relationship and respect are at its heart. Phoenix Education supported my colleagues and me in many ways during my leadership. It offered the chance to attend international conferences and to form networks that developed my understanding of what relationship education could offer to young people. It showed me how important agency is for a young person to find their voice and to reach their potential. I want to be part of the organisation so that I can bring this understanding to more people across many settings and countries.
Rowan Salim - Guardian Member
Rowan is passionate about student voice, nurturing relationships of trust and mutual respect, and free learning and play. She co-founded Free We Grow, a self directed nature based learning community in South London in 2017 where she facilitates and learns alongside children and families, and is intimately involved in a community garden, learning to grow and live with the land. She is exploring how connection to land can lead to better wellbeing and more sustainable livelihoods. Rowan was programs lead at Phoenix from 2017 - 2020, working in mainstream schools initially to enhance student voice through the Democratic journeys program, and then helped to shape the Changemakers' Lab. Rowan was also involved in the launch of the Freedom to Learn Network and Forum at Pheonix.
Josh Fein-Brown - Guardian Member
Josh Fein-Brown is an Osteopath, Naturopath and Pain Specialist who is living and working in East London. Josh has been involved with Democratic education and the Phoenix Education Trust for some time. He went to school at Sands School in Devon and Park School prior to that. He is passionate about teaching and learning and is currently working as a lecturer at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine on their Masters degree program. He also runs his own private practice, and is a health and wellbeing consultant for SCS railways. Josh loves pain, not the experience of it, but trying to understand why pain exists and how it works in order to treat it more effectively. In his spare time, he loves to move, climbing in particular, he also has an interest in art, music, cooking and nature.
The Phoenix Education Trust is always seeking talent and new ideas.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can join us as a Trustee, Guardian Member, intern, or member of staff.