Rt Hon Lord Bruce of Bennachie
Rt Hon Lord Bruce of Bennachie
Prior to being an MP, Malcolm worked in marketing, economic development and journalism. He was the economic officer to the North East of Scotland Development Authority when oil was first discovered in the North Sea and went on to establish, with a partner, Aberdeen Petroleum Publishing in 1981.
Throughout this time he has acquired has a detailed knowledge of the oil and gas industry, and in particular, its relations with Government.
Malcolm was also Chair of the influential International Development Select Committee from 2005 – 2015. He led many inquiries into the work of the Department for International Development and has travelled widely in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.
Malcolm was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Party from January 2014 – May 2015.
Prior to this he was Party spokesman on Trade and Industry, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Treasury. He has also been a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the Trade and Industry Select Committee, the Committee for Standards and Privileges and Treasury Select Committee.
Malcolm has been Scottish Affairs Spokesman and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats (1988-92) and played a key role in shaping the devolution settlement through the Scottish Constitutional Convention.
As the father of a grown-up deaf daughter Malcolm has long campaigned on deafness issues in Parliament. Malcolm was the founding Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Deafness. He is also President of the Grampian Branch and a National Vice President of the National Deaf Children's Society and a Vice President of Action on Hearing Loss. In November 2014 he was honoured to receive the prestigious Joseph Maitland Robinson Award for Outstanding Contribution as part of the Signature Annual Awards.
He was made a Privy Councillor in 2006, was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2012 and was made a life peer in the Dissolution Honours list in August 2015.
She’s held a number of senior leadership positions at agencies such as the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center, National Council on Disability, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. During the Obama Administration, she served as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Associate Director of Public Engagement for the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Claudia has been recognized as a leader by the American Association of People with Disabilities, Google, and The Root 100.
As a global Ambassador to DeafKidz International, Claudia will support the organisation’s advocacy work at the highest level, representing the needs of D/deaf children to nation state governments, partner agencies, investors and donors throughout. “One in four deaf girls experiences sexual violence” observed Claudia. “I plan to use my ambassadorship to focus attention on this issue and to especially address the challenge of Gender Based Violence against deaf girls and young women. An area where DeafKidz has already done much valuable work”.
Colin Allen AM
Colin Allen AM
Colin is immediate past President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) having served two terms as President from 2011 – 2019 following involvement as a Board member of the organisation since 2003. Colin is also the immediate past Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) having occupied the role of Chair from 2016 - 2018. During his involvement with WFD and IDA, Colin played a key role in guiding and representing WFD and IDA's engagement with the United Nations and other international human rights and development organisations. In 2019, IDA honoured Colin, conferring on him the title “Honorary President” for his service as the Chair of the IDA between 2016 - 2018.
Colin has designed and delivered training and presented workshops on issues related to human rights for both the Deaf Community and persons with disability in more than 70 countries in each of the major continents and has also addressed numerous international conferences as a keynote presenter.
Colin has received numerous appreciation Awards for his service. This includes being made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and in 2019, receiving the prestigious Dr Liisa Kauppinen Human Rights Award in recognition of his dedication, advocacy, leadership and contribution to the international Deaf Community.
In October 2019, Colin will commence as a Visiting Lecturer at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, USA. As a Global Ambassador to DeafKidz International, Colin will focus on the rights of deaf children, particularly their right to access information in sign language about life-important issues such as gendered based violence. “I will actively promote the mission of the organisation and use my influence to ensure the rights of deaf children, particularly young women and girls are protected. I will engage with governments and their representatives to highlight this issue and to facilitate pro-active action in this sphere”.
Signkid has performed at festivals including Deaf Rave, Wireless, Fabric, Boomtown and Latitude, and has had BBC Breakfast, Liberty BBC News, and BBC radio coverage. He featured in a LadBible x Smirnoff advert. He was recently nominated twice for a ‘ Best Artistic Short Film’ award at Wolverhampton Deaffest. Dumbass was nominated for Deaf Shorts Award at Encounters Film Festival in September 2019. This video is an artistic short film exploring the history of the word dumb and how it has marginalised deaf people. Dumbass is also being nominated at Glasgow Short Film Festival 2020.
Signkid was previously Ambassador for Sound Seekers, and will continue to support the newly merged DeafKidz International as Global Ambassador in 2020
Usually keeping her writing to the confines of her Huffington Post blog, The Silent Child is Rachel’s screenplay debut. Set in rural England and inspired by real life events. This film centres around a profoundly deaf, four year old, girl named Libby who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker, played by Rachel, teaches her the gift of communication. It was Shenton’s passion to tell this story urged her to put pen to paper and which resulted in The Silent Child winning the Oscar for Live Action Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards. The film also debuted on television to an audience of 3.6 million before receiving an extended play on BBC iPlayer.
At twelve years old Rachel’s father lost his hearing suddenly through an unrelated health issue and lived the last two years of his life profoundly deaf. This inspired Rachel to learn sign language and her passion for change in the deaf community grew. Rachel has been raising deaf awareness for over a decade, between acting roles Rachel campaigns for equal opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people and is a proud ambassador of both DeafKidz International and the National Deaf Children’s Society.
Shenton has appeared on our screens for years with regular roles in Hit BBC2 Comedy White Gold, Waterloo road and Hollyoaks which won her a National Television nomination for best dramatic performance. In 2014 Shenton made her American TV debut on ABC Family drama, Switched at Birth, In 2014 Shenton made her American TV debut on ABC Family drama, Switched at Birth, she portrayed the role of Lily Summers for three seasons.
Our Board of Trustees
Founder & Chair
Steve is also a former Trustee of War Child UK and of MICAIA, a development charity that is delivering new solutions to the injustice of poverty in Mozambique.
Profoundly Deaf himself, Steve originated and founded DeafKidz International when he learned of the appalling abuse endured by D/deaf children in sub-Saharan Africa. Resolving to address this injustice, the result was DeafKidz International which is today, emerging as the global leader for the safeguarding and protection of D/deaf children; lauded by academics, 'The fastest growing charity in the UK" (University of Sheffield) and political decision makers alike, "I praise the work of DeafKidz International' (The Rt. Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development 2017 - 2019).
Steve has lectured and presented extensively on the protection of D/deaf children including Yale University (Ct USA), World Health Summit (Berlin), World Humanitarian Forum (London), World Health Organisation (Geneva) and UNICEF (New York).
Currently principle consultant for Bruit Global, Liz brings a strong track record of policy, programmes and people leadership; delivering results at the global level and measurable changes at the national and community level. Liz has specialist expertise in cross cultural appropriateness and the utility of knowledge translation frameworks. In addition, extensive experience of patient, user and beneficiary safety in a range of low resource and complex health settings. She also has extensive experience of guidelines and framework development as well as empirically led evaluation and impact analysis.
Long committed to the safeguarding and protection of D/deaf children, Liz brings an academic, analytical and results based perspective to the Board of DeafKidz International.
Ruth has 20 years of experience of communications and marketing in the health and social care sector. She is currently an executive director of a large NHS acute and community Trust where she heads up the Trust's charity that seeks to enhance the experience of patients and their families often at their most difficult times, as well as investing in programmes to better support marginalised communities across Birmingham and the Black Country. She runs a large volunteer service linking up with third sector organisations to provide wrap around care for.
Ruth has a keen interest in international development and has worked with a charity in the slums of Brazil, in an education programme for children up to age 12, as well as work with street kids in Rio de Janeiro. She is married to a proud Zulu, from Durban, South Africa and has two children.
In addition to these roles she was also responsible as an Approved Social Worker (ASW) and then Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) for co-ordinating and managing assessments for people who might need compulsory detention in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 and then the 2007 amended Mental Health Act.
When working in specialist Deaf Mental Health Services Christine qualified as a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and worked for some years in provision of psychotherapy. Christine also developed training materials for assessment of Deaf people experiencing mental ill health and has delivered this training on AMHP qualification courses across England.
She also works with Birmingham University on their Deafness and Mental Health postgraduate diploma course.
Dr Eleanor Crossley
Dr Eleanor Crossley
Eleanor has a long-standing interest in global health and charity work, having undertaken previous volunteer projects on the Lifeline Express surgical train in India (Rajasthan, 2017) and her medical elective in rural Uganda (Wakiso District, 2014). In Uganda she worked with a local team to design a pilot soundproof testing booth for newborn hearing screening and she very much hopes to visit some of the Deaf Kidz International programmes in person.
Eleanor completed a BMedSci Intercalated degree in Public Health and Population Sciences, and continues her involvement in various research projects and medical education. She is also currently undertaking an online British Sign Language course and hopes to learn more in the very near future.
Passionate about working to help disadvantaged D/deaf young adults and children, particularly in complex settings, Aarti, as our Board treasurer, will work to develop robust financial systems that will confirm DeafKidz International as the safeguarding and protection partner of choice for the global humanitarian, development and health community.
Previously the Chair of the British Black and Asian Deaf Ethnic Minority Group, Rinkoo comments prodigiously on Deaf identify and the question / issue of racism. His film Double Discrimination focused on the issue of racism within the Deaf community and met with critical acclaim, winning the Disability Justice Award at the 2016 Superfest International Disability Festival.
An integral member of the DeafKidz International team and a vigorous champion for the rights of D/deaf children, Emma’s progressive work in South Africa, Kenya and Jamaica has been recognised by the Points of Light Award she received from the Prime Minister and which was presented by the Secretary of State. Emma is the Board and organisational lead for safeguarding and child protection.
Dr David Greenberg
Dr David Greenberg
Dr Greenberg’s personal mission is to discover and act on the most efficient and effective methods of preventing the loneliness and isolation that can result from Hearing Loss and so founded Eave. Eave has developed a solution for controlling the risk of noise exposure in construction.
Maria Grazia Zedda
Maria Grazia Zedda
Our Staff and Consultants
Chief Executive Officer
Previously the Chief Executive of Sound Seekers, Kavita has a Masters’ degree in Public Health from the University of Leeds and a Bachelors’ degree in Physiotherapy and has lived and worked in South Asia and the Middle East.
Committed to the safeguarding and protection of D/deaf children and young people, Kavita is passionate about improving access to hearing health in low resource and complex settings. She looks forward to combining the 60 years of history and experience of Sound Seekers with the passion and innovation of DKI, positioning the new, merged, organisation as a thought leader and practitioner of note within the safeguarding, D/deafness, ear and hearing care space.
Senior Programmes Lead
With a background in service design and project management in a variety of community and low resource settings, Jaz oversees our work in West, East and Southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
As the organisational lead for our partnerships with Comic Relief, Child Helpline International, Marie Stopes International and more, he will drive the development of a D/deaf and Hearing staff team, skilled at working in low resource health and complex humanitarian settings.
A fluent BSL user, Jaz is profoundly Deaf, the parent of a Deaf child and a Governor of the Royal School for the Deaf in Derby.
Senior Finance Manager
Over the last 20 years Steve has worked with a wide variety of small charities, mostly in a management support and management information role, developing internal systems, internal reporting to management and trustees, assisting with budgeting / forecasting, assisting with reporting to funders and financial training for non-financial managers and trustees. These have included organisations working in Mental Health, The Arts, Disabilities, Social Welfare and International Development.
His work is now mainly focused within the charity sector, and he combines this with a passion for playing saxophone within the local music scene in Sussex.
Fundraising and Communications Manager
At Sound Seekers, Tanya managed a multi-disciplinary fundraising portfolio working with the likes of Jersey Overseas Aid, DFID and Spec Savers in support of a number of ear and hearing care programmes. At DeafKidz International, Tanya is continuing in this vein, managing a broad spectrum of donors, partners and investors in the UK, Switzerland and the US. In addition, Tanya, manages DeafKidz International’s communications agenda, working with our local partners, investors and other key decision makers to ensure the safeguarding and protection needs of D/deaf children and vulnerable adults are advocated at the highest level. Tanya also works to develop DeafKidz International’s information materials and learning resources.
Chris Underhill MBE
Chris Underhill MBE
Organisational Development Consultant
Chris is a leading exponent on global mental health practice, a social entrepreneur, a mentor, a trainer in community-based facilitation technique, and regularly speaks at conferences worldwide. He is currently co-founding citiesRISE, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative designed to promote mental health by catalyzing collective actions across sectors within cities. Chris is the founder of BasicNeeds, the mental health charity working in developing countries, and previously founded Action on Disability and Development, and Thrive. He is the Chair of Spring Impact, a Global Director of Leaders Quest and the Chair of Carers Worldwide. A much sought-after mentor, his mentees currently work in mental health, organisational management, executive search, models of change in childhood deprivation, human trafficking, the psychology of gangs, Fair Trade, prisons and prisoners, leadership and executive search. He is a Senior Fellow of the Ashoka Fellowship, a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Salzburg Global Fellow. In 2000 Chris received the MBE from the Queen for his services to disability and development.
Gemma has a passion for improving ear and hearing health in low resource and complex settings. In 2015, she took a sabbatical and volunteered for six months in Zambia, supporting the only audiologist within the country to develop and teach a one-year audiology diploma course to students from across Africa. She continues to volunteer as an audiologist on the Sound Seekers project Committee.
In addition, Gemma chairs the British Society of Audiology (BSA) Global Outreach Specialist Interest Group and was responsible for organising the first ever international conference in the UK dedicated to global health for hearing loss in collaboration with ENT UK.
As DeafKidz International’s audiology lead, she has been working to deliver the DFID funded Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programme in Pakistan which is testing new models of screening and integrated care response. All of which is aimed at ensuring the protection and safeguarding of vulnerable children and ensuring parental support is provided to those children and young people who are formally diagnosed as Deaf. To this end, Gemma is working to develop the skills and capacity of our Gujrat based audiology team.
He was instrumental in establishing our programmatic approach, Stuart authored our critically acclaimed research report; ‘Behind the Green Door. The Abuse and Exploitation of Deaf Children and Young People in South Africa’.
A prolific commentator and writer, his book 'Same Spirit Different Team - The Politicisation of the Deaflympics' was published in 2014.
Bhavisha volunteered with Sound Seekers in 2017 and spent one year in Zambia, developing the first paediatric audiology clinic in the country. Shortly after returning to the UK, Bhavisha became Sound Seeker’s special adviser in Audiology and her role included providing clinical advice, remote training, presenting at international conferences and visiting project countries to assess progress & identify areas of improvement. She is able to continue this work within her role as Audiology Technical Adviser for DeafKidz International.
Bhavisha is currently completing her PhD at UCL Ear Institute and she is passionate about using evidence based practice to development sustainable ear and hearing care services in low resource areas.