Photo of MMHA staff and board at away day in 2019

The team

 

We have a small part-time team of staff who are passionate about achieving our vision and supporting our members and champions. The team is made up of individuals with a broad range of interests, skills and lived experience.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is governed by a Board of Trustees who are dedicated to helping us drive change for women and families affected by perinatal mental illness.


Our board

Made up of passionate clinicians, professionals, mothers, and fathers, the MMHA Board help set the organisation’s strategic direction, and support staff and members in the delivery of campaign objectives.

Chair
Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger is Chair of the MMHA and Managing Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy at Edelman UK, specialising in international campaigns, health, and energy policy.

Before joining Edelman, Luciana served as an MP for almost a decade. During her time in the Commons, Luciana held back- and frontbench roles, including as the first-ever Shadow Cabinet Member for Mental Health. She was also a leading member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, serves on the advisory board of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, and is Vice-President of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

An award-winning campaigner, Luciana has long called for increased awareness, parity of esteem, and improvement of mental health services.

Vice Chair
Kate Billingham

Kate has over 40 years’ experience of supporting women in their journey to motherhood, through health visiting, as Deputy Chief Nurse for England (2000-2006), developing national frameworks, and implementing evidence-based programmes.

Currently, Kate acts as an adviser to the Big Lottery Fund £200m A Better Start Programme and sits on the Royal Foundation steering group, advising the Duchess of Cambridge on early intervention.

Promoting the mental health of mothers has been a theme of her personal and professional life.

Treasurer
Iulia Avramescu

Iulia is the treasurer of MMHA and a Strategy Director in the London office of Strategy&, part of PwC network. A senior strategist and finance professional with 20 years’ experience in advising telecoms and tech companies across the globe on a diverse range of strategic, financial and operational topics. Iulia is passionate about the societal impact of technology and its immense potential to transform the health sector. She brings strong board experience from her roles on the Board of Directors of Cholmley Gardens Ltd and Food4Heroes.

Iulia has been passionate about maternal mental health care ever since her first-time mum experience with her lovely baby boy Loki during the second COVID-19 lockdown and brings her passion to her role as a MMHA trustee and treasurer.

Sarah Arnold

Sarah is a practising solicitor with experience of Charity Law and Mental Health Legislation, a trustee of an international charity, and a mother with experience of postpartum psychosis.

Sarah has a particular and keen interest in marketing and has run several successful campaigns both whilst working in the charity sector and in legal practice.

Clare Dolman

Dr. Clare Dolman is the Vice Chair of the MMHA and a Trustee of the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP). She is a freelance journalist who has had bipolar disorder since her early 20′s. She experienced an episode of PP after the birth of her first child. Clare is the Vice-Chair of trustees for the national mental health charity Bipolar UK. She lectures on Public and Patient Involvement in Health Services at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, where she completed a Ph.D. on decision-making about pregnancy and childbirth in women with bipolar disorder.

Henry Fay

As a former GP, Henry has a solid understanding of the constraints imposed on many of those who work in perinatal mental health and allied healthcare settings. Combined with his family’s own personal experience, this has enabled Henry to help in training a wide range of healthcare professionals including psychiatrists, obstetricians, nurses, and midwives, at regular national and regional conferences.

Christel Hawkins

Christel is passionate about equal access to mental health provision for all and brings both professional and personal experience to her role as trustee.

Christel’s 7 years at the Charity Commission gave her extensive knowledge of charity governance, including the legal responsibilities of charity trustees and charity accounting. She now works as a governance lead for a mental health charity that works with excluded young men, and previously as trustee and chair for a children’s mental health charity.

Ian Jones

Ian is Professor of Psychiatry and Honorary Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at Cardiff University and Director for the National Centre for Mental Health. Ian has been an active supporter of MMHA for many years, providing clinical input and leadership to MMHA’s campaigning work.

Ian’s clinical interest is in developing services to identify women at risk of severe postpartum episodes and developing psychoeducation approaches for bipolar disorder. He is a trustee, past chair and scientific adviser to Action on Postpartum Psychosis.

In addition to his clinical and academic expertise, Ian brings an understanding of the health service in Wales and his experience of charity trusteeship to the board of MMHA.

 


Our staff team

The MMHA has a small team of part-time staff dedicated to delivering our vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible, and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth.

CEO (interim)
Justin Irwin

Justin combines interim senior management with other consultancy projects and brings a wealth of charity experience including from the mental health and early years’ sectors. He has been an interim CEO with the Parent-Infant Foundation, Bliss, Bipolar UK, and The Family and Childcare Trust, and held senior roles with Childline, SANE and the Young Women’s Trust, amongst others. Justin has taken the helm on an interim basis, pending recruitment for our next permanent CEO.

Campaign Manager

Karen Middleton

Communications Lead

Amy Tubb

Development and Programmes Manager

Rebecca Sheppard

Everyone’s Business Campaign Co-ordinators

  • Northern Ireland – Tom McEneaney
  • Scotland – Laura Bennison
  • Wales – Sarah Witcombe-Hayes

Lived Experience Champion Network Officer

Sharon McPherson

Lived Experience & Strategic Opportunities Manager

Maria Bavetta

Operations and Team Assistant

Carrie Hammond

Senior Campaign Assistant

Sian Drinkwater

 


Our founders

The coming together of clinical expertise and lived experience formed the powerful and lasting foundations of the MMHA. Meet the MMHA founders:

Honorary President and Co-Founder
Dr. Alain Gregoire

Dr. Alain Gregoire is the Co-Founder, former Chair, and now Honorary President of the MMHA.

Alain is a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group for Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health and has contributed to the development of policy, guidance, and clinical services in the UK and abroad. He is determined to ensure that all women have access to care for their mental health which is at least as good as the care available for their physical health in pregnancy and postnatally.

Dr. Alain Gregoire is a retired Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton. He set up and leads the national award-winning Hampshire Perinatal Mental Health Service, which provides comprehensive integrated community and inpatient services to women with severe mental health problems in pregnancy and postnatally. He has conducted research into perinatal services, the mental health of mothers in prisons, and other aspects of perinatal mental health. He began his postgraduate medical training in obstetrics, but on finding that the illest women, who also received the worst care, were those with mental health problems, he switched to psychiatry and completed his training at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry.

Maternal Mental Health Alliance CEO Emily Slater

Co-Founder and former CEO
Emily Slater

Emily is the former CEO and Co-Founder of the MMHA, and Development Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Maternal Mental Health (GAMMH). Following her experience of postnatal depression after the birth of her son in 2009, Emily founded, with her partner, the campaigning organisation ‘Break the Silence – PNI’. In this capacity, Emily attended the first meeting of what became known as the MMHA. She has been instrumental in its funding and growth to a 100-plus-strong coalition of UK organisations with the shared vision to see all women across the UK get access to consistent and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and postnatally.

 

 


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