Central Team

Brian Chernett


Brian is a highly motivated and experienced person having worked as a Chief Executive or Managing Director continuously for the last 50 years in both the for profit and Charity sectors. His experience with membership organisations gives him the particular knowledge to add value to the NCVO board. Brian is passionate about improving leadership and how to motivate leaders to be the best they can be.

Danny Kalman


Danny has been CEO of Ella Forums since 2019 and prior to taking on the role he was on Ella’s leadership team and co-chair of one of Ella’s forums. In his corporate life his career was mostly in HR and for a short time in Marketing. His last role was at Panasonic where he worked for 21 years where he had a number of positions including becoming HR Director for Panasonic Europe and for 7 years Global Head of Talent.
Since leaving Panasonic in 2013 Danny has co-authored two books on Talent Management , become an accredited executive coach and a part-time senior lecturer on leadership at Middlesex Business School.
‘ I enjoy my role at Ella as I feel that I can share my experiences of promoting good and effective leadership in the charity sector and in particular both speaking at and attending our groups’

Mike Burnage


Age 21, working at Tesco, I found myself as General Manager overseeing 180 staff.

I was given a leadership role at such a young age for one reason – I had received the most wonderful and comprehensive 1:1 training which equipped me with every technique in the retail trade… and very quickly taught me the value of experiential learning.

My 30 years in the retail industry included a significant spell at the Landmark Group (one of the largest wholesaler buying groups in the UK), where I gained vital experience being responsible for wine importing.

Along the way I’ve keenly explored other industries, chairing the prestigious Champagne Academy in 1992 `{` and speak professionally on champagne`}` as well as being a mentor at the Prince’s Trust. Until recently I was also chair of the board of governors at Buckinghamshire’s largest secondary school.

But for the last five years, I have been MD at The Academy for Chief Executives.

Its is from the Academy that The Ella-Foundation has emerged. Having successfully worked with CEO’s from the commercial sector the Ella Foundation purpose is to provide the same leadership learning to leaders of charities.

Ella gives members the greatest experience ’ by offering peer group learning and 1:1 monthly mentoring.What’s so brilliant about the experience `{`and in my opinion priceless`}` is that members get:

*SKILLS – access to leaders with a cross-section of experience – effectively like having 11 non-exec directors on the payroll

*CONFIDENCE – a certain reassurance comes from getting buy-in on professional and personal issues from a highly skilled peer group

*TRUTH – no one’s competing and no one has an agenda so you can trust the unbiased, rich advice you’ll receive. How often is that the case in life?

If you lead a charity then get a taste for how it works, join us as our guest at a Forum.

Specialties: Business Coach, Business Advisor, Peer Group Training, Experiential Business Learning, Experiential Business Leadership, Mentoring, Coaching, Facilitation, Education

Phil Thompson

Head of Operations

Phil officially started working full time for ella-Forums CIC in April 2014, after helping on a voluntary basis set up a number of groups across the country from 2011.

ella gives it’s members the opportunity to meet up once a month to share issues and problems in a safe environment and hear from some of the best speakers around. Our aim is to “Inspire and develop Leaders of Charities and Social Enterprises” to grow their organisations”.

Personal Statement:
With accomplishments in all aspects of warehouse logistics and customer service management for over 30 years, Including responsibility for the buying of home entertainment products for three companies including Blockbuster Video for over 20 years.

John Mitchell

Leadership Team

John joined the ella leadership team in 2018 providing support on IT and fundraising matters. He has also spoken at many ella forums on “Critical Thinking: the science to better decision making”

For 15 years, John was a senior IT Leader for DHL in supply chain working in UK, Central Europe, Middle East, Africa and Iberia. He provided a significant contribution to the growth of DHL´s business and the modernization of DHL´s IT landscape and Project processes. Previously, John worked in IT and Finance roles in the energy, banking and IT service industries.

John has an MBA from the University of Surrey.


Gill Todd

Expert Speaker on Building effective leadership teams

Gill is a keynote speaker on building effective leadership teams. She began her career as a chartered accountant and auditor with global financial services firm EY. Latterly she spent ten years as learning leader for the Transactions Advisory Team across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, leading projects to design and deliver global training programmes in technical, non technical and leadership topics. Gill brings to ella her experience of coaching and mentoring executives and leadership teams and a passion for authentic leadership that motivates others to be the best they can be, through empathy, compassion and a sense of fun.

Jon Cremer

Expert speaker on Reading People

John Cremer is an award winning professional speaker. There aren’t too many people like him. His methods are playful yet provocative and he is renowned for delivering profound learning with a light, humorous touch. By combining the discipline of Reading People with extensive experience as a performing improviser he shows delegates and organisations new and effective possibilities in communication and innovation.

His easy going, mischievous approach invites you to take yourself less seriously and to embrace novel approaches to personal interactions. His apparent tranquility and calm belies an ability to strike a chord with audiences that is so deep and personal, that it is as if he’s known the whole audience from childhood.

It is this understanding of who you are that he uses in his keynote speaking and group training events to such great effect. John shows you how to use this awareness to your advantage. He invites you to feel secure in who you are and helps you understand much more about your role in life. As a bonus, you gain some of the secrets of how this magic works.

Roger Harrop

Expert speaker on Business Growth

Roger Harrop has spent over 25 years leading international businesses, including a plc, which puts him in a unique position to deal with present-day business challenges.

Based in Oxford in the UK, hes an international business growth speaker who inspires and entertains audiences with his acclaimed Staying in the Helicopter® programmes. Over 20,000 CEOs, business leaders and others in over 45 countries have achieved transformational change through his thought-provoking, entertaining talks laced with real-life stories and humour.

Roger is also an author, business advisor, mentor, consultant and independent director.

He has unusually wide leadership experience from small start-ups to multinationals and from high-tech products to basic commodities, people-based service businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Roger spent seven years as Group Chief Executive of a FTSE quoted, high-tech industrial group with 12 sites across 4 continents. The UK Government mentioned it in its Competitiveness White Paper. The US Forbes magazine included the group among its list of the top 100 overseas companies. Two business schools have used it as a benchmark case study on culture change and business re-engineering.

Roger has tutored on a leading leadership and teambuilding programme for over 25 years.

Hes a keen mountain biker and classic car enthusiast.


Winner of the Professional Speaking Award of Excellence
Twice Speaker of the Year with The Academy for Chief Executives
Fellow and Past President of the Professional Speakers Association
Certified Speaking Professional Global
Inducted into The Academy for Chief Executives Speaker Hall of Fame
Member of The Global Speakers Federation
Liveryman with The Worshipful Company of Marketors
Chartered Engineer
Fellow and former Vice-President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Accredited SME business advisor and Fellow of The Institute for Independent Business

Steve Barton

Expert speaker on Marketing

Steve is a business leader with a successful track record of running award winning marketing services agencies, managing digital transformation for blue chip brands, and helping start-up businesses grow. Globalist with hands-on experience of building, motivating and developing teams in US, UK and across regions. Specialise in delivering profitable growth.

Regular speaker at conferences and corporate events.

Specialities: Digital Marketing, Integrated Communications, Managing C-suite relationships, Business Planning, Advising start-ups, One-to-One Marketing, Content Marketing, Advertising, Digital Transformation, Direct Marketing, Social Media, Word Of Mouth Marketing.

Chris Hughes

Expert speaker on ``Fierce Conversations``

Chris Hughes comes from classic sales and marketing background having held senior and board positions with companies such as Mars and Pillsbury UK. Subsequent to this he set up and ran Prince Sportsgroup UK. After sale to Benetton, Chris has spent his time as a management consultant with a bias towards marketing and brand positioning, both in domestic and global markets, and in interim management posts with companies such as Dunlop Slazenger. Since 2000 he has been involved with Vistage, initially as a Chair and now as both Chair and speaker.

His experiences range across large budgets brands to start ups; from blue chip corporations to SME’s; from consumer goods, via business to business, to service marketing. In all of these, he maintains, the same marketing and branding principles and disciplines apply.

Julie Pelych

Chair - Southern Forum

Julie is passionate about developing individuals, teams and organisations to reach their full potential and to achieve great outcomes. She has extensive experience of Leadership Development and Executive Coaching and uses a strengths-based approach in her work, underpinned with the latest research in neuroscience.
She has worked with a diverse range of private and public sector organisations including retail, engineering and construction businesses as well as the NHS, housing associations and large charities. Julie has coached senior leaders, managing directors and CEOs as well as a broad range of individuals at all levels in organisations. Julie is a British Psychological Society qualified user of an extensive range of psychometric tools and an ILM qualified Coach. She is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, holds post-graduate diplomas in HR and in Executive Coaching and Leadership Mentoring, and is a Master Practitioner in NLP as well as a qualified user of a wide range of counselling techniques.
Prior to setting up her own business in 1995 Julie was an HR Director in a blue chip global business and spent 11 years working as an HR professional in the public transport, engineering and FMCG sectors.

Nicky Hope

Chair - East-Midlands Emerging Leaders Forum

A trained psychologist, Nicola specialises in leadership development and transformational change management, with a particular focus on employee engagement and empowerment. Nicola designs and delivers highly interactive leadership and change interventions with an exemplary track record in achieving desired organisational outcomes. Nicola is a certified MBTI assessor with an MBA, Degree in Psychology and master’s degree in Adult Education.

Andrew Jacobs

Chair - London Forum 2

Andrew built his family Food Import business to revenues of $100 mln p.a. and is one of the global industry leaders on a United Nations project for more nutritious and sustainable foods. Andrew now spends most of his time as a Social Action activist with Citizens UK and coach/mentor to charities and social enterprises through his extended network & ella forums.


Daniel Solomons

ella Chair

Daniel leads transformational education programmes that help organisations thrive in a digital age.

Daniel has over 20 years’ experience in advertising and marketing, half of which were spent immersed in the world of digital media. More recently, Daniel headed up the Google Digital Academy, leading a team that designed and delivered ground-breaking, transformational education programmes and workshops for advertisers, agencies and Googlers across EMEA, including the award-winning Squared programme.

Whilst working at Google, Daniel developed a passion for the cultural, behavioural and organisational aspects of digital transformation, and left to set up Byte Behaviour. Daniel now works with C-suite and senior executives to help them recognise the digital transformation opportunity, and to design and deliver the programmes that help them propel their teams and business forward in a disruptive and ever-changing digital world.

Abbi Buszard

Chair - West Midlands Forum

Coach, Founder and MD of Grow Your Own Organic Learning, a coaching and experiential learning business with a social enterprise heart, Abbi is passionate about making an impact. An experienced commercial leader with 14 years’ experience in FTSE 100 consumer products businesses, she has held Director-level roles in GB and Europe and offers a wide breadth of expertise across Business Transformation and Change, Customer Management, Customer Marketing, Organisational Design and Learning & Development.

Lindsey Williams

Chair - East-Midlands Forum

Lindsey is an experienced chief executive and non - executive director with a passion for social impact and diversity. She has worked in housing, development, education and training for more than 30 years.
Lindsey is a direct and dynamic leader who likes to get things done. She thrives on tough challenges, fresh ideas and breaking down barriers - and having fun whilst doing it!

``Leading an organisation that is continually learning and developing both myself and others is vital to success``

Lindsey believes in the power of professionals to change lives and build, safe communities where people want to live, learn, work and stay.

Nanci Hogan

Chair - Central Forum

Nanci Hogan is an executive consultant and coach for leaders, senior managers and CEOs, working in the public (including local, national and international government and academic institutions), private and Third (Charity and nongovernmental organisation) Sectors. She works at the individual, team, organizational and systemic levels. She is trained in ICF recognized individual and organizational depth coaching as well as in ORSC systems coaching, focused on building thriving teams and organisations. Over the past year she has led six group coaching sessions for humanitarian aid and mission workers. She also identifies herself a moral philosopher and ethicist.

Gill Martin

Chair - Trustees Forum

Gill is an Organisational Development consultant, executive coach, and facilitator with over twenty-five years’ experience helping people, teams and organisations to perform at their best. She is passionate about developing resourceful and resilient leaders who can deliver individual performance at the highest level while creating a culture where everyone can find their place and purpose in order to thrive.

Gill has worked with leaders in the UK and Europe, and from a range of market sectors that includes organisations such as Roche, J Sainsbury, IMG, Innocent, Imperial College London, PRS for Music and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Gill enjoys working in partnership with her clients, acting as a coach and mentor as well as a consultant. She is equipped to use a wide range tools and techniques to help people and teams make sense of the world and her approach is always pragmatic, and action orientated.

Gill is passionate about her own development and her qualifications include, Level 7 ILM Executive Coaching qualification, Systemic Team Coaching Master Practitioner (Academy of Executive Coaching), Organisational Development Practitioner (Roffey Park); NLP Practitioner.

Les Broude

Chair - London Forum 1

A Chartered Accountant by background with an extensive knowledge of finance and general management through international roles in the Mars Group and senior executive roles with Barclays Bank. He is currently a Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee Chair for the Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust and a Trustee and Audit Committee Chair at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability.

He coaches in Career Transition at Penna Plc bringing his broad finance and management experience as well as knowledge of Interim Management.

He joined ella in 2014 and runs Group 1.

David Robinson

Chair - North East Forum

David started as Chief Executive at Tees Valley YMCA in May of this year and is based at their offices in Darlington. His background cuts across the charity, public and private sectors and he brings with him senior management experience in the fields of youth, learning disability, mental health, employment support, corporate social responsibility and local regeneration. He has also held posts in private sector recruitment and sports retail buying. David takes a real interest in the community and voluntary sector, especially in the North East and is currently a trustee with Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE). He is a Clore Social Leadership fellow, completed the Common Purpose North East Meridian leadership programme, is in the process of completing his Churchill Fellowship Report on Entrepreneurial Charity Leadership and has been involved with Pilotlight, both as a leader of a charity benefitting from the programme and as part of a team supporting a charity. He has a degree in Management and Masters in Psychology.

Aamer Naeem

Chair - North West Forum

Aamer Naeem is an experienced Director with a demonstrated history of working in the Management Consulting and Leadership Development industries. Strong professional skilled in Negotiation, Business Planning, Entrepreneurship and Training Facilitation. Aamer has sat as a Fitness to Practice Committee member for the General Pharmaceutical Council and the General Teaching Council. As CEO of Penny Appeal, was responsible for growing the organisation from £100k to £33m over 6 years.

Emily Petty

Chair - Emerging Leaders Forum

Emily helps fundraising leaders and their teams to work smarter, achieve their goals and love what they do. Offering consultancy support, one to one coaching as well as leadership and team workshops and programmes. She is passionate about working with leaders and fundraising teams to enable them to be the best they can be.