Who we are Meet the team Meet the team The Africa Research Excellence Fund operates from Africa and the UK. We have a small and dedicated team, who are determined to make a difference: Esther HamiltonChief Executive Officer Esther Hamilton was appointed as our Chief Executive in May 2021 to work alongside the Board of Trustees to deliver the strategy, lead the charity and continue to build on AREF’s achievements. Esther has a 20 year background in the non-profit and international development sectors, beginning her career with war-affected populations during the Kosovo crisis and working in charities focused on health, education, refugees, children, gender and disability. She has a background in programmes and fundraising where she has won seven figure grants in charities including CARE International and Doctors of the World. Esther was previously the CEO of the award winning charity MAITS which trained clinicians mainly in Africa and Asia. Esther holds an MSc in Global Development Management and her research project was on tackling barriers to participation for minority ethnic groups in accessing health and education programmes. She is committed to social justice and tackling inequality. Maria Bellocci Head of Business Development and Resources Maria joined AREF in June 2018 as the Head of Business Development and Resources. Maria’s focus is operational efficiency and improvements and ensuring statutory compliance and effective budget management. Prior to joining AREF, Maria worked for charity Whizz-Kidz. During her 11 years there she was responsible for customer services, procurement, budgets and NHS contracts. Irene CokerTraining Events Manager As AREF’s Training & Events Manager, Irene has a crucial role in delivering AREF’s workshops and development programmes. Irene previously worked at QCell Ltd, a provider of telecommunication services in The Gambia. Alberta DavisProgramme Officer As programme officer, Alberta is responsible for managing the day-to-day administration of AREF Fellowships. She has a degree in biomedical science from the University of Westminster and is a final year PhD candidate at The Open University. Her project is researching genetic signatures of disease progression in HIV. Alberta has worked at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia over the last 15 years in the areas of STDs, meningitis, TB, and HIV. Dr Dawn DukeHead of Programmes Dawn joined AREF in January 2021 as Head of Programmes to oversee our professional development programmes for postdoctoral researchers in Africa. Dawn has twelve years’ experience in researcher development, most recently as the Head of Researcher Development and Engagement at the University of Surrey. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from Imperial College London and is passionate about the difference research and researchers make to our world. Dr Jill Kent Research Manager Jill Kent joined AREF in February 2021 as Research Manager, to manage and deliver AREF Fellowship competitions. Jill has a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Edinburgh and an MBA from Cranfield University. She has research and science funding experience from the UK and Australia. For the past 12 years she has lived in Zambia and Tanzania, most recently working as a grants and programme management adviser to the Sickle Cell Programme at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Lamin SannehAcademy Training Events Officer Lamin has been a key member of the AREF team since 2016. His role as Academy Training Events Officer helps to manage and administer AREF Programmes and events, including Excell Researcher and Leadership Development, Towards Leadership and Mentoring. He is a graduate from the University of The Gambia with a BSc in Management. His previous employment roles include human resources management and administration in the public sector, being skilled in event and project management, research governance, grant management, and monitoring and evaluation. Denise GanleySenior Finance Manager Denise provides part-time financial management support to AREF. Denise is a chartered accountant with 20 years’ experience working in a range of industry sectors in both large and small businesses. Emily MarshallCommunications Officer Emily provides part-time communications support to AREF. She has a Master’s Degree in International Health from the University of Leeds, and has experience in the science communication field, previously working in research engagement at Versus Arthritis. 1 2 3 Emily RudolphGrants Officer Emily provides part-time support for the delivery of AREF’s research development fellowships. Emily studied Biological Science at the University of Leeds, where she specialised in cancer and immunology. Emily has worked in the NHS and in the scientific publishing sector.