Meet our amazing Team
A diverse strong management team with decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge.
Sonia has worked within the statutory and voluntary sector in the field of criminal justice, drugs and alcohol, domestic abuse, anger management, homelessness and complex families for over 20 years. She studied Criminology at Birkbeck University, London and is a trained and experienced alcohol and drugs counsellor, anger management specialist, group-worker and PTTLLS level 4 trainer, level 3 Designated Safeguarding officer and trained restorative practitioner. She is an experienced Funding and development manager, with a track record of successfully devising and setting up innovative projects both in London and Essex. Sonia identified that the many of male clients she worked with over her career seemed to share a common factor of an absent father and wanted to do something about this so set about devising Lads Need Dads. Sonia has a heart for prevention work. She is a fellow with the School of Social Entrepreneurs and is a Shackleton Foundation leader. Sonia holds a Certificate of Education in Managing Charities and Social Enterprise with Anglia Ruskin University. She is also a Trustee with the Men and Boys Coalition which highlights and tackles issues where the needs of men and boys are unmet.
Mandy is a Senior Children’s Social worker in Tendring Essex with 34 years qualified social work experience. She case manages children from birth until their 16th birthday. Mandy specialises with children who have additional needs. Mandy joined the board as she was so enthusiastic about the work of Lads Need Dads, having referred her own son onto the programme and witnessing such positive changes in him; such as raised self-esteem, confidence, motivation, emotional resilience and improved attitude towards school. She was thrilled to be asked to join the board. Having a parent of a service user the board feel will prove invaluable when shaping its services to meet the needs of its young men.
Eric is a recently retired accountant who worked at a senior level in local government for 50 years. He was in charge of the strategic financial arrangements for many services operating in a county council. For the last 7 years he managed the adult social care budget and is fully aware of the challenges of providing services to vulnerable groups in our society. Eric has 3 grown up sons and 4 grandchildren.
Andy is an experienced Managing Director/CEO with a track record in delivering commercial results, building great people & teams and in leading with purpose.
His specialisms include strategic planning, marketing, building strong business partnerships across both commercial and not for profit organisations, E-Commerce & Business Operations. He has additional experience in working as a trustee in a not-for-profit organisation – Quicksilver Children’s Theatre in London – and as a mentor for the Princes Trust.
Andy is married and has 3 teenage sons.
Joel is a teacher with over 20 years’ experience working across mainstream primary, secondary and special schools in London and Essex. He was the pastoral lead in his role as Deputy Head teacher at a Special School in Colchester for 6 years. He is an advanced trainer in behaviour management and now he is operational Lead with Essex Steps, training schools across Essex, on understanding and managing difficult behaviour. Previously, Joel was head of physical education and sport at a boys’ secondary comprehensive in inner city London. Upon his arrival in Essex in 2004 Joel worked successfully as a partnership development manager for a school sport partnership which involved supporting schools in delivering high quality P.E and sport until he took up his current position in 2010. Joel is passionate about helping children achieve and overcome barriers and challenges. Joel is married to Sonia and they have three sons, age 13, 15 and 18.
Gijsbert (English: Gilbert) works as Professor of Psychology at the University of Essex. He has over 25 years of experience in neuroscientific and psychological research. Gijsbert has for many years studied gender differences in educational achievement. His research has been covered in international newspapers and the media.
He is particularly concerned about the relatively poorer school performance and attitudes of boys compared to girls. Because of this, Gijsbert was excited to be invited to join Lads Need Dads, which helps teenage boys to succeed in life.
Chris has worked in the banking sector for over 14 years and works with a portfolio of Accountants, Solicitors and Financial Advisors to assist with the banking needs of their clients. Chris runs a book of high value and influential private and commercial customers that he works very closely with. Chris also runs a 7 day a week retail bank in Colchester and looks after a team of 15 staff.
Chris is also a Board Director of the Colchester Town Centre BID (Business Improvement District), a Trustee of The Robin Cancer Trust Charity and has also been named as a Colchester Ambassador. Chris lives in Colchester and is engaged to his partner of 12 years and has 2 children, 16 and 6.
Chris has been a mentor with Lads Need Dads for over a year and has seen first-hand, the positive impact of our programmes on young men and their families. Having grown up without a father himself, Chris is very passionate about our project and will no doubt be a very strong advocate for supporting and developing our plans moving forwards.