Jennifer Peters, Chair
Jennifer has had the privilege to serve as our Chair of Trustees since 2016. She is mother of two girls aged 3 and 8. Her eldest was diagnosed autistic in 2016 at the age of 4. Jennifer and her family have been part of the Skylarks family since 2014 when her family relocated to Richmond Borough. She brings to the board both her personal experience of raising a child on the spectrum, as well as her previous professional background as Global Human Resources Director for such brands as L’Oreal and LK Bennett.
She says: "After a short amount of time serving as a Trustee in 2016, I was asked to Chair the Board. It is my distinct honour and pleasure to serve in this capacity. Our job is to ensure that those who use our services are as informed, supported and empowered as they can possibly be. It takes a village to raise our special kids and Skylarks plays a brilliant role in providing help and support for our families."
I have worked in asset management and banking for 20 years and five years ago became mum to Toby, who has spastic quadriplegia (and associated dystonia) and complex medical needs (recurrent chest infections, GORD). Toby now attends a private mainstream school along with his 8-year-old brother.
Following our own poor experiences I am now working with my Local Authority to improve its EHCP processes and working with my local CCG to improve performance measurement of therapists working with disabled children. I want to help ensure that all disabled children get what they need so that they can maximise their potential, rather than just those who have parents who can shout loudest or afford to have someone shout for them. We should be sharing best practice among all parents.
In addition, I am a member of the City Disability Group, a group of parents who work in the City who have disabled children. Our primary focus is the education of employers about what it means to have employees with disabled children (and later, help them understand they can have disabled employees!) but we are also helping each other from our own experiences. I lead the sub-group on Education, providing help and advice to other parents around the EHCP process.
I am a passionate believer in the equality of disabled children and recognise that we have to start influencing society now so that our children are more accepted into both society and the workplace and long-term care is better provided and supported. Parents of disabled children face tremendous emotional, financial and physical challenges. There are many easy “wins” that we can provide to help them, and we should.
I have been involved in Skylarks since 2006 (when my son attended the charity) and a Trustee since 2010. I am originally Lebanese but lived in Jordan until I moved to the UK in 2000. I am trilingual in Arabic, English and French. I have a son with additional needs. I am a private Doctor and have an MSc in Applied Psychology and Mental Health. I travel internationally speaking on such topics and helping other professionals. I have previously been the Chair of Richmond Parent Carers' Action Group, the parent forum for our area, and a committee member of the NAS (National Autistic Society) Richmond Branch. I worked heavily with the Richmond local authority on the implementation of the Children and Families Bill in 2012 to 2014, which is now the basis for our SEND law. I have regularly attended the council’s CYPwDLD (Children and Young People with Disability and Learning Difficulties) meeting, which is the local council services oversight group, to lobby to protect services for our community in the face of threatened or actual cuts. In May 2011, I completed the Three Peaks Challenge for Skylarks. My passion is working directly with children and changing attitudes towards those with additional needs.
I am Dad to two girls. Our eldest daughter was diagnosed autism in 2016. I work for a privately owned pharma company in risk and internal audit.
Following my own battle with depression I also campaign and write for the national press about mental health and education. I believe that as a society that we should be helping those with additional needs to meet their full potential. Skylarks is a wonderful charity which has helped my own family and many more and I am delighted to be able to support their continued success.
I am a purpose-driven and results-oriented business leader and investor with 20+ years of work experience in Management Consulting and Private Equity investing. I currently lead a team that executes large cap leveraged buy-outs across Europe and I serve on the Board of invested companies, leading on strategy and financing topics.
I am a father of two daughters and one son and we live in the Richmond area. I believe that all children are different and special and all deserve to have the opportunity to have an education that fits their needs.
At Skylarks, I focus mainly on strategy and finance themes.
My journey with Skylarks began in 2017 as my wife, and I learned about the challenges we would face with my young daughter.
I am the father of two, a boy and a girl. My daughter was diagnosed with SYNGAP-1, a rare genetic condition that presents as a severe learning disability. Through engaging with Skylarks, we found a host of activities for both my children. We also found a wealth of valuable information and a community for us as parents.
Professionally, I work in Venture Capital to support emerging businesses to grow. At Skylarks, I look to borrow from my professional experience to help steer strategy and fundraising activities.
A trustee since 2017, Michelle heads up the operations committee and works with the core team to develop programs to support the Skylarks community. She has 10 years experience as a marketing director in FTSE 150 media companies and, more recently, works as a freelance head of marketing specialising in subscriptions, recruitment and events businesses.
Michelle found out about Skylarks when she was struggling to access services and secure an EHCP for her son. "Skylarks welcomed me, supported me and helped both me and my son to build new friendships. I feel privileged to be able to support such a wonderful local charity
Rajan Thevasagayam, Treasurer
Rajan Thevasagayam is a Chartered Certified accountant who has over thirty five years of audit and accountancy experience in many different sectors such as auditing, banking, retailing and for the last 14 years has been working in the charity sector including a 9 year role as head of finance of a major international charity. He has also worked in both Sri Lanka and UK