Find out more about the members and staff behind AVM.
The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is a company limited by guarantee, governed by a board of directors. Find out more about our Board of Directors and staff team.
AVM’s Board of Directors
Ruth Leonard, Chair
Ruth is the Head of Volunteering Development and Operations at Macmillan Cancer Support, where her role is to consider strategically where volunteers could be involved in providing solutions and to ensure that there is a supportive infrastructure to enable these interventions to be co-designed with and delivered by volunteers.
Before working with Macmillan she was part of the Samaritans Volunteering Team, which fired her passion for truly volunteer led services and belief in a model of volunteers being managed by volunteers. Ruth feels that volunteer management is about empowering and enabling people to bring creativity and ingenuity to a solution to be able to make a difference in their community. With a background in journalism she is interested in encouraging the voice of volunteers to be heard and fully inform a volunteer programme.
She enjoys collaborative working; bringing together and being involved in networks from the wider volunteer involving and statutory sectors to creatively think about volunteering and community engagement issues and has been involved in several cross-sector pieces of work.
Her personal volunteering includes being a Samaritans volunteer, a community mediator and a previous trustee with Prisoners Family and Friends Service.
Karen Ramnauth, Vice Chair
Karen is the Business Partner, Operations, at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Karen has extensive experience designing and implementing policy and governance infrastructure for volunteer activities to flourish in an NHS setting. She is a non-practising solicitor who is passionate about social action and the ability of volunteers to improve health outcomes in local communities. As Vice Chair of AVM, Karen has taken on the responsibility of supporting AVM’s operational delivery.
Shaun Delaney, Company Secretary
Shaun is currently working at DCMS on covid-19 volunteering policy.
Since first volunteering 30 years ago, Shaun quickly got hooked and has been giving time ever since. He has now been managing and supporting volunteers for about 20 years and has focused much of his career on supporting volunteer managers to do the same. Shaun believes everyone has the right make a difference, both to themselves and to their communities, and loves making that happen through supporting volunteer managers.
Shaun previously headed up volunteering development at NCVO, overseeing the development of volunteering policy and volunteer management good practice. He joined NCVO following five years as head of volunteering at Samaritans, leading the involvement of 20,000 volunteers across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Before that he was with Volunteer Centre Greenwich supporting 300+ local community group to involve volunteers. As a 2012 host borough, Shaun also worked on Olympic/Paralympic related programmes.
Away from work, Shaun was vice chair of London Plus (which used to be known as Greater London Volunteering), where he was supporting volunteering in the capital in his trustee role for the last six years. Shaun believes in evidence-based volunteering, and he completed his MSc in civil society management in 2014, looking at the application of psychological contract theory in volunteering management. He’s now following this up by studying for a master’s degree in occupational psychology, again, focusing on volunteer management.
Tom Ball, Treasurer
Tom is a Senior Technical Audit Manager at Grant Thornton UK LLP.
Following eight years studying Chemistry at university, Tom joined the Audit Commission to train as a public sector external auditor, subsequently joining Grant Thornton in 2012 and qualifying as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant the year after. During his career Tom has undertaken statutory external audit work at a range of Local Authorities, NHS bodies, Local Government Pension Schemes, as well as certifying central government grant funding and performing value for money reviews.
Tom also has experience of working with charities, limited companies and membership organisations and his career to date has also included secondments and permanent roles in the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice.
Tom’s work experience includes communicating effectively with senior external and internal stakeholders and he has a keen interest in making financial information and technical concepts easy to understand for non-specialists, thus enabling finance to be a key driver of decision making.
In his current role, Tom provides technical audit training to Grant Thornton’s assurance practice and responds to technical queries from the firm’s auditors, providing support for the firm’s interactions with its regulators and other key external stakeholders. He also plays a key role in enhancing and maintaining audit quality standards across the firm and supports effective risk management throughout the firm’s relationships with all its audit clients.
Tom has engaged in ad hoc volunteering activity on several occasions and is keen to ‘give back’ when he can.
Outside of work, Tom enjoys the world of film as a member of the BFI and is a keen follower of Formula One.
Tom is married to Rachel Ball.
Alan is Head of Volunteering and Employee Engagement at the RSPB.
The RSPB is Nature’s Voice and at the RSPB, I’m the voice of volunteering. I’ve spent all my working life, already longer than I care to remember, working to enthuse, inspire and enable people to put their time and talents to best use for nature and the environment.
This passion came about from being a full time volunteer myself with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers way back in 1989 – fab times. Today I’m very fortunate to be Head of Volunteering and Employee Engagement for the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) What’s that mean? Well in short, I’m the strategic lead for Volunteering at the RSPB and head up internal communications as after all our volunteers are part of our organisational ‘family’ along with our employees and together we are all One Team for Nature.
My role is all about making sure we create impactful volunteering opportunities that make the best use of people’s time, passion, skills and knowledge. We also want to make sure people have such a great time volunteering with us they would be happy to recommend volunteering with us to a friend or family member.
As well as that small challenge I’m responsible for internal communications at the RSPB ensuring everyone (paid or unpaid) knows what is going on, why and how they can get involved.
I’m still volunteering myself as Chair of the AVM Conference Planning Group and I was a founding member and Director of AVM when it started. I am delighted to re-join the Board at a time of significant change and opportunity for AVM. I’m really looking forward to working with Ruth, my fellow Directors and you our members to ensure AVM continues to grow and flourish. As John F Kennedy said: “Every person can make a difference, and every person should try.” My mantra is to just keep trying!
Andy is Head of Volunteering at Diabetes UK, having joined the charity in April 2017.
His role is to support the evolution of the volunteering function to ensure volunteers are able to fully contribute towards delivering Diabetes UK’s strategy. This involves creating easier ways for volunteers to become part of the charity, implementing new systems and ways of working, and making sure that co-creation with volunteers is a part of all their work.
Before moving into the charity sector, Andy spent over 10 years as a self-employed Business/Process Analyst working in Financial Services on IT and Customer Experience programmes.
Having previously been a Diabetes UK volunteer for five years, Andy is currently chair of his school’s PTA, and in those moments away from work he enjoys music and is a keen photographer.
Annabel was Head of Volunteering and Participation Development at the National Trust, where she worked as part of a central team to create an environment where everyone feels welcomed, inspired and supported to make a positive difference to the places that matter to them. Her particular responsibility was building the capability and confidence of the organisation to work with volunteers, so every gift of time is mutually beneficial. Her focuses includes developing ways to work successfully with emotions in volunteering, and supporting volunteer managers to lead change and transition.
She was part of the team that delivered the headline hitting, award winning LGBTQ histories programme ‘Prejudice and Pride’ in 2017.
Annabel was first introduced to the often rewarding, sometimes challenging, always worthwhile world of volunteer management in 2004 when she first joined the National Trust. Since then she’s worked in operational, regional and project roles, all focused on volunteering and participation.
Annabel has volunteered to support lots of causes over the years – as a student buddy, lifeguard, carol-singer and museum educator amongst other roles. She is currently a Trustee for Voluntary Action North Somerset. Annabel lives in Somerset with her husband, two young children and two cats.
Jennie currently works as Head of Volunteering for Home-Start UK – a parent support charity which has a network of over 13,000 trained volunteers, each making a significant impact to the lives of families and children by reducing isolation, improving mental ill health, enhancing self-esteem and helping families feel better able to cope.
She has worked for over 15 years in volunteer management for organisations, including The Children’s Trust, Oxfam and The University of West London; with specific experience in growing and implementing new volunteering services at a local, regional and national level.
Jennie has also been a volunteer in a personal capacity since she was a child; from helping out at her first Blue Peter Bring and Buy Sale at the age of five, building an aqueduct to provide drinking water to families in Nicaragua as part of Raleigh International, giving advice and support to Asylum Seekers and Refugees and acting as Chair of the National Student Volunteering Network.
She passionately believes in the power of volunteering; transforming the life of the volunteer as well as the communities they support.
Jennie has a young daughter, so when she is not working, she can be found splashing in muddy puddles, playing shops, watching Peppa Pig and reading her daughters favourite bed time story The Gruffalo.
Jo is Head of Volunteering at RNIB, leading the central Volunteering team.
Her role leads on the strategic development of volunteering across RNIB.
Jo is passionate about the power of volunteering both for the individual and the cause and the importance of providing a positive and supportive experience. Jo values co-production and collaboration in order to achieve the best outcomes.
Jo has worked in a variety of roles since joining the sector in 2001 and has extensive experience of volunteer management at both an operational and strategic level within a local, regional and UK wide context.
Jo has volunteered for several years for Cancer Research UK as well as other charities since she was a teenager.
Jo has greatly benefited from being a member, accessing a range of learning and development opportunities and a sense of connection with others across the profession and was delighted to join the Board in 2020 to support the continuation of AVM’s great work and help shape AVM’s future plans.
Outside of work and volunteering, Jo enjoys photography, exploring new places and when possible, getting on a plane to Japan, where she lived for a year.
Jolene is Head of Volunteering Advisory Services at Guide Dogs.
She is responsible for leading a staff team based around the UK who advise volunteer managers on all matters including recruitment, induction & training, support and supervision, reward and recognition, and problem solving. Jolene has held roles including Head of Volunteering at SSAFA the armed forces charity, Volunteering Business Partner at Guide Dogs and Volunteer Manager at Make-A-Wish Foundation UK.
Jolene has a strong passion for volunteering and the mutual benefits that it can bring to both the individual and the organisation. This is also driven by her desire to help others and give back to her community. Previous volunteer roles that Jolene has held include wish-granter for Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, dog boarder for Guide Dogs and volunteer counsellor for Childline. All of these roles have given her the opportunity to gain experience outside of her day to day employment.
One of her greatest achievements in her career to date has been leading a project group to attain the Investing in Volunteers quality standard at Guide Dogs. This was no mean feat, with over 16,000 volunteers and 1,000 employees but as an organisation we achieved the standard in January 2017. She is also keen to develop and has also completed the Essential Management of Volunteers study course at Queens University, Belfast.
Neil works for Interventions Alliance as a Volunteer Coordinator recruiting and supporting volunteers, including peer mentors, to support those in the criminal justice system to rehabilitate into society.
His previous roles supporting volunteers include Project Officer for Norfolk County Council on the Norfolk Peer Support Project – which developed and expanded peer support throughout the county, working in disability support, community radio, and a range of international development focused activities including leading teams of student volunteers on projects in Uganda, when a student himself.
With a MA in International Rural Development from the University of East Anglia, his international work has included a number of research projects, often supported by volunteers.
He is very keen to be involved as much as I can in supporting those who support volunteers as we need to support the supporters in order to get the best out of our communities and our society. Volunteer managers are often the only person in their locality or even their whole organisation doing this vital role and so can be isolated if not linked together. Anything that builds networks between volunteer managers in different organisations has to be a good thing and that’s where a set up like AVM comes in (more peer support!).
Rachel is the Volunteer Manager at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Rachel has recently joined St Paul’s Cathedral in a newly established role to help them explore how they can expand their volunteering offer and welcome a more diverse audience into the Cathedral through volunteering. Rachel has experience of volunteer management in museums, mental health and carers charities. Through these roles she has focused on upskilling staff and organisations to build confidence in involving, welcoming, working with and supporting volunteers, developing volunteering strategies and action plans, relevant policies, procedures and handbooks and writing and delivering training in Volunteer Management.
Rachel has completed her Level 5 in Volunteer Management, accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. In previous roles, she has achieved the Investing in Volunteers Award and delivered a successful application for the Queens Award for Voluntary service.
Rachel has a passion for all things film and is always interested hearing recommendations from other cinema goers.
Rachel is married to Tom Ball.
AVM’s staff team
Jo Gibney, Head of Business Development
Jo is AVM’s Head of Business Development, working closely with the Board to deliver our strategic aims, and leading our staff team.
A former volunteer manager, Jo was on AVM’s Board 2017-2019.
Outside of AVM, Jo is an online community manager, and social media marketing consultant, and lives in North London with her husband and their cat.
Helen Birchall, Membership and Events Administrator
Helen is the day-to-day face of AVM, and usually the first point of contact for our members and customers.
Get in touch with Helen if you have a query about membership or events, or have a general query.