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.
Shaun Delaney, Treasurer
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.
Alan Murray, Company Secretary
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!
Alan is currently the Interim Senior Programme Delivery Manager at The Scouts, where his role is to lead the delivery of new programme materials and initiatives whilst also ensuring volunteers are provided with high quality support and resources related to existing programme initiatives.
It is during his time at The Scouts that his passion was ignited to support and empower volunteers to not only learn new skills but also provide Skills for Life to others. Alan believes in making volunteering opportunities accessible so that we can ensure we have a wide diversity of people getting involved. Alan values the importance of staff and volunteers working together to co-design new programmes and initiatives as this is where you get empowerment of volunteers.
His greatest achievement to date has been leading on the roll out of Squirrel Scouts which is The Scouts newest provision for 4-5 year olds. This has seen one of the biggest change projects for the organisation for over 20 years and has led to over 700 Squirrel Dreys opening across the UK with over 2,000 volunteers being recruited and over 10,000 young people participating each week.
He is passionate that we continue to develop our skills as leaders and managers across the sector in order to offer the best volunteering experience that we possibly can for volunteers. We are all experts in our field so let’s unleash the knowledge and experience we have to support each other and volunteers across the UK.
Andy is Head of Communities and 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 volunteers at his daughter’s dance school, and in those moments away from work he enjoys music and is a keen photographer.
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 volunteered for over 10 years for Cancer Research UK as well as other charities since she was a teenager and is currently an independent member on Parkinson’s UK’s People Committee.
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 has held leadership roles in a number of large charities including Head of Member Support – England at Scouts, Head of Volunteering at SSAFA the armed forces charity and Head of Volunteering Advisory Services at Guide Dogs.
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 Guide Dogs achieved the standard in 2017 and 2021. She is also keen to develop and has also completed the Essential Management of Volunteers study course at Queens University, Belfast.
Neil is the Volunteer Manager for Access Community Trust, covering Norfolk and Suffolk. His previous roles have included working 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. He’s also been a 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 he can in supporting those who support volunteers as he believes 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, leading on developing our culture with how we work with, develop and support our volunteers. This includes both those who join us directly and through constituted or external volunteering groups, seeking ways to expand our 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 in hearing recommendations from other cinema goers.
AVM’s staff team
Terri Thomason, Head of Business Development
Terri joined AVM in October 2022 after taking a career break to have her two children. Before that she worked for the National Trust for 11 years in a variety of roles at a variety of properties including retail and catering at a Roman villa; overseeing the day-to-day operations at the visitor centre of a Capability Brown landscape garden; managing all things visitor-related at a 5’000 acre countryside estate; leading visitor experience, membership and retail teams at a 17th manor house and garden and finally as a membership promotion Consultant, supporting properties across the South East with the recruitment and retention of members and customer service delivery.
All these roles involved working with volunteers and having experienced the profound effect volunteering can have on individuals and organisations, Terri is excited to be working for AVM to support, develop and inspire as many volunteer managers as possible.
Nikki Golding, Website & Digital Marketing Officer
Nikki joined AVM in May 2023. She has previously worked in marketing roles in the further and higher education sectors, promoting courses and events for various professional development portfolios.
She also spent eight years working for a not-for-profit organisation and saw first-hand how important volunteering can be for both the people who volunteer their time and expertise, and the organisations that they do it for.
Nikki is looking forward to helping to support people working in volunteer management roles, through all the exciting events and opportunities that AVM offers.