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Our Team

Chris Underhill


Chris is a global expert in the delivery of health and rehabilitation systems to very poor people and is a social entrepreneur. He is a Senior Ashoka Fellow and recipient of the Skoll Foundation and Schwab Foundation awards for Social Entrepreneurship in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Chris also founded Action on Disability and Development, and Thrive. In 2000 Chris was made an MBE by her Majesty the Queen for his services to disability and development.

Adrian Sell

Chief Executive Officer

Adrian joined BasicNeeds in 2016 and has over twenty years experience in the charity, social enterprise, government and private sectors and is passionate about both mental health and international development work. He was previously Executive Director of Oxford Parent Infant Project (OXPIP) and was one of the Founder Trustees of PIP-UK. Adrian has also worked for Oxfam in six countries across three continents. His other roles have included Director of Service for an older people’s charity, Operations Manager for a social enterprise, as well as front line roles in a hospital, a care home and an insurance company.

Peter Willis

Finance Manager

Peter joined BasicNeeds in 2006 from accountancy firm King Loose & Co as the Finance and Monitoring Coordinator. After a spell with Forest Peoples Programme as Projects Finance Officer, Peter returned to BasicNeeds in 2015 to lead the Finance Unit.

Uma Sunder

Impact Manager

Uma's career graph shows an interesting combination of technical expertise in the development field. Before joining BasicNeeds she worked as an Information Manager and Development Executive in a couple of voluntary organisations where she was involved setting up data, management information systems and partners’ project management. She joined BasicNeeds in 2007 and works in the capacity of Impact Manager. She leads the Quality Assurance and Impact Assessment of BasicNeeds programmes and manages quarterly and annual statistical analysis and impact reporting.

Kit Lawry

Programmes Manager

Kit joined BasicNeeds in 2013, initially to work as a Development Officer for Trusts and Foundations, and now as Programmes Manager for BasicNeeds' overseas programmes and partners in Asia. With extensive international experience (born in Kenya, lived and worked in Tanzania, Malawi and Swaziland, in South-east Asia and in Kazakhstan and Russia), Kit brings particular strengths in cross-cultural awareness and working in international teams to her fundraising and organisational skills. Originally trained to teach English as a foreign language, Kit diversified into lecturing, broadcasting, research and organisational development in different countries as differing opportunities arose and then settled for fundraising in international charities.

Martyn Illingworth

Programmes Manager

Martyn joined BasicNeeds in 2016, with a background in managing mental health services. He previously worked for the Institute of Mental Health, and within the NHS before a spell in the private sector. He is very interested in supporting new ways of delivering services to people in need, and has a particular interest in peer-support and self-help. Martyn joined initially as Projects Finance Officer, before being made the Programmes Manager with responsibility for overseas programmes and partners in Africa. In addition to his geographic focus, he also takes the lead on project finances globally, as well as relationships with our institutional donors.

Buddhika Indatissa

International IT Manager

Buddhika is an IT Engineer with 19+ years of experience, mostly in IT Management. He has a strong technical background and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Information System Management and is a Member of IET, UK. He joined BasicNeeds as an IT consultant to the Sri Lanka Programme in 2003 and was then given the opportunity to set up the IT systems in the Tanzania Programme that started in the same year. In 2005, he joined BasicNeeds as an International IT Manager and currently oversees the IT systems of the UK office and that of overseas programmes.

Natasha Abraham

Communications Officer

Natasha joined BasicNeeds in 2012 after completing her Masters degree in International Relations at the University of Warwick, UK. Prior to studying at Warwick, she graduated in Political Science from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and then worked as a Teacher for a year with The Akanksha Foundation - a non-profit focusing on educating less privileged children in India. As a Communications Officer at BasicNeeds, Natasha works with a wide range of stakeholders to increase the profile of the organisation and raise awareness of global mental health generally using appropriate communications channels.

Saju Mannarath

Data Coordinator

Saju has a post-graduate degree in Social Work (MSW) from Madras University and has over 25 years’ experience in the voluntary sector. He has been with non-governmental organisations in South India working with children, women, farmers and other marginalized people in villages as well as in urban slums on issues like child rights, women empowerment, water conservation and poverty eradication. The association with BasicNeeds started in 2006. Starting with the development of Knowledge Base for BasicNeeds he has been involved in the development of data management and quality assurance systems, as well as programme monitoring, training and reporting. Additional skills include research and publications. He is also a development consultant and promoter of voluntary organizations and a guest faculty for the students of Social Work in a Bangalore University affiliated college.

Tatiana Los

Programme Evaluator

Tatiana joined BasicNeeds in 2015 as Programme Evaluator of the BasicNeeds Transition to Scale Programme in Ghana. She is evaluating the implementation, impact and cost-effectiveness of the BasicNeeds Model as delivered under the social franchise business model. Prior to this she completed a Masters in Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King's College London. She has conducted research on mental health-related stigma and discrimination in India and the UK. Her background is in Medicine and Medical Anthropology and she has previously worked in Community Psychiatry in low-resource settings.

Pat Scanlan

Finance Assistant

Pat trained as a Chartered Surveyor and worked for both central and local government in the UK before moving to Bermuda. There she worked for the Bermuda Government, valuing property for purchase, sale and rent. On returning to the UK she took the opportunity to change career and worked part-time as an administrator for a Birmingham art charity before joining BasicNeeds as a Finance Assistant in 2015.

Shoba Raja

Special Adviser

Shoba’s experiences have focused on the disability movement and managing services for vulnerable people living in impoverished circumstances. She joined BasicNeeds in 2001 and has been instrumental in developing the organization’s research and data base. She has developed a new methodology for participatory research with mentally ill people, has trained BasicNeeds teams worldwide in its application and use for policy and advocacy. Shoba has also developed the organization’s monitoring and QA-IA systems. She is a member on a number of Global Mental Health advisory boards and expert groups.

Peter Yaro

Executive Director, BasicNeeds Ghana

Peter has 15 years of experience working in leadership roles in non-profit organizations and has multi sector experiences contributing to improve lives of poor and marginalized people. Over the years, he has built a wealth of experience in gender and socially inclusive program design and management, financial management, engagement with government and donors, policy advocacy and influencing. Peter has provided advisory services ranging from program planning and coordination, monitoring and evaluation, team-building and organizational self-assessments.

Joyce Kingori

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds Kenya

Joyce is a seasoned and accomplished social and population health development expert and a leader with substantial development work experience. Joyce has over 20 years experience in senior management positions in both Government and NGOs and joined BasicNeeds in 2005. Her main focus has been on community capacity development, strengthening primary and community health systems, public health research, stakeholders engagement and public participation in policy making.

Chantharavady Choulamany

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds Lao PDR

Chantharavady is one of the only two psychiatrists in Lao PDR. Armed with a range of experiences right from teaching psychiatry to medical students to working at the UNODC country office as a national project coordinator and national drug remand reduction officer, she joined BasicNeeds in 2007 as a Programme Manager. Chantharavady’s role was to implement the first ever programme on Mental Health and Development in Laos. She was greatly implicated in drafting the national mental health strategy which was approved in March 2013. She was also involved in motivating the Ministry of Health to establish the psychiatry post-graduate training in Laos. In 2016, Chantharavady won the prestigious Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award.

Zhang Yunshu

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds China

Yunshu graduated from Hebei Medical University and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders. She is currently the Director of the Sleep Medicine Department at Sixth People's Hospital, BasicNeeds' partner in Hebei Province. As a researcher, Yunshu has published more than 20 papers in mental health and psychiatry journals in China. She joined the BasicNeeds China programme in June 2015.

Nguyen Thanh Tam

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds Vietnam

Tam joined BasicNeeds in 2010 and has been working as Programme Manager of BasicNeeds Vietnam. She has over 10 years of experience in the INGO sector; managing and developing projects and organizations supporting marginalized and vulnerable people. Community development and mental health are her fields of interest. Tam is the Founder of a new Vietnamese NGO, the Research Centre for Mental Health and Community Development.

Vanee Surendranathan

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds Sri Lanka

Vanee is a development practitioner with over 20 years experience in community development. Since 2003 Vanee has been active in community development and mental health working with BasicNeeds, contributing to developing and promoting its model on Community Mental Health and Development in Sri Lanka. Vanee is adept at flexible multi-tiered functioning and she is a skilled administrator and a trainer as well as a practitioner working directly with communities. She has experience training development workers, locally and overseas, on BasicNeeds model and its approaches and she is also a certified trainer on psychological first aid. Prior to joining BasicNeeds, Vanee worked with Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG, later re-named as Practical Action) and with the ILO.

Zafar Dehraj

Programme Manager, BasicNeeds Pakistan

Zafar joined BasicNeeds in June 2013 as Programme Manager of BasicNeeds Pakistan and brings on board over 15 years of experience in the social and development sector. Prior to joining BasicNeeds, Zafar worked with various well established local and international development organisations has been affiliated with institutions such as HANDS, Agha Khan Foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to name a few. He is well versed in the knowledge and implementation of results based project cycle management and has also developed manuals and protocols for social mobilisation, food distribution, early recovery and disaster risk reduction.

Richard H. Dougherty

President, BasicNeeds US Inc.

Richard is the President of BasicNeeds US and CEO of DMA Health Strategies. As President of BasicNeeds US, Richard leads BasicNeeds US’ partnership with Southwest Solutions in Detroit and is building a network of BasicNeeds sites in the US. He also provides support for fundraising, advocacy and technical assistance to BasicNeeds project sites. In his work with DMA, Richard leads teams of more than 12 staff in a variety of behavioral health evaluation, strategy and quality improvement projects for federal, state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations across the US. He has published extensively, has sat on and chaired several non-profit and community boards and received the 2011 Walter Barton Distinguished Fellow Award from The College of Behavioral Health Leadership. Richard received his Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago and PhD. in Psychology from Boston University with a focus on organizational development.

Charlotte Perry Dougherty

Director, BasicNeeds US Inc.

Charlotte specializes in public health programme development, implementation, and evaluation and has worked for many years as a consultant in these areas, supporting government agencies, non-profit organizations and private clients. Charlotte joined the BasicNeeds family in 2008 co-founding and directing BasicNeeds US to provide technical assistance, advocacy and grant making support to other BasicNeeds’ programmes and partner organisations. Charlotte recently managed BasicNeeds’ feasibility assessment and implementation plan for replicating the BasicNeeds Model in the US. She currently supports US implementation activities. Charlotte also serves as the Board Chair of Sustainable Harvest International, an organization devoted to providing farming families in Central America with the training and tools to preserve our planet’s tropical forests while overcoming poverty. She has a Masters degree in Public Health from Harvard University.

Ali Ireland

Research Associate, BasicNeeds US Inc.

Ali joined BasicNeeds US in April 2015 as a Research Associate and is working with the BasicNeeds US team on a project to test the feasibility of implementing the BasicNeeds Model in the US. Prior to working for BasicNeeds, she worked closely with former Ambassador and philanthropist, Swanee Hunt, as a Stakeholder Engagement Manager and Outreach Assistant for her family foundation, Hunt Alternatives. As an undergraduate, she worked in various low-income communities in Maine and Massachusetts in the areas of early intervention, food insecurity, mental health, and homelessness. She has a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.