Our Leadership: CEO and Executive Directors

We have an ambitious strategy to help save the lives of millions of children and give them the chance to fulfil their potential. Our CEO and Executive Directors are responsible for shaping our goals and ensuring we achieve them. They are guided by and are accountable to our Board of Trustees.

Find out more about our:

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive

Kevin WatkinsKevin joined Save the Children in September, after spending three years as Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute.

Previously, he held a senior academic role at the Brookings Institution, and acted as an adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Education, before which he spent seven years at the United Nations, as director and lead author of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report and UNDP’s Human Development Report.

He is a senior visiting research fellow at Oxford University’s Centre for Global Economic Governance and a Visiting Professor of International Development at the London School of Economics.

Jennifer Geary, Chief Operating Officer

Jennifer Geary, Chief Operating Officer at Save the Children.

Jennifer joined Save the Children as Chief Operating Officer in September 2015. She works with the Chief Executive, focusing on the delivery of our post-2015 strategy, in collaboration with Save the Children International and through maximising relationships across the Save the Children movement. Jennifer is responsible for a number of our support functions, including legal, risk, insurance, internal communications, technology and child safeguarding.

A qualified chartered accountant, Jennifer has almost 20 years’ experience in roles covering risk, technology, finance, governance and control, and has substantial experience in supporting executive management in the planning and execution of strategy and change.

Kirsty McNeill, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns

Kirsty McNeill, Acting Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children.

Kirsty leads teams to galvanise the public and influence policymakers on humanitarian action, global development and help for children here in the UK.

Previously, she founded a consultancy advising some of the world’s leading charities and spent three years as a Special Adviser in Number 10. She came to Downing Street having led the policy and influencing work of DATA, Bono and Bob Geldof’s advocacy organisation, in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the EU institutions.

Before joining DATA she was on the board of Make Poverty History and managed the Stop AIDS Campaign, successfully negotiating a commitment to universal access to AIDS treatment from the 2005 G8. Today she is on the board of the Holocaust Educational Trust and is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Sam Sharpe, Chief Financial Officer

Sam Sharpe, Chief Financial Officer at Save the Children.

Sam joined Save the Children in September 2014 from Britain's Department for International Development (DFID). Immediately before joining, he spent four years in Delhi as the head of DFID’s programme in India. From 2007 to 2010 he was DFID’s Director of Finance and Corporate Performance.

Sam’s first experience of development came as a student volunteer in Kolkata, India. Before joining Save the Children, he worked for nearly 30 years with the British Government's development programme. This included 13 years overseas, managing programmes in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and in India during the 1990s, before heading DFID’s South Africa office (2000 to 2004), and India office (2010 to 2014).

Sam has also held a range of policy and corporate roles in London, including two secondments to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Fergus Drake, Director of Global Programmes

Fergus Drake, Director of Global Programmes at Save the Children.

Fergus joined Save the Children as Director of UK Programmes in 2009 and is now the Director of Global Programmes, managing humanitarian and development operations across the globe.

Prior to this, Fergus worked for the Office of Tony Blair in Rwanda, where he advised President Kagame and his cabinet on achieving their Millennium Development Goals. Fergus has also spent five years working in Deloitte Consulting's Strategy & Operations practice, during which time he was seconded to HM Treasury as a Policy Advisor.

Fergus was based in Africa from 1999-2003, working for Tearfund, firstly as Programme Director for their Disaster Response Team in Liberia before developing the South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia programmes as Regional Director for East Africa.

Nick Jones, Interim Director of Marketing, Fundraising and Communications

Nick Jones, Interim Executive Director of Marketing, Fundraising and Communication at Save the Children

Nick began his career with British Airways, latterly as Divisional Finance Director. A desire to harness his skills for a cause close to his heart led him to Save the Children UK in 2009, joining the Fundraising Division, before becoming Deputy Director of Fundraising in May 2013. His leadership helped build the generous support Save the Children receives from the UK public, philanthropists and corporates – from c£80m in 2009 to almost £150 million today.

Nick is married to Susan, and has two teenage sons, Lewis and Seb.

Clare Conaghan, HR Director

Clare Conaghan, Interim HR Director Save the ChildrenClare joined Save the Children in November 2013, as Deputy HR Director to transform HR Operations within the Charity, leading on a number of major initiatives, including delivery of our new HR System.

As Interim HR Director, Clare works closely with the CEO and the Executive Directors to ensure delivery of the People Strategy, providing strong strategic and operational leadership to the HR Team, during a time of great change within the organisation.

Clare gained valuable experience leading a busy HR function within a national organisation, as Head of HR Operations with British Transport Police. She has also provided consultancy on major initiatives; including a wide-scale transformational change programme for London Underground, to deliver improved performance through cultural change.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Clare has almost 20 years' experience and has held various HR roles within both public and private sector organisations which, in addition to policing and public transport, also include retail and financial services.

Last updated: January 2016.