As a graduate Katie was one of the first teachers recruited through Teach First. She became Head of History at Cranford Community College in west London, leaving teaching in 2008 to co-found First Story. As our first Executive Director, Katie oversaw First Story’s growth from one school to more than 50. She also completed a PhD in creative writing, with her first book, ‘The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge’, published in 2013. Katie stepped-back from the day-to-day running of First Story in 2014, but remains actively involved as a trustee.
Photograph: Tony Chamberlain/Old Goat Productions
Different schools want and get different things from the programme, but all students are given a sanctuary in which to write and read their stories. Here they discover that their voices are valued – and that is the greatest gift we can give.
William Fiennes is an award-winning author. His first book, The Snow Geese, won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Hawthornden Prize. His second, The Music Room was shortlisted for numerous awards and prizes, including the Costa Book Awards. He was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2003. William regularly writes for publications including The LRB, TLS and Granta. Alongside being Writer-in-Residence at the American School in London, William remains actively involved with First Story as a trustee.
The ability to write well gives you so much… If you’re able to express yourself in your own voice, to tell stories about your own experiences and your own world, that’s an incredibly powerful and validating thing.
Board of Trustees
Ed is our Chair of Trustees and has provided pro bono legal advice to us since we started. Ed is a partner at Simkins LLP, focussing on entertainment, and a published author of legal works. Ed has a lifelong interest in creativity, before becoming a solicitor, he was a music producer, winning a MOBO award and producing several platinum records.
Jamie received his financial qualifications while at PwC, specialising in media and technology, and is now the CFO of Coniq, a SaaS technology company serving the retail and real estate industry.
Sarah has spent her career as a consultant for McKinsey and Company and then in asset management as an analyst specialising in consumer and retail equities. She is also a founder trustee and Chair of Finance of the Wandle Learning Trust, a newly formed growing Multi Academy Trust in South London containing both primary and secondary schools.
Aziz has extensive experience in the financial services industry in Asia and the UK. Aziz currently works as a consultant in Regulator Affairs and Audit in the financial sector. Aziz has interests in improving access to education in the developing world and assist underprivileged pupils in the UK.
Aslan is UK Sales Director at Ebury Publishing, part of Penguin Random House. He has worked in Publishing for the last 25 years and worked in 3 of the 4 major publishing groups in the UK. Aslan is part of the Inclusion Working Group at Penguin and is passionate about the place that reading and writing has in society.
Sue’s commitment to young people and creative writing began early in her career as an English teacher and continued through to her last post as Director of Curriculum for England. The power of words to change lives inspires her longstanding commitment to First Story. Sue is also on the board of Coventry University and a charity in Rwanda.
Sophie is the Literacy Coordinator at George Green’s School in London where she has taught English for 14 years. She has seen first-hand the impact of the programme on students as a teacher-writer, and as Head of Faculty. Prior to becoming a teacher, Sophie worked at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and taught in Hungary and Japan.
Bobby is Programme Manager at Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency. He has been working in the literature sector for over 15 years, as a publisher, writer and creative practitioner. He is passionate about diversifying the pool of writers who become published authors and advocating for change in the publishing industry.
Ella has senior-level experience of marketing, media, editorial, digital platform development, events, brand and corporate communications. She has spent her career in a range of roles across the not-for-profit sector, including nearly ten years at Arts Council. She is currently Director of Communications for Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good.
Antonia has over 30 years’ experience in the cultural sector, from leading policy for the literature sector at Arts Council England, to heading arts organisations such as English PEN and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Creating new ways people enjoy reading and writing is at the heart of all her work. She’s also an experienced trustee, currently of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.
Charlotte leads on the delivery and strategic development of our programmes across the regions. Her background is in educational leadership and teaching, spanning 15 years, focused on arts education and raising achievement interventions to promote educational equality and social mobility. She has also led literacy initiatives in Ghana, Sudan and Jamaica. Charlotte is committed to building platforms for young, diverse voices to share their stories.
Head of Learning
Deborah leads on fundraising, working closely with our Development Manager and CEO. She’s worked for nonprofits, including as a consultant, for most of her career. With experience across large and small charities, her expertise spans fundraising, business development and communications. She also oversees our comms work, supporting our Editorial Content Manager.
Head of Development
Lusungu is responsible for managing our finances, as well as overseeing operations and office management.
Jay has been with First Story since the start; he participated in our pilot year programme as a student at Cranford Community College. After university Jay returned to First Story as an intern and has undertaken various roles since, including Programme Officer for our London region. Jay is now responsible for publishing all of our anthologies and for overseeing digital content.
Editorial Content Manager
Gabrielle leads on marketing and communications, working closely with our Head of Development. With a background in publishing, Gabrielle is committed to championing creative writing by under-represented communities and ensuring literature provides representation for every young person.
Melissa supports the First Story team with school and writer administration and communications. She is passionate about books and the elevation of new writing and aspires to continue promoting young people’s voices through working at First Story.
Jess is responsible for our work across East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. Based in Hull, she liaises with schools and writers in the region to ensure our residencies run smoothly. Passionate about developing new writing talent, Jess hosts creative writing events across the region. A former English teacher, she also oversees First Story’s resources for schools and national writing competitions.
Programme and Partnerships Manager (East Yorkshire)
Emma supports our programmes across the London Region. After a long career in retail, in 2015 Emma moved into the charitable sector. Passionate about young people having the opportunity to thrive and enjoy life, she has worked for Coram Beanstalk and The National School Breakfast Programme before joining First Story in 2020.
Programme and Partnerships Manager (London)
Pippa supports our programmes in the East Midlands, with a focus on writer development. Formerly in IT, in 2008 she discovered a passion for writing which she enthusiastically shares with everyone around her. She is determined to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to write, having seen the difference it makes to their confidence, prospects and enjoyment of life.
Programme and Partnerships Manager (East Midlands)
Andy supports our programmes across the North with a current focus in West Yorkshire. Over the past 15 years he has come to specialise in arts and cultural engagement across the education sector. His passion lies in finding ways to remove barriers and build community spaces where young people can thrive; he has found creative writing to be one of the best ways to achieve this.
Programme and Partnerships Manager (West Yorkshire)