Meet Our Trustees

Sarah Thomas
Sarah ThomasDeputy Chair
Sarah Thomas is a seasoned marketing and communications strategist with a passion for innovation, creativity and technology. She currently leads the Culture & Employee Experience practice globally for brand consulting and design agency, Landor & Fitch. Sarah previously served as Chief Strategy Officer for HFS Research and is co-founder and CEO of Thomas Grey, a marketing & communications consultancy.

Prior to that, Sarah enjoyed a 25-year career at Accenture where she was Chief Marketing Officer for the $12bn+, 120,000 people strong Accenture Operations business and led Accenture’s Industry Analyst relations team and global Executive Positioning practice.

Andrew Howat
Andrew HowatChair

Andrew is a Senior Executive, with 38 years’ experience of financial markets in Europe, U.K. and U.S.A. Following a 13 year progression through LCH.Clearnet Group Ltd. the leading global CCP; he has recently been working as a Business Development Consultant for Calypso Technology, a leading U.S. Fintech company and SAFE an emerging South African equities exchange. He has broad experience in Treasury, liquidity, investment and collateral management across a range of organisations including corporate, investment and commercial banking.

Andrew is also the Chairman of Whitefield Academy Trust which runs two schools with an international reputation in special education expertise, curriculum and resources.

Alla Bashenko
Alla BashenkoChair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee

Alla is a financial services industry professional with over 20 years of experience in investment banking and consulting, encompassing multiple senior executive roles across a wide variety of businesses.

Alla had spent the majority of her career at Goldman Sachs, followed by Nomura. Her work experience covers EMEA, North and South America, Asia including Japan, Australia and Emerging Markets.

She holds Honours Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Brown University, speaks multiple languages and is a published author.

Currently Alla holds a range of non-executive and advisory roles. Her board roles outside of Montessori include Cameron Hume, Sova Capital and Traydstream. She is also an Investment Committee Member and Audit & Risk Committee Member at Parkinson’s UK.

Amira El Aghel
Amira El AghelStudent Trustee

Amira is a graduate of MCI, having studied both our EYE Diploma and Foundation degree.

Amira graduated from the University of Tripoli with a degree in French. Her work with children started as an EAL teacher, teaching English to children in Libya. She then worked as a teaching assistant to various age groups, with a focus on nursery at the British School of Tripoli.

As a mother of four, Amira’s childcare experience started at home, leading her to explore the field of childcare and child development. Seeing her younger two boys flourish at Montessori settings compared to their older siblings whose early years’ experience was in Libya, Amira was inspired to become a Montessori teacher.

Bella Barron
Bella BarronTrustee

Bella Barron is the Director of The Parent Collaborative, a parent support initiative based in Bath, and a Trainer Consultant for Young Minds, a leading UK charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.

Bella is a highly accomplished Montessorian, with 27 Years of teaching experience in global Early Years Settings including the UK, Canada and Kenya, with her settings consistently graded Outstanding by ISI and Ofsted regulatory bodies.

Paul Vickers
Paul VickersTrustee

Paul qualified and practiced as a Solicitor with Slaughter and May before moving into industry in General Counsel, Company Secretary and Chief of Staff roles at Board level in a number of FTSE/AIM listed and private companies (mainly in consumer, TMT and regulated sectors), and more recently in advisory/non-executive roles (including with London City Airport and Sabre Insurance Group plc).

He has extensive experience of working with Boards and CEOs seeking to deliver sustainable growth and introduce change whilst managing stakeholders, mitigating risk, and enhancing governance.

Janet Barberis
Janet BarberisTrustee

Janet is a managing director in a global financial services consultancy firm, with over 25 years’ experience in banking and financial markets.

Janet qualified as an ACA at PwC and has since held senior roles across a number of global firms. She specialises in internal audit, governance, risk management and controls.

Meet Our Executive Team

Maccs Pescatore
Maccs PescatoreChief Executive Officer of MCI
Maccs brings extensive international, commercial experience from the profit sector. A chartered accountant, qualified with Coopers & Lybrand, she worked for Geest plc, Camelot plc and spent 13 years with Tate & Lyle Plc and ASR Group in the FMCG sector holding a variety of senior finance positions in European divisions, including doing a cross border sale for £30m at the age of 32.

She joined as Finance Director and is now the Chief Operating Officer.

Maccs’ passion for the outdoors includes mountaineering, skiing, cycling and running which she marries with her interests in education in her non-executive roles. She is currently Chair of Advance Performance (UK) Ltd and has held a number of non-executive director positions including at Plas Y Brenin, the national outdoor centre.

She has mentored young people through both The Prince’s Trust and Hatch Enterprise.

Leonor Stjepic
Leonor StjepicChief Executive Officer of The Montessori Group

Leonor Stjepic, is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur, whose career has spanned both the private and NGO sectors. She is Chief Executive of the Montessori Group.

Prior to this role, Leonor was CEO of the medical research institute, RAFT. Leonor spun out a commercial company called Smart Matrix Ltd, from RAFT raising $8m in social investment. This has been widely used as a case study in how to avoid risk in social investment.

Leonor has also had a number of Non-Executive roles and is often asked to speak at international conferences on leadership and entrepreneurship.

Leonor also mentors a number of young professionals at different levels of their careers.

Karen Chetwynd
Karen ChetwyndDirector of Academic Quality and Partnerships

Karen has worked extensively in educational quality assurance, partnering with FE and HE providers to secure programme recognitions, nationally and internationally.

Work with University partners; Ofqual Awarding Organisations and National Governing Bodies led Karen to support qualifications development from Entry to Post-Graduate, overseeing curriculum design within vocational Teacher Training; Performing Arts; Health and Fitness.

Karen’s work has supported access to greater physical education within schools; widened vocational and academic transferability for Performing Arts trainees and helped specialist HEI’s prepare for DAP’s.

Following her MA (Educational Leadership & Management) Karen became a QAA Reviewer, continuing to maintain an active research interest in authentic assessment practice in vocational training and development of educational partnerships and accreditations to benefit student progression.