• About Us

    Groundbreakers, the UK's network of women voluntary sector CEOs, was founded in 2002 by Dorothy Dalton (former Chief Executive of ACEVO and the first editor of Governance magazine) and Geraldine Peacock (former Chief Executive of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and former Chair of the Charity Commission).


    Groundbreakers' Chair is Susan Daniels, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children's Society.

    If you are a woman CEO in the voluntary sector and would like to join Groundbreakers please email Susan.Daniels@ndcs.org.uk


    We are delighted to welcome two new Steering Committee members in January 2022

    Camilla Knox-Peebles and Dhivya O'Connor

    Camilla Knox-Peebles says “I came across Groundbreakers in the summer of 2020 and I don’t think I have missed a single event since I joined! I love the informal nature of the events and I have found them thought provoking and a great way to share and reflect on some of the challenges I have faced as a CEO. I have also linked up with CEOs I did not know but met through the events. I would love to contribute to the organisation of the Groundbreakers events by joining the SC, I am nearly 2 years and a half in my role at Amref UK and I have the time and energy to support and some creative thoughts on future speakers."


    Dhivya O'Connor says "I am delighted to join the Steering Committee of Groundbreakers. As a mother and as a CEO I feel passionately about championing the development of more women into leadership roles across the voluntary sector. The networks and opportunities that Groundbreakers offered me when I first became a CEO have been of immense personal value and I hope to be able to pay this forward.”  


    Groundbreakers' Steering Committee includes:

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    Our Chair

    Susan Daniels OBE

    Susan is Chair of Groundbreakers and Chief Executive of The National Deaf Children’s Society. She is a member of the BBC Appeals Advisory Group and Chair of the New Born Hearing Screening Quality Assurance Programme Advisory Board which monitors the delivery of the programme across hospitals in England. Susan was a Commissioner of the Disability Rights Commission from 2003 until its merger with the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. In 2006, Susan was awarded an OBE for services to deaf children and their families.

    Twitter @SusanNDCS

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    Caroline Diehl MBE

    Caroline is CEO of Impact Media, and the Social Founder Network, including the podcast series 'Social Founder Stories'. Caroline was Founder CEO of the Media Trust until 2017, and Founder and Executive Chair of Together TV (The Community Channel) until Sept.2022. She is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, a Governor of the East London NHS Foundation Trust, a 2019 Churchill Fellow, a WEA Fellow and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Twitter @carolinediehl

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    Camilla Knox-Peebles 

    Camilla became Chief Executive of Amref Health Africa UK in August 2019. She has 25 years of experience in the humanitarian and international development sector. Prior to joining Amref, she was Deputy Humanitarian Director at Oxfam International where she oversaw Oxfam’s global work on public health, water and sanitation, and Disaster Risk Reduction.

     Camilla is multilingual, skilled at developing and delivering organisational strategies, with extensive experience of complex management and governance issues and a broad professional network. 

     She has lived and worked in Africa and Asia and has an MSC in International Health. She is passionate about seeing more women in leadership positions and thriving professionally and aims to play a part in enabling this to happen whenever the 

    opportunity arises. @CamillaKPeebles

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    Polly Neate CBE

    Polly became Shelter’s CEO in August 2017, having been the CEO of Women’s Aid and, before that, Executive Director at Action for Children. She has always worked for social justice, previously as an award-winning journalist. Twitter: @pollyn1

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    Dhivya O'Connor

    Dhivya is a dynamic charity leader, with over 22 years' experience across both the chairty and commercial sectors. She has served as CEO for organisatinos including United World Schools, Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Children with Cancer UK. She is a Board Member of Book Aid International, and a governor of a London state primary school. Prior to joining the third sector she held various strategy, business development and leadership roles, helping drive transformative growth, including with Lloyds Bank, GE Capital and Octopus Travel (now part of Expedia Group). Dhivya is the creator and executive producer of the chart-topping The Charity CEO Podcast. https://www.thecharityceo.com @DhivyaOConnor


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    Bridget Warr CBE

    Bridget has been CEO of United Kingdom Homecare Association, the professional association for providers of ​homecare since July 2010. She has been a member of Groundbreakers for over 10 years and also chairs ACEVO’s Women’s Special Interest Group.

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    Dorothy Dalton

    Many thanks to Dorothy for her inspiration and dedication as

    Founder of Groundbreakers, ACEVO and the Network of Women Chairs.

    Dorothy is a leading expert on governance and advises several national charities. She has written several books on governance. She was founder CEO of ACEVO, and founding editor of Governance magazine: essential information for effective trustees from July 2005 to January 2016, and on the Groundbreakers Steering Committee, as our Founder, until 2021.


  • Honorary Members

    Francine Bates - former Special Advisor to Ed Balls

    Karen Brown - former Chair, Oxfam

    Jan Buckingham - Body Shop

    Dorothy Dalton - former CEO of ACEVO, and founder Groundbreakers

    Caroline Diehl - former CEO & Founder, Media Trust & Together TV

    Tara Flood - CEO, Alliance for Inclusive Education

    Ffion Hague

    Dame Helen Hughes - Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Harriet Lamb - Executive Director, Fairtrade Foundation

    Dame Suzi Leather - former chair, Charity Commission

    Gillian Morgan - former Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Assembly Government

    Geraldine Peacock - former chair, Charity Commission

    Baroness Jill Pitkeathley

    Barbara Stocking - former CEO Oxfam

    Dame Paula Sussex

    Jan Tallis, former CEO School-Home Support

    Baroness Claire Tyler

    Julia Unwin - former CEO Joseph Rowntree Foundation

    Jenny Watson - Chair, Electoral Commission

    Janet Williams - Deputy Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Police

    Baroness (Barbara) Young of Old Scone - former CEO of Diabetes UK

  • Network of Women Chairs


    The NWC is open to all women Chairs and Vice Chairs of UK charities.

    NWC is run by Carly Fields.

    Meetings take place via Zoom, with one in-person event each year

    Network of Women Chairs: Aims

    To share experiences and learning through networking with fellow women Chairs and Vice Chairs of trustees thereby improving charity governance.

    To encourage:

    • women from all ethnic and social groups, and of all ages to become trustees, Chairs and Vice Chairs;
    • members to apply to be Chairs and Vice Chairs of larger and more high-profile charities thus improving the gender balance in the sector

    Joining the Network of Women Chairs:

    Women chairs and Vice Chairs of charity or not-for-profit boards who would like to join the network can find out more and apply to join here:



    NWC 2024 Events


    All speakers have considerable experience of governance, and meetings are held under Chatham House Rules.

    Members will be invited to sign-up to each event when the speaker is announced.

    Save the dates for 2024:


    Tuesday, 14 March – Zoom


    Wednesday, 19 June - Zoom


    Thursday, 19 September - Zoom


    Tuesday, 19 November – In-person

    NWC Events Format


    Arrivals and registration for face-to-face meetings


    Welcome and introduction of Guest of Honour.
    Guest of Honour speaks for about 25 mins.





    Networking and ‘Ask me Anything’ session

    Meeting ends

    Joining the Network of Women Chairs

    Chairs and Vice Chairs of charity or not-for-profit boards who would like to apply to join the network should visit apply to join here: http://carmarmedia.co.uk/NWC.html and complete the application form.