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Senior management team

Meet our Senior management team
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Dawn Austwick - Chief Executive

Dawn was formerly the Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, a grant-making trust that aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK.

More about Dawn Austwick

"I am thrilled to be joining the Big Lottery Fund as its new Chief Executive. The opportunity to lead such a significant funder was one that I couldn’t resist. I have been hugely impressed by the diversity of funding that the Big Lottery Fund offers, working with others nationally and locally. I am relishing the challenge of building on the contribution the Fund has already made to bring lasting benefits to people and communities throughout the UK. "

Prior to her time at Esmée Fairbairn, Dawn was Deputy Director of the British Museum, Project Director of Tate Modern, a Principal Consultant at KPMG, Theatre Manager of the Half Moon Theatre, and Projects Co-ordinator at Arts & Business.

Dawn has an MBA from the London Business School and an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University.  She is a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces, and was a Director of Big Society Capital during its start-up phase until September 2013. Dawn is a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management.

Dianne Hughes - HR Director

Dianne has been with the Big Lottery Fund for over six years and led on the creation of our People Strategy between 2010 -15.

More about Dianne Hughes

"Having moved from the private sector to the public sector, I have been struck not by how different the two might be, but by how much we can learn from each other. Having the opportunity now to shape the organisation for the next six years is both exciting and challenging. It is a privilege to look at how we can connect even more to the people who, with their commitment and knowledge, really do make a difference to local communities and individuals."

Before joining the Big Lottery Fund Dianne worked with national organisations in various HR roles and she has been in this profession for most of her career. She also ran her own business for a number of years providing HR consultancy to a small portfolio of clients. Dianne has spoken at conferences on employee engagement and on occasions has been a guest lecturer at a local university.

Danny Homan - Chief of Staff

Danny has previously worked in marketing, fundraising and development roles for a broad range of organisations within the charity, arts, sports and leisure sectors.

More about Danny Homan

"Joining the Big Lottery fund at a time when it is both listening to stakeholders and audiences and planning its future role is a challenge I am thoroughly looking forward to. The opportunity to work with colleagues in an organisation that makes such a difference to people’s lives across the UK is a hugely motivating and a real privilege. "

At the British Film Institute from 1990-1994 he was responsible for sponsorship and events for The Museum of the Moving Image, National Film Theatre and London Film Festival.   Between 1994 and 1995 he moved to close neighbour The South Bank Centre and then to Ascot Racecourse to become their first Sales and Marketing Director.   After 5 years at Ascot, having restructured the commercial operation, he moved to Historic Royal Palaces in 2000.


As Director of Communication and Development at Historic Royal Palaces  Danny he was responsible for Marketing, Public Relations, Business Development and Fundraising for the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Banqueting House and Hillsborough Castle.


Danny is a business leader of the Marketing Society, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Fellow of the Tourism Society and The Royal Society of Arts.

Joe Ferns - UK Portfolio & Knowledge Director

Joe was formerly Director of Policy, Research and Development at Samaritans, a UK charity that works to reduce the number of people who die by suicide.

More about Joe Ferns

"The impact of Big Lottery funding on individuals, communities and society is enormous and sharing the knowledge and learning which is generated by local and national work is a challenge which I am looking forward to. The approach of working alongside communities and stakeholders offers a compelling new way of approaching funding and I am very excited to be joining a great team at an important time for Big Lottery."

Joe spent 12 years working for Samaritans in a number of roles where, at various times, he led teams responsible for research, policy, quality, development, outreach, volunteering, partnerships and operations. He was responsible for the development of the organisation’s strategy, establishing a research and knowledge programme, developing new services and acting as the charity’s main media spokesperson. Joe has also worked on strategy for Local Authorities and on health promotion/suicide prevention strategy for a number of national governments around the world. Prior to Samaritans, Joe worked in research at the Institute of Psychiatry developing psycho-educational workshops designed to enable people with anxiety and depression problems manage their own recovery. He has also worked in a range of settings with adults and children with mental health problems and/or learning disabilities.

Lyn Cole - England Grant-making Director

Lyn has worked for the Big Lottery Fund and its predecessor bodies since September 1998.

More about Lyn Cole

"The stories of the people behind the projects we fund inspire me every day. It's a real privilege to help to make a real difference, however small, to their lives and to their communities, especially during these tough times."

A qualified leadership and performance coach, Lyn has held a number of roles within the Fund primarily leading the development and delivery of several lottery and third party programmes. Lyn started her working life as a teacher, then moved on to other roles in housing and community development. Prior to joining Big Lottery Fund, she managed a London-based inner city organisation - Good Neighbours in Silwood Scheme - that held a grant from the then Community Fund. This experience of being a grant holder gives Lyn insight into the expectations of our customers. Married with three children, her hobbies include reading, walking and cycling.

Samir Rahim - Deputy Director IT and Facilities

Samir’s last position was with Welsh Water where he was responsible for a three year digital transformation programme enabling new ways of working for 2,500 newly mobilised field operatives.

More about Samir Rahim

"There are so many amazing opportunities ahead of the Big Lottery Fund as we progress our strategies over the next few years. I’m really looking forward to shaping our technological journey and working with colleagues to digitally enable great grant making for our beneficiaries and customers."

Samir has worked for 18 years as an IT consultant for companies including Three, 02, BT, Eurotel and Severn Trent. He’s worked predominately in Europe during this time and had been accountable for delivering new 2G and 3G mobile services in Germany and Romanisa as well as 4G in the UK.

John Rose - Wales Director

John has worked for the Big Lottery Fund and formerly New Opportunities Fund since August 2003.

More about John Rose

"The projects we fund really touch the lives of the people and communities they support. I’m looking forward to helping that continue to happen, and ensuring that the lottery pound is well spent"

Having started as NOFs Head of Operations in Wales, he became Head of Programmes during the merger and later became Deputy Director, before starting his new role as Acting Director, and then Director, for Wales in September 2010.

Prior to this John enjoyed a varied work history including working as a chef and even door to door sales. After a period of overseas travel he entered Higher Education as a mature student where he studied in Environmental Systems and Applied Hydrobiology. Since graduating and prior to working for the Fund, John worked in the voluntary sector for 4 years before a 5 year stint with ENTRUST, the regulatory body working on the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, where he was responsible for Wales, the West Midlands and South West England. In his spare time John enjoys gardening, cycling and providing a taxi service for his children.

Jackie Killeen - Scotland Director

Jackie has worked for the Big Lottery Fund and formerly the New Opportunities Fund since 2000.

More about Jackie Killeen

"The work funded by the Big Lottery Fund can have great impact on the lives of people, families and communities most in need. Our challenge is to identify, support and learn from those projects making the greatest difference"

As Head of Policy & Public Affairs for the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland her remit included leading consultation, developing new programmes, learning and evaluation and wider engagement with funders, government and other stakeholders.

She was Head of Policy and External Relations for the New Opportunities Fund, developing a wide range of programmes and managing the Fund’s communications team. Prior to that, Jackie worked in regeneration and in the arts. Her academic background is in literature and culture, and she is a board member of two Scottish charities.

Joanne McDowell - Northern Ireland Director

Joanne was appointed as Big Lottery Fund, Director for Northern Ireland in September 2010.

More about Joanne McDowell

"Working for the Big Lottery Fund not only offers me the chance to meet a wide range of stakeholders, but also to listen to the volunteers and the beneficiaries involved in the projects we fund. This gives me a real and valuable opportunity to understand the difference that lottery funding makes to communities in Northern Ireland and across the UK."

She has worked for the Big Lottery Fund and one of the legacy bodies for the past 11 years. Prior to her new appointment she was responsible for policy, development and public affairs work in Northern Ireland.

Before joining the Fund, Joanne lectured in European Studies and rural development and she worked as a consultant for a major private sector body in Northern Ireland.

Joanne has a Doctorate from the University of Ulster, in planning policy and legislative change in Spain.

Ian Hughes - Finance Director

Ian was previously Finance Director for BBC News and has a broad range of experience working within finance and operational roles across the broadcasting sector.

More about Ian Hughes

"I am delighted to be joining the Big Lottery Fund at a time when it is re-affirming its strategy for the next six years. The opportunity to contribute to an organisation that makes so much difference to people’s lives is rare and I hope to help shape its future and enable it to maximise its impact."

Ian spent eight years at the BBC initially as Chief Operating Officer English Regions before taking up the role of Finance Director News. In this role Ian was responsible for the integration of the World Service within licence fee operations, as well as delivering a significant change programme as a result of the revisions to the scope of the licence fee. Prior to this he was at National Grid Wireless in its Telecomms related business. Ian also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.

Ian is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.