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Board and Executive Leadership Team


Our Board bring experience from across the entire sport and physical activity sector.

Their diverse range of viewpoints help them to oversee the work we do and our strategic direction, as well as approving major funding decisions.

The Board is appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and, in accordance with the Royal Charter, consists of a Chair, a Vice Chair and no more than 10 other members.

Chris Boardman

Chair of Sport England

An Olympic champion, world record holder and three-time Tour de France stage winner, Chris was appointed as Greater Manchester’s first ever Cycling and Walking Commissioner in July 2017 by Mayor Andy Burnham.

His report, Made to Move, published in December 2017, set out a 15-step plan to transform how people get around in the city region. The plan has evolved into a £1.5 billion plan to create a world-class cycling and walking network with the first 100 miles of high-quality routes now being created.

In May 2021, Chris was appointed in an expanded role as Greater Manchester’s first ever Transport Commissioner, tasked with accelerating the delivery of the Bee Network – a fully integrated, city region-wide transport system.

He is one of the UK’s most prominent cycling and walking advocates and has been policy adviser to British Cycling since 2012.  

Chris launched his own range of bikes, BOARDMAN Bikes, in 2007 and is company chairman. He also worked as head of research and development for the Great Britain Cycling Team from 2004 to 2012, including at the 2008 Beijing Games where the Olympic team won eight gold medals. 

He was appointed Chair of Sport England in July 2021.

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Rashmi Becker

With more than 20 years’ professional experience in communications, policy and disability advocacy, Rashmi has worked in the UK and internationally in a range of fields including sport, healthcare, social care and the arts.

She's worked in press and policy roles in the UK Civil Service at the Departments for Education and Employment, the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices and was seconded to both the European Commission and Parliament.

Rashmi has also worked in the charity sector, supporting the UK’s largest research funder, the Wellcome Trust, and was a board member of the Activity Alliance – where she helped develop their charter setting out changes to improve disabled people’s participation in sport. She's also the founder of Step Change Studios, which support disabled people to be active through dance.

Her work has focused on supporting organisations and initiatives that promote social inclusion and quality of life. Rashmi has a PhD in psychiatry from the University of Cambridge and joined the board on 23 July, 2018.

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Mel Bound

Mel is the founding chief executive of This Mum Runs, the largest digital, mobile and in-person running community for women in the world.

A digital thought-leader and globally-recognised community builder, Mel leads an ambitious team with a vision to empower all women to enjoy the life-changing benefits of being active, as well as tackling stubborn exercise inequalities through an innovative community playbook and pressure-free ethos based on movement, not performance.

A graduate in sport and exercise sciences, much of Mel’s career has involved creating experiences that positively impact how people engage with sport and physical activity – starting out on a fast track programme for a global health and fitness group before moving into sports marketing, designing in-stadia experiences for international track and field events, before founding This Mum Runs in 2014.

Mel is a Fellow of the Facebook Community Leadership Programme, recognised as one of the 16 most impactful community leaders in the world, listed in the Sunday Times’ 100 British Disrupter Brands and a recipient of the Women’s Sport Trust 'Grassroots Gamechanger' award.

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Michelle Cracknell

Michelle was chief executive and accounting officer of The Pensions Advisory Service from October 2013 to December 2018.

Prior to that, she held director roles in advice firms, providers and insurance companies. She is a qualified actuary. Michelle holds non-executive positions at Fidelity International Holdings, Just Group Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Pension Trustees Ltd and PensionBee Group Plc.

She is passionate about helping people make more of their money and sees lots of parallels between motivating people to budget and take part in physical activity.

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Natalie Daniels

Natalie has been committed to building sustainable and inclusive communities throughout her career.

As an urbanist, she has worked in the UK, the USA, Africa and Asia delivering a variety of major programmes, and has won multiple awards for this work.

Currently a senior public servant in regional government, Natalie is proud to lead a team committed to improving the lives of Londoners through housing delivery, specialist and supported housing services, and housing policy.

An experienced board member, she has had the privilege of serving charities working across housing, homelessness and international development.

The leadership, energy and collaborative spirit Natalie brings to all her work she believes was built through her sporting escapades.

She had the pleasure of playing – and coaching – football, rugby league and rugby union to respectable levels.

As well as having the scars to show for her sporting experience, it has also given her a deep understanding of the immense benefits of exercise to individuals and communities.

Natalie joined the board in August 2023 for a three-year term.

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Jason Fergus

Jason has more than 20 years’ experience in the sport and physical activity sector.

Currently director of Active Essex, one of the largest Active Partnerships in England, Jason also heads up the delivery of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, one of 12 LDPs that form part of a ground-breaking £100m programme funded by us to increase population levels of physical inactivity in deprived areas.

Jason is a high-level strategic thinker and operator, and is competent at building trusted relationships with a wide range of agencies. He has a strong track record in Essex of adopting a whole system and place-based approach to drive up physical activity levels at scale.

He consistently demonstrates exemplary behaviour and ethics, and ensures Active Essex operates to the highest standards of governance.

Jason also co-founded the successful charity ‘Active Essex Foundation’, is a serving trustee and has represented Great Britain at national and international level as a sprinter.

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David Mahoney

David served as chief operating officer at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) until the end of September 2023.

Prior to this, he oversaw the strategy, insights, HR, integrity and public policy teams as ECB’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Before joining ECB, David held a number of senior roles at Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, including director of policy and chief advisor to its CEO.  He was also seconded into Government in 2009 as a director of the Digital Britain Report, which examined the transformational nature of digital technologies and the policy responses needed as a result.

A qualified lawyer who specialised in competition and media law before joining Ofcom, David is a keen sports fan who enjoys cricket and golf as well as following West Ham United.

He joined the Sport England Board on 28 October, 2019.

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Elena Narozanski

Elena has served as an adviser to the Education Secretary, Home Secretary, Mayor of London and two Prime Ministers.

Her main policy interests are sport, education and culture. She works for HENI, an art technology company, and sits on the Sport Honours Committee and the Board of the Football Foundation. 

An evangelist for the value of grassroots sport, Elena has been involved in setting up, running and volunteering at several clubs across different sports. She is a qualified boxing coach and weightlifting technical official. 

She has boxed for England and is a football Blue, an enthusiastic cricketer and a West Ham fan. 

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Tove Okunniwa

The BBC’s Director of Group Partnerships, Tove is responsible for developing and driving the organisation’s approach to creative partnerships with a range of key stakeholders and organisations across the UK.

Alongside this, she oversees delivery of major UK campaigns, events and moments such as City of Culture and the BBC’s centenary.

Tove has a background in strategic marketing and content creation, with extensive experience in commercial and non-profit sectors and a specialism in sport.

She was formerly the chief executive of London Sport, a non-profit organisation using sport and physical activity for social change in London.

Before that, she led two successful sport and entertainment marketing agencies, WPP-owned MEC Access and Havas Sports & Entertainment.

Prior to this, Tove spent 10 years at the BBC in senior brand marketing roles. Her career started in the arts at the London Symphony Orchestra and the South Bank Centre.

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Helene Raynsford

Helene is a retired Paralympian having become the first world champion and Paralympic rowing gold medallist in women’s single sculls.

She is in her second term as chair the Athletes’ Commission for the British Paralympic Association and is an active member of the international Paralympic movement.

Having worked in public health for more than 14 years at local, regional and national level she is very interested in the role physical activity can play in the prevention health agenda and how the sport and health sectors can work closely together.

Helene grew up in a vocational schooling, through both Elmhurst and Royal Ballet School, and sees physical activity in its widest sense.

She has worked on many local initiatives to increase physical activity in general, and in targeted populations.

She has been involved in national and international policy/guidance writing on both sport and health agendas, including as both a public health and expert member of NICE committees and as a member of the International Advisory Board of the World Academy of Sport.

Helene has a portfolio career and is an experienced non-executive director, having worked with organisations covering international and domestic sport.

She firmly believes in the huge benefit of sport and physical activity at a grassroots level to the wider health outcomes of both individuals and communities.

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Executive Leadership Team

We've restructured our Executive Leadership Team to better align with the strategic objectives of our Uniting the Movement strategy and reflect how the organisation will work.

The team now comprises four Executive Director roles, as well as Chief Strategy and Finance Officers, all overseen by our Chief Executive.

They’re responsible for the day-to-day implementation of our strategy and advocating for sport and physical activity.

Tim Hollingsworth OBE

Chief Executive of Sport England

Former chief executive of the British Paralympic Association (BPA), Tim led them into four Paralympic Games including a best-ever Winter Games performance at PyeongChang 2018 – where ParalympicsGB won seven medals, including one gold.

That followed an impressive 147-medal haul at Rio 2016 as his team finished second in the medal table, up from third and 120 medals at London 2012.

Tim has also been at the forefront of the work that has increased the profile and interest of the Paralympic movement, driving the commercial and business growth of the BPA as a charity that challenges perceptions of disability in society.

Before his seven years with the BPA, Tim held the roles of director of policy and communications and chief operating officer at UK Sport.

Prior to that, he had a decade’s worth of experience working in senior corporate communications roles – all of which builds an impressive CV that saw him awarded an OBE in 2017.

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Jeanette Bain-Burnett

Executive Director of Policy and Integrity

Jeanette's role has responsibility for ensuring integrity issues and inclusiveness are central to England’s community sport and physical activity system.

She joined Sport England in 2022 from the Trussell Trust, where she was Director of Participation. Jeanette's also held a variety of senior roles for the Greater London Authority, including Head of Community Engagement and Assistant Director for Communities and Social Policy.

She's also a former Director of the African Diaspora Dance Association (ADDA) and strategic consultant for clients including Arts Council EnglandCreative Lives and BBC Arts

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Lisa Dodd-Mayne

Executive Director of Place

As Executive Director of Place, Lisa is responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction for how we engage in and deliver a local and community-based approach to Uniting the Movement, including the expansion of the places in which we invest.

She joined Sport England in 2022 from the University of Warwick, where she was Director of Sport & Active Communities and has a strong career history working in communities and sport.

Previous roles include Director of Sport and Culture at Wakefield Council and Coventry City Council, where she headed up their sports team.

She chairs the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Physical Activity & Health Board and represents the Higher and Further Education sectors on ukactive’s Membership Council.

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Lizzie Hanna

Chief Finance Officer

Lizzie joined Sport England after three years supporting the National Citizen Service Trust, where she held responsibility for a full suite of corporate services including Finance and Commercial.

She has a rich knowledge or risk and contract management, strong commercial acumen and  positive track record of driving and implementing innovation.

Her previous positions include finance director to London North Eastern Railway, a non-executive director at Kettering General Hospital and five years in BT Plc supporting governance, risk and operational change.

She brings to Sport England a track record of financial and operational transformation, experience of working in a range of government arms-length bodies, a commercial portfolio built across large complex blue chip entities and a passionate commitment to using corporate resources well to deliver real improvements to communities.

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Nick Pontefract

Chief Strategy Officer

Nick joined Sport England in 2018. He is a former Senior Civil Servant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport where he worked since 2005.

At DCMS, he held a number of roles, including Head of Arts, Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State, Head of Sport and, most recently, leading the government's work to support Birmingham's successful bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Nick was also a board member of Yorkshire 2019 Ltd, the organising committee for the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, having also been involved in the bid.

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Phil Smith

Executive Director of Partnerships

As the Director of Partnerships, Phil has responsibility for several areas of the Sport England business.

He has represented Sport England as a Board Director of both the Football Foundation and UK Coaching.

Phil’s team manages long term investments of several hundred millions in various sporting bodies, and giving the subsequent advice to achieve results. The ultimate aims are to grow the number of people regularly engaged in sport, while maximising international and domestic sporting success and helping the sport sector to become more productive, sustainable and responsible.

Within these aims, Phil leads the organisation’s work in talent development and performance, club and workforce development, volunteering and coaching, equality and diversity and improved governance. 

Phil joined Sport England in 2008 from The Football Association, where his professional career started after Euro ‘96 as the General Secretary of the County FA in Manchester.

His football career took him through various roles in the game before becoming The FA’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, responsible for football industry policy in relation to Government in both the UK and international bodies.

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Ben Wilson

Executive Director of Digital, Marketing and Communications

Ben joined Sport England from the Association of British Insurers, where he was the director of corporate affairs and sustainability, and he's brought strong experience from senior roles across a range of high-profile organisations.

He began his career as a regional newspaper journalist with Southern Newspapers and, prior to his role at the Association of British Insurers, he’s been director of communications and then chief operating officer of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, deputy director of communications at the Department for Work and Pensions and head of strategic communications at the BBC. 

Ben is responsible for our digital output, media and external relations, as well as our campaigns, partnerships and digital innovation work.

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