The Trustees of DS Achieve are all parents of children with Down Syndrome.
Co-Founder and Co-Chair
Michelle is married to John and they have three children: Charlotte, born 2011, Tom, born 2013 (who has Down Syndrome), and Max, born 2016.
When Tom was born, the paediatrician said he was ‘sorry’ that Tom had Down Syndrome (DS), which made John & Michelle feel devastated at what life might be like in the future. If only they knew then what they know now! They have found that Tom’s diagnosis has changed them and their life for the better.
Michelle is passionate about working with parents of children with DS to help children develop and learn, and ensuring children have an opportunity equal to their peers to take part in all aspects of life. As DS Achieve grows, Michelle is looking for the charity to develop connections with health professionals to help educate them about what life can be like as a parent of a child with DS, with the objective of improving the language they use and the outlook they give to new parents of a child with a diagnosis of DS.
Michelle spent 10 years as an HR professional at Motability Operations, before leaving to focus on her children in March 2015. She is CIPD qualified with an MSc in Personnel and Development. Her most significant role was HR Operations Manager which primarily involved working with the HR team to ensure the business had effective people plans in place to deliver the company’s objectives, overseeing/managing people initiatives to deliver a high performing culture, and managing HR suppliers to ensure a commercial, value-added and culturally-aligned service. Michelle previously spent 18 months as a Trustee for Up on Downs, Hertfordshire. Michelle is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of DS Achieve.
Co-Founder and Co-Chair
Kelly Harris is mum to twins Alexander and Scarlett (who has Down Syndrome) (born 2012) and wife to Bobby. Having struggled to find the right information and access services after having Scarlett, she’s passionate about helping others to navigate their way so that their children receive the support they are entitled to, parents avoid unnecessary stress in trying to secure that support and families can focus on being together and having fun!
Kelly is currently Legal & Social Impact Director, and was formerly People Director, for insurance provider Simply Business (two-time winner Sunday Times Best Companies awards, certified B Corp). She is a UK-qualified lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in regulated industries including 10 years at Roche, the world’s largest biotech company in various UK senior management positions including Head of Procurement, Head of Healthcare Compliance, & Head of Site Services & OHSE. Before that she spent five years as Head of Legal at a Credit Derivatives brokerage, after starting her career in City law firms. She is a Board Trustee for the following charities: Social Mobility Business Partnership, Playskill & Herts Disability Sports Foundation, and an Advisory Board Member to Aerende. Kelly is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of DS Achieve .
Co-Founder and Trustee
Gillian is married to Andrew and they have two boys, Oliver and Harry (who was born in 2007 and has Down Syndrome). She is determined to ensure that parents have access to the advice and information they need to be successful in navigating through the education, health and social care 'systems' for the benefit of their disabled child.
She currently acts in a voluntary capacity working as an advisor and parent advocate in relation to children with special needs and disabilities. This includes working for IPSEA (the legal charity) as an advice line volunteer. She is also an active parent representative with Hertfordshire Parent Carer Involvement working with the Local Authority on a strategic basis, aiming to improve local education provision. She is pursuing her interests in using the law to support families by also studying for a degree in Law with the Open University.
Prior to Harry's arrival, Gillian worked in the financial services sector for over 20 years, most recently in the City as an Investment Consultant advising Trustees of corporate pension schemes. As well as acting as lead consultant for a portfolio of pension scheme clients, she was also a member of the Practice Management Team. Working as an advisor to Trustees for many years gives Gillian depth of understanding into the role and responsibilities of a Trustee.
Gillian is Co-Founder and Trustee of DS Achieve.