Meet the Trustees
Sofie Franzen - Chair of Trustees
Sofie is the founder and CEO of My Living Temple, a movements-based theraphy practice. She has had a longstanding leadership career in the UK's charity sector with 20+ years of experience in both the health, youth and education sectors. Sofie’s expertise lies within community development, health promotion, international development and fundraising and she has a deep connection with Tamil Nadu, where she lived for a year working as an outreach volunteer in maternity projects in rural areas. Sofie is passionate about work that supports the independence and livelihood of women and the difference access to good, aspirational education can make to the lives of young children. Sofie has been a Trustee with the Kanji Project since 2014 and is currently Chair of the trustees. To relax and unwind Sofie often spends time with her 4 children, read books or hangs out on the beach or in contemporary art galleries. Sofie has been a Trustee with the Kanji Project since 2014 and is currently Chair of the trustees. When she is not at work or volunteering, Sofie spends time with her 4 children, read books or hangs out in contemporary art galleries.
Most of Veronica's working life has been spent teaching. Her specialism was music and she is the author of several song books designed for use in primary classrooms. Now retired, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, doing crosswords, music making and volunteering with the local branch of Samaritans. Veronica's association with The Kanji Project dates back over fifteen years when Maria Rayappan, the founder of St Antony’s Foundlings (our Indian sister charity), visited the primary school where she was headteacher. The following year she visited Kanji and on seeing the inspiring work being done by Maria and her nephew, Lourdusamy, was moved to support them. Veronica wrote an English course (with songs) for the younger pupils and this is still in use. She became a Trustee in 2007, and was Chair for ten years. Now she is responsible for managing the sponsorship programme.
Jennifer joined The Kanji Project quite recently, after a career in education working in a variety of roles, including class teacher, Special Needs co-ordinator and finally headteacher. Being in charge of a school is very useful experience for her role as meeting secretary within the Trustees. Jennifer has lived in the UK for many years, moving here from Canada. Her career has been quite varied, though mainly focused on education. Now retired, she spends her time enjoying life, talking long walks and helping out at a local school. Although new to The Kanji Project she has followed the work of the charity, and she is pleased to be able to take an active role on the board of Trustees.
George has been a Trustee at The Kanji Project since 2017 and was lucky enough to visit Kanji in 2019 for the 25th anniversary celebrations of St Antony’s School. George has a masters’ degree in Conflict, Security, and Development and a bachelors’ in Psychology with American Studies from the University of Sussex. He is currently undertaking a PhD at Loughborough University, studying the impact of humanitarian shelter programmes on long-term community development, and is responsible for the management of the QSAND sustainability tool, which supports local and international actors engaged in post-disaster reconstruction efforts. Before this he worked for community-based organisations on peace building, outreach programmes and development initiatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the US. In his spare time, you can find him in the sea, in a bookshop, or, most likely, in the pub.
Pam became a trustee ten years ago after being involved with The Kanji Project in Eastbourne for a few years. Her background has been in education, teaching in Cheshire, London and Eastbourne, initially as a primary school teacher and then working with the Bilingual Support Service giving access to the curriculum to the children of asylum seeking and refugee families. Pam has been able to witness the aim of 'Relieving Poverty Through Education' in action during the three times she has been to the project and knows the dedication of Lourdusamy and the staff, and has also seen what good experiences the children are having on their journey through the school. She is very happy to be supporting the aims of this charity. In her retirement she enjoys her family, studies art history, film, music,visits art galleries, travels and as a Samaritan she is a member of the prison team who support the Listeners in Lewes Prison.
Alison has been involved as a Trustee with The Kanji Project from the beginning and is currently the longest serving member with over 20 years under her belt. Alison has a background in professional fundraising and has served in a variety of posts on the Trustee committee. Having lived in Sussex for most of her life, Alison now lives in Wales and usually takes part in meetings remotely but sometimes in person! Alison has visited Kanji twice and is hoping to return soon to see how things have changed.
Peter joined the Kanji Project in 2020. Previously, he led the languages department in a large secondary school, teaching both French and German. He enjoyed organising regular exchange trips to France which led to some students forming lasting international friendships. He later worked for East Sussex as an adviser and inspector in both primary and secondary phases. He is a long-standing supporter of the charity Action Aid, initially sponsoring individual children and later supporting their work in South America. With the Kanji Project, he has taken on the role of treasurer and is enjoying the challenge! When not fighting IT gremlins, he enjoys making things. Recent projects include a children’s playhouse and large set of swings for grandchildren and visitors. He is also a keen walker and a sea swimmer in the summer months.
Ben is employed as an illustrator, dancer and facilitator of creative practice. Visiting Kanji with his mum Bernadette (a dedicated supporter of the charity) in 2018 instilled a deep and heartfelt respect for the tireless efforts of all those involved, and he is delighted to now become a trustee. He currently works part-time for the University of Leeds, teaching for the School of Performance and Cultural Industries and the School of Fine Art. In June 2023 Ben completed a PhD that tested alternative pedagogical approaches to environmentalism by exploring different ways of inspiring behavioural change through the Creative Arts. Prior to academia, Ben worked as a contemporary dancer, training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and touring internationally with a range of projects and performances. In his spare time, he is a keen gardener and loves nothing more than to be immersed in water; in his past life, he was probably a sea otter.