Meet the Trustees
Sofie Franzen - Chair of Trustees
Sofie is a senior charity sector leader and university lecturer 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 long-standing 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. 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.
Rod is a retired building surveyor having worked in Local Government for 34 years, where he also served as Education Officer & Environment Rep for the Union Branch. He is married with two daughters & five grandchildren. He became involved with the Kanji Project through the church adopting the charity as their parish project. Rod and his wife visited Kanji 18 years ago and were so impressed with the dedicated work by the wonderful team in India that when approached to be a Trustee he was pleased to take up the position. His main tasks are producing the Family and Community Support (FACS) News and arranging for the printing of the Kanji Newsletters, as well as supporting fellow Trustees. Rod has always taken a keen interest in sport & his greatest achievement was taking part in the London Marathon where he beat Frank Bruno - though not at Boxing!
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 works for the BRE Trust, a charity dedicated to supporting sustainability and innovation in the built environment, and is particularly focused on developing their humanitarian programme, which supports local and international actors engaged in post-disaster reconstruction efforts. Before joining BRE he worked for community-based organisations on peace building, outreach programmes and development initiatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the US. In addition to his work with the BRE Trust, George is an emergency response volunteer with the British Red Cross. In his spare time, you can find him in the sea, in a bookshop, or, most likely, in the pub.
Annette joined the Kanji Project as a Trustee in 2019 and started an MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of Sussex in May 2020. Previously she worked in a leading international oilfield services company for 24 years. She managed the financial aspects of the global business and mentored and developed people, working with multi-cultural teams across the world. During her career, she worked in a number of different countries, travelled extensively and is multi-lingual. She is passionate about education and lifelong learning opportunities and the role it can play in improving the opportunities for children and families, especially in disadvantaged communities. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, her two teenage sons and her friends, especially doing sports and activities in nature and exploring the world, as well as learning new languages. The latest languages she is trying to get to grips with are Filipino and Italian.
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.
Bimal joined The Kanji Project as a Trustee in the beginning of 2019 and is currently the designated Treasurer of our charity. He is responsible for managing day to day finances including annual budgets and audits. He is originally from India and moved to Brighton from New Delhi in 2010 with his wife and two children and the family has made England their home now. He currently works with American Express and has over 25 years of experience working in financial services operations and risk management in India and UK. In the past, he has been associated with several charities in India and more recently was a community Governor at Longhill School in Brighton. In his spare time he likes getting into DIY projects, reading or going for long walks on the south downs in Brighton.
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 in 2021 to see how things have changed.
Peter joined the Kanji Project in 2020. Previously, he led the languages department in a large secondary school where he taught 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. He is now delighted to be involved with the Kanji Project where he hopes to have a closer involvement with all that the charity does. Now retired, he enjoys practical work and making things. Recent projects include a children’s playhouse and large set of swings for the grandchildren.. He is also a keen walker and a sea swimmer in the summer months.