Meet our Board

SMART CJS Board of Trustees are a group of volunteers responsible for making sure the charity is running well and is doing what it was set up to do. They meet regularly with the CEO and other members of staff.

Chantal Thomas, Chair

Chantal joined the board of Trustees in 2018 and was elected chair in 2021. She is a lawyer specialising in commercial property and employment and is legal counsel for a large corporation. Chantal lives in Bedford, and is very committed to supporting the community in which she lives and works, and relishes the variety of experience that her charitable involvements brings her.

Fergus Crombie

Fergus’s involvement with Bedford’s homeless goes back decades to taking part in soup runs, in which he is still involved today. He also worked with the Prebend Street Day Centre and BeChar, a local charity which merged with SMART in 2017. In those roles the importance of his contribution was recognised by eventual appointment as a trustee and later deputy chair. His professional background is in construction engineering and waste regulation, which enables him to bring to SMART experience of organisational management, interpretation of regulations and dealing with public sector agencies.

Dr Fatima Sogiawalla

The physical and mental health of people using SMART’s services can be challenged in many ways. It is an area in which Fatima brings specialist knowledge to the board via her medical experience gained over 29 years in different continents and in a variety of specialisms. In her professional capacity as a hospital consultant, she is responsible for helping junior colleagues to improve their knowledge and skills, a part of the work that gives her great fulfilment. That concern for others extends into volunteering for medical charities as well as for SMART.

Ralph Dennison

Ralph’s interest in the personal development of people grew out of his career in teaching and education management, and bears directly on his contribution to SMART. He is also an enthusiastic Rotarian, taking part in fund-raising and the development of local community projects. In his professional life he set up and developed many new ventures as well as managing large budgets, whilst also facilitating the personal development of members of staff and students. Today he runs a small schools promotional business and a creative enterprise offering courses in craft and personal development.

Sarah Ladbrook

Sarah brings to SMART advanced skills and great experience in financial matters. She holds Fellowship status, the highest award made by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which represents a member’s extensive experience and long-term commitment to professionalism and ethics. She chairs the finance committee, but her interests are not confined to money. Her skills have been achieved across various industries including software, technology, asset management, retail and hospitality. She admires the tireless work undertaken by trustees, staff and volunteers and seeks to support them in every way she can.

Jono Poon

Jono’s overall aim in life is to help people break free from their personal limitations with tools and techniques he learned from his mentors, an attitude that fits well with what SMART stands for. He runs his own leadership and digital transformation consultancy, helping leaders to draw on their inner strengths to fulfil their true potential. In that way, they will be able to enrich the lives of the people they are responsible for, inspire the lives of young people and impact the next generation of leaders.

Keara O’Connor

Keara has extensive management experience with national charitable bodies. In those roles she developed skills in putting forward proposals to funding agencies which, once approved, she set up and subsequently saw through to completion. She currently runs a consultancy that manages projects in the not-for-profit sector as well as advising charitable and voluntary bodies on running their organisations efficiently and effectively. Her interest in SMART was sparked by her own lived experience of addiction and SMART’s person-centred vision in a field which she knows to be important.
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