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Our staff

Our team at Behind Closed Doors work together with our service-users to build lives free from domestic abuse. Our skilled and experienced team deliver tailored programmes of support that reach hundreds of people affected by domestic abuse each year.

Our ceo and trustees

Our Trustees are responsible for the governance of Behind Closed Doors. Working closely with our CEO, they bring a rich mix of skills, knowledge and experience to challenge and support the organisation to build lives free from domestic abuse.

Ruth Davany - Chief Executive Officer

I joined Behind Closed Doors in January 2021 and in the middle of the pandemic. For people experiencing domestic abuse, the Covid-19 restrictions meant living each day trapped with abusive partners, frightened and isolated. The team listened to our service-users to be able to adapt and continue to deliver our support safely. Although we’re out of Government restrictions now, the impact of Covid-19 is still felt by our service-users and we continue to be flexible and adaptable in the delivery of our services to ensure we’re visible and accessible to all who need our help.

I am a passionate voluntary sector leader and have worked at a senior level for over nine years, in the Refugee and Asylum sector before joining Behind Closed Doors. My experience of developing services for people who have been trafficked, survived financial, sexual and physical abuse and are recovering from trauma supports the work and development of Behind Closed Doors and gives me a solid foundation on which to learn and grow.

Behind Closed Doors has strong partnerships in place and I really enjoy developing trusting professional relationships at all levels - it’s essential to meeting the range of multiple and complex support needs people who have experienced domestic abuse face. The Domestic Abuse Act (May 2021) brought in opportunities and challenges for the sector, I’m looking forward to working closely with the team, our partners and our service-users to respond appropriately and take the development of Behind Closed Doors to where our service-users need us to go – with courage and creativity!

Domestic abuse devastates lives, almost all communities and workplaces are affected by it, and it is always unacceptable. We are here to offer practical and emotional help and support, and we act to prevent it. We are ever present in the fight to end domestic abuse.

Michelle Lewis – Chair

Michelle Lewis has over 20 years’ experience in holding Director-level and senior management roles in the utility and charity sector. She brings experience of good Board governance, effective partnership working, strong service delivery and impactful communications and engagement to the role.

From Leeds, she is proud to have been invited to become a Trustee at Behind Closed Doors in July 2020. She values the opportunity to play a part in creating an organisation where the team know they are valued and can excel in helping people throughout Leeds whose lives are affected by domestic violence and abuse.

Alison Puente – Trustee

Alison was appointed as a Trustee of Behind Closed Doors in January 2020 and brings 25 years’ experience in corporate communications and business leadership. She has served as a director of several small and mid-size businesses, as well as working within the senior team of a number of major corporates. Her work includes developing the strategy, values and commercial growth plans of organisations, along with team leadership, people management and development plans. Before moving to Yorkshire, Alison spent six years living in San Francisco. She is now a director of a small management consultancy where having a positive impact on the world and working pro-bono for important organisations like Behind Closed Doors is a core part of our values. She’s proud to be part of Behind Closed Doors and to have the opportunity to support the team and help develop the charity for the people it serves.

Carmel Gallagher – Trustee

Carmel is the most recent appointment to the board of Trustees. With nearly 25 years’ experience of working with children and families across clinical, charitable and education sectors, she hopes to put her knowledge and skill base to good use at Behind Closed Doors. Carmel has worked in senior leadership, been a Trustee for a Leeds based children’s charity and served as a director for a SME. She is passionate about developing people focused organisations and strives for quality improvement. Originally from Birmingham, Carmel relocated to Yorkshire twenty years ago and enjoys nothing more than getting out onto the hills.

Gill Crofton – Treasurer

Gill is an FCA. Gill is currently a stay at home mum with two young children. Gill’s job prior to having a family was as Financial Controller in a retail environment. Prior to this Gill worked over 10 years supporting OMBs as an Audit Manager and Business Advisor. Gill became involved with BCD when the treasurer vacancy arose. Gill has loved learning about the amazing work done by BCD and enjoys working alongside and supporting the operational team.

Jacqui Withnell – Trustee

Jacqui brings a wealth of experience to the Board of BCD. Jacqui has over 35 years’ experience in the commercial interiors industry having worked in design, sales strategy and marketing. The last 18 years have been spent as either a business owner or in senior managerial and leadership roles. Jacqui now runs her own commercial furniture practice working primarily with growing and changing SME’s. She has an MSc in Leadership and Change management and through her skills and interest in health and wellbeing assists clients to create a better day at work through creating environments that generate comfort, function and emotional wellbeing. This in turn inspires people to do their best work as well as increase productivity, satisfaction and engagement. In her spare time, Jacqui teaches pilates, nutrition and weight management on a pro bono basis with wives of farmers in the small village where she lives with her husband and 3 working dogs.

Sharon Milner – Trustee

As well as being a Trustee at Behind Closed Doors, Sharon also works for a Yorkshire based Charity, holding over a decades experience in managing and leading. She also has some past corporate experience working in sales and marketing for Leeds Chamber of Commerce. Originally from Leeds, Sharon now lives in Ilkley with her husband. Her two daughters work in London and Manchester, which is a great excuse to visit two great cities. Sharon’s hobbies are going to the theatre, cinema, running, racquetball and cycling (in good weather). Her initial interest in becoming a Trustee of Behind Closed Doors comes from being able to support two very different, worthwhile charities.

Karen Milner - Trustee

I am a Director of balancetogether Ltd and am passionate about supporting organisations to improve their gender-balance, making changes that allow women to succeed and businesses to benefit. I am also an Investors in People Practitioner, helping organisations across Yorkshire and Humber and into the North-East to achieve their ambitions through effective people management practices. Behind Closed Doors strives to support all victims, regardless of gender, to build their lives free of domestic abuse. As a Trustee, I am fully behind the team’s efforts to create a fairer and more equal society.

Carl Harrison

Carl joins the board of Behind Closed Doors as an experienced business leader from the charity and education sector. A diverse professional background that includes time spent serving in the military, working in professional and grassroots sports before moving into the 3rd sector.

He adds depth in our safeguarding and training and development structure.

Carl is delighted to join the BCD board having lived experience of growing up in an environment that was impacted by domestic violence and wanting to support such a valuable charity.

Personally Carl is married with 2 young boys and believes its important to manage a positive work life balance, making the most of time with his family.