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Senior management team

Meet our senior management team
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Dawn Austwick

Dawn Austwick - Chief Executive

Prior to joining the Big Lottery Fund Dawn was Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and previously Deputy Director of the British Museum, Project Director of Tate Modern, a Principal Consultant at KPMG and Theatre Manager of the Half Moon Theatre.

More about Dawn Austwick


Dawn has an MBA from the London Business School and an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University. Dawn is a Trustee of the London Marathon Charitable Trust and a member of the Government’s Inclusive Economy Board, and the Advisory Council of the Institute of Policy Research at the University of Bath. She was a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces from 2007 - 2016, the Woodland Trust from 2001 - 2008 and was a Director of Big Society Capital during its start-up phase. In her spare time Dawn is a Gooner, occasionally practises yoga and goes to the theatre.

Read more about our Strategic Framework 2015-2021

Dianne Hughes

Dianne Hughes - HR Director

Dianne joined Big Lottery Fund as HR director in 2009 and has overseen the shift and growth in the HR function from a back-office processes machine to an integral part of the organisation.

More about Dianne Hughes

"Our people in the lead vision does not just apply to the people and groups we want to fund, but also importantly for the people that work here. It means that we as an organisation must become more trusting of our colleagues to use their skills for the benefit of Big Lottery Fund and the delivery of its strategy. Confidence not control."

Having worked in a number of HR roles in the private sector, Dianne is leading the delivery of Big Lottery Fund’s new people strategy in line with our 2015-2021 strategic framework.

Dianne says she is excited to work in an organisation that has true purpose, creating great opportunities for the people that work here.

Joe Ferns

Joe Ferns - UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director

Joe's team is responsible for evaluating Big Lottery Fund’s portfolio of grant programmes. This work is the bedrock of Big Lottery Fund, influencing and informing funding decisions and policy.

More about Joe Ferns

"The impact of Big Lottery funding on individuals, communities and society is enormous and sharing the knowledge and learning which is generated by local and national work is a challenge which I am looking forward to,” said Joe, who joined Big Lottery Fund from the Samaritans in 2015, where he held a number of strategic roles."

"The approach of working alongside communities and stakeholders offers a compelling new way of approaching funding and I am very excited to join a great team at an important time for Big Lottery."

Joe has also worked in research at the Institute of Psychiatry.

Matthew Green - Technology Director (acting)

Matthew joined the Fund in July 2017 and brings a diverse range of skills, knowledge and experience, gained from a 25-year career in IT leadership and academic roles in the higher education and construction sectors.

More about Matthew Green

"I believe IT is a strategic enabler of the organisation, and can underpin every aspiration of our strategy. Engaging and empowering our colleagues in all parts of our organisation to communicate, collaborate and work together as one team is at the heart of our vision. Drawing together the best of technology and people into excellent services, to create simple and effective digital experiences, provides the ecosystem for all our colleagues across the Fund to work with the communities they support and with each other."

Matthew has led a diverse collection of digital transformation projects, including a multi-million pound IT-enabled cultural change programme, and lectured in computer science and information systems.

Gemma Bull

Gemma Bull - Portfolio Development Director, England

Gemma joined Big Lottery Fund in October 2015 and is leading on the design, development and improvement of our England portfolio so that all the projects we fund realise our principles of putting people in the lead to best serve their local communities and neighbourhoods.

More about Gemma Bull

"The Big Lottery Fund is serious about creating opportunities for people and communities to take the lead. I am hugely excited about playing a part in supporting the organisation to learn how best to do this so that we continue to offer the most relevant support and enable the greatest impact."

Formerly managing director of enterprise and innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, Gemma, who has a Masters in Human Rights from the University of Sussex, has a long and successful track record in helping to drive organisations forward, including Save the Children UK. She is the trustee of a learning disability charity The Squad and co-founder of a social enterprise called EasyPeasy, an app supporting early years’ development through games.

Ben Harrison - Director of Engagement

Ben joined the Big Lottery Fund in 2016, and leads the Fund’s Engagement Directorate.

More about Ben Harrison


Ben has spent much of his career working on economic development, housing and localism in a range of research, consultancy and communications roles.

Prior to joining the Fund, he was Director of Communications and Development at national think tank the Centre for Cities. While at the Centre, he played an important role in helping to shape the devolution agenda, appearing regularly in the national and local press, and providing commentary and analysis on the development of mayoral devolution deals across the country.

Ben has also previously established and led Future of London, a not-for-profit policy network focussed on cultivating the next generation of housing and regeneration leaders in London, and spent three years at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He began his career at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

John Rose - Wales Director

John is responsible for the development, delivery, administration and communication of the Big Lottery Fund’s grant programmes in Wales and is ultimately responsible for Big Lottery Fund’s work and reputation in the country.

More about John Rose

"The projects we fund really touch the lives of the people and communities they support. I’m looking forward to helping that continue to happen, and ensuring that the lottery pound is well spent"

Leading a team of about 55 people based in offices in Cardiff and Newtown, John works closely with the Wales chair in discussing future direction and ensuring the non-executive board members are kept informed. He spends much of his time meeting with stakeholders from the public and voluntary sector and making sure Big Lottery Fund is aligned at all levels of the organisation.

John, who studied Environmental Systems and Applied Hydrobiology at the University of Wales, joined Big Lottery Fund in 2003. He meets regularly with the organisation’s senior management team and is the lead for equalities and sustainability.

Martin Cawley

Martin Cawley - Scotland Director

Martin was appointed as Big Lottery Fund's Scotland Director in 2016 to provide leadership and direction to the Fund's grant making activity in Scotland. Leading a team of over 100 people in our Glasgow office, he works closely with our Scotland Chair and committee to ensure that Lottery money works hard for local communities across Scotland.

More about Martin Cawley

"This is a great organisation and I am really looking forward to working with the enthusiastic, talented staff here to continue the positive work being done across the country."

Martin has over 34 years of experience in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. Prior to his current position he was chief executive of Turning Point Scotland – one of Scotland’s most respected social care charities providing flexible and responsive community based services to people experiencing a range of complex issues. Over the years he has also been a board member of a number of smaller organisations including national umbrella agencies and social enterprises aimed at improving practice and approach and influencing social policy. Martin is a huge fan of all kinds of sports and enjoys participating in one or two every now and again. He also loves travelling and spending time with his family.

Joanne McDowell - Northern Ireland Director

Joanne was appointed as Big Lottery Fund's director for Northern Ireland in September 2010.

More about Joanne McDowell

"Working for the Big Lottery Fund not only offers me the chance to meet a wide range of stakeholders, but also to listen to the volunteers and the beneficiaries involved in the projects we fund. This gives me a real and valuable opportunity to understand the difference that Lottery funding makes to communities in Northern Ireland and across the UK."

As Northern Ireland (NI) director, Joanne spends most of her time meeting and listening to stakeholders, beneficiaries, VCSE representatives, government officials and elected representatives who want to know about the Big Lottery Fund’s programmes and investments. She also works with the NI chair and NI committee to deliver on programmes and strategic direction.

Before joining the Fund, Joanne lectured in European Studies and Rural Development and she worked as a consultant for a major private sector body in Northern Ireland. Joanne has a Doctorate from the University of Ulster in planning policy and legislative change in Spain.

Ian Hughes

Ian Hughes - Finance Director

Finance Director for BBC News and Current Affairs prior to joining Big Lottery Fund in April 2015, Ian brings a wealth of experience to the role. He heads up finance and corporate services, which includes audit and risk, legal, IT and facilities.

More about Ian Hughes


As well as heading up our audit and risk teams, Ian, who had a number of operational roles in his tenure at the BBC, is responsible for providing an effective and safe working environment for our staff, the smooth running of our technology services across all 13 of our UK sites and supporting the organisation to better understand the financial and commercial consequences of everything we do.

He also has oversight of our procurement processes and grant contractual arrangements.

James Harcourt - England Grant-Making Director

James joined the Big Lottery Fund in April 2016 and was appointed to the England Grant Making Director role in March 2017. He is responsible for ensuring that the ideas and organisations we support in England help us to realise our principles of putting people in the lead to best serve their local communities and neighbourhoods.

More about James Harcourt

"The organisations and ideas we fund really do have a significant impact on the lives of individuals and their communities. I’m looking forward to helping that continue to happen."

Prior to joining the Fund, James spent almost 20 years in international development. He worked at Marie Stopes International (MSI) for almost 15 years in a number of different roles supporting the development of reproductive health and family planning programmes primarily across Africa, and most recently oversaw MSI’s relationship with the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID). Prior to that, James worked with EveryChild developing family-based alternatives to institutional care for children in Eastern Europe.

Tom Steinberg - Digital Transformation Lead

Tom runs the fund's Digital Team.

More about Tom Steinberg

"My personal goal is to help make the Fund into the most user-centred grant funder in the world: that's what People in the Lead means to me. I have the pleasure of working with great colleagues and inspiring grantees to get us to that destination."

He is responsible for helping make sure that the Big Lottery Fund meets the needs of users who come to us through the Internet. He also works to help the Fund make good, evidence based decisions on applications that contain substantial digital components. Previously he was founder and director of the civic technology NGO mySociety.