The Board of Trustees is Chasing the Stigma’s governing body. It is ultimately responsible for everything that happens at the charity and for meeting its statutory purpose.


Andy Smith, Chair

Andy Smith is Chair of the Board of Trustees and Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, UK, where he leads the MSc Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health programme.

As well as being a member of the senior management team in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill, Andy works with a range of sporting, education and mental health organisations in local communities and professional sports, including Everton in the Community (the official charity of Everton Football Club) and Rugby League Cares. He also works with British Cycling, Sport England, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Andy has contributed to various government policy and media discussions on sport, mental health and suicide prevention on the basis of his research in these areas, including the Independent Duty of Care in Sport Review and the UK Health Select Committee’s Suicide Prevention work.


Angela Samata, Vice Chair

Angela presented the BBC1 BAFTA nominated and winner of the Mind Media Award for Best Factual TV documentary ‘Life After Suicide’. The film encouraged the exploration of mental health issues, challenging the stigma of suicide. Describing her own experience and that of her children after her partner took his own life 20 years ago, Angela travelled across the UK talking to others who had experienced the same loss. The documentary was aired as part of the BBC’s Mental Health Season #InTheMind and was watched worldwide by over 5 million viewers.

Angela is an invited attendee of the All Party Parliamentary Group looking at Suicide Prevention in England and Wales and co-author of the NHS70 Parliamentary Award-winning Zero Suicide Alliance training, accessed by over 2 million people globally. Her charity work was recognised, and Angela was named Merseyside Woman of the Year and awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Liverpool John Moores University.

As an Arts professional for over a decade, Angela led the John Moores Painting Prize and continues to work freelance with individual artists and arts organisations including the National Gallery, Tate, Heart Of Glass and The British Library. Angela also acts as a script and content advisor for broadcast media including the BBC, Channel 5 and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks.


Nikki Croft-Girvan, Trustee

Nikki Croft-Girvan is the Director of Auteur Media and a communications and media professional with 20 years’ experience across journalism, public relations and ghostwriting. She has extensive experience writing news and features for local, national and international media, including as Features Editor for national press agency, Mercury Press and Commissioning Editor for women’s weekly magazine, Pick Me Up.

For more than a decade, she has also worked as a public relations specialist, cutting her teeth at agencies including Tangerine PR and Brazen PR, delivering national campaigns for brands and businesses across a range of sectors, including Wilko, Peugeot, Stagecoach, Royal Crown Derby, Atkins, AGA Cookshop, and Breville.

Since establishing her own consultancy, Auteur Media, in 2017, she now supports a roster of arts, professional services and third-sector clients with strategic communications guidance and campaign delivery. As a ghostwriter, Nikki specialises in true-life stories tackling challenging topics, including bereavement, abuse and neglect in the children’s care system and the long-term missing. Nikki draws on her experience as an LGBT+ person with lived experience of mental health to support organisations and actively work for change.


Sonya Clarkson, Trustee

Sonya Clarkson FCIPD is a senior HR and OD professional by day and brings experience from working across two distinct sectors – national health service and higher education. Sonya is passionate about promoting inclusion to improve lives and level the playing field for others.

With over 20 years’ experience working in HR & OD at various NHS Trusts across the Northwest, including specialist learning disability, mental health and community Trusts, and more recently at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, Sonya has always used her professional roles to influence others into putting wellbeing at the heart of every decision and make every effort to promote inclusivity for the benefit of all.

Having worked previously in Higher Education, at both Lancaster University and Edge Hill University, Sonya learned the value of building cohesive communities and the power of working collegiately across wider systems to ensure individuals in society have a strong sense of belonging and can achieve positive mental health.

Sonya is keen to use her role as a Trustee to strengthen our partnerships further, encourage collaboration and create inclusive communities where people feel able to talk about their mental health and access support when they need it most.


Lizzie Israeli, Trustee

Lizzie Israeli is a senior fundraising professional with over 10 years’ experience working at national brands like Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Now and Save the Children UK. She currently works as Head of Partnership Management at British Heart Foundation.

Lizzie has extensive experience in Corporate Partnerships, working with large brands like Tesco, Asda, PureGym, and Unilever to develop high value partnerships that deliver on objectives around fundraising, brand, and impact. Her passion is around harnessing the power of business to help them to do good for society, responding to their environmental, social and governance criteria.

She has experience in developing long-term, transformational change through various initiatives. This includes delivering large-scale behaviour change programmes, initiatives that engage government and other key players to deliver impact, and delivering bespoke, health and wellbeing programmes for colleagues and customers at national brands. Further, her work has included developing opportunities for charities and business to collaborate in the thought leadership and campaigning space.

Lizzie is keen to use her role as a Trustee to develop and strengthen the fundraising and partnerships strategy at Chasing the Stigma, developing win-win partnerships that deliver long-term and sustainable income and impact. She is committed to ensuring that equality, diversity, and inclusion measures are promoted within this work.