Welcoming two new trustees

Published: 31 January 2024 
The exterior of our offices in King's Cross, London
The exterior of our offices in King’s Cross, London. Photo credit: Sylvie Pope

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Silaja Birks and Tom Palakudiyil to our board of trustees.

Silaja Birks currently leads the strategic partnerships portfolio at Wellcome Trust, with a background in fostering high-impact collaborations with multilateral agencies, philanthropies, governments and NGO partners. Prior to joining Wellcome, Silaja was with UNICEF’s private sector partnerships team in New York, and previously led UNICEF UK’s work with philanthropic organisations. Silaja spent a number of years in the arts and cultural sector, primarily at Tate and at the Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation. She holds a Master’s degree in Museum Studies, and is a graduate of the University of Oxford. Silaja has previously held Board positions with Black Cultural Archives, the Migration Museum, and Book Works. A second generation Sri Lankan Briton, Silaja is passionate about embedding equity, diversity and inclusion practices, and has played an active role in fostering EDI steering groups at Wellcome, UNICEF and Tate. 

Tom Palakudiyil describes himself as an academic turned international development professional. Between 2005 and 2019 he was Regional Director, South Asia for Water Aid and prior to that he has also worked for Christian Aid. He is currently a trustee of Anti-Slavery International and a trustee of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP-India). Until recently Tom was also the Vice-Chair of the Dalit Solidarity Network UK. Tom is a certified executive coach and has found coaching and mentoring a practical way to support young managers to realise their potential and become effective leaders.

We are very pleased to welcome Silaja and Tom to the board. They bring talent, fresh thinking and a breadth of skills, experience and perspective that will help enrich our discussions and decision making — we look forward to working with them.” 

Jane Hamlyn, Chair, Paul Hamlyn Foundation