Pavita Cooper, Geeta Gopalan, David Henderson, Peter John, Gavin Lewis & Yasmin Ibison: meet our new Trustees

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Meet the new Trustees who will be joining our Board as we look ahead to reopening.

Pavita Cooper

I am delighted to join the Board of Trustees. The Old Vic has a history of groundbreaking innovation and creativity; I hope to use my experience to support the wide range of initiatives that ensure the most diverse audience can enjoy the exceptional performances.’

Pavita Cooper is a leading culture and diversity expert with over 30 years’ experience and is the founder of More Difference. A passionate advocate of greater diversity across the C-Suite, Pavita is committed to accelerating the progression of ‘hidden’ talent: women, ethnic minorities and leaders from less traditional backgrounds. 

Pavita furthers this work through her roles as Commissioner to the Board of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, the lead Non-Executive Director (NED) to an agency of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and a Trustee of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) where she chairs CMI Race. Pavita has been a Steering Committee member of the 30 Percent Club for 10 years and was awarded Woman of the Year at the Asian Business Awards in 2017.

At More Difference, Pavita works with Boards and Executive teams across a range of multi-sector global blue-chip organisations to build culture and inclusion across their organisations. Pavita is a regular speaker on women in business, increasing BAME representation and the acceleration of diverse talent in the pipeline to the C-Suite and Boardroom. She believes in the power of giving back, mentoring young people from ethnically diverse and socially disadvantaged backgrounds and regularly speaking at inner city schools across the country through Speakers for Schools.

Geeta Gopalan

‘I am very interested in the power of theatre, of the spoken word, of the provocative, to not only understand but also influence thinking in the body politic. I see the theatre not as a ‘place’ but as a ‘verb’ that can galvanise thought and action. I feel it’s a real privilege to be able to support The Old Vic and be part of all the great work it does for the arts and the community.’

Geeta Gopalan is an experienced business leader and Public Limited Company (Plc) Board member in commercial and retail banking in the UK with deep interest in the digital economy and experience in the social sector and emerging technologies in financial services. Geeta has consistently created space in her portfolio career to support civil society and social enterprise, including eight years as Vice Chair of the England Committee at the Big Lottery Fund which enabled her to contribute to public policy in the areas of inclusive development and social investment. 

Geeta was born and raised in India, where she graduated from the University of Madras with a degree in Mathematics, Commerce and English Literature. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in Delhi, India, she went on to make a career in international retail, commercial and transaction banking for 20 years, with Citigroup and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS). She ran her own consulting business post her banking career and in 2009, Geeta focused on a portfolio of non-executive roles in commercial and social enterprises. 

Geeta’s current roles include Non-Executive Director (NED) and Chair of Risk Committee at Virgin Money Holdings Plc, NED and Chair of Audit Committee at Funding Circle Plc, NED and Chair of Risk Committee at Wizink Banks, Spain and NED at Ultra Electronics Plc. Geeta lives in London with her husband Akshaya and loves dogs (has two), food, FinTech especially data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as a good scandi-noir in print or on screen.

David Henderson

I am really thrilled to join the Board of Trustees. The Old Vic is world leader in creativity and entertainment, with a long history of groundbreaking innovation that empowers social change. I hope to use my experience to support the strategic direction of The Old Vic so that it continues its vital mission long into the future.’

David Henderson is the Global Director of Corporate Affairs at WPP, the world’s largest communications and marketing services company and, like The Old Vic, also a world leader in creativity. 

David has had a 20-year career advising Prime Ministers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on policy as well as strategic media and communications. David started his career in Australia, where his roles included being appointed Adviser to the Shadow Treasurer of Australia and, in the Government of Victoria, Special Adviser to the Education Minister and then the Deputy Premier & Environment Minister. David was the Prime Minister’s Head of Research at 10 Downing Street for four years, advising Gordon Brown and then David Cameron, and a Permanent Secretary in HM Treasury for two years before that. 

When we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, David plays water polo in his spare time and he is currently the Co-Chair of the Board of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Association (a volunteer run not-for-profit sporting body). He is dedicated to equal opportunities, inclusion and diversity.

Peter John OBE

Having seen the amazing work which The Old Vic has done with young people and our local communities in Southwark and Lambeth over the last 10 years, I am delighted to be joining the Board at this time. Over the last year it has become even clearer that theatre, culture and the arts are essential to our lives and wellbeing and I hope to play a small part in ensuring that The Old Vic is able to continue its historic mission for many years to come.

Peter John OBE was the Leader of Southwark Council for more than a decade from 2010 and the Chair of London Councils – the organisation which brings together all of London’s boroughs and the City of London – between 2018 and 2020. During his period as Leader, Peter prioritised growth and investment into the borough, prioritising new jobs, skills and educational opportunities for young people, including support for The Old Vic’s earlier Stage Business employability programme for schools and Southwark Internship. 

Peter is an experienced civil law barrister with Five Paper, specialising in all aspects of Contentious Probate, Trusts & Property Litigation in high profile cases in the High Court and County Courts. He is the Chair of the Terrapin Group, a market leader working in the arena of politics, property and development and a Trustee of a Southwark charity. He continues his advocacy for the importance of education opportunities for young people through engagement as Trustee of the St Olave’s and Bermondsey United Charities and Chair of Governors at a Southwark primary school. He was appointed an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2016 for services to political services and services to local government.

Gavin Lewis

The Old Vic is an iconic institution which has had a positive impact on audiences for many years; I am delighted to be appointed to the Trustee Board and look forward to using the arts to drive change across all communities.

Gavin Lewis is Managing Director at BlackRock, responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the UK Local Government Pension Scheme segment. Gavin has been recognised by the Black British Business Awards as the Senior Financial Services Professional of the year in 2020, he is listed as one of the top 30 Black Professionals by the Powerlist’s Power in the City bi-annual ranking and the Evening Standard Progress 1,000 most influential people in FinTech and banking.

Previous to BlackRock, Gavin held several leadership roles at Vanguard Asset Management including Head of UK Institutional and Wholesale Distribution, Head of UK Retirement and Head of European Consultant Relations. Gavin has also held positions at UBS Asset Management and Russell Investments. Gavin holds a BA in History and Politics and from the University of London and holds the CISI Certificate of Investment Management.

Gavin has also been active in highlighting the challenges to increasing ethnic minority representation in the asset management industry and has attempted to find solutions. Gavin is a member of the asset management industry’s Diversity Project and one of his key initiatives is co-creating #TalkAboutBlack, a movement dedicated to increasing the representation of Black Professionals in the asset management industry. He has worked with asset management firms to create mentoring circles for junior, mid and senior Black professionals, student events to help attract talent to the industry and an after-school programme designed to give disadvantaged secondary school pupils with the tools and aspirations to enter the corporate world.

LAMBETH BAYLIS TRUSTEE

The Lambeth Baylis Trustee initiative was launched to provide a unique opportunity for a young person in Lambeth to discover how a Board of Trustees in an arts organisation works, and for the Board in turn to learn from the perspective and energy they bring. Across the UK, less than 1.2% of Trustees are under 30 and 0.5% are aged 18–24. This role provides a specific youth viewpoint in relation to The Old Vic’s activities and strategy and, alongside attending Board meetings, the Trustee is mentored by the Chair of the Board or other Board members, attends Old Vic events, shadows members of The Old Vic Management team and undergoes additional relevant training.

Yasmin Ibison

Lambeth has such a rich and vibrant cultural history! I’m really excited to join The Old Vic’s Board and work towards enhancing the borough’s cultural offer, focusing particularly on engaging young people and local communities.’ 

The Old Vic is delighted to announce that this year’s Baylis Trustee is Yasmin Ibison, the Founder and Director of Critics’ Club, a social enterprise delivering cultural programmes helping young people to engage with the arts as critics. She is particularly passionate about ensuring that cultural spaces are diverse, accessible and inclusive for all, and feels that every young person, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to enjoy the richness of the arts.

Alongside her business, Yasmin has worked across socially impactful organisations in a range of diverse communities and projects, from programme design and strategy development to community engagement and research. She currently works for Black Thrive, a racial justice organisation tackling the structural inequalities that Black communities face in Lambeth. Yasmin is also a Young Trustee at Kids in Museums and was a 2018/19 Year Here Fellow.

OUR BOARD