IRISi thanks Donna Covey for her support, guidance and encouragement as Chair of the IRISi Board from 2017 to 2022; Daphne Amevenu takes on this role now to support the organisation in its next steps.
The IRISi journey started in 2017 when the social enterprise was formally established to improve the healthcare response to gender-based violence. At that moment, IRISi’s flagship programme, IRIS, was already running in a number of areas across the UK, but a more elaborated strategic plan was required to enable its sustainable expansion to more areas and to invest simultaneously in the development of new interventions. From that point onwards, two key players were important in advising and supporting IRISi to develop a solid ground basis for its growth: Donna Covey, Chair of the IRISi Board from 2017 to 2022; and the Health Foundation, which helped IRISi to develop the social franchise model for its interventions. Amid this partnership, IRISi was also lucky to cross paths with Daphne Amevenu, former Head of Improvement Programmes at the Health Foundation, who has been recently nominated as IRISi’s new Chair.
Donna was one of the group that created and established IRISi in 2017. Her experience in managing several third-sector organisations and her extensive knowledge of health, equality and human rights provided the IRISi management team with the necessary tools to enable its strategic expansion. At the end of 2022, looking back at all the achievements obtained through this partnership, they both reached a common agreement that it was time to celebrate and, also, bring in change. “We have much to thank Donna for, her time and dedication to IRISi. She supported and worked with us from the start, and collaborated with the development of the values that sustain our work and organisation to this day, and helped us to believe in our potential”, says Medina Johnson, IRISi’s CEO.
When the decision was announced internally, Daphne Amevenu, who had been already one of the trustees on IRISi’s Board Member since 2021, decided to apply for the role. With extensive experience in bringing innovative solutions to the healthcare sector, Daphne has an interest in mainstreaming diversity and inclusion across her work and has run various initiatives throughout her career to enable this.
“My relationship with IRISi started whilst I was at the Health Foundation working as a Programme Manager and later Head of Improvement Programmes, and I had the chance to see that they were doing something incredibly important. I was impressed by their practical and impactful approach to tackling Domestic Abuse (DA) through GP appointments, a touch point that most people will have, especially victims and survivors of DA, to make sure that they can get the best support available”, Daphne remembers.
New Chair, new challenges to overcome
Having been involved with IRISi for so long, Daphne is familiar with the challenges and obstacles that the organisation will need to overcome in the short and long term. “IRISi is still in the early stages of its organisational journey and growth. I think this creates space to think, where appropriate and necessary, on how to professionalise and bring in new processes and procedures whilst keeping the heart of IRISi as a social-based organisation. Since I have a background in project management and business consulting, I believe that I can help achieve that, always bearing in mind that, ultimately, as an organisation, we should be focused on the beneficiaries of our interventions”, she says.
Having worked at the Health Foundation, Daphne also brings her experience in navigating the healthcare landscape, acknowledging that the times have become more challenging in the post-pandemic world. “With the introduction of the Integrated Care Boards and the changes recently brought into the healthcare system, there is a lot of uncertainty and pressure affecting healthcare operational and policy leaders. Despite these challenges, it is our role to keep raising awareness about IRISi’s interventions, reinforcing that their long-term benefits make them worth investing in today”.
Finally, Daphne will also be supporting IRISi with the development and implementation of a more robust Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policy. “I much understand what it means, in different ways, to be in a minoritized group and the impact it has on how you navigate and experience life. So, I want to do as much as I can to make the world fairer for those most vulnerable and marginalized by society”.
“We are thrilled to have Daphne as our new Chair and know that she will be a positive driving force, enabling us to grow as an organisation and supporting us to achieve our strategic goals by bringing new perspectives and possibilities”, says Medina, IRISi’s CEO.