The Board of Directors are appointed members who bring wide and varied government and commercial experience in governing and overseeing the general activities of the organisation. The Board meet four times a year to effectively exercise the following responsibilities:

  • Safeguarding the good name and values of the organisation
  • Acting in the best interest of the organisation
  • The overall policy, direction and control of the organisation
  • Shaping strategy
  • Ensuring financial stability
  • Improving performance

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa

A trained diplomat, TALYN RAHMAN-FIGUEROA is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Grassroot Diplomat. She is an experienced and international award-winning government consultant with board-level experience. With a track record of building robust government relationships for both the private and public sector, Talyn is known for being an excellent networker and strategist. Talyn leads on all aspects of the consultation process from conception to implementation, and has trained and advised diplomats from over 20 foreign missions on a one-to-one basis. She has over ten years' experience working with various international NGOs and government bodies, assisting and consulting on high-level projects on business and innovation, public health, trade and investment, and climate change working alongside top leaders with the public and private sector.

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Cherisse Rao

Cherisse Rao is currently the Acting Chair of Grassroot Diplomat. With a mixed South African and Mauritian background, CHERISSE RAO is passionate about social entrepreneurship causes. She was formerly the Philanthropy Chairperson of the WGIRLS London charity and a member of the London School of Economics Programme for African Leadership. She moved to London on secondment with the global diversified miner, Anglo American, where she accumulated nearly a decades worth of corporate experience spanning from financial reporting, legal, company secretarial and managerial responsibilities at the CEO office. Educated in Law, Management and Economics, she has devoted the most recent chapter of her career to the field of corporate governance and legal advisory as part of a London based boutique firm. Cherisse’s continued interest in the ever-changing geopolitical landscape, spurred on a decision to undertake an Executive MSc at LSE in International Strategy and Diplomacy.


Dr Paul Clark

A former government Minister and Member of Parliament, DR PAUL CLARK is a founding member and Non-Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat since 2013. He established Gateway Associates in 2010 drawing on the skills and experience of policy, government and communications experts to help organisations from a variety of industries and sectors communicate with Westminster and Whitehall and inform Central Government’s political decision making processes. With a focus on transport, regeneration and social enterprise policies and government strategies, Dr Clark is specialised in helping company leaders understand the unique culture and stakeholder landscapes that they are operating within. Once this is known, a schedule of meetings, events and announcements can be identified or developed to help the company make its voice heard by the right people and not waste money on fruitless sponsorship, hospitality and lobbying exercises.

Bruno Bastit

BRUNO BASTIT is a Non-Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat since 2016. He is an expert on governance and sustainability-related matters in emerging markets. He is currently the Director for Latin America at Sodali, a leading global governance consultancy and the founder of Quetzal Strategy, an ESG Advisory firm. He was Head of Latin America and Russia at Hermes Fund Managers EOS, representing the UK's largest corporate pension fund and some of the world's most prominent institutional investors. He advised senior executives and board members at companies on governance and sustainability risks, and has extensive experience of engaging with companies in the extractive sector. Bruno has also worked as an advisor to Brazil’s Investors Association AMEC and is a member of Russia’s International Monitoring Committee, responsible to assess the implementation of the new governance code. As a result of his governance work in Russia and Brazil, he was nominated for the Yale University’s Rising Star in Corporate Governance Award.

Vanessa Thevathasan

VANESSA THEVATHASAN joined Grassroot Diplomat as a Non-Executive Director since 2016. She is a researcher, independent journalist and communications specialist focused on bridging the stabilisation, humanitarian, and development sectors. She started her career in journalism covering demilitarisation, demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers in Myanmar for the Centre for Armed Violence Reduction, and has consistently published for Huffington Post, Insight on Conflict, and The Diplomat. Vanessa reports and consults for several non-governmental organisations on armed violence reduction, grassroots conflict-resolution and peacebuilding, humanitarianism and sustainable development. Trained in law and international politics, she has been attracted to Grassroot Diplomat's innovative approaches to enhancing the effectiveness of the diplomatic and political core to better to serve civil society.

Karen Bellamy

KAREN BELLAMY joined Grassroot Diplomat as Non-Executive Director since 2015. She is currently a Councillor at the London borough of Waltham Forest, having served at the Cabinet Office until recently. She has worked for many years as a mental health professional, and business consultant working on projects from getting financial information for the FSA in setting up a credit union. Before being elected into office in 2010, Ms Bellamy was a community activist for 20 years and has a real understanding of local issues within her local borough. Ms Bellamy has a strong portfolio of tackling poverty with practical solutions and continues to work tirelessly to see an improvement in the quality of life for others. 

Susanna Hughes

SUSANNA HUGHES joined Grassroot Diplomat as a Non-Executive Director since 2016. She advises clients on media and digital engagement strategy, international affairs, diplomatic communications and digital transformation. Previously she was a correspondent for, covering the United Nations and other international organisations. Prior to this she was Head of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the Swiss Embassy in London, where she was responsible for media relations and political analysis. Susanna has helped individuals, brands, companies and countries with a variety of reputation challenges. She leads and coordinates multi-disciplinary experts in the delivery of often sensitive and complicated national and international programmes. Susanna has advised some of the UKs most-scrutinised organisations on reputation, from both an in house and agency perspective. She has run press offices, written messaging and strategy, led consultations and delivered engagement programmes for oganisations as diverse as British Steel, Porsche and Yahoo!