International board

David Clayton – Board Chairperson

David has been Chair since November 2014 and is also a former Chair of Mary's Meals UK. He was first moved to join Mary's Meals following a visit as a volunteer to Malawi in 2007 when he saw with his own eyes the impact the charity had on the children it was helping.

He is a Scottish Chartered Accountant and has over 30 years financial experience working with international organisations. He is Chief Financial Officer of Aviva Investors, the London based global asset management business of Aviva plc. He was previously Director of Group Finance at Standard Life plc in Edinburgh, and is a former PwC partner, having spent 25 years with PwC in Glasgow, Sydney and London.

Originally from Oban, Argyll, David is married with two adult sons.

Željka Markić – Board Director

Željka is a medical doctor living and working in Zagreb, Croatia – and founder and owner of a family business involved in clinical trials.

She first met our founder Magnus during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia while volunteering for an organisation distributing donated aid. Željka was touched by the generosity of strangers and the message of solidarity that came with the internationally donated aid. With friends, she founded an affiliate Mary’s Meals group in Croatia to encourage support in her home country.

Željka has a long-standing interest in human rights. Having lived in a totalitarian communist regime she believes that peace is founded on justice. She likes that Mary’s Meals gives individuals opportunities to share a little of what they have to give hungry children the chance to learn and thrive.

Her favourite aspect of our work is that our school feeding programmes encourage community involvement and that whole families often sign up to help. She is married to urologist Tihomir Markić and they have four sons. ​

Peter Higgins – Board Director

Peter specialises in growing organisations through strategic change. He co-founded Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts, where he remains a Director, served as chairman of Cath Kidston until 2010, and is Chairman of two other retailers.

As Governor of St Paul’s Boys School in London, Peter is helping to oversee the £77m school rebuilding plan and the establishment of a Bursary Fund for the less well off.

He’s passionate about Mary’s Meals and particularly likes that donors can have a real connection with the communities they are helping through school sponsorships and regular updates.

Peter and his family sponsor Ndirande Hill Primary School in Malawi. He cites his visit there as the best experience of his life (after getting married and the births of his four children), and even better than playing rugby at Twickenham.

His children have set up a ‘Swear Box’ at home to collect money for Mary’s Meals. They’ve raised £80 already this year - most of it from Peter!

Dr Christian Stelzer – Board Director

Christian is a medical doctor with his own practice in Austria’s capital city, Vienna. He is also involved in Cenacolo, an Italian retreat offering drug rehabilitation and a new start for young people.

Christian first heard about Mary’s Meals during a visit to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2007 and remembers being immediately fascinated by the charity’s efficient approach, and feeling a strong desire to become involved in helping hungry children.

He set about building a group of supporters, which later became Mary’s Meals Austria. Christian has been a Director with Mary’s Meals since 2011 and is keen for our movement to grow throughout Europe.

He is married with four children, enjoys skiing and loves music.

Ana Luisa Diez de Rivera-Laffont – Board Director

Ana is a member of the Madrid Bar Association and a board member of the IP law office of Elzaburu, SA in Madrid, Spain.

A native of Spain, she earned her JD in European Union Law from CEU San Pablo University in Madrid and an LLM in Law & Computer Science from Complutense University, as well as an LLM in Comparative Jurisprudence from New York University School of Law.

She joined Mary's Meal’s USA board in 2011 and is currently serving as Board Chair and Chair of the Fundraising Committee. She also serves on other initiatives such as the board of overseers of the Hispanic Society of America and the Laffont Family Foundation.

She is married to Philippe and they live in NYC with their six children.

Mark McGreevy – Board Director

Mark is Group Chief Executive of Depaul International, a charity supporting homeless and marginalised people around the world.

It is the parent organisation of a group of charities that operate in Europe and the USA.

After receiving a degree from Durham University, he studied Voluntary Sector Management at Sheffield Hallam University, and provides pro-bono consultancy to other non-profit organisations on fundraising, corporate governance, and strategic planning.

Mark, who is a talented musician, lives in London with his wife and daughter. He has been involved in the work of Mary’s Meals since 2007.

Jacob Allen – Board Director

Now a Director with The Cicero Group, Jacob has spent his career working with non-profit organisations and businesses around the world. His strengths are in strategy, performance management, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Jacob designed and managed the M&E system for The Goldman Sachs Foundation’s 10,000 Women initiative, and developed the strategy for their 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. He has also managed microfinance and microenterprise development initiatives in Latin America.

With such a depth of experience in non-profit management, it’s great to hear Jacob say of Mary’s Meals: “I’ve never seen an NGO that so effectively and efficiently combines such a simple solution with such an intrinsic need.”

Along with the rest of the Mary’s Meals family, he believes that everyone can make a lasting difference to children in the most desperate of circumstances.

Jacob is married with six children and loves to spend his spare time running, hiking, and skiing on snow or water - depending on the weather!

Charles McGhee – Board Director 

Charles McGhee is a former editor of The Herald and Evening Times with 40 years’ experience in the UK media industry. Now an independent communications consultant, Charles is also an honorary professor in Media and Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University and a founding board member of the new UK press regulatory body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

He has previously held senior editorial executive roles on national newspapers in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow and spent his early journalism career with the BBC.

Charles first became associated with Mary’s Meals through media projects with The Herald. His interest in international development began as a VSO volunteer in Papua New Guinea, where he managed a media and literacy project for two years. Alongside supporting Mary’s Meals, Charles has also worked on media development projects in China and Nigeria with the Thomson Foundation.

His enthusiasm for the charity’s work and understanding of the media are invaluable to Mary’s Meals as the movement grows.

Bishop John Keenan – Board Director

Bishop John gained a Law Degree in Forensic Medicine at the University of Glasgow. From there, he entered seminary in the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, attending the Gregorian University where he gained a degree in Sacred Theology and a post-graduate in Philosophy with licence to teach in Catholic institutes.

He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Glasgow and appointed assistant priest at Christ the King Parish, in the southside Kings Park area. From there, he was appointed full time chaplain at Holyrood RC Secondary School. In 2000, he was appointed as the Catholic Chaplain at the University of Glasgow by the late Cardinal Winning.

Bishop John taught Philosophy in the Scottish National Seminary from 1995 to 2005. In 2011, he was appointed as an Advocate-Procurator at the Scottish Catholic Inter-diocesan Tribunal. He is a regular speaker at conferences on Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body.

In 2014, he was appointed Bishop of Paisley by Pope Francis.

Bishop John has known about Mary’s Meals from the beginning and has been involved in raising money for Mary’s Meals through his parish in Scotland. He says: “I personally feel motivated and inspired by Mary’s Meals because it’s so simple. It’s the Gospel in all of its simplicity and all of its immediacy. To give one meal a day in a place of education to children in the developing world and, just by doing that one thing, we can change the world, that’s what grabbed me. To be considered part of Mary’s Meals is an honour and a blessing.”

Marie Da Silva – Board Director

Born and raised in Malawi, Marie Da Silva worked as a nanny in the US for nineteen years. During this time she lost many members of her family to the AIDS pandemic. In 2002 after realising the school in her home village in Malawi was going to close and seeing first-hand the devastation AIDS had wrought in her home village, she founded the Jacaranda School for Orphans in the house she grew up in. For the next nine years, Marie supported the school financially by sending a third of her monthly salary to Malawi.

In 2008 Marie was recognised as a CNN Hero for her dedication to orphans in Malawi. Among many other awards received for her work, Marie also received the Lifetime  Achievement Award from the President of Malawi. Jacaranda School became part of the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme in 2010 after Marie met Mary’s Meals’ founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow at the CNN Heroes awards in Los Angeles.  

Today Marie spends most of her time in Malawi at the school and frequently travels abroad for fundraising and speaking engagements. Marie is married to Jacaranda’s Executive Director, Luc Deschamps.

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