Meet the staff team

Vinny Smith
Chief executive

I’m the Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation and joined in 2015 to lead the organisation through an exciting time of change. I’ve worked with the team to open new doors for the organisation, from engaging with new international partners, to playing an instrumental role in the battle to unlock protection against MenB for everyone; in April 2016 I presented evidence at the Health Select Committee highlighting the need for changes to the unfair rules that govern vaccines eligibility.

I was previously Director of STAND Consulting which advised non-profits in the UK, Africa and US on strategic planning, fundraising and organisational development. I also previously worked at Cancer Research UK for 7 years and later became Chief Operating Officer in the international development and domestic violence sectors. I am author of a recent conference report on the use of mobile health and technology in West Africa following the Ebola outbreak; and a guest lecturer at the University of the West of England on Organisational Development.

Diane McConnell
Deputy CEO
Head of Community Engagement and Fundraising

I have been working with Meningitis Research Foundation since 5 April 1995.

I love my job and get great satisfaction from working with members and supporters of the charity who are as committed to the cause as I am.

My role as Deputy Chief Executive is interesting and diverse. There is never one day the same. I am directly responsible for income generation across all our offices (Belfast, Bristol, Dublin and Edinburgh). I also deputise for the Chief Executive in his absence.

I have four wonderful grown up children and four adorable grandchildren. I like family Sundays and walk, read, knit and sew when I get time. My greatest passion by far is my garden and when I go into the garden, time becomes irrelevant.

Monika Marchlewicz
Ireland
Ireland manager

My motto has always been 'Don't just do it - do it with passion and pride!' The true meaning of this was never more apparent than when I started working for the Foundation. It is a privilege to work alongside so many amazing, skilled and passionate people who really do make a difference! I am proud to represent MRF.

My proudest accomplishment is beautiful and smart son. Away from the office, I enjoy outdoor activities, including gardening, and home improvement projects.

Mary Millar
Scotland
Scotland manager

I'm Mary Millar and I'm the Scotland Manager. I joined MRF in July 2009.

My background is in marketing and advertising within the private sector, skills which I have found useful in promoting the Foundation further in Scotland, and driving forward increased awareness, support and fundraising campaigns.

I really enjoy being involved with all our Scottish Members and Supporters, and helping to make a difference to our important cause.

Research, evidence and policy
Linda Glennie
Research, Evidence and Policy
Head of Research, Evidence and Policy

I'm Linda Glennie and I'm Head of Research and Medical Information at MRF where I've worked since 1997.

I work with scientists and health professionals across a range of disciplines to develop information materials for the public and for health professionals, and I've co-authored several educational resources for nurses and trainee doctors. I also organise the scientific programme for the Foundation’s biennial international conferences.

I'm responsible for managing the administration, peer review and monitoring of the Foundation’s international research programme

Natacha Blake
Research, Evidence and Policy
Evidence and Policy Officer (Diagnosis and Treatment)

Hi I’m Natacha and I have been working in the Research, Evidence and Policy department as Evidence & Policy Officer since the beginning of 2017.

My role, which has been developed recently to enable our UK and international capacity, involves working with both my colleagues here at MRF and other professionals to provide evidence-based understanding and awareness into the issues associated with the diagnosis and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, both in the UK and internationally.

Sinéad McMurray
Research, Evidence and Policy
Information and Support Officer, Northern Ireland

My name is Sinéad and I am the information and support officer for Belfast.

I joined Meningitis Research Foundation this year and I am really enjoying getting to know all our members and supporters.

My role is to raise awareness and provide information on meningitis and septicaemia among medical professionals and the general public. I do this by organising information sessions with health professionals and community groups, distributing literature as well talking to the media. I also provide support to those directly affected by the disease through the helpline by answering calls and emails from the public about meningitis.

Liz Rodgers
Research, Evidence and Policy
Research Officer

Hi, I’m Liz and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation in October 2016 as Research Officer.

My role involves working with the Scientific Advisory Panel on the Foundations research programme. It’s really exciting to see how our research programme evolves, from the initial selection of research applications, to working with our comms team to help publicise our research in novel ways. In addition to this, I help organise smaller, more regular events throughout the year. I particularly enjoy planning our Research Discovery Days – which gives our members and the general public a chance to meet the scientists leading the research.

Claire Wright
Research, Evidence and Policy
Evidence and Policy Manager (Prevention)

My name is Claire and my role as Evidence and Policy Manager (Prevention) involves working on the educational materials that MRF distributes to health professionals and the public, making sure that it is up to date with findings from current research.

I also try to answer specific medical questions we receive about meningitis and septicaemia and promote the charity's work at conferences around the country.

It’s very rewarding to work on awareness literature which may go on to help save lives and support those who have been affected by this disease.

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