Patrons and Trustees


Dr Russell Ally - Board Chair

Senior Director, Institutional Advancement, University of the Free State

A UCT alumnus, Dr Ally started his career as a history teacher at the John Bisseker Senior Secondary School in East London. He obtained his Masters at Rhodes University and a Doctorate from Cambridge University, both in History. He then worked as a senior history researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand where he served on the Senate and Council. He is currently responsible for UCT's development and fundraising endeavours and is tasked with ensuring that the fundraising strategies yield adequate resources to achieve the university's mission at a time when higher education funding streams face significant risks. Before joining UCT, Dr Ally worked at the Ford Foundation as the Programme Officer for Southern Africa, managing their governance and civil society work in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. He has also held the position of Country Representative and Executive Director of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in South Africa and worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dr Ally served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violation Committee, chaired by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Ms Nomvula Dlamini

Independent Social facilitator, Evaluator and Mentor

Nomvula currently works as an independent social facilitator, evaluator and mentor. She worked for 22 years as organisation development practitioner with the Community Development Resource Association (CDRA) where she served as Director from 2011 to December 2018. Her accumulative experience is in facilitating social transformation processes, designing & facilitating stakeholder dialogues & collaborations and designing action research processes in search of innovative practices that improve developmental impact. Nomvula holds a Masters degree in Adult Learning and Global Change. She regularly gets invited to speak at national and international conferences and to contribute as practitioner to panel discussions. Nomvula serves as trustee on the boards of Inyathelo, District 6 Museum and Vheneka.

Israel Noko - Board Treasurer

CEO & Founder of NPI Governance Consulting

Israel is passionate about Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), including the economic transformation of South Africa. He has lectured on “BEE for NGOs” and worked with civil society, universities and non-profits to develop BEE fundraising strategies to enable sustainable income streams into their organisations. His experience has focused on developing and executing strategies which would enable companies to better position themselves in the market, and develop partnerships with companies and organizations that want to implement “business-sense” enterprise development, socio-economic development and BEE strategies. Israel also has extensive working experience in France, Switzerland, UK and South Africa in both private and public sectors. Israel studied Law and Social Sciences at the University of Warwick, UK, and pursued and completed a LL.B in Business Law at Coventry University, UK. In his previous capacity, Israel was on the Boards of the South Africa-Canada Chamber of Business (2007 to 2012) and the Bilateral Chamber Forum of South Africa. His current Directorships include; Net1 UEPS Mosomo Broad-Based Trust (Chairman), National Association of BEE Consultants (Chairman) and Micro Finance South Africa (Board member).

Merlinda Abrahams - Board Secretary

Director, Chameleon Skills

Merlinda Abrahams’ experience in the leadership and organisational development space, the NGO sector, corporate sector and government has honed her ability to identify her space in the world: to help others, in whatever their roles whether as leaders, parents or colleagues and successfully navigate the complexities of their lives. Her work is informed by Integral Theory and Transactional Analysis and she places great emphasis on developing the ability to recognise the value of integrating all of the pieces into a well-rounded, balanced whole.
Merlinda is affiliated with the International Coaching Federation, Coaching and Mentoring South Africa (COMENSA) and the South African Transactional Analysis Association (SATAA).

Viola Manuel

Business Consultant and non-executive director at National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU)

Viola Manuel has sat on numerous boards and been nominated for multiple awards. IT Personality of the Year, Boss of the Year, Influential Women Award, SA’s Most Influential Women in Business & Government (twice nominated) and was short-listed for the Woman of the Year Award. She has also been instrumental in several initiatives, including The ICT Census of the Western Cape, Women in IT, Youth in IT, VIP Graduates Club and several SMME Enterprise Development Projects. Viola was CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Executive Director of The Cape IT Initiative. She serves as a non-executive at National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), and Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and heads specialist committees on these boards. She has three entrepreneurial ventures and currently works as the Chief Stakeholder Relations Officer for Leapfrog Global. Viola holds an MBA (Herriot Watt University, Scotland), HDipEd (UCT) and BA (UCT) and is looking forward to completing her DBA.