Sharon has an MA from Cambridge University in Theology and Religious Studies, specialising in Islam and Biblical Studies. Following her graduation, she taught English at Amideast in Tunisia and then went on to work in Amman, Jordan as a Productions Manager for a publishing company with programmes aiming to promote a reading culture in the Arab World. In Sharon's final year in Jordan, she was employed as PA to the Defence Attaché at the British Embassy, then returned to the UK and began work in Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, founding the Solutions Not Sides Education Programme in 2010. The programme was originally set up under the umbrella of another registered charity, before applying for independent charitable status in 2018. Sharon speaks Arabic and French and has studied ancient Hebrew. In January 2016, she was awarded a master’s degree with distinction from King's College London, in Terrorism, Security and Society, specialising in nationalism and religion.
Jess Brandler is SNS' Managing Director, overseeing all aspects of SNS’ work, as well as working closely with speakers from Palestine and Israel to train, prepare, and support them for work with SNS. She has spent considerable time in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. She's been at SNS since 2015 and worked with founder and Director, Sharon, to considerably grow the organisation to what it is today, expanding into dozens of cities and towns across the UK. She graduated from Cambridge University in Politics, Psychology and Sociology, specialising in conflict development, and the role of religion in politics. Following her graduation, she was awarded a fellowship at the Central European University in Budapest, where she completed her MA in International Relations and European Studies. During this time, she wrote papers and ran seminars on Palestine and Israel, and volunteered with The Human Rights Initiative (HRSI). After graduating in Budapest, she moved back to London, where she worked with an education sector in universities and schools as Business, Sales and marketing Manager of the company Yearbook Machine. She previously volunteered with the charity Football Beyond Borders, and she is fast on the road to becoming a speaker of Arabic.
Mohammed Ali Amla is SNS’ Director of Bridge Building, leading on youth empowerment, strategic partnership development and community collaborations. An experienced networker who will be developing new partnerships across civil society, education sector, academia, local authorities and communities. Ali specialises in cross sector collaborations and will be leading on a number of projects.
Ali is a multipotentialite; with over 20 years’ experience working with communities, the public and private sector. Working as a researcher, educator, practitioner, activist and executive coach, to empower communities to create social innovation and create social change. Specialising in creating safe spaces for difficult dialogue, leadership development, think spaces, strategic development, co-production, R&D, collaboration labs, knowledge exchange and delivering inclusion and diversity training. Regularly invited as a guest lecturer on peace leadership, active citizenship, cohesion, integration, interfaith, religion, Islamophobia, far right, media and community empowerment.
Ali is an alumni of the IVLP, Clore Fellow, and the founder of Christian Muslim Encounters, which aims to foster good relations and build bridges across communities, academia, policy and civil society. He is currently writing a book on interfaith.
Ali is a father of two, Rahimah and Zayn when he’s not with his children he can be often found hiking in the wilderness. An avid reader, who loves to balance politics, religion, leadership with fiction.
Laurence Conneely graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies, MSc Violence, Conflict & Development programme, focusing on South East Asia. Prior to this, he graduated from Kings College London with a BA in Development Geography with a focus on India and on land use and control. Before joining the Solutions Not Sides team, he volunteered and subsequently worked for Link Ethiopia, a small but dynamic not-for-profit educational development NGO, pioneering the delivery of profound grassroots educational change across developing communities in Ethiopia and connecting communities around the world. He was responsible for two of Link Ethiopia's major programmes, School Links & Child Sponsorship, as well as overseeing the charity's communications. He is an experienced communicator and has more than 3 years' experience working on international development projects rooted in an educational context.
Poppy graduated with a BA in Arabic from The School of Oriental and African Studies, where she also studied Hebrew. During her degree she spent a year studying at An-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine. After this, she spent five months living and working in Ramallah in various women's rights organisations. Poppy attended the 2017 SNS Student Leadership Programme before joining SNS full time.
Dr Rachel Lewis CPsychol (Chair and in-house psychology expert)
Greg Rack (absolutely great at fundraising)
Rafia Shaheen (in-house school teacher and wonderful at understanding the needs of school students and teachers)
We are pleased to have the following educators and community leaders advising Solutions Not Sides:
Sadia Akram - Forum of Discussion on Israel and Palestine
Ashfaque Chowdhury – Association of Muslim Schools UK
Fiona Cumberland - Director at Kreab
Josh Dubell - Jewish Community Worker currently with UJIA
Peggy Forell – Advocality
Alex Goldberg – Jewish Chaplain, University of Surrey
Ed Kessler – The Woolf Institute, Cambridge
Sahdia Khan - former Director of the Encompass Trust and currently a secondary school teacher
Paula Lent – Art Masters Design Solutions Ltd.
John Lyndon - Executive Director of ALLMEP
David Mason - Muswell Hill Orthodox Synagogue
Jonny Newton - Community Security Trust
Hagai M. Segal - Lecturer and advisory on Middle-Eastern affairs, geopolitics and extremism
Nathan Servi - Head of Education, Maccabi GB; Head of Streetwise and Stand Up!
Sajeela Shah – Teacher at Bingley Grammar School
Bruce Thompson – the Methodist Church, Lincolnshire