Systems Researcher, Craftwoman and Participation Advocate
Specialist expertise in International Development and Ecological Public Health.
English & French
United KingdomBack to Who we are
I run Minds et Motion Ltd, a London-based collaborative (community of practice) enabling people to create their own solutions.
I bring insights gathered from the many successes and failures I encountered on my 15 years journey so far trying to advance the notions of meaningful participation and resilience through political campaigning, systemic action research, and the piloting of a Fund enabling charitable giving to communities worldwide.
I trained as a lawyer (School of Law, Liège Belgium & Glasgow University, 2000) and political scientist (School of Political Sciences, Liège University, 2002) with specialisations in the fields of international food policy and ecological public health (School of Public Health & Nutrition, City University London, 2006). I have 15 years experience of researching, lobbying, and managing large international projects tackling complex social issues (e.g. drug promotion, children obesity, patient voice and food sovereignty). I worked in the US, India and Europe for organisations in the public, private and non-profit sectors mostly in temporary and advisory roles. I have particular experience in social equity issues related to the food and pharmaceutical industries.
That's why I founded Minds et Motion in 2013. MetM is a community of practice dedicated to the crafting of tools that enable the "meaningful participation" of people in groups, institutions and organisations across sectors. We enable people to create their own solutions and in so doing we defend the right of under-represented groups to be heard.
I am skilled at creating bridges between people: the thinkers, the doers and the survivors including politicians, artists, intellectuals, you and me. And I believe arts & crafts are essential ingredients to achieve this because they are superconductors for hope. While the best technicians in the world can come up with sophisticated models to solve social issues, hope provides the necessary glue for people to collaboratively own a solution and put it into motion. That's why I've always given precedence to creative collaborations.
Background, a few selected works:
In 2017, I collaborated with shiftN to run a multi stakeholders evaluation project for the Belgian government. It resulted in a robust meta-evaluation tool to audit 600 rehabilitation care centres delivering multidisciplinary care for patients including children with complex needs.
In 2014 I co-founded New Spring Fund with my husband David Jack Wickert. New Spring Fund was a US nonprofit. Its aim was to financially support nonprofits that actively involve individuals and their communities in building resilience.
Between 2007 and 2012, I worked on international research projects as an independent consultant for clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors including The Capital Group, Goldman Sachs (via GLG), the UK Food Group, Navdanya, The Gaia Foundation, GM Freeze, HAI and Health Partners International Ltd. In 2008, I led two marketing surveys on social corporate responsibility for Consumers International. One was on the marketing of unhealthy food to children and the other on the promotions of prescription medicines by multinational companies. They covered 18 countries across 5 continents. In 2011, as part of the ShiftN team, I undertook a systemic and participative evaluation of the Children and Adolescents Mental Health System in Belgium.
In 2004, I defended farmers’ right to save seeds. I helped Dr Vandana Shiva’s team at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology to successfully challenge the biopiracy of Neem, Basmati and Wheat, a challenge against the patenting of life brought to the World Trade Organization.
In 2002, I worked for Jean-Paul Charlier when he was in charge of sustainable development issues at the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations in New York. Belgium had the presidency of the EU. I liaised with partners to negotiate positions including for the preparatory meetings to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
Rachel, MetM's founder and co-director, explains how her mother's life and fight against cancer inspired her to start MetM:
Nadine was a gifted and beautiful woman. Her four children were everything to her. Coming from a modest background, she climbed the ladder by taking evening classes to access the status of chief nurse in the Neurology Department of the University Hospital of Liège in her thirties. Despite working full-time she took us to our numerous extra-curricular activities. She was an active member of our parents committee at school and she always found time to do some fun arts & crafts with me. I must say that a lot of that was made possible because my grandmother, Super Nelly, was never very far away to give her another pair of hands.
But in the late 80's all that changed when my mother's brain tumor was diagnosed. She died four years later. As far as I remember, it was after a car crash triggered by a bout of epilepsy due to her illness. I was in my early teens so my memory is a bit patchy and family communication was not at its best to say the least. Her battle against the disease was a difficult time for all of us. Her death left a huge hole. Each of us developed our own strategy to cope with the loss. The strength she showed despite gradually losing most of her physical abilities including her speech inspired me to explore other people's struggles and to learn from their wisdom and resilience through adversity.
although it took me some time to totally appreciate and then embrace it. Her inability to voice her informed consent due in part to the loss of speech and to the context we lived in became an important source of questioning hence a key driver in my life.
That's why, ever since my early work as a human rights advocate, I’ve been looking for ways to use my expertise to enable people to make choices based on informed consent. And in 2011, my work eventually sent me back to Belgium. There I learned from young people with complex needs living at the margins of society and from the people who helped them rebuild their lives like you knit a sweater.
That experience reminded me that a space that is holistic, safe and open is crucial to the process of resilience. It gave me an opportunity to reflect and focus on how I could better nurture the fertile ground for individual and community's resilience to flourish.
I came to the conclusion that I needed to create a community of practice dedicated to the crafting of tools that enable the "meaningful participation" of people in groups, institutions and organisations across sectors. That's why I founded Minds et Motion in 2013. A community enabling people to create their own solutions and in so doing defending the right of under-represented groups to be heard, whatever their labels "patients, clients, etc".
have since inspired Minds et Motion. Stories dealing with apartheid, abuse, injustice, inequalities and homelessness pushed us at MetM to go beyond offering a range of tailored services. The idea to support financially and in-kind a safe house for children and families appeared naturally. A place where children, their families and communities would have the opportunity to rebuild healthy relationships after suffering from traumatic events.
Our vision is ultimately to support projects, anywhere in the world, using the meaningful participation of individuals and communities to build resilience.
To achieve this we piloted the Spring Funds Initiative in 2014 - 2016.
Unfirtunately, in June 2016 David was diagnosed with epilepsy and onset Alzheimer's. With David and Rachel unable to continue in their roles as Secretary and Treasurer of New Spring Fund at least until they adapted to their new circumstances the Board had to swiftly reassess their strategy. This unfortunate series of events happened at a crucial time for NSF. We were on our way to expand our reach to Europe which would have brought us closer to our original aim of enabling NSF to receive tax efficient donations on behalf of our Partner Charities from donors in the US, UK and 18 other European countries! Meanwhile our Board did not have the capacity to help with the operational side of NSF nor to find replacements.
Rachel: "The New Spring Fund's emphasis on Resilience was unique, and I still feel that there is an international community of potential donors who would find the idea of improving the self-sufficiency of small communities appealing, regardless of whether or not they are local to them."
We are taking a step back and reboot to hopefully morph into something new! Stay tuned.
David Jack Wickert
United KingdomBack to Who we are
I am now working as an international fundraiser advising nonprofits worldwide on local, national and international fundraising after over 18 years a director of Chapel & York of which I remain a shareholder.
I've been in fundraising since 1966 when, after being ordained an Episcopalian Priest, I led Stewardship Campaigns to fund parishes and their social welfare activities.
Until March 2015 I was a trustee of the ASDA Foundation (part of the Wal-Mart family).
Until December 2015 I was an Executive Director of Chapel & York leading a world class team who have helped non-profit clients raise cross-border over US$1billion. Chapel & York focuses on cross border fundraising and the management of non-profits which raise funds/make grants internationally, particularly from the USA and UK.
In the 1990s I was the founding Director of Charities Aid Foundation America based in New York, and travelling widely. And I advised well known organisations such as GE (General Electric), Apple, Levi Strauss, Citibank, Johnson & Johnson and IBM regarding their charitable activities and promoted a programme that enabled companies to match their employees charitable donations.
In 1986 I was the first Director of the UK Give As You Earn payroll deduction programme set up by Charities Aid Foundation which enables employees of participating companies to make regular donations to charities they nominate. BP, Shell, Sainsbury's and Westminster City Council were among the first participating organisations and recipient charities included Action Aid and Save the Children Fund.
In 1982 I co-founded the Waterloo Trust with Danny Levine
and raised funds to convert the crypt of St John's Waterloo Road in central London into a rehabilitative centre for the single homeless. It was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 2 November 1984.
In 1974 I co-founded the Upstream Theatre Club & Children’s Theatre in Waterloo, London. Upstream produced on the London Fringe, West End, and productions toured worldwide. We featured Ken Branagh, Andrew Visnevski's wonderful Cherubs, "Swann with Topping" with the incomparable Donald Swann, and "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" by Charles Schulz, and dozens more productions.