Maggie Jones, Chief Executive Officer

Maggie joined CVAA in November 2018. Previously, she was Chief Executive of Foundation, an organisation dedicated to ending social exclusion which works with over 4000 of the most disadvantaged adults, young people and families across the North of England, providing resources and opportunities for everyone to achieve and belong no matter their personal circumstances.

Before Foundation, Maggie was Chief Executive of Children England, the umbrella body for children’s charities. She has over 25 years’ experience within the statutory and voluntary sectors, including as Assistant Programme Director for England at Save the Children, where she led work on children’s rights and participation; establishing the Leeds Health For All (Healthy City) Partnership to tackle poverty, environmental and health inequalities; and working for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation where she led research and practice development work on governance, children and young people’s services and the future of the voluntary sector.

Maggie is Vice Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund’s England Committee and is Chair of the Youth Association; Growing Yorkshire’s Future.

Sam Mercadante, Policy and Development Manager

Sam joined CVAA in July 2018 as Policy and Development Manager. She leads on policy projects, supports the delivery of CVAA’s strategy, and oversees the delivery of the practice and policy programmes.

Prior to joining CVAA Sam worked for the Chevening Secretariat, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarship programme, supporting international postgraduate students at universities across the UK. She has an MA in International Relations from King’s College London and a BA in Latin American Studies from Washington University in St Louis.

Petra Jodlova, Practice Development Manager

Petra joined CVAA in September 2019. Previously she worked at the Youth Justice Legal Centre as the Project and Development Manager. At YJLC Petra led on the provision of much-needed legally accurate information, guidance, and training on youth justice law.

Petra has successfully delivered two annual  Youth Justice Summits in London (featured in the Justice Gap magazine) and over twenty high-profile specialist youth justice training sessions to solicitors, barristers, judges, and youth offending teams. Prior to this, she managed the Education Programme and the UK School Meal Programme at The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK. 

Petra holds an MSc in Politics from the University of Surrey.

Chris Smith, Consultant (Practice Expert)

Chris provides expert advice to guide CVAA's Practice Development Programme. She is a trained social worker and has worked in both local authority and voluntary settings.

Chris was previously Chief Executive of St Francis’ Children’s Society, a voluntary adoption agency. Whilst in this position Chris was involved in the development of several areas of innovative practice, including work with young adoptees, recruitment of black and dual-heritage adopters, and provision of independent counselling services to birth relatives of children being adopted from care.

After ‘retiring’ from full time work, Chris took up an interim post as Director of CVAA in 2010 and held that position until 2014, working alongside Norman Goodwin and Mark Owers as members of the CVAA Leadership Team. She then took on the role of Grant Manager when CVAA was successful in becoming the body responsible for managing the £13.5m DfE Expansion Grant programme.