JANE T NYAMBURA – Chair of Trustees
Jane is a tea farmer. She also has over 15 years of experience as a sustainability and partnership professional working with companies and key tea organisations in the Kenyan tea sector. These include 12 years with the Ethical Tea Partnership, latterly as Stakeholder and Partnerships Manager. She was a trustee of the Kenya Tea Development Agency Foundation for five years and is now a trustee of Ripple Effect. She holds an MBA in Strategic Management and is a member of various other advisory boards and trusts.
DEBBIE COULTER OBE – Treasurer
An active trade unionist for over 30 yrs, Debbie was elected Deputy General Secretary of the GMB Trade Union in 2003. She served 5yrs as an ACAS Council Member and as a commissioner on the Women and Work Commission into Equal Pay and on the Commission for Vulnerable Employment. She was awarded an OBE for service to Employment Relations in 2008. She joined the Ethical Trading Initiative as Head of Programmes in 2011 bringing together companies, trade unions and NGO members to drive long-term, sustainable change for workers in global supply chains. Now retired, she works voluntarily for a number of charitable organisations.
AARTI KAPOOR – Trustee
Aarti is the founder and Executive Director of Embode, an international consultancy based in Bangkok and focused on human rights in business supply chains, child rights and protection as well as leadership development in non-profit organisations. Aarti is qualified as a lawyer in the UK and the US, and has almost 20 years of technical experience responding to human trafficking, forced labour, child exploitation, child labour and other related issues, particularly in the UK, Southeast Asia and Africa.
FILBERT KAVIA – Trustee
Filbert is the East Africa Regional Director of Transform Trade, an international organization based in the UK focused on fair trade and climate justice. Previously he was operations director of The Wood Foundation Africa on extensive smallholder tea farms development projects in East Africa. He has over 25 years of working experience in sustainable tea production in East Africa. He has strong experience working with smallholder development projects, managing tea supply chains, and marketing. Technical expertise in tea business, strategic planning, supply chain management and stakeholders’ engagements and partnerships. Filbert is trained in agriculture, agricultural economics, and project management.
ART PRAPHA – Trustee
Art Prapha is Senior Program Manager, Corporate Accountability at the Freedom Fund. Previously, Art co-led Oxfam’s global Supermarket Campaign, Behind the Barcodes; headed Oxfam in Thailand’s Private Sector team; cofounded the Coalition for Ethical & Sustainable Seafood; and worked on social enterprise programs to connect women-led, community-based enterprises to markets. He holds a BA in Accounting & Commercial Law from Victoria University, Wellington and an MA in International Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and is pursuing an Executive MBA at Judge Business School, Cambridge University.
STIRLING SMITH – Trustee
Stirling is an independent ethical trade consultant and former Chief Technical Adviser for the International Labour Organisation in India. He has worked for DFID, British Council, Fair Labour Association, trade unions, NGOs and several companies.
NIKHIL SUBBIAH – Trustee
Nikhil is an investment funds lawyer at a leading global law firm, with experience working with impact investments, development finance institutions and in emerging markets. He was previously a Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow and conducted a research trip to tea plantations in India and Sri Lanka.
CEO and Founder
Sabita was born and raised on tea plantations in Kerala and Assam. She has nearly 20 years experience working in ethical trade and international development having held strategic posts at Oxfam and the Ethical Trading Initiative. She was previously a member of the Board of Directors of Just Change, UK – a voluntary community tea trading initiative.
Dharmaraj has 46 years’ experience in the tea-industry, across the tea value chain and across Indian and international geographies. His employers included Brooke Bond, Unilever, Shapoorji Pallonji and Harrisons Malayalam Ltd – latterly as Chief Executive. He was President of UPASI (the apex body of plantation owners of South India), a Member of the Tea Board of India and part of several Government of India delegations at the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea. Since retirement, as a strategic adviser and operations consultant in agribusiness with special focus on tea he has been driving a number of initiatives in the interests of the holistic sustainability of the tea industry. His clients include commercial organisations, governments and NGOs. He has been an active participant in THIRST initiatives.
Michael Pennant-Jones is a freelance sustainability consultant specialising in the tea sector with over 20 years sustainability experience working for both consultancies and within companies. He began his career at Typhoo working within the buying department, subsequently joining Finlays becoming Group Head of Sustainability. Latterly a Director at Impactt Limited a specialist Human Rights Consultancy. He has been the vice-Chair at Ethical Tea Partnership, a Board member of the Ethical Trade Initiative and was one of the founder Trustees of THIRST. He has sat on numerous certification committees and has designed, initiated and managed multiple projects in tea both at a strategic level and at an operational level. Knowledgeable across all areas of Sustainability, he takes a strong business perspective to enable practical and impact focused solutions.
Justin Rippon started his career in the Tea industry in 1997, mostly on the commercial side, as a trader, the majority of which was spent in Africa, and more recently for Van Rees in Malawi and Kenya, managing buying, blending and export operations – before returning to senior management roles in Europe. Since 2021 Justin has worked as a specialist independent consultant advising on tea procurement and logistics strategies.
John Snell has spent 40 years in the tea industry, working with brand leaders, Importers and private label packers too, giving him rare context to the supply chain of tea. He is an advocate for industry action for a fair and sustainable industry, has sat on the board of the Ethical Tea Partnership and on the steering committee of the Sustainable Coffee Programme (the precursor to the Global Coffee Platform) as well as helping design and build bespoke programming in Coffee and Tea origins for positive change. Since 2018, he has been engaged by the FAO in several tea producing countries to affect positive change from the ground up.
Alysha is a researcher with a PhD from the Business and Human Rights Catalyst at the Alliance Manchester Business School. She conducted a case study with the Fair Food Program and its Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm for her PhD and to support the Office of the High Commissioner’s Accountability and Remedy Project. Prior to her doctoral studies, Alysha attended Stanford University for her undergraduate and master’s in Sociology. Her master’s research focused on anti-trafficking work. Alysha has also worked as a Research Analyst at Apple.
Caroline qualified as a lawyer and has years of experience in the international energy sector. She now provides research, training and advisory services on sustainability, human rights and corporate accountability, and is an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes Business School.
INDEPENDENT ADVISORS TO THIRST’S HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACT ASSESSMENT
- Caroline Brodeur, Business and Human Rights Specialist, Oxfam America.
- Jenny Costelloe, Executive Director, Ethical Tea Partnership.
- Ottilie Cunningham, Tea Buyer, Fortnum and Mason.
- Narendranath Dharmaraj, Strategic Advisor and Operations Consultant in Tea.
- Ella Frankel, Senior Advisor: Food, Farming & Fisheries, Ethical Trading Initiative.
- Céline Gilart, Head of Social Impact & Sustainability, Twinings.
- Justin Rippon, Tea Procurement Consultant
- THIRST Trustees