Our people



Tor Docherty (East of England) – Chief Executive
Tor was a member of NFS for two years before she became the Chief Executive in 2013.   Tor has worked in the LGBT sector and in local and national charities.

Tor has three children with her partner Jackie.  The kids, aged eight, six and three, keep the adults busy and happy.


Laurence Benkhabeb-House (North East) – Membership Officer
Laurence and her partner were foster carers for 10 years before adopting their two sons in 2008. Laurence is of French Algerian origin and her partner is British. Laurence has worked to help charities, large and small, develop their fundraising and membership systems. Laurence & her partner are passionate about the outcomes for children in care and adopted children, and in particular the support offered to carers and adopters to ensure the success of placements.

Laurence is delighted to be working for NFS where she can combine her passions for strong families and the transforming power of loving families with her working life.


Ciaran Masters (East of England) – Training Manager
Ciaran joined NFS in 2013 and manages the charity’s work to improve adoption and foster care agencies’ ability to support LGBT+ applicants. Armed with a background in events management, acting and even selling umbrellas she can turn her hand to anything.

Ciaran has two young children.


Lisa Rogers (East of England) – Finance
Lisa joined NFS in 2014.  She deals with all the money coming on and out, sends out invoices and pays the bills.  Lisa has a background in charity finance and also works for a disability charity.

Lisa has three children.


James Lawrence (South East) – Communications and Engagements Manager

Pride 2016 (68)James joined New Family Social in March 2015 from Stonewall and has worked in the voluntary sector for all of his career.  He creates content for the NFS website, manages New Family Social’s social media and all media enquiries. James also works closely with adoption and foster care agencies to develop the ways they communicate and work with LGBT+ people.

James has an adopted son. He isn’t currently writing a book and has no dogs or cats. He does, however, have a stunning collection of CDs and Lego in his home.

When not working his favourite hobbies include napping and correcting other people’s written English.


Trustee team


Dario Parente – Chair of Trustees (London)Image 3

I live in London with my husband and our adopted son (now in secondary school.) Both my partner and I are originally from Germany and lived in the US before moving to London. We’re regularly involved with NFS events, and help represent NFS and LGBT Families at Pride every year. I’m also a regular speaker at LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week and other LGBT Family events sharing my adoption experience. In the past I have been an active member of London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard helping to manage their database and fielding calls on the helpline.

Dario took on the role of NFS Treasurer in 2016 and became the Chair of Trustees in 2018.



Simon Mansfield-Sturgess – Vice Chair (Home Counties North)
Simon has been with his partner since 1997 and they are married since 2007. Simon is white Scottish and his partner is white English. They adopted their son when he was six years old in 2008. They have been members of New Family Social since its conception and will advocate its role to anyone who listens. Simon is involved heavily with the local community through his work with the Magistracy and the local scout group. His professional life has been spent working with children as a nurse. He has worked in a number of areas and truly believes the needs of the children come first. Simon takes an active part in NFS activities and is keen to see the group thrive and continue the good work it has already done.



Ian Devine – Chair of Trustees (North West)
Ian and his husband have been together since 2000. In 2008, they adopted two children and became very proud dads to a son and daughter. They joined NFS the following year and their involvement has steadily increased. Professionally, Ian is a high-school teacher with almost a decade’s commercial experience under his belt. He’s a keen advocate for LGBT adoption and fostering and is passionate about NFS. Indeed, Ian relishes the opportunity to help NFS further develop and thrive and to give a voice to the North-west members in particular on the board. Ian became a trustee in 2012 and is the regional co-ordinator for the North West.



Yoni Brunes Ejo (North West)
Yoni was trans-racially adopted by her former foster carers and grew up in various places around the South of England. She worked as a volunteer for lesbian line, trained as a social worker and initially worked in child protection. She was the first worker for the Albert Kennedy Trust, the support agency for homeless lesbian and gay young people, and then ran a children’s charity, providing a residential home and support services for black young people inManchester. Yoni then took a less time consuming role as a social worker and reviewing officer when she and her civil partner adopted two girls aged 11 and 9.

Yoni was team manager of a local Authority fostering team for 8 years, sitting on adoption panels, and directing the service in its increasingly positive recruitment of lesbian and gay foster carers. In 2012, Yoni was was appointed Service Manager of a small fostering agency, providing high quality placements from a children’s rights and personal empowerment perspective. She also sat on the board of a large cancer hospital for 9 years and was lead Non-Executive Director for equality and diversity.

Yoni is keen to use her experience in the delivery of services for foster carers, and adopters to help NFS to develop further in their work with agencies as well as publicising the strengths of lesbian and gay foster carers and adopters. She has been a member of NFS since 2010.



Iain McNulty-Ringshaw (South East)

Iain and his partner have been together for 22 years, married for 9 and a members of NFS since its foundation. They had 2 siblings,birth brothers, placed with them in April 2008 and adopted them in August 2009. As an adopter and an adoptee he is very aware of the benefits and challenges for the child and the adoptive parents on the life adoption journey. As part of his own journey he has been reunited with his birth family and understands the issues that may highlight. He is passionate about the rights of same sex adopters – his partner and he were the first same sex male couple to be approved for adoption by their North London LA in October 2006. He has spoken at adoption conferences as both an adopter and adoptee as well as in the media discussing same sex and adoption in general. He is proud of what NFS has achieved in a relatively short time period. The support of the group and friends within it has been invaluable over the ups and downs of his families journey and he believes it is a huge benefit and privilege to be part of a group who share so many experiences. With his children now firmly in the teenage years he is very interested in understanding and developing support needed for families who have adopted children from challenging backgrounds and supporting their development and needs as they move through adolescence.
Iain’s background is in retail operations and communications having worked for The Body Shop International, Nike and Apple Inc. among others.


Rory Argyle (Yorkshire)

Rory is one of the NFS Trustees. He’s happy to help in any way he can. He’s a bit of an eco-nut, permaculture designer, outdoorsy, mountain biking, single dad to a little boy.

Laura SLaura Savillewood (South East Coast)

Laura and her partner Jemma were initially approved as short-break foster carers for disabled children in 2011, and went on the become adoptive parents to their daughter in 2013. They currently co-ordinate the South Central Coast regional group and have appeared many times in local and national media extolling the virtues of LGBT adoptive parenting.
Laura has experience in the charity and local government sectors and is proud to use her skills to support the fantastic work of NFS.


Matt Davies (London)Matt Davies (1)

Originally from Lancashire, Matt now lives in Hertfordshire with his husband and their adopted son.

Matt works in London, in communications and public affairs, campaigning to change government policy. He has run campaigns on housing, disability, education and science for major charities and currently works on cancer related issues. He was also previously an elected councillor in North London for 12 years and a school governor.

Matt ended the adoption process by running a marathon (very slowly) to raise money for NFS, before becoming a trustee in November 2015. He was also one of the founding members of Proud Lilywhites, the official Tottenham Hotspur LGBT association.

Joseph Mackenzie (Yorkshire)FullSizeRender

Hello my name is Joseph. Along with my partner Gareth, we are proud parents of two lovely children who we have adopted. Most recently I have been campaigning for substantial improvements on how the NHS Safeguard the data of adoptive children. It’s my aim to achieve political consensus on this issue and to have legislation ratified in parliament to ensure the NHS are bound by legislation which at its heart protects adoptive children.





Barry Burland (London)
Barry and his partner are dads to two brothers, who were 6 and 4 when they joined the family in 2010. They have been been coming to NFS meet-ups throughout their adoption process, and their sons ever since moving in, and believe enthusiastically that NFS is an enormous benefit to adopters and their children. So much so that they recently had to clarify to the boys that it was not only two men or two women who could adopt.

Barry is a solicitor in private practice. In addition to the work that pays the bills, he has drafted submissions to appellate courts in cases concerning discrimination against LGBT people and submissions to the constitutional convention in South Africa, whose negotiations produced what remains the most advanced constitution in the world protecting the rights of LGBT people. He believes strongly that the law has a very important role to play in changing societal norms, as evidenced tellingly by the legal changes in the UK that have encouraged adoptions and fostering by LGBT people, perhaps even before the professionals involved in child welfare, not to mention the media and the public, were quite prepared for it.

Some of our volunteers

Virginia Griffiths (South Coast) – Materials distribution and child profile management

My partner and I started the adoption process in 2005 in preparation for the change in the law and have been members of NFS since it started. We have two daughters who we adopted separately going through the adoption process twice. I  enjoy helping out as a volunteer at NFS as I like to know I am helping someone else find their forever family now that we have ours.


James Craker (Home Counties North) – Graphics Volunteer

James is a graphics designer who produces all NFS’s graphics for publicity material, T shirts, adverts and banners (often at short notice!).  His company is http://www.crackerjac.com