IFAL Executive Committee Members

Member Profiles

Antony Aitken (Exec member since 2004)

Antony followed many years in line management – as MD and Divisional Chairman in engineering and business services – with a commitment to helping senior people address the big issues in their business lives. He was an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford 2008-12 and worked with them on the Delta Programme for BAe and a Development Programme for senior civil servants in Abu Dhabi.

Antony worked in a variety of line roles in mechanical engineering and business services, before helping to start Transition Partnerships in 1992. He followed his M Sc at MIT in ‘72 with three years with the

Chairman of a major retail group who had diverse City interests – and he has an interest in micro and macro economics.

He is committed to the processes of Action Learning – where groups build trust and learn from each other by active listening and open questioning, an extension of the coaching process.

Antony has supported IFAL for many years as a member – and he joined the Exec in 2004. He has served as Treasurer since 2010.

Jafar Akhavan-Moossavi (Co-Chair- Exec member since June 2016)


Stefan Bergstrand (Exec member since May 2015)


Sean Cunningham (Exec member since 2002)

Sean is a civil servant based in Dublin and has a background in training managers and other staff in the Department of Social Protection. In the course of his work he has designed and delivered training programmes on such diverse subjects as Presentation Skills, Management Development, Communication Skills, Leadership/Teambuilding and Action Learning facilitation.

Sean has also been a facilitator and the co-ordinator of an Action Learning programme in his Department for a number of years. This involves selection of set members, arranging for training of set facilitators, facilitating selected sets and also spreading the word on the successes of Action Learning both to managers in his Department and also to other training managers in the Irish Civil Service. Sean is convinced that participation in Action Learning has greatly improved the skills of those managers who have taken part and has also solved a huge number of ‘wicked problems’.

The Department of Social Protection have been corporate members of IFAL for more than a decade and, following his attendance at an IFAL event some years ago, Sean has been on the executive and subsequently became the chair a number of years ago. Sean resigned the chair position at the IFAL AGM in January 2013, but will continue to serve on the Executive.

Jane Garnham (Exec member since June 2016)



John Heywood (Exec member sinceJanuary 2008)

John has eight years action learning experience and is an ILM accredited Action Learning set facilitator. He organises and takes part in an Action Learning forum for experienced AL set facilitators as well as being an executive board member. He became chair of IFAL in January 2013. John has completed the Ashridge training in Virtual AL Facilitation. He is a member of two sets, one virtual and one face to face.

John is currently using Action Learning with Heineken and is delivering Action Learning facilitator training in both English and French. Previous AL clients have included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DEFRA, Ernst and Young and the London Housing Foundation. As well as being an AL facilitator, John is a qualified and experienced Project Manager, Group Facilitator and Executive Coach. He is a passionate supporter of Action Learning to facilitate personal development and change and to improve performance, enjoyment and fulfilment at work and in life. He believes IFAL has a central role to play in extending and expanding the use of action learning across cultural, functional and national boundaries.


Moira McLaughlin (Exec member since 2002)

Moira has been an IFAL Executive member since 2002 – the longest standing (but not necessarily the oldest!) member of the current committee.

She is an independent consultant, Master Practitioner coach and supervisor with over 20 years experience in developing in-house and inter-agency AL programmes, mainly in the public and not-for-profit sectors.  In her previous life, she was a manager in local authorities for 13 years, where she first participated in, and became passionate about the role of Action Learning in developing and supporting authentic leadership.

Moira trained as an AL facilitator with the GLES in 1987.  She has a particular interest in virtual AL, and completed the Ashridge programme in Virtual AL Facilitation in 2010.  As part of her Masters in Coaching and Mentoring (Oxford Brookes University, 2012), she has conducted a study on audio coaching. Keeping her feet on the ground, she also continues to belong to a self-facilitated face-to-face set and a virtual set for her own development.

Moira has collaborated on many projects, including the organisation and design of international conferences.  She feels privileged to be working with a group of highly experienced members who are committed to growing IFAL as a source of learning and support for others, and is excited to be developing new ideas and initiatives with the new Executive and Chairs in 2017.

Mark Russell (Exec member since 2008)

Mark is a Director of AVN Picktree, an award-winning business dedicated to helping organisations

Mark is a Director of AVN Picktree, an award-winning coaching business dedicated to helping organisations and senior executives be more successful, more profitable and to have more fun.  He has worked extensively with the Sector Skills Council and Business Link delivering action learning programmes aimed at developing business leadership and management capabilities. Mark recently delivered presentations to The Open University and Chartered Institute for Personal Development on The Curse of Cleverness and the implications this has for our society, economy and the environment.

Mark played rugby for London Harlequins and has travelled the world touring and playing at the highest level with representative honours in England and South Africa. He believes that these experiences taught him the importance of proper planning and preparation and the extraordinary results that can be achieved through leadership, strategy, teamwork and learning by doing.

Outside of work his time is taken up by being an All Pro Husband and Dad, keeping an aquarium of tropical fish and playing golf (often very erratically!).

Mark has been a member of the IFAL Executive for three years.  He is passionate about the power of action learning to help people address priorities, solve problems and learn something in the process.  And he has a strong belief that IFAL has a central role in spreading the word about action learning and the difference it can make.


Heidi Schaefer (Co-Chair – Exec member since January 2012)

Heidi has been involved with Action Learning since the mid 1990s when she did her MSc in Management using Action Learning. She has worked with sets across a range of sectors and occupations. In the U.K. She was a member of the national facilitator team for Action Learning Matters (ALM), run by NAVCA and more recently with LEAD at Lancaster University, a leadership programme for small businesses. In 2014 Heidi moved to Canada where she is working to develop Action Learning there and start a network of Action Learning facilitators. Heidi is a passionate believer in the power of Action Learning to transform individual thinking, action and thereby organisations. She joined the IFAL Executive to get involved in ‘spreading the word’ about Action Learning as well as participate in the work we do to support facilitators. She has become co-Chair of IFAL to help lead IFAL to develop stronger international networks. Heidi is also a practising visual artist.

Arthur Turner (Exec member since May 2015)

Arthur is an academic working part-time at the University of the West of England in the Faculty of Business and Law and is a Visiting Fellow of the University of South Wales. Arthur has been on the executive board for IFAL since 2015. Arthur has been involved in Action Learning for the past 15 years from a set facilitator to a course designer and has been identifying ways in which action learning can make an impact in organisations. Arthur has also been involved with a long running Action Learning set for coaching supervision purposes and has several articles written with Pam Heneberry in the Action Learning Journal section for Accounts of Practice. Arthur is interested in alternative approaches to Action Learning