Our team

Meet our senior leadership team.

Image of Abigail Ampofo in black and white looking to the left of the camera

Abigail Ampofo

Interim CEO

Abigail joined Refuge in November 2021 taking up the newly created post of Director of Service Delivery, leading all of Refuge’s operational services including refuge accommodation, community based services, Refuge’s flagship tech and economic abuse service and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. In February 2024, Abigail took on the position of Interim CEO. Abigail has worked in social care or local government for nearly two decades, holding strategic or senior leadership positions for the last 15 years. Prior to joining Refuge Abigail was a Director of Operations for a London based charity where she led their award winning response to domestic abuse and modern slavery, alongside coproduction, volunteering and corporate partnerships before leading the development of the organisation’s digital transformation strategy.

Image of Lornette Pemberton looking directly into camera

Lornette Pemberton

Director of People & Culture

Lornette joined Refuge in May 2021 with over 25 years’ experience in HR with the previous 16 years in senior HR roles within the not for profit sector including within social housing and education. As Director of People and Culture, Lornette is responsible for leadership and management of the People team who support all aspects of HR. In addition, Lornette is the SLT lead for EDI, internal communications and the Staff Forum. Her approach to her work is based on transparency and consultation where, as also being an employee, employee engagement is at the heart of all she does. Lornette is always happy to speak to and hear from colleagues on any issues, related to their experience of working at Refuge.

Cathryn Symons

Director of Technology

Cathryn joined Refuge in the new role of Director of Technology in January 2023 bringing extensive experience in IT, including 15 years in programme and project management roles in the corporate sector and over 10 years in technology Director roles in the charity sector. She is responsible for our IT and performance reporting teams, and is setting up a programme of work to make sure that Refuge has the technology it needs to enable its work with women and girls, that staff are well supported in its use, and that we provide high quality information to our funders.

Louise Firth

Director of Fundraising and Communications

Louise is the Director of Fundraising and Communications at Refuge. The Fundraising, Communications and Digital Teams, led by Louise, work hard to inspire the public to support the vital work that Refuge does for survivors of domestic abuse and campaign for the end of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Before joining Refuge, Louise has held other senior positions across the sector, including Stonewall and the NSPCC. Aside from her role as Director of Fundraising and Communications, Louise is a sponsor for the LGBTQI+ Shine Engagement Networking Group. Louise has championed for equality, diversity and inclusion throughout her career and is proud to be an LGBT+ role model.

Denise Brown

Interim Director of Service Delivery

Denise joined Refuge in 2011 as a Senior Operations Manager before becoming Head of Services in 2021 and in 2024 Refuge’s Interim Director of Service Delivery. Denise leads Refuge’s operational services including refuge accommodation, community-based services, children’s services, Refuge’s flagship tech and economic abuse service and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, Client Engagement and Development team. Denise has 30 years’ experience of working in senior roles in the charity sector, and before her time at Refuge was the Director of Operations for Carr-Gomm, a national charity and TPAS awarded supported housing provider and delivered multi-agency domestic violence training for The Leeds Inter-Agency Project. Denise is a designated safeguard lead and sponsor for the Families Engagement Networking Group, drawing on 15 years’ experience as a foster carer, adoption support worker and was a member of the Leeds Adoption Panel.