EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Officers

Chair – Stuart Mole

Stuart Mole joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1984, having previously been the Head of the Office of the Liberal Leader in the UK House of Commons. Stuart was the Special Assistant (Assistant Director) to Sonny Ramphal, the second Commonwealth Secretary-General. In 1990, he became Head of the Office of Chief Emeka Anyaoku (Ramphal’s successor) and was appointed Director a year later. He left the Secretariat in 2000, having briefly facilitated the transition to the third Secretary-General, Don McKinnon. He subsequently served as Director-General of the Royal Commonwealth Society until 2009 and more recently was Chair of the Editorial Board of The Round Table: the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. He became Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Association on its foundation and succeeded as Chair in 2020, following the death of Patsy Robertson.

Vice Chair – Bishakha Mukherjee

Dr Bishakha Mukherjee is an economist and financial services professional who had a long career as an Economic Adviser in the Secretariat’s former Economic Affairs Division, promoting policy development and private investment in emerging Commonwealth markets.  She managed the Commonwealth Private Investment Initiative which raised US$800mn for investment and pioneered private equity and venture capital inter alia in Africa.  It was undertaken jointly with the CDC Group and raised capital from Commonwealth investment agencies and private investors. She also prepared reports and briefings for the annual meetings of Commonwealth Finance Ministers.

After the Commonwealth Secretariat, Bishakha worked for private fund managers designing investment vehicles and raising capital for the SME sector (small and medium-sized enterprises) in frontier and emerging markets and impact focusing on the critical social sectors which affect those living at the bottom of the pyramid and relevant to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  She also undertakes strategic business development of organizations.  She continues working in these sectors as an independent consultant.

Secretary – David Blake

David Blake worked in the Library of the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies from 1977 to 1998 and was Librarian at the Commonwealth Secretariat from 1998 to 2008. 

From 2010 to 2015 he was Head of Library and Archives for Quakers in Britain, based at Friends House, opposite Euston Station. 

He compiled ‘Commonwealth bookshelf’ a list of new books on Commonwealth topics for The Round Table: the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs from 1983 to 1995. 

Treasurer – Richard Sisson

Richard Sisson has been the Association’s Treasurer since 2009. He worked for the Secretariat from 1983 to 2003, leaving as Chief Accountant.

Membership Officer – Lorna McLaren

During a 40 year career at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Lorna worked in the Finance and Field Personnel Services Division of the CFTC, the Commonwealth Science Council and the Political Affairs Division.  She also served in the Private Offices of three successive Secretaries-Generals and two DSGs.  In 2003 Lorna was seconded to the United Nations for one year, at the request of the President of the UN General Assembly, where she served in the capacity of Adviser.  On return to Marlborough House, Lorna was appointed Head of the Secretariat’s Conference Unit and was responsible for delivering five Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, numerous Ministerial Meetings and special events.  In 2015 she was invited to manage the Joint Office for Commonwealth Permanent Missions to the United Nations  with additional responsibilities as Head, Office of the Commonwealth at the United Nations.  Lorna retired at the end of March 2021.

Executive Committee Members

Shobhna Rattansi

Shobhna Rattansi served in a number of capacities during her tenure at the Commonwealth Secretariat. She managed phase 2 of the multi-donor funded and implemented Hub and Spokes Programme, a major initiative with a budget of over €15 million, to enhance trade capacity and competitiveness in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states. Prior to that, as Programme Adviser, Project Management and Referrals Unit, she worked to promote the organisation’s focus on results-based management while designing programmes of assistance to member countries. Shobhna also served as Manager, Commonwealth Digital Divide Programme, as well as Special Assistant to the Secretary-General.

Since leaving the Secretariat, she has worked as a consultant to promote international development, which she is passionate about.

Felix Samuel

Felix Samuel worked as a Senior Accountant at the Commonwealth Secretariat for 10 years from 1993 to 2003, handling a diverse portfolio in the Finance Department. He managed the finances of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, the Commonwealth Science Council, the CCGTM (the Commonwealth Consultative Group on Technology Management) and travel, pensions and payroll functions.   Subsequently, he moved on to the higher education sector to progress his career.

Rickie Sankar

Rickie worked as an accountant with the Demerara Company Holdings group in Guyana who were owners of sugar estates, rum distilleries, wharves, shipping and trading companies – the producers of the famous Demerara Sugar and Eldorado Rum.

The entire holdings of the Demerara Group was taken over by the Jessels group of companies (UK)i n 1969. Jessels was an investment, unit trusts and insurance conglomerate in the City of London and had various operations in South Africa and the West Indies.

In 1970 Rickie was seconded as an accountant to work at the head office in the City of London. He managed the accounting functions of various investment portfolios and the accounts of the Demerara Holdings in Liverpool.

In 1974 he requested to return to Guyana and was appointed Chief Accountant and Financial Controller of the Group in Guyana. In 1975 and 1976 the Guyana government nationalised all the sugar and trading companies of Sandbach Parker, Demerara and Bookers Holdings in Guyana. Rickie was appointed Group Finance Director of the Trading, Import and Export Group of Companies.

In 1979 he returned to the UK and joined the Commonwealth Secretariat where he served for twenty two years. He served as Chief Accountant, Special Adviser and Head of Finance.

On leaving the Secretariat in 2001, he served as Director of Administration with the Commonwealth Business Council, a Magistrate (JP), on the Boards of TIRI (Transparency and Integrity), Age Concern (Southwark) and voluntary work with Chislehurst Rotary Club. He had served as Treasurer of the Commonwealth Association on its foundation.

His hobbies are travel, cricket and table tennis. He had served as Hon. Secretary of the Demerara Board and Hon Secretary /Treasurer of the Guyana Cricket Board of Control.

Sreetharan

Contact the Committee at info@comassoc.org

Patrons

The Association has four patrons, the living Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth:

Chief Emeka Anyaoku

Sir Don McKinnon

Sir Shridath Ramphal

Kamalesh Sharma