Meet our team

Shama Nathoo

Managing Director

Shama Nathoo is a professional networker and fundraiser. She worked at senior management levels in the public and private sector for 23 years. Her interest in Universal Access was inspired by her mother, and the late Beatrice Ngcobo MP, and her own adjustment to living with a disabling illness as an infant, and presently with a chronic condition called Ulcerative Colitis.

Her strengths are developing public-private partnerships based on having built a solid foundation with international and local public relations and marketing projects while working in the private sector in the early 1990s. She used these lessons in strategic positions held at Parliament, the National Departments of Education (DET), Science and Technology (DST) and Tourism (NDT).

Shama has held key leadership positions in the NGO and youth sectors. She currently serves the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa as a board member and volunteers her time at South African Sailing as the Chairperson of Women and Girls, promoting gender equality in the sports environment.

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Business Administration and a postgraduate certificate in Executive Leadership.

Leone Hermans


Leone Hermans-Blackburn, Ph.D. has 12 years of dedicated international experience in directing the innovation and economic development mandates of private and public benefit entities; expertise in strategic planning and developing Innovation and Sustainability models. Leone drives stakeholder and partnership engagement to support early stage technology, initiatives and programme development. Additionally, she has executive experience to support business operations, resource and finance management.

Previously CEO of the University of Technology Innovation Services, Free State; Director of Strategic Innovation and Industries, Maryland USA and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commercialization Center for Advanced Materials. Leone has delivered professional consulting services since 2016.

Carnita Ernest


Carnita Ernest is a development practitioner with almost 20 years of experience, including at senior management level, in the civil society and academic sectors in South Africa and the African continent. She is guided by her personal commitment to human rights, gender equity, and social justice; and has a particular interest in governance, peace, health and development. Her key skills are in the areas of organisational and leadership development, social networking and partnerships, strategic thinking, and programme development that is sustainable.

Her previous positions include being the Executive Director for the Centre for Citizens’ Participation in the African Union (CCPAU), and a Senior Projects Manager with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). She has also done consultancy work for multi-lateral organisations and international donor agencies.

Carnita holds a BSocSc(Hons) degree in Psychology

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