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Everyone working for the charity, including the trustees, gives their time on a voluntary basis.
Find more about our trustees and volunteers.


Katy Vatis

Katy Vatis

Co-Founder and Chairperson

Katy co-founded La Vida with Helen Ilsley after a business trip to Brazil in early 2006. She has a degree in Economics with Spanish from the University of Birmingham. Katy most recently worked at Fullerton Fund Management as a Senior Analyst in the Emerging Markets team and has spent most of her career as a Fund Manager covering Latin American equity markets at Pictet Asset Management and Threadneedle Investments. Her work has involved a lot of travel to the region where she has experienced first hand the extreme levels poverty and the need for improvements in health and education. Katy speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Helen Ilsley

Helen Ilsley

Co-Founder and Treasurer

Helen co-founded La Vida together with Katy Vatis following a business trip to Latin America in 2006. Helen spent 15 years as a stockbroker in the Latin American investment community. Having left the City in 2012 and set up her own property asset business, Helen is now an executive coach, heading up Business Development for the Executive Coaching Consultancy, specialising in helping businesses retain and develop their talented women. Helen has a Business Economics degree and is an accredited member of the Association of Coaching.

Zarela Feeney

Zarela Feeney

Co-Head of Projects and Trustee

Zary joined La Vida in December 2012. She began her career with Ernst & Young’s Financial Advisory Team in Washington DC where she focused on Latin America. She moved to London to join Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein’s M&A team. She has subsequently become involved in the non-profit sector and serves on the boards of foundations that are having a significant social impact in the areas of the arts, health, education and the environment in Latin America. She has a MBA from George Washington University. She is fluent in English and Spanish, with conversational Portuguese.

Ivonne Cantu

Ivonne joined La Vida in 2018. Ivonne grew up in Mexico and has been living in London since 1996. Currently she is head of Investor Relations at Benchmark plc, a global aquaculture business, and a  Director of Creo Medical plc, a medical devices technology company.  Prior to joining Benchmark, Ivonne was a corporate finance adviser for 20 years at Merrill Lynch and at Cenkos Securities. She has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BSc Engineering. Since 2016 she has been advising small UK charities as a member of Pilotlight, a charity that connects professionals with charitable organisations to provide strategic support.

Susana Knaudt

Susana joined La Vida in 2023.  Susana grew up in Bolivia and has a background in financial regulation, development finance and education.  She worked at Citibank, the Central Bank of Bolivia and the World Bank, working on financial sector reform and micro-lending projects in Latin America.  Susana volunteered for ten years as governor and chair at a London state primary school.  She believes in the importance of education and grassroots financing to secure better socio-economic opportunities, health and ecological preservation in local communities.  Susana has an Economics degree from the London School of Economics and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard. She speaks Spanish, English and German.


Ana Beatriz Alencar

Ana Beatriz is Brazilian and has been living in London since 1997. Ana Beatriz has a background in digital development and project management. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering from PUC-Rio, an MBA from Cass Business School and MSc in Management of Innovation. She works at the Department for Education. She has previously worked for Ministry of Justice and volunteered for Cancer Research UK, Task Brazil, CAFOD and London 2012. She joined La Vida in 2013 as she strongly believes in fundraising for good projects in Latin America.

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