Culture and education

First Nominee


Leonor Stjepic

is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur,

CEO and mentor

She has spent a third of her professional life in the private sector and two thirds working with NGOs. However, she has been involved in the not-for-profit sector for much longer; at the age of 18 she co-founded the Amnesty International Working Group for Children both campaigning for children who were victims of torture or imprisoned and successfully lobbying Amnesty to make it part of their mandate.


Leonor Stjepic was born in London, to a family of Spanish refugees who fled Franco’s Spain. She grew up bi-lingual in Spanish and English and was the first woman in her family to have a career.


Leonor’s first part of her career was spent in the private sector. She has worked for a packer and shipper of antiques and works of art; a Mexican merchant bank; the record company Decca; and an academic publishing company. Following that Leonor ran her own consultancy company, supporting SMEs with growth and change, in the UK and in Spain. She was also a partner in an art gallery in Knightsbridge, London.


During the war in the Balkans, she volunteered to work with children and women who were victims of the war. It was there that she met her husband. Coming back to London, Leonor started working with Fields in Trust (then National Playing Fields Association).


Following that she worked for Index on Censorship before becoming the first Executive Director of the Galapagos Conservation Trust where she worked with the BBC on the first Galapagos series with David Attenborough and transformed the organisation into the voice of Galapagos in the UK (with several front page articles in the newspapers).


Her next CEO role was as Chief Executive of medical research charity, RAFT. During her time at RAFT, she created a life sciences company, Smart Matrix Ltd, and was its CEO for five years, whilst concurrently serving as CEO of RAFT. Under her leadership both organisations won a number of international awards. Bank of America called the spin-out a case study for de-risking social investment.

In June 2018, Leonor took up her third CEO role as Chief Executive of the Montessori Group.


Leonor is also a firm believer in mentoring. She is a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation and mentors a number of young women at different stages of their careers.


Leonor has personally won a number of awards:

• Female CEO of the Year, Acquisition International 2017

• Most Innovative CEO in the Not for Profit Sector, Business Worldwide 2017

• UK Gamechanger of the Year, ACQ5 Global Awards 2017

• Silver Award Business Female Executive of the Year – Government and Not for Profit, Stevies Awards 2015


In 2019, The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) gave Leonor a World of Difference Award for “making all the difference to the economic empowerment of women” and the Global Forum for Education and Learning named her one of the Top 100 Leaders in Education.

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