Dr Randolph Kent


Dr. Randolph Kent directed the Humanitarian Futures Programme at King’s College, London, where he and his staff worked since 2006 with various multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental organisations at headquarters and in country offices to enhance their strategic and planning capacities for dealing with longer-term humanitarian threats. He is now the director of Planning from the Future, a partnership between King’s College London, the Overseas Development Institute (Humanitarian Policy Group), and Tufts University (Feinstein international Center). Find out more about the Planning from the Future project here:

Dr Kent accepted his post at King’s College London after completing his assignment as UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia in April 2002. Prior to his assignment in Somalia, he served as UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kosovo [], UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Rwanda [1994-1995], Chief of the UN Emergency Unit in Sudan [1989-1991] and Chief of Emergency Prevention and Preparedness in Ethiopia [1987-1989].

He is on the advisory boards of the Active Learning Network for Accountability and PerformanceInterNewsand OCHA’s Global Challenges Study, as well as the grants committee of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund.

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Amongst his various publications is Anatomy of Disaster Relief: The International Network in Action. In October 2003 he co-authored a study for the United Nations on humanitarian reform, The Future of Humanitarian Assistance and the Role of the United Nations. The following year he authored an ODI publication entitled, Humanitarian Futures: Practical Policy Perspectives, and led a USAID-funded project, Social Facilitation, Development and the Diaspora: Support for Sustainable Health Services in Somalia. In November 2004, Dr. Kent completed a UN-funded project dealing with the UN system’s disaster risk reduction capacity, Looking to the future: Practical steps to strengthen the United Nations relevance and value-added in disaster risk management. In July 2005, he, along with a team of three, completed a report for the United Nations on Integrated Missions: Practical Perspectives and Recommendations. For DFID in 2007, he wrote Dimensions of Crisis Impacts: Humanitarian Needs in 2015, and the following year, authored a joint HFP-CSIS study entitled, Responding to Catastrophes: US innovation in a vulnerable world.

In 2010, he co-authored with Joanne Burke, Commercial and Humanitarian Engagement in Crisis Contexts: Current Trends; Future Drivers. One year later, he published “Global Humanitarian Trends,” for the World Disasters Report, followed twelve months later by “Planning from the future: an emerging agenda” for the International Review of the Red Cross.


Emma Visman

Emma Visman was Futures Group Manager at HFP and worked with humanitarian and development operational and policy research organisations for more than twenty years, including with Save the Children programmes in Iraq, Somalia, Angola, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  She subsequently coordinated a conflict prevention programme in the Horn of Africa for the policy research group, Saferworld.  She joined the Humanitarian Futures Programme in2005,  and in 2011,  received a 2-year Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with the UK Natural Environment Research Council to support strengthened ‘science-humanitarian’ dialogue.

She is currently focused on collating learning from across initiatives to strengthen dialogue or knowledge exchange between scientists, people at risk and partnering humanitarian and development agencies. Learning is being documented within an online resource (visit here) and collaborative paper as well as within efforts to support a growing community of practice which can share emerging learning concerning which approaches are proving most effective and why.


Joanne Burke

Joanne joined the Humanitarian Futures Programme in 2009 as Partnerships Manager. She was responsible for HFP’s work on the role of the private sector in humanitarian action that included research, report preparation, project design and management, resource mobilisation and collaboration with external partners. Previously, she had also worked as a consultant on HFP missions in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Venezuela.  Prior to moving to London she was based in Geneva, working with UNDP/BCPR as the Senior Coordinator for the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI), a joint programme of UNDP/BCPR, UNISDR and UNOCHA.  Joanne has also worked long-term with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, with the private sector and several non-governmental organisations.  Her background is in disaster risk reduction, capacity development, organisational change, training and development, partnerships.


Dr Alice Obrecht

Senior Research Analyst

Alice Obrecht oversaw HFP’s work on organisational improvement, including the West Africa-based FOREWARN Initiative and the Urban Futures Project undertaken with Save the Children International. Her background is in NGO ethics and performance, with specialised expertise and publications on accountability. Prior to joining HFP, Alice earned her PhD from the London School of Economics and carried out field work and consultancy research in Mongolia and Kenya.


Lucy Pearson

Programme Officer

Lucy was the Programme Officer at the Humanitarian Futures Programme, Kings College London. Her research focused on the changing role of the private sector and other ‘non-traditional’ actors in humanitarian action, and innovative multi-actor collaborations. In addition she completed research around whether cash transfer programming, and the current and emerging actors and institutions involved it its coordination, implementation and funding, are fit for the future in light of trends in the humanitarian operating environment. She has worked in a number of NGOs and research agencies, with prior research spanning the better application of science for disaster risk reduction in Africa, the resilience of vulnerable groups to heatwaves in Europe, and the impact of disasters on gender relations in Asia. She previously worked at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre on safer development planning and implementation, with a focus on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development processes in countries across South and South East Asia.


Charlotte Crabtree

Charlotte joined the Humanitarian Futures Programme in 2012, where she split her time between focusing on the Translating Military Capacities for Humanitarian Action project, and managing HFP’s financial administration. Her research focused on identifying mechanisms to overcome the barriers that inhibit more effective understanding in humanitarian action between the military, humanitarian and private sectors. Overcoming these barriers will increasingly be essential for addressing the highly complex crises for which the international community will have to prepare.

Before HFP, Charlotte spent 3 years working at the think tanks Policy Exchange and Chatham House, where her work focused on the Middle East and North Africa Region, and International Law. She has an MA in International Security Studies.


 Justin Armstrong

Research Associate & Senior Progamme Coordinator

Justin was a Research Associate and Senior Programme Coordinator, responsible for the management of research, policy, and capacity building programmes which strive to act as a catalyst within the humanitarian sector to stimulate greater interest in more strategic approaches to the changing types, dimensions and dynamics of future humanitarian crises. In addition to coordinating HFP’s research programmes, his contributes to HFP’s policy work in a number of areas, including helping build ECOWAS’ long-term DRR capacity, surveying the state of global policymaker’s readiness for future humanitarian challenges, the future of operational humanitarian security, and the future of cash transfer programming in humanitarian action. Through his work with Médecins Sans Frontières Mr Armstrong has extensive experience in contextual analysis in fragile and crises-affected states, and the planning, implementation and management of humanitarian response in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.  Justin’s previous work experience also includes work in international development in southeast Asia, including a placement with the Lao PDR Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Division for International Cooperation and Investment looking at the aid system from the perspective of a host government. Justin holds a Master’s in International Law, with a specific focus on humanitarian law, and human rights law, the law of armed conflict, and the laws on the use of force, and their relation to humanitarian action.


Dr Jemilah Mahmood

Visiting Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Jemilah Mahmood is a medical professional and founded MERCY Malaysia in 1999, leading it for a decade, and has worked in numerous disasters and conflict zones globally. She was the Chief of Humanitarian Response at UNFPA from 2009-2011.  She has served as Chief of the World Humanitarian Secretariat and is also a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London, where she focuses on disaster management.

Jemilah is an active member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team.  She is currently on the boards of Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, Doctors of the World USA (Medecin du Monde), DARA International, and Teach for Malaysia.  She is a Council member of the Overseas Development Institute UK and Chairs the Humanitarian Innovation Fund grants panel UK.

For her work in humanitarian and peace building, she has been conferred numerous awards including four royal awards in Malaysia, the East Asia Women’s Peace Award from Philippines and the prestigious “Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award” from USA.

She is featured in many international studies on leadership both in the business and humanitarian sector.