Leadership team

Deborah Alsina MBE

Deborah Alsina

Deborah Alsina MBE joined Versus Arthritis’ as Chief Executive in March 2022. She brings more than 30 years' experience of working across the voluntary sector including with organisations specialising in refugee and human rights issues, cancer and older people. Prior to joining the charity, she was Chief Executive of national older people’s charity, Independent Age and previously Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, a position she held for over ten years.

Deborah was awarded an MBE in 2016 in recognition of her service to bowel cancer patients, named Charity Chief Executive of the Year in 2017 and Charity Principal of the Year in 2018. In 2019 she was ranked by Charity Times as being among the 25 most influential leaders in the voluntary sector. Deborah is a passionate advocate for people with arthritis, as it has had a big impact on members of her family. She also has personal experience of living with an MSK condition and the challenges living with chronic pain can bring and wants to ensure that people can gain access to a swift diagnosis and the best treatment and care wherever they live in the UK.

Dr Neha Issar-Brown

Dr Neha Issar-Brown, Direct of Research

Dr Neha Issar-Brown joined the leadership team in Versus Arthritis in July 2021 as Director of Research, bringing with her over 15 years of experience across the scientific research, funding, evidence analyses, governance and policy sectors, with a broad skill base gained within private, public and not-for-profit organisations internationally.

Prior to joining Versus Arthritis, Neha was Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, where she initiated the development of the charity’s first patient centric research strategy.

Neha is passionate about patient involvement and has conceptualised and led many flagship initiatives with patients at their core, including the MRC-NIHR partnerships on multimorbidity and ME/chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her voluntary work extends her broader commitment to diversity and includes being an RCOG women’s voices panel member, a L’Oreal women in science, STEM ambassador and Teach First UK youth mentor. Neha also sits on the Governing boards of educational academies, where she serves as an equality, diversity and inclusion champion.

Chris Phillips

Chris joined Versus Arthritis in May 2021 as Interim Director of Income, Marketing, Communications and Engagement. She leads our external communications, media and marketing teams to ensure people know who we are, what we do and why - and feel motivated to join us!

After a decade in television and journalism, Chris moved into communications, first in Whitehall then the third sector. She has worked for a range of charity brands including Barnardo’s, RNIB, CLIC Sargent and most recently The Children’s Society, and is a passionate advocate for social justice.

Paul Barton

Paul joined Versus Arthritis in May 2021 as Interim Director of Digital, Data and Technology. He leads on capability to deliver on-line services to people with arthritis and helping the Charity continue to transform and make full use of its data and IT.

With over 25 years of experience of working in IT leadership positions at industrial businesses including Rolls-Royce, Inmarsat and BAE Systems, Paul brings a wealth of practical experience to the charity, helping to exploit the opportunity of new technology, whether that is cloud computing, big data or artificial intelligence.

Simon Hopkins

Simon Hopkins joins us after almost three years leading the resources directorate and transformation programme at Blind Veterans UK. He’s previously held a variety of senior roles in the Third Sector.


Simon started his career as a chartered accountant with KPMG in London. He’s subsequently held senior financial positions in commerce, specialising in financial strategy, commercial finance, business development and service management.

For most of the last 20 years, Simon’s roles have focused on change leadership and whole-organisation transformation.

He’s a regular columnist for Charity Finance magazine, a visiting speaker on the Inspiring Financial Leadership programme at Bayes Business School and was the originating author of CFG’s development model, The Finance Journey. 


Zoe Chivers

Zoe Chivers joined Versus Arthritis in 2018 and is Director of Services and Influencing and is leading our strategy to respond to the needs of people with arthritis through service provision, direct support, and systems change.

Zoe is a fierce advocate for people with arthritis across all areas of her work. With more than 15 years' experience in the third sector across statutory, trust and healthcare funded contracts and commissioned services, she brings a wealth of experience in operations design and development including recruitment, people and budget management. Zoe has also created and led on innovative delivery models and is especially enthusiastic about the use of technology in this area.