Buffini Chao Foundation


The Buffini Chao Foundation was established as a family philanthropic foundation by Sir Damon Buffini and his wife, Debbie, in 2005. With a focus on promoting education and opportunities, it has since supported many charities and their programmes, impacting thousands of children and young people in the UK and beyond.

Since the beginning, Sir Damon Buffini, Lady Buffini and the trustees have shaped the Foundation so that it will enhance the lives and futures of as many young people as possible.

Meet our trustees

Lady Debbie Buffini

Lady Buffini

Debbie Buffini (née Chao) chairs the Foundation. She believes in an active approach to giving, liaising closely with chosen charities and enjoying visiting projects in action.

Debbie is currently a Board member of the English National Ballet  and is also on the Advisory Panel of Into University.  Prior to this Debbie was on the Board of Eastside Young Leaders Academy, a charity based in Newham, East London. In July 2023, Debbie was awarded an honorary doctorate from Manchester Metropolitan University in recognition of her work to support young people.

Debbie’s earlier career was as a solicitor, working in London and the US, having qualified both in England and at the New York State Bar.

Sir Damon Buffini

In 2015 Sir Damon was appointed Chair of the Royal National Theatre (NT) (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) whose mission is to create world class theatre and make it available to everyone. Damon is also currently Chairman of BBC Holdings (www.bbc.co.uk) and a non-executive member of the BBC Main Board. He is also Chair of the Royal Anniversary Trust (www.royalanniversarytrust.org.uk)

In 2020 Damon was appointed by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for DCMS as Chair of the £2billion Cultural Recovery Fund

(CRF) (www.gov.uk/government/groups/culture-recovery-board).

Damon was co-founder (alongside Adele Blakebrough) of the Social Business Trust (SBT) (www.socialbusinesstrust.org) which provides strategic support to many social enterprises. Since its inception SBT has helped over 3 million people.

Damon was a founding partner of Permira (www.permira.com) and was Chairman and Managing Partner  from 1997-2010. Under his leadership Permira was named European Private Equity Firm of the decade 1996 – 2006.

Damon was Knighted in 2016 for philanthropic and voluntary services and in 2021 was selected by Harvard Business  School as one of the 84 “Agents of Change” – Black alumni of Harvard Business School who have made a difference to the world.


Off the Agenda – Sir Damon Buffini and Sir Charles Bowman https://bit.ly/3uRdEO1 

Maria Grazia

Maria Grazia Hindmarsh

Maria Grazia Hindmarsh has been a trustee since the Foundation was established. She has recently become a trustee of Alma Beacon. This charity provides support to the homeless and other vulnerable members of her local community, where Maria Grazia’s role is in running the local food bank.  Maria Grazia is also a school governor and supports her local children’s hospice.

She is a regular theatre-goer and believes that participation in the Arts can broaden a young person’s creative mind.


Sue Gutierrez

Sue has been a trustee of the Foundation since 2014.

Sue grew up in Stoke-on-Trent where she went to grammar school and won a place to read PPE at Lincoln College, Oxford. Her career has been in Marketing in both commercial and education sectors and she has lived in several countries. She now works as a strategic consultant for schools in the UK and overseas. As a keen tennis player and golfer, she is particularly passionate about the benefits to children and young people of playing sport.

Sue from the Buffini Chao Foundation

Karen Platt

Karen is our newest trustee, joining the Foundation in December 2022. Karen went to a comprehensive school in Sussex and was the first in her extended family to study for a degree. She believes that provision of opportunity and active encouragement and support for young people is key to raising aspiration and engendering a sense of belonging.  Karen is involved with local community charities focused on improving the lives of young people.

Karen’s career was in live sports broadcasting and documentary television. She remains a dedicated armchair sports fan.