I am a skilled and experienced Board Chair, Remuneration Committee Chair and Non-Executive Director (NED) specialising in governance, strategic risk, change management and performance monitoring.
I am passionate about good governance in all organisations and I particularly value chairing diverse boards of Trustees and NEDs. I have experience of working on the Boards of publicly listed companies (plcs), start up, small and medium sized companies (SMEs), social enterprises and major UK charities.
For 9 years, I sat on the main board of DRS Data Research and Services Group plc and was Chair of the Remuneration and Ethics Committees. During that time, I have also served as a NED on start-up, SMEs and social enterprises working with briteyellow, a leading innovator in high-speed wireless communications services and Skills2Learn, an award-winning company that developed e-learning, virtual reality, and creative multimedia solutions and was sold to a FTSE100 company in 2016.
I was a finalist in the Cambridgeshire Businesswoman of the Year in 2000, Chair of the Cambridge branch of the Chartered Management Institute from 1997-2001 and on the National Council of the Institute of Directors from 2006-2012. In March 2016, I was recognised by a lifetime achievement award given by Milton Keynes Business Leaders. In 2019, I was named #1 LGBTQ+ public sector role model in the OUTstanding List and one of the 50 most influential women born in the North of England in the Northern Power Women Power List.
I have written and published widely on strategic leadership and corporate culture change, featuring amongst the top UK executives in the innovative 50LES50NS portfolio, in Women in Leadership: five roots to success by Tina Kothari (Amazon 2008) and in Diversity: How Diverse Leadership is Better for Business (Mazars LLP 2012).
Over the last 15 years, I have acquired significant experience of senior non-executive leadership and strategy, human resources, change management, and organisational transformation across the public sector. For over a decade, I was an accredited coach with the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office; I served voluntarily between 2010 – 2019 as founding Chair of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, SEMLEP and between 2011 and 2017 was a Non-Executive Director of Homes England.
I have a proven track record in developing and delivering large-scale change programmes in both the public and private sectors. I have a natural ability to build teams and successfully stimulate and generate change. Having held three different Chief Executive roles, I am well placed to fulfil non-executive roles that require an understanding of the pressures faced by senior executives.
I undertake a significant amount of voluntary, charitable and philanthropic work. In 1991, I founded a social enterprise charity, the Network for Women Managers, re-launched in 2007 as the Women’s Leadership Network @The_WLN. In 1998, I founded the Helena Kennedy Foundation to overcome social injustice by providing educational bursaries, mentoring and support to disadvantaged students. I am a former Chair of the National Council of Faiths and Beliefs, The Anne Frank Trust UK, Milton Keynes Arts for Health and the multi academy trust, E-ACT.
Between 2008 -2010, I was Chair of MK2018, the consortium that successfully led the Milton Keynes campaign to be chosen as a FIFA World Cup candidate host city as part of the England 2018 bid. I chaired the Milton Keynes Major Events Board which oversaw the delivery of the MK2015 Rugby World Cup in Milton Keynes and the preparation of the city’s bid to be European Capital of Culture.
I am currently Chair of ENTRUST the regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund and Chair of the UK Innovation Corridor. I am a Trustee of the Stables Theatre, Chair of the Milton Keynes International Festival IF, and sit on Arts Council England SE Council. In 2015, I was elected first woman Chair of the Scouts and I am Vice Chair of the City & Guilds of London Institute.
I am a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, and an honorary Professor in Leadership and Management at the University of West London; I have been awarded an honorary Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Mary Lou Carrington Award from the Worshipful Company of Educators and doctorates from the Open University, Anglia Ruskin, Bedfordshire, Sheffield Hallam and Manchester Metropolitan universities, in recognition of my contribution to education and business.
In the 2011 Birthday Honours, I was awarded an OBE for my work in education and in 2015 ‘upgraded’ to CBE for public and political services. Since 2011, I have held a commission from Her Majesty the Queen as a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, where I have lived since 1986.