NGA staff

The head office of the NGA is in the centre of Birmingham, where our staff team provide a service to members and manage the business life of the association.

Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive

Emma is Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA) - the leading charity for guidance, advice, research, and professional development for school governors, trustees, governing boards and their clerks. Prior to her appointment in 2010 she was joint CEO of the Daycare Trust. Before that, she worked in a number of roles primarily in the voluntary sector, including Child Poverty Action Group and Citizens Advice, but also at the Legal Services Commission and the Local Government Association. As well as leading projects on child poverty and educational attainment, Emma has written on a wide range of topics and is co-author of the NGA’s Chair’s Handbook.

Emma regularly addresses legislators and the media on governance issues, as well as audiences of those governing and leading schools. She was a governor at a secondary school in Warwickshire for 7 years, a founding trustee of the Foundation for Leadership in Education and currently a member of the Chartered College’s Leadership Advisory Group. She has served on a number of recent commissions: ASCL’s Ethical Leadership Commission, NAHT’s Accountability Commission, the Commission on Religious Education, and the Knowsley Education Commission.

Emma was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year's Honours list for services to education.

Follow Emma on Twitter @NGAMedia. Email:

Heidi Copland, Chief Operating Officer 

Heidi Copland is Chief Operating Officer at NGA. Heidi oversees the Finance Team, Business Development Team, Marketing &  Communications Team, Membership Team and Professional Development team at NGA.

Prior to joining the NGA Heidi worked in business development in the education sector working with further education colleges, universities, private enterprises, training providers and charities.

Heidi governs at a primary school in Warwickshire.


Emma Balchin, Director of Professional Development

Emma oversees NGA Professional Development leading on the administration of the service.  Her role includes exploring potential projects with new and existing partners, and ensuring that the professional development services are promoted well and in a timely fashion.  

Emma has over 20 years’ experience in education, leadership and school improvement. She is a National Leader of Governance and has significant experience in maintained school and academy governance, as well as serving as an IEB member and mentoring others.


Sam Henson, Director of Policy and Information

Sam oversees NGA’s policy, information and research service, ensuring it adds to the learning of the organisation and best improves the governance of schools while supporting the chief executive in leading the organisation to achieve positive change in the policy of school governance . Sam is also the policy lead for NGA’s work on multi academy trusts and specialises in MAT governance structures and schemes of delegation. Sam's other responsibilities include overseeing the delivery of NGA's e-newsletter and bi-monthly magazine, Governing Matters to NGA members.  Sam is joint author of the Staying in Control of Your Destiny series and has been lead author on NGA's induction guide Welcome to Governance for the last three years.   

Sam has been working in school governance for 10 years. Before joining the NGA, Sam worked for a large multi academy trust with more than 30 schools, leading an in-house governance team, supporting the trust board and it’s academy committees across a national network of academies providing training, advice and guidance. Prior to that, Sam has also worked for a local authority and in the financial services sector. 



Steve Edmonds, Director of Advice and Guidance Steve-Edmonds-(1).jpg

Steve is the Director of Advice and Guidance at NGA. His role includes the development of high quality guidance for NGA members and supervise the delivery of a high quality advice to NGA GOLD members as well as supporting NGA’s work on good governance practice.

Prior to working at NGA Steve was Governor Services Manager at Birmingham City Council overseeing the Council’s statutory responsibilities in relation to maintained school governing boards, and the advice, guidance and consultancy provided to both maintained schools and academies through the Council’s School and Governor Support team.  

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