Meet the team

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 Knights OBE

Emma leads the organisation under the direction of NGA’s board of trustees.

As chief executive of the National Governance Association (NGA), Emma Knights leads the charity to fulfil its aim of improving the educational standards and wellbeing of young people by increasing the effectiveness of governing boards in maintained schools and academy trusts, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the organisation.

Emma promotes the interests of the school governance community and amplifies the voice of NGA’s members at a national level with legislators, policymakers, education sector organisations and in the media.

Emma is an accomplished writer and speaker on a range of school governance policy and practice topics, and has a particular interest in vision, culture and strategy; accountability; stakeholder engagement; disadvantage; ethical leadership; and diversity and inclusion. Emma is co-author of The Chair’s Handbook and NGA’s Moving MATs Forward: the power of governance report. Prior to joining NGA in 2010, Emma was joint CEO of the Daycare Trust and before that, worked in a number of roles in the voluntary sector. She was a governor at a secondary school in Warwickshire for eight years.

Working across the education sector, Emma is currently participating in the Department for Education’s headteacher standards review group, NAHT’s accountability commission, the Department for Education’s flexible working advisory group, and the Ethical Leadership Commission, and has previously sat on the Commission on Religious Education and the Knowsley Education Commission.

Under Emma’s leadership since 2010, NGA has grown to become the leading expert charity for guidance, research, advice and training for school governors, trustees and clerks, with over 40 staff and a strong presence in the education sector.

Twitter icon Follow Emma on Twitter @NGAEmmaK

Heidi Copland, Chief Operating Officer

Heidi Copland

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 Balchin

Emma is a valued member of the Senior Leadership Team and directs NGA’s Professional Development services.  She 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.  Her role includes exploring how lessons learned from her vast experience of working with educational leaders, governors and their boards can inform policy and guidance to support our broader membership base, scoping potential projects with new and existing partners, and ensuring that the professional development services impact positively upon standards of governance. 

Twitter icon @NGAEmmaB

Sam Henson, Director of Policy and Information

Sam Henson

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. 

Twitter icon @NGASamH

Steve Edmonds, Director of Advice and Guidance

Steve Edmonds

Steve is the Director of Advice and Guidance at NGA. His role includes the development of high quality guidance for NGA members and supervising the delivery of 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.  

Twitter icon @NGASteveE

Abbey Mann, Head of Operations

Abbey Mann

Abbey is the Head of Operations and leads the Membership and Administration Team to deliver a high quality service level to all of our members. She manages and ensures the smooth running of our systems and processes and invests her time in identifying and delivering innovative ways to improve our services.

Abbey is also responsible for the management of the day-to-day ICT and Facilities Management functions as well as taking care of our HR needs.

Prior to joining the NGA, Abbey worked for a number of client focused agencies within the public and third sector. Throughout her career, Abbey has developed a wealth of experience and skills in specialist people, office, financial and facilities management.

Illesse Trevis, Systems Development Officer

Illesse Trevis

Illesse joined the organisation in 2018 and jumped head first into launching the new website and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). 

She is responsible for all things systems ensuring the design, development, enhancement and maintenance of core systems effectively support NGA members. 

Illesse also supports the Membership team with resolving technical member enquiries and supports the Comms and Marketing team with graphic design work. 

Prior to joining NGA, Illesse worked for a public sector organisation as a Marketing Adviser where she led on website design, graphic design, social media, sales and reporting. She started her career as a Business Apprentice with Sandwell Council.

Aine O'Sullivan, Membership Officer

Aine O'Sullivan

Aine is a membership officer at the NGA. In this role she works alongside our membership team in order to provide our members with support throughout their time with us. Prior to joining the NGA, Aine worked closely with charities such as the British Heart Foundation and obtained a BA in English and History from the University of Birmingham.

Belinda McCarthy, Membership Officer

Belinda McCarthy

Belinda is a membership officer at the NGA. In this role she works alongside our membership team in order to provide our members with support throughout their time with us.

Prior to joining the NGA, Belinda worked in various customer service, HR, events and office support roles in various countries.

Belinda obtained a BA in English with Film and Television, and a Level 4 in Professional Marketing.

Sandra Solomon, Administration Officer

Sandra Solomon

Sandra is the Office Administrator and performs a wide and extensive range of administrative tasks which keeps our day-to-day office life running smoothly. Sandra manages our online purchases, processing web orders and dispatching publications, while also assisting our Finance Department with invoicing and handling card payments. Additionally, Sandra provides back-office support for all NGA events, ensuring the delivery of all NGA/promotional collateral.

Prior to joining the NGA, Sandra worked for a Credit Union, an Outreach Unit for challenging young people and a variety of Government Training Schemes for Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton Councils.

Ella Colley, Knowledge Centre Manager

Ella Colley

Ella joined NGA in June 2020 and oversees the Knowledge Centre. Members can access the Knowledge Centre to find information and guidance on a range of governance topics.

Before joining NGA, Ella worked in the retail sector as a buyer and category manager and has experience in project management and product development. Ella brings her customer-focused approach to NGA, supporting and reacting to the evolving needs of our membership base.

Ella has been a governor at a local primary school in Birmingham since January 2019.

Amy Wright, Clerking Development Manager

Amy Wright

Amy Wright is the Clerking Development Manager at NGA, working with the Director of Advice and Guidance, Knowledge Centre Manager and Training Programme Manager to develop the support, advice and training available to Clerks and other Governance Professionals.

Prior to working for the NGA, Amy has over 20 years’ experience working as a Clerk to various school Governing Bodies including maintained, academy, voluntary aided, primary and secondary.  Amy has also worked as a School Business Manager, Finance Manager and Administration Officer in schools and further education and delivered training sessions to Clerks; she has also served as a Parent Governor, Foundation Governor and Vice-Chair of Governors in a primary school.  In other voluntary roles, Amy has served as a Parish Councillor and Church Treasurer and undertook a degree in Learning, Research and Technology at the Anglia Ruskin University.

Rani Kaur, Head of Advice

Rani Kaur

Rani oversees the Advice team and the GOLDline service. The GOLDline service offers strategic, procedural, best practice and legal information about governance. Rani leads on the policy areas of SEND and Clerking and facilitates the meetings of the Clerks' Advisory Group. She also contributes to the NGA weekly newsletter and Governing Matters magazine. 

Prior to joining NGA, Rani studied Law at the University of Birmingham. 

GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or raise a request

Michael Barton, Senior Advice Officer

Michael Barton

Michael Barton is a senior advice officer at the NGA. He provides advice to Gold members via email and telephone, alongside writing for the website, magazine and weekly newsletter. His policy specialisms are disadvantage, pupil premium and staffing.

Prior to joining the NGA, Michael studied History and Politics at the University of Warwick.

GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or raise a request

Dr Samuel Tranter, Senior Advice Officer

Dr Samuel Tranter

Samuel Tranter is a senior advice officer at the NGA. He provides advice to Gold members via email and telephone, alongside writing for the website, magazine and weekly newsletter. His specialist policy areas include admissions, behaviour, complaints, data protection, and governor effectiveness.

Prior to joining the NGA, Sam received his PhD from the University of St Andrews, where he was tutor in Modern History. He was also employed as historical researcher by the National Theatre of Scotland. He was previously educated at Aberystwyth University and King’s College London.

GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or raise a request

Adelaide Chitanda, Senior Advice Officer

Adelaide Chitanda

Adelaide Chitanda is a senior advice officer at the NGA. She provides advice to Gold members via email and telephone, alongside writing for the website, magazine and weekly newsletter.

Prior to joining the NGA, Adelaide studied Criminology at the University of Manchester.

GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or raise a request

Sabreen Marashli, Information Officer

Sabreen Marashli

Sabreen Marashli is an information officer at NGA. She provides advice to Gold members via email and telephone, alongside writing for the website, magazine, and weekly newsletter.

Prior to joining NGA, Sabreen studied Law at Queen Mary University of London.

GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or raise a request

Kirstie Ebbs, Public Relations Manager

Kirstie Ebbs

Kirstie is NGA’s Public Relations Manager, responsible for communicating our vision, policies, guidance and research to the education sector and beyond. Kirstie leads on the Visible Governance, Everyone on Board and Educators on Board campaigns and project manages NGA’s work on diversity and equalities.

Kirstie has been vice-chair of trustees at a large secondary SAT in Shropshire. Prior to joining NGA in September 2017, Kirstie obtained a first class degree in BA Business Management and Marketing at Keele University and worked in the financial services sector and for a large multi academy trust. Kirstie has completed the CIPR Professional Diploma in Public Relations and is currently completing the Women in PR 2020 mentoring programme. 

Elizabeth Collin, Assistant to Chief Executive and PR Manager

Elizabeth Collin

Elizabeth is assistant to NGA’s chief executive and PR Manager. In her role she acts as PA for the chief executive and also supports NGA's PR activities including managing NGA’s social media platforms, working on the Visible Governance in Schools campaign, and project managing the Outstanding Governance Awards 2021.  

Prior to joining NGA Elizabeth obtained a degree in Ancient and Modern History from Oxford University and has previously worked as a fundraising assistant.

Fiona Fearon, Policy and Projects Manager

Fiona Fearon

Megan Tate, Policy and Research Assistant

Megan Tate

Megan’s role involves supporting NGA’s policy, research, and information team. She is responsible for policy relating to the environment and sustainability and assists with NGA’s guidance, and weekly e-newsletter.

Prior to joining NGA Megan studied BA(Hons) Sociology at Keele University.

Nina Sharma, Policy and Information Officer

Nina Sharma

Nina’s role involves developing NGA’s policy agenda and positions adding to the learning of the organisation and improving the governance of schools. She is responsible for policy relating to Ofsted and the broad, balanced curriculum. Nina also assists with NGA’s guidance, research and weekly e-newsletter.

Prior to joining NGA, Nina achieved a Ba(Hons) in Childhood, Family and Education Studies and recently received her MA in Professional Law from Birmingham City University.

Clare Collins MBE, Head of Consultancy

Clare Collins MBE

Clare leads and manages NGA’s consultancy service which undertakes external reviews of governance for all types of schools and academy trusts including MATs, as well as providing specialised consultancy support and bespoke support, training and development for MATs. Clare works alongside NGA’s Head of Training Development recruiting, training and managing NGA’s team of consultants, developing the training offer, and ensuring effective delivery. Clare also contributes to NGA publications, speaks at events and represents NGA.

Clare’s background is in governance and trusteeship. She has chaired the governing board in a number of schools in different phases and in varying stages of their development. Clare has also chaired her local authority Schools Forum, and her trustee experience includes chairing the NGA trust board from 2008-2011.

Paul Aber, Head of Training Development

Paul Aber

Paul leads and manages NGA’s face to face training, e-learning and funded development programmes for schools and academies.  This includes working alongside NGA's Head of Consultancy recruiting, training and managing NGA’s team of consultants and trainers. 

Prior to joining NGA, Paul was centre director at the University of Law in York where his role included strategic planning and quality assurance. A former solicitor, Paul has also held course director roles at the University of Westminster and City University and course assessor roles for The Law Society.

Paul has many years’ experience of governance including maintained schools and academy trusts.

Charlotte Harding, Leading Governance Programme Manager

Charlotte Harding

Charlotte is NGAs Leading Governance Programme Manager and project manages the DfE funded Chairs, Clerks and Board Development. Charlotte works closely with the Department for Education to ensure programme delivery is timely, on budget, and effective. In addition, she works with local partners across the UK as well as our team of NGA Consultants to facilitate delivery.

Charlotte has over 20 years recruitment and business management experience, coupled with more recently developing her local government expertise as a member of the education directorate in a Local Authority. Her experiences supporting and advising school governors and trustees, alongside delivering an extensive programme of governance training perfectly equip her for Leading Governance. She is also an experienced manager of a clerking service.

Charlotte is currently governing at a maintained primary school and a secondary academy.

Henry Wilson, Professional Development Officer

Henry Wilson

Henry is a Professional Development Officer at the NGA. This role involves coordinating the NGA Leading Governance Programmes and includes being one of the main contacts for participants and facilitators throughout their journey of learning.

Prior to joining NGA Henry worked as a research assistant and obtained a BA in History from University of Birmingham and an MSc in Global Governance and Ethics from University College London.

Matthew Swann, Learning Link Manager

Matthew Swann

Matthew manages NGA Learning Link, developing and delivering the Learning Link system, and overseeing the administration of the service.

Before joining the NGA, Matthew worked in the NHS as part of the Child Health Department, and studied Psychology and English at Keele University.

Bally Kaur, Head of Finance

Bally Kaur

Bally is our Head of Finance and joined NGA in March 2019.  Bally monitors the day-to-day financial operations within the charity, such as payroll, management accounts, forecasting and cash-flow.  She has a wealth of experience in similar roles working with Charities and 'Not for profit' organisations'. 

Judith Hicks, Head of Governance Development

Judith Hicks

As Head of Governance Development, Judith manages the team of five Regional Governance Development Leads in their work with multi-academy trusts, local authorities, education partnerships, governor associations, dioceses, teaching school hubs and regional schools commissioners to support the development of governance practice through the wide range of NGA products and services.  Judith was previously the Head of Inspiring Governance at NGA; the DfE funded project to recruit, train and develop governors and trustees.

Judith has governed in a variety of schools and academies and has been a chair and vice-chair. She has also worked for Warwickshire County Council as a consultant within the governor development service, where she has worked with maintained schools, academies and MAT’s to design & deliver bespoke interventions, mentored chairs and conducted external reviews of governance.

Judith has worked as an HR professional within the retail, logistics, finance and education sectors for fifteen years.  She is an experienced and qualified trainer and has held a variety of national roles focusing on recruitment, talent management, business development, performance management, organisation design and learning & development.

She is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

Angela Dunkerley, Regional Governance Development Lead (East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and East Midlands) and member of the consultancy team

Angela Dunkerley

Angela has been part of the consultancy team since its formation, undertaking external reviews of governance, delivering training, facilitating and mentoring on the leading governance programmes and mentoring for NGA online appraisals. As regional development lead she will work with colleagues throughout the organisation to provide support to anyone involved in governance within her region. In order to build membership, she will assist in further developing, promoting and sharing the wide range of NGA products and services. Angela will aim to gather information by building relationships with both existing and potential customers and partners to help NGA support them in their efforts to access quality advice and information that will develop skills, understanding and governance practice.

Angela has been involved in school governance since 1996 and, after 21 years in civil service leadership and management, became an independent governance consultant in 1998. Having always used performance management and viewed it as a supportive, constructive process, Angela achieved external adviser accreditation with Cambridge Education Associates in 2000. She has provided training, support and advice on most areas of governance and in most types of setting, focussing on working closely with authority governor services to increase their capacity. Angela’s work has included supporting in many sensitive situations including conducting investigations and being a member of 5 Interim Executive Boards.   

Voluntary roles over the last 25 years have included governing and chairing in various phases, being a Parent Governor Representative for 15 years and chairing a local governance association.

Janet Myers, Regional Governance Development Lead (North West)

Janet Myers

Janet is NGA's Regional Lead in the North West.  She supports regional and local organisations to strengthen school governance and improve outcomes for children.  Janet is also an NGA consultant, and undertakes external reviews of governance and delivers training to governors and trustees.  

Janet has 12 years of managerial and leadership experience within financial services, encompassing customer service, marketing, vendor management, people management, and large-scale project management.  

Janet has been a school governor since 2009 and has served in primary and secondary schools, both maintained and academies, as chair and as a parent governor.  She is currently chair of a multi-academy trust and a governance association. 

Lynne Fletcher FISBL M(Inst)AM, Regional Lead (South West)

Lynne Fletcher FISBL M(Inst)AM

Lynne is delighted to be  working with NGA as Regional Lead with a focus on supporting governance in the South West. As a school business professional and leader, Lynne has extensive experience in school business management and governance gained from working in the education sector for more than 30 years, following a successful banking  career.

Lynne has worked in a variety of school settings encompassing Primary, Secondary, All Through schools (0-19yrs) in the Academies, Local Authority, and Independent sector.  Working in rural, town and large city locations.

More recently Lynne has worked independently supporting schools in all areas of management and governance functions. Lynne worked for one of the largest Multi Academy Trusts comprising 80+ schools supporting School Business Leaders, Principals, LGB’s and the Trust, focussing on all aspects of school business management and procurement.  Alongside this, Lynne headed up the CPD development for 3,500 support staff.  Lynne was instrumental in introducing the trust to the Apprenticeship Levy and CPD opportunities for all staff from introductory level to higher degree courses.

Lynne has supported many schools on the school improvement journey, gaining a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the complexities and demands of this journey; working closely with Governors, Principals and SLT teams, prioritising the raising of standards and ensuring the best possible provision for every child in achieving the best they can be; carefully budgeting, often turning around large deficit budgets, and facilitating resources to assist this journey; working to ensure compliance is a priority for governing bodies, and senior leaders.

Lynne is proud of her achievements and has ensured she has remained up to date and relevant with her own CPD and training.

Lynne is an accredited SRMA and Fellow of the Institute of School Business Leaders.

Simon Richards, Regional Governance Development Lead (South East, London & East of England)

Simon Richards

Simon works with multi-academy trusts, local authorities, education partnerships, governor associations and forums, dioceses, teaching school hubs and regional schools commissioners across the South East, London and East of England Regions to support the development of governance practice through the wide range of NGA products and services.  Prior to this role Simon led Future Chairs, the chairs recruitment element of the Inspiring Governance programme, supporting schools and academy trusts to recruit a skilled and experienced candidate to fulfil an upcoming requirement for a chair.  He is a qualified trainer and has delivered training support for governors and trustees on a wide range of topics.  He also managed the Inspiring Governance Mentoring Scheme which included delivering training to NLGs.  Simon has contributed to The Chair’s Handbook and is NGA’s expert on succession planning.

Simon is an experienced governor, vice-chair and chair having governed in five different schools on the Isle of Wight in recent years including his current primary school and is also chair of governors at a primary school in Birmingham.

Before joining the NGA, Simon ran a governance development consultancy and had a long-term career in business management across public sector organisations in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Victoria Del-Giudice, Regional Governance Development Lead (West & North Yorkshire and North East)

Victoria Del-Giudice

Victoria brings to the role of Regional Development Lead a variety of experience from industry, including finance, recruitment and business management across a number of different sectors, including education.  Victoria’s passion and commitment to governance in the education sector was sparked by a desire to connect with people who want to share their expertise and passion with schools and academies across her region, West & North Yorkshire and North East. As Chair of a MAT Board herself she actively seeks out opportunities to network and introduces charities, schools and the corporate world so that they work together for the benefit of all. Being part of shaping the future of education for all, but especially those with Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties is an honour and a privilege that Victoria does not take lightly.

As Regional Development Lead in West & North Yorkshire and North East, Victoria will support multi academy trusts, local authorities, RSCs and governance professionals in the development of robust governance practice across their organisations and the region as a whole.

Francey Smith, Head of Marketing

Francey Smith

Francey is NGA's Head of Marketing and Communications. Francey's role includes developing NGA's marketing engagement strategy for promoting NGA's membership and training services, overseeing digital campaigns, NGA events and publishing the Governing Matters magazine and NGA publications.

Prior to joining the NGA, Francey worked in the education sector including universities and further education colleges overseeing marketing communications activity.

Richard Crabb, Head of Communications

Richard Crabb

Richard is NGA's Head of Communications and oversees NGA's communications activity, NGA events, publishing the Governing Matters magazine and NGA publications.

Richard has over 20 years’ experience developing and implementing marketing activity in the education and not-for-profit sectors to build audience understanding and impact.

Shanice Rai, Marketing and Events Officer (Maternity Cover)

Shanice Rai

Shanice is a Marketing and Events Officer at NGA. She is responsible for supporting the Head of Marketing to develop NGA’s strategy by promoting their membership and training services through the website and other marketing materials. Shanice is also responsible for ensuring NGA's presence at all external events, such as co-ordinating exhibitions and speaking opportunities.

Prior to joining NGA, Shanice achieved a BSc (Hons) in Business and Sociology at Aston University.

Molly Taylor, Events Coordinator

Molly Taylor

Molly’s role includes coordinating the NGA Events.

Before joining the NGA Molly worked in Higher Education as a Student Engagement Executive officer and completed her BA (Hons) in Children and Integrated Professional Care at Birmingham City University.

Connect With Us
  • NGA, 36 Great Charles Street, Birmingham, B3 3JY
  • Phone: 0121 237 3780 | Contact Us
  • Charity Number: 1070331 | Company Number 3549029

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