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Ian Looker

Chair of Governors
Committees: Quality and Curriculum, Remuneration, People and Governance

I have been a governor at York College & University Centre since 2020, and the Chair of the Board since the start of 2021.
I’m also involved in a number of other roles within education and social mobility - including a director at the University of Cumbria and a volunteer mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation.

Prior to all this I worked for the professional services firm PwC, for over 30 years, where I focused on working with public sector clients and, in particular, leading PwC’s UK business in the education sector. This meant working with many education institutions, regulators and various government bodies. It also developed a real interest in the education sector, something I'm delighted to be taking forward as Chair, helping to guide the College as it evolves and adapts. The College plays a vital role in supporting people in York and the surrounding area and for me stands out as having a really vibrant feel around the College site - a great place to learn.

I live in Boston Spa and enjoy time with my wife and two children. I love the outdoors, in particular running and cycling, watching sport (Newcastle United and motorsports) and cooking, especially Italian food.

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Helen Crews 3
Dr Helen Crews OBE

Vice Chair of Governors
Committees: Remuneration (Chair), People and Governance

I started my career as a food chemist, working in food safety surveillance, nutrition and research.

In 2000 I became Corporate Services Director at the Central Science Laboratory and then Programme Director for the implementation of the new Food and Environment Research Agency based near York.

I went on to head Defra’s Plant Health & Seed and Bee Inspection and Advisory services and led the Government’s Healthy Bees Plan Project Board.

Later I was Director for Plant and Bee Health at the Animal and Plant Health Agency. As part of engaging with the local community, I particularly enjoyed talking with students and parents at Malton School, a Specialist Science School, about the opportunities within a science career.

I retired in 2016 and was surprised and delighted to receive an OBE for services to plant and bee health. I’m currently a trustee for the Yorkshire Arboretum and I became a Governor at York College in 2018.

The College has a real buzz about it and the students’ achievements across the wide range of subjects offered are so impressive. It is great to be involved with such a dynamic organisation that clearly promotes the best possible student experience and delivers such excellent graduates.

Ken Merry

Principal and Chief Executive
Committees: Quality and Curriculum, People and Governance, Remuneration and Finance and General Purpose

I was appointed to the position of Principal & Chief Executive at York College & University Centre in March 2024, having fulfilled the role on an acting basis since October 2023. I initially joined the college as Deputy Principal and Deputy Chief Executive in June 2023.

Directly before this role, I was Vice Principal for Quality at Barnsley College where I guided the college through their outstanding Ofsted inspection in 2022. Prior to Barnsley College, I worked for Ofsted as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and held leadership roles in a range of colleges.

I have strategic responsibility for leading on curriculum design, overseeing the quality of provision we offer, and delivering an exceptional student experience. I am delighted to work for a hugely successful college that delivers learning opportunities that provide life changing opportunities for our students and apprentices.

Outside of York College I am a trustee of the Prisoners’ Education Trust, a passionate Rotherham United fan, and enjoy reading crime thrillers and swimming (not at the same time) as well as travelling.

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Libby Bush 1
Libby Bush

Committees: People and Governance (Chair), and Remuneration

I have been a governor at York College since January 2020 and was previously Deputy Chair of Governors at a secondary school in Birmingham.

Since returning to York I’m really excited to join the team at York College. I hold strong values about how we support and shape our future talent. Being part of York College’s governing body enables me to participate in this.

It’s great to be able to bring my areas of expertise to support York College in growing, developing and contributing to a community which supported me - that’s something which is really important to me.

In my professional life I’m Head of People Change at the Ministry of Justice, within the Probation Service. Previously I was HR Director for Interserve and have worked in retail, automotive and banking.

I am FCIPD qualified (Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and enjoy understanding people, especially navigating change to deliver successful people strategies and partner with senior leadership teams.

I live in York with my teenage daughter and three dogs. I make the most of my time away from work and love to mountain-walk. My happy place is Keswick and the surrounding hills. I do go to the gym regularly so I can not only climb mountains but also enjoy meals out.

Janet Dean

Committees: Audit (Chair), Remuneration and People and Governance

I have been a Governor of York College since July 2020, and I am delighted to have joined an organisation which has a very positive reputation and a real focus on achieving the best for all students.

Being a Governor at York College is a real joy because there is a real sense of people working together to do their best for all students. I think York College is particularly special because as a large college it can offer a lot of choice but is still able to treat students as individuals.

My professional background is in local government and specifically in housing, regeneration and social care, where I held Assistant Director and Executive Director posts in London and Yorkshire.

I have a wide range of non-executive board experience in the NHS, both at regional and local level, in housing associations in London and Yorkshire, and I have served as a Governor of Sheffield Hallam University for eight years.

I am a trained coach and mentor and continue to work in this area, although most of my work is now focused on writing novels, poetry and plays and running a creative writing business.

I live in York with family members all in the city. In my spare time I enjoy theatre, walking and travelling.

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Heidi Fraser Krauss 2
Heidi Fraser-Krauss

Committee: Finance and General Purposes

I joined the Board in September 2021 with the aim of giving something back to my community.

I’m also keen to learn more about further education and how, in my role as Jisc CEO, we can serve the FE community better. Jisc is a not-for-profit membership organisation that provides UK universities, colleges and skills sectors with shared digital infrastructure and services. This includes the Janet network and services like Eduroam, which enables seamless internet access.

I love the diversity of courses on offer at York College. It offers everything from sign-language to stonemasonry and everything in between. Engaging with students and listening to what they have to say has always been one of the most rewarding aspects of previous roles and I look forward to having the opportunity to do that as a member of the Board.

I have worked in UK education most of my career and still love it. I have held board-level roles at the Universities of York, and Sheffield and have been involved in a large number of projects from new buildings to increasing diversity in the workforce. I have also been responsible for the digital strategy and all aspects of IT service provision at both York and Sheffield.

I have three grown up children and live in York. Outside of work I am a keen hill walker.

Rob Hickey BSc, MSc, MBA, MRICS, MAPM

Committee: Finance and General Purposes

I’ve enjoyed working in higher education since 2016 when I joined York St John University as Chief Operating Officer.

The role has been a fantastic challenge and I’ve implemented new campus, digital, people & culture, marketing and diversification strategies, established a new and thriving London campus and created a series of successful international partnerships.

Before Higher Education, I spent five years as Transformation Director at Network Rail, where I delivered large infrastructure investment across the country.

As a chartered surveyor my background is actually property and economic development consultancy and I’ve enjoyed working on numerous high-profile projects, including the London Olympic bid.

I’m a great believer in higher education and I have an undergraduate degree from Lancaster University, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and an MBA (with distinction) from the University of Leeds. I’m currently completing my doctorate, in Higher Education Management, at the University of Bath.

I became a Governor at York College in 2019 because I feel it’s an important Institution for the city and region. York is a thriving place, but it needs a constant injection of talented and innovative people to keep it competitive.

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Donald Inglis 1
Donald Inglis

Committee Chair: Finance & General Purposes (Chair), Remuneration, People and Governance

I was invited to join the Board of Governors at York College in 2015 when they were looking for someone with a background in finance.

I’m a chartered accountant. I set up my own accountancy practice in 2010 after moving to York from Scotland in 2002. The business has grown steadily, and we now employ eight members of staff.

Although I’ve made a career in finance, I originally started my career working in agriculture on my family’s farm in Scotland. I then worked overseas (within agriculture) and this took me to Papua New Guinea, Ukraine and finally Tanzania. After returning to Scotland I did an MSc in Agricultural Development. I was then offered the opportunity to become a chartered accountant – which I grabbed with both hands.

Being a Governor at York College means I can be part of a sounding board to ensure the College remains outward looking and focused on its strategy and horizon scanning.

During my free time I like to go on all-day long-distance cycle rides. I live in Poppleton and I have two children aged 16 and 18. Much to my annoyance they have decided not to go to York College.

Dr Ann Lees

Committee: Quality and Curriculum (Chair), Remuneration, People and Governance

I joined the Governing Body in September 2021 and was privileged to be appointed as Chair of the Quality & Curriculum Committee.

I have studied, worked and lived around York for most of my adult life and was formerly the Director of Education for the Diocese of York. I have since worked as an independent Education Consultant, specializing in school organisation and governance. In both roles I became very familiar with the educational landscape in York and the wider region, where York College stands out as a beacon of excellence and opportunity.

I am a former governor of St Peter’s School in York, York St John University and the Sentamu Academy Learning Trust in Hull. I’m also a former lay canon and member of the Chapter of York Minster.

I believe that serving as a governor is a fantastic opportunity to help enrich lives and make a positive difference to communities, and this is nowhere more true than here at York College.

The inclusiveness of the College and the breadth of what it offers to students of all ages and abilities is truly impressive. The care for each and every student and the unwavering commitment to doing more and doing better make it an exciting place to work and study while developing the skills and attributes for more fulfilled lives. As a governor, it is an honour to contribute to making these things happen.

I am married with two grown-up daughters and four young grandchildren and love spending time with them. I also love walking, singing, reading and yoga.

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Andrew Thomas

Committee: Audit

I started my career with professional services firm KPMG as a trainee Chartered Accountant. Once qualified I joined the NHS in South Wales in my first line management role.

Since then I have worked in a variety of sectors ranging from health, local authority, charities, etc. mainly in finance, procurement and contract management. This has included both director-level roles and more consultancy based assignments.

In 2020 I semi-retired and now work part-time on various management consultancy projects on an ad-hoc basis - again this is largely in the health sector.

I joined York College as an independent director in late 2018. As well as the main board I serve on the Audit Committee. This allows me to input into the College's governance and audit functions to ensure the organisation is properly managed and risks identified and mitigated.

Now that we are back to physical meetings after the remote working required by COVID, it is good to be back at the College and see the dynamism and general buzz of the students. Their achievements have, and continue to be, impressive. In particular it is amazing how this performance continued throughout the pandemic.

I live in Doncaster with my wife and daughter, enjoying cycling, rowing and (watching) rugby.

Cathy Waters

Committee: Quality and Curriculum

After starting out as a trainee nurse in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, I have enjoyed an NHS career of more than 30 years,

Moving from clinical roles to management, my NHS career culminated in a CEO position at a primary healthcare organisation, before becoming a management consultant to healthcare and social organisations in 2007.

The role took me to the Maldives and to Qatar, where I led on strategy and organisational development for the country’s primary health care organisation. After returning to the UK, I became CEO at The Retreat, a mental health hospital in York, before retiring in 2019.

I was inspired to apply for a Governor’s role at York College after attending an event there designed to strengthen partnerships between the College and employers. I was really impressed with what I saw and I’m keen to help shape the future of York College.

I’ve been fortunate to enjoy great educational opportunities throughout my life and I now want to play a part in ensuring young people get access to high-quality education and life skills, enabling them to thrive and contribute to society.

Since retiring from my substantive post in 2019 I am regular Nordic Walker and care passionately about nature. I’m also studying for my third master's degree, in Sociocultural Anthropology, whilst volunteering as a gardener at Helmsley Walled Garden.

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Victoria Inness

Committee: Audit

In my professional life I am a corporate partner at Knights solicitors, based in York and Leeds.

I grew up in York but moved to London shortly after qualification and worked in the City for many years. Initially working as a corporate lawyer in private practice I then moved to a position as legal counsel to an infrastructure fund backed by Barclays, Société Generale and 3i and subsequently into an Investor Director role at Barclays Capital Private Equity. After 15 years I returned home to York when my children were starting school.

I am honoured to be part of the Governing Body of York College and to be able to work with the College and the wider York community to support students to achieve their potential.

I live with my two children in a village just outside York. In my spare time I try to get to the gym as often as I can and I enjoy the theatre and walking in our beautiful countryside.

Julia Histon

Committee: Audit

I have worked in Housing and regeneration management for over 35 years in both the public, private and charitable sectors. For the last 11 years I have been CEO/Managing Director of York Housing Association which builds and provides affordable homes for people across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding.

As I am moving into a new phase of my career I have more time to commit to ‘giving something back’ and am therefore delighted to be able to put my business experience to use by joining the Governing Body at York College. Through my role as a Governor, I hope to expand my own knowledge and understanding of the Education sector, as I believe in the importance of Education and Training as a foundation for people’s lives.

At a more personal level, I live in beautiful North Yorkshire where I enjoy walking, playing tennis and exploring the Moors on a Vespa! I have three children, all now grown up and making their way in the world, having chosen York College for their Further Education. Having that parental experience of York College will, I hope, add a useful perspective to my contributions.

I believe York College is a fantastic regional facility and offers such a wide range of both vocational and academic subjects. I’m really looking forward to being part of this ambitious institution for the next few years.

Matt Rice

Committee: Finance and General Purposes

I joined York College as a governor in September 2022.

In my professional life, I work as Network Rail’s Route Director for the North & East of England, a role that has wide ranging reach and allows me to enable the movement of people and goods across the north of England. Before taking this role, I have held roles in strategic planning, maintenance, commercial, customer service and operational delivery, as well as overseas roles, all in rail.

Outside of work, I am a father of two children, both of which are a few years away from being college age and married to Michelle who is a primary school teacher. I am also a parent governor at Hob Moor Oaks, a unique special need in the heart of Acomb.

In a desperate effort to keep myself healthy I am, just about, still playing rugby for York Rugby club veterans, which brings its own rewarding challenges.

I am committed to supporting the colleges growth and look forward to becoming part of the college community.