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Meet the team

David Wolverson
David Wolverson
Chair

For over 40 years, David worked in the housing and support sector, and was the chief executive of a national housing association for more than 13 years. A committed and hard-working professional, David has also held trustee roles at the Housing Association Charitable Trust, or HACT, (1991-1997), was chair of Housing Options, which advises people with learning difficulties, (1998-2010), and was a member of the National Housing Federation’s Care and Support Advisory Group (2001-2011).

Now retired, he divides his time as chair of Connect along with being a trustee of the Royal Mencap Society. David holds a BA from the University of Durham, and a diploma in housing management.

Alison Leech
Alison Leech
Vice chair

Since 2009, Alison has worked for Incommunities, a large housing association in Shipley, where she manages a team responsible for policy development, performance management, complaints management, scrutiny and equality. She also tutors on the Chartered Institute of Housing’s graduate employment and mentoring programme. Alison is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, holds a diploma in housing and a master’s degree in policy studies.

Tracey Bell
Tracey Bell
Board member

For most of the last decade, Tracey led operations for Shelter, the housing charity, throughout the north and midlands, where she delivered a portfolio of specialist legal advice and housing support services to more than 8,000 people. She oversaw the design and delivery on services that have helped some of the most deprived communities. Since 2019, Tracey has been a senior director at the Richmond Fellowship, a national mental health charity.

Karen House
Karen House
Board member

Karen is the director of a local HR, training and coaching consultancy. She has 25 years’ experience of consultancy in the public and private sectors, working with organisations to develop and improve their effectiveness through their people. Karen is a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and has previous experience of voluntary work as chair of governors for a primary school and as a director and trustee of the Miscarriage Association.

Karen Lythe
Karen Lythe
Board member

Karen is Assistant Director for Strategic Housing at Doncaster Council. Her work ranges from the design and delivery of the council’s ambitious Council House Build Programme to homelessness prevention, partnership working with St Leger Homes and other housing association partners, supporting better conditions in the private rented sector and home energy.  Karen is a member of Northern Housing Consortium Board and qualified as a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing in 1994. In a long-spanning career within local authorities, Karen has also worked extensively on sub-region and city region work in South and West Yorkshire.

Hasan Karolia
Hasan Karolia
Board Member

Hasan is a chartered surveyor and property advisor to the Department for Transport and Highways England, advising on all aspects of property and asset management. He has extensive experience and a strong track record in providing professional property advice to a range of public and private sector organisations. Hasan’s most recent work has been to advise public sector organisations on asset management and regeneration strategies; develop initiatives to use the collective public sector asset base; and promote closer collaboration with the private sector, with the aim of creating jobs, growth and prosperity in the economy.

David Wilmhurst
David Wilmhurst
Board member

David is retired, but as well as being a board member of Connect he is an elected governor of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. David had a varied management career in different sectors: food manufacturing, financial services and health. His last role was as head of corporate assurance at the Health and Social Care Information Centre. He was responsible for providing risk-based assurance to the Department of Health, senior management team and Board Assurance and Risk Committee. David has a BA (Honours) degree and a master’s degree in business administration.

Joel Owen
Joel Owen
Board member

Joel has 15 years’ experience working in housing has been in his current role as Deputy Director Development and Asset Management at Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Trust since 2015. He worked for Yorkshire Housing as Senior Development Manager, successfully managing complex development and asset teams for several leading housing providers and trusts in the region.  His portfolio includes general needs housing, supported housing (extra care), and large-scale regeneration programmes. Joel is studying for an MSc in Construction Project Management.

Alicia Ridout
Alicia Ridout
Board member

Alicia is Deputy Macmillan Programme Lead for Personalised Care and Support at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System Cancer Alliance. She is also Principal Clinical Innovation and Safety Officer for ETHOS Ltd, which provides advice, training and compliance services in medical software and health IT systems.  Previously, she was the Deputy Director of mHabitat, an innovative NHS digital service. Alicia is a master’s graduate and UK-registered occupational therapist with over 30 years of experience across industry, NHS (mental health and commissioning), private healthcare, higher education/research and the third sector, with significant experience delivering transformation programmes. She is also a trained clinical safety officer.

Sharon Gillott
Sharon Gillott
Board member

Sharon is the group accountant for a family-owned group of companies providing services and products to the hospitality, leisure, restaurant and catering industries.  After completing a degree in economics at Leeds University she joined a national accountancy firm and qualified as a chartered accountant. Sharon has worked in professional practice and industry, but most of her experience has involved advising owner-managed businesses. She is a trustee of a national charity which provides advice to the families and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Joe Bradley
Board Member

Joe is a former Executive Director working in the IT industry. He is also a Trustee of a charity in Ripon, which supports adults with learning difficulties to maximise their independence and the Chair of the local parish council.

He was a senior business leader with over 30 yearsí experience leading organisations that delivered customer/operational services and software to the Public Sector. For the last 10 years, he was the Executive Director of Northgate Public Services. His passion for the Public Sector, in particular Social Housing, has been his driving force throughout his career. He has worked with many Social Housing providers, both here in the UK and also in Australia/New Zealand.

Helen Lennon BA Hons, MCIH, MBA
Helen Lennon BA Hons, MCIH, MBA
Chief Executive

Helen is our Chief Executive. She is a passionate advocate of social housing as a choice and foundation to a healthy life. She is driven by her desire for people to be treated fairly and equally. Helen’s background has involved her working with homeless people at Leeds City Council and in various voluntary organisations. In the 1990s, Helen joined The Ridings and through her varied roles in housing management, asset management and supported housing, she helped build the association into the successful and stable organisation which is now Connect.

Helen was appointed as our chief executive in 2016 and has since been leading the transformation of the business to make sure Connect continues to be strong and successful.

Helen also chairs the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, Leeds City Region Housing Association Partnership and Ongo Communities.

Martyn Broadest BSc (Hons), CIHCM
Martyn Broadest BSc (Hons), CIHCM
Director of Home

As Director of Home, Martyn is responsible for leading our teams in maintenance, asset management, development, procurement and customer services. He is also responsible for our Thrive community space and café, in Dewsbury. Martyn first joined The Ridings in 2002 after working for Leeds City Council in a range of environmental, senior housing and regeneration roles.

Christine Fox
Christine Fox
Director of Neighbourly Places

Christine is our Director of Neighbourly Places and is responsible for lettings and leasehold management, income collection, neighbourhood teams and supported housing. After leaving Hull University in 1983, Christine spent several years working for small voluntary-sector supported housing providers in Liverpool and Bradford, before moving to London in 1987 where she held several management positions for a housing association. She returned in 1998 and took up the post of Director of Housing at West Yorkshire Housing Association.

Guy Millichamp
Director of Finance and Resources

Guy joined Connect as Director of Finance and Resources in November 2020. He is responsible for financial services, business assurance and information services.

Guy has a long and successful track record in social housing, starting in 1997 with English Churches Housing. He spent over 13 years at Yorkshire Housing, latterly as Director of Finance, before joining Connect. He has also been a Board Member at Rochdale Borough Housing since 2017.

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Connect Housing Association Limited is a charitable association registered in England and Wales under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (Company No. IP17445R) and with the Regulator of Social Housing (No. L2285).

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