Our dedicated Board members, who give their time on an unpaid basis, are the guardians of Connect’s social purpose and values. From a diverse range of professional backgrounds, these talented people set the vision and strategic direction of Connect, supported by the Executive Team.

 


 

David Wolverson
Chair

David is currently retired and a Trustee of the Royal Mencap Society.

He holds a BA (Dunelm) from the University of Durham and a Diploma in Housing Management. David has worked in the housing and support sector for 40+ years. A CEO for over 13 years, and  previously worked in a senior operational role in a national housing association.  He was also a trustee of the HACT (Housing Association Charitable Trust) from 1991-97 and Vice-Chair for 1996-97, Chair of Housing Options (a charity advising people with learning disabilities and their families) from 1998-2010, and Member of the NHF Care and Support Advisory Group from 2001-11.


 

Alison Leech
Vice Chair

Since 2009 Alison has worked for Incommunities, a large housing association based in Shipley, where she manages a team responsible for policy development, performance management, complaints management, scrutiny, and equalities. She is also a tutor on a Chartered Institute of Housing accredited graduate employment and mentoring programme.
Alison is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and holds a Diploma in Housing and a Master’s Degree in Policy Studies.


 

Tracey Bell
Joined Connect’s Board in 2012

For most of the last decade  Tracy headed up operations for Shelter, the housing charity, throughout the north and midlands where she provided leadership and strategic management to deliver a portfolio of specialist legal advice and housing support services to over 8000 people per annum in the region. She oversaw the successful design and delivery of services that helped some of the most deprived communities.  Tracy been a  Senior Director at the Richmond Fellowship since 2019.


 

Helen Forman
Joined Connect’s Board in 2017

Helen is Urban Design Manager at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, delivering a programme of training and urban design support to local authorities across Leeds City Region.  Previously she worked in private practice before joining the Housing Corporation (which became the Homes and Communities Agency) to promote sustainability and quality in new housing. More recently Helen worked at Leeds City Council in their design team. Whilst at the HCA she developed a design appraisal tool for measuring the impact of completed schemes, with particular focus on external space and its impact on social interaction and community cohesion. Helen has a Master’s Degree in Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies.


 

Karen House
Joined Connect’s Board in 2013

Karen is  the director of a locally based 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
Joined Connect’s Board in 2017

Karen is the 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 our housing association partners, stock condition and retrofit planning, supporting better conditions in the private rented sector and home energy.  Karen is also a member of Northern Housing Consortium Board.
She is a qualified as a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing in 1994 and have been working in local authority housing services for 31 years. Most of her work has been on strategy and regeneration, but she has also managed very large capital programmes, led research teams, designed and delivered estate remodelling schemes and managed performance and communications teams. Karen worked extensively on sub region and city region work in both South and West Yorkshire.


 

Yasmin Hussain
Joined Connect’s Board in 2017

Yasmin works for NHS England (NHSE) in financial planning and delivery covering the financial planning, reporting and performance management of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
She is an FCCA, and holds an MBA from Leeds University with over 22 years of executive, entrepreneurial, design, art and creative writing experience in a number of sectors including the NHS, social housing, banking, start-up, creative and commercial sectors.


 

Hasan Karolia
Joined Connect’s Board in 2019

Hasan is qualified as a Chartered Surveyor and is currently a 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. Latterly, the majority of Hasan’s work has focused on advising public sector organisations on asset management and regeneration strategies, and developing initiatives which enables utilisation of the collective public sector asset base, and promotes closer collaboration with the private sector, to bring about jobs, growth and prosperity in
the economy.


 

David Wilmshurt
Joined Connect’s Board in 2017

David is  retired, but as well as being a Board member of Connect he is  an elected Public Governor of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. David had a varied management career in the 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, responsible for the provision of 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
Joined Connect’s Board in 2019

Joel has 15 years’ experience working within the housing sector and 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 with a reputable and diverse track record of successfully managing complex development and asset teams for a number of regionally leading housing providers and trusts.  His portfolio includes general needs housing, supported housing (extra care), and large scale regeneration programmes. David is currently studying towards an MSc in Construction Project Management.


 

Alicia Ridout
Joined Connect’s Board in 2019

Alicia is the Deputy Macmillan Programme Lead Personalised Care and Support at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS Cancer Alliance, as well as Principal Clinical Innovation and Safety Officer for ETHOS Ltd.  Prior to this she was the Deputy Director of mHabitat, an innovative NHS digital service focused on a people first, social impact driven approach. It is hosted by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and work with people all over the UK, using co-design to solve problems and create solutions that will improve care and support peoples well-being.  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 3rd sector, with significant experience delivering transformation programmes. She is a member of the NHS Digital Indicator Governance Board and a trained Clinical Safety Officer.


 

Sharon Gillott BA(Econ) FCA BFP
Joined Connect’s board in 2020

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 both 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.