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Orwell's Board and Directors
Board membership is open to all. From time to time Orwell will advertise vacancies in the local press and on its web site. Alternatively, please contact the Chief Executive’s Personal Assistant on 01473 228602 to register an interest in future vacancies.
A board member would normally serve for a period of 9 years and work with at least one of the committees. The committees would cover the areas of Audit, Governance and Remuneration.
The posts are remunerated and would involve a commitment of around one day per month.
Board members introduction
Ms Kim Newman, BSc (Hons), FCIPS, MBIFM, FCMI, MInstLM, MIAM, MIOD
Kim joined the Board of Orwell in March 2015 and is now Vice-chair and Chair of Governance Committee, she also sits on the Audit and Remuneration Committees.
With a background in commercial management, business strategy and collaboration/partnership working, Kim is the founder and Managing Director of PML, a specialist Performance Improvement Consultancy within the housing, property and professional services sectors. Prior to setting up PML in 1995, Kim spent a number of years at Capita and Turner and Townsend in various leadership roles.
Kim has accumulated over 25 years’ experience of working at board/senior, strategic, tactical and operational levels and she has written and implemented strategies for a range of housing, public and private sector clients. Kim is also a best-selling co-author of Fit for Purpose Leadership 2.
Outside of work Kim is currently a Director of a Residential Management Company on the Fellowes Plain Development in Norwich.
In her spare time Kim enjoys reading, cinema, is a keen photographer and enjoys visiting the North Norfolk coast.
Having joined the Board of Orwell Housing Association in 2012, Robyn is Chair of the Audit Committee and sits on the Governance and Remuneration Committees.
Robyn is currently Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) East of England, based in Cambridge, where she leads the team delivering grants, development, outreach and advocacy. HLF is the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage and a leading advocate for the value of heritage to modern life and has awarded over £530m to more than 4,000 projects in the East of England since 1994. Robyn is currently a member of the East of England Historic Environment Forum and Women Cultural Leaders East.
Before joining HLF, Robyn worked for the Museums and Galleries Commission in London. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) in New York, Robyn completed her MA in Arts Management at City University London, where her dissertation was on Performance Management.
Robyn has lived in Suffolk since 1991. As Secretary to the local cricket club, she helped to promote youth sport for all, particularly girls, and was instrumental in obtaining ECB Clubmark status. Other interests include walking in the wonderful East Anglian countryside and spending time in her allotment.
Alastair Thomas, BSc Hons, FRICS
Alastair Thomas joined the Board of Orwell Housing Association in March 2012. He is Chair of Orwell Homes Limited and also sits on the Remuneration Committee.
Alastair is a Chartered Surveyor and the founder of the Equity Estates Group in 1990 that undertakes commercial and residential property development, investment and asset management, principally in East Anglia and the South East. Uniquely the Group also undertakes the delivery of park and ride schemes and to date has designed, planned and delivered over 3,000 spaces for both Essex and Suffolk County Councils, including Ipswich’s first park and ride a Copdock.
Prior to joining Orwell Housing Association, he was a non-executive director of Pathmeads Limited (a subsidiary of Genesis Housing Association) and Chairman of the Regional Committee for East Anglia.
A keen sportsman, his passions are watching cricket and fly fishing for salmon and trout. Alastair is also a qualified ECB Level 2 cricket coach.
Barbara Thorndick, OBE FCIH BA (Hons)
Barbara joined the Board in March 2016 and sits on the Audit and Governance Committees.
She is the former Chief Executive of West Kent Housing Association, which under her leadership was the first housing association in the country to be awarded top marks by government inspectors for delivering excellent services to residents. In 2007/8 she set up the Placeshapers Group of housing associations to help represent the interests of community-based housing associations who further their work through locally based partnerships. In 2008 she was awarded the OBE for services to social housing.
In 2010 she decided to move into the world of consultancy and through her company WKT Associates she now provides coaching services to managers in social housing and supports a consortium of housing associations she helped set up in 2011 called ‘Give us a chance’. This consortium, which she recently converted into a not-for-profit company, helps associations who provide training and employment opportunities for long term unemployed residents.
Barbara is passionate about the benefits of social housing. She believes that everyone has the right to a decent, affordable, secure home.
When not working she enjoys walking, gardening, reading, painting, travel, theatre, film, art and music.
Jeanette Alfano, MBA, BTech (Hons)
Jeanette joined the Board of Orwell in March 2015. She is currently the Director of Technology and Transformation for Optivo, a new housing association born from the merger of AmicusHorizon and Viridian Housing. Optivo has 44,000 homes in the Midlands, London, Kent and Sussex. Her responsibilities include the integration of all the core systems and the plans to transform Optivo into a Digital Enterprise.
Jeanette has spent her career in technology roles, starting in computing in 1978. She is passionate about the use of technology as enabler for corporate success and has worked in both the private and public sectors, including six years as a Principal Lecturer in Technology at the University of Northampton.
She is involved in out tenant engagement strategy and brings to this her experience of working with colleagues on the implementation of award winning Resident Governance at AmicusHorizon.
When not at work Jeanette enjoys walking and cycling in the Kent countryside.
Peter has a portfolio of interests, He is a director of Foundation East (a micro-finance organisation in East Anglia); a former Director of Havebury Housing; trustee of Age UK Suffolk; director of Suffolk Sport, chairman of Suffolk Scouts; investment advisor to the Warwickshire County Council and Lincolnshire County Council pension schemes (each with assets of over £2,000 million); an independent trustee or former trustee of a number of private sector pension schemes and chair of several of them; and former advisor to Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and other Quaker charities.
He was previously a director of Friends Provident Life Office and the former chairman of the Investment Committee of the Association of British Insurers.
As well as being a Board member, Peter is on the Orwell Homes Board.
Peter’s interests include being with family (especially his grandchildren), almost all sport, going to the gym regularly, swimming and holidaying in Spain. He is also a keen Sudoku puzzler and is addicted to the music of Richard Strauss.
Dan was previously head of service for Suffolk County Council and was responsible for the council’s 16 residential care homes for older people. He was lead manager for the department’s capital programme and coordinating the development of specialist housing services with district and borough councils. He has also had management roles within procurement and corporate services.
Dan is an active sports player, an avid life-long Liverpool Football Club supporter and can be seen at a range of music gigs across East Anglia. He spends a considerable amount of time trying to tame an unruly large garden.
As well as being a Board member, Dan is involved in our tenant involvement strategy.
Cynthia Alers, MBA MA MISSoc
Cynthia Alers joined the board of Orwell Housing in March 2017 and also sits on the Audit and Assurance Committees. She is currently head of Morrow Sodali UK, a global consultancy specialising in stakeholder engagement, capital markets intelligence and corporate governance.
Cynthia has worked in finance for most of her career, holding senior positions in investor relations, corporate strategy and corporate communications for companies including JP Morgan, Sage Group, Laird plc and Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), where she worked on a wide range of strategic reviews, capital-raisings, IPOs, corporate restructurings, and acquisitions. She also experienced in working with government and the public sector with the Continuing Care Committee, Ofwat, and the Industry and Parliamentary Trust.
Prior to joining the board of Orwell Housing, Cynthia was a board director with the Newcastle East Multi-Academy Trust (NEAT) where she was Finance Director during the merger of the member schools and establishment of the new multi-school academy trust. Previously she was a board director with the Port of Dover, where she chaired the audit committee.
Helen joined the Board of Orwell Housing Association in March 2019. Helen is currently Head of Investor Relations at Aviva plc, responsible for the group's financial communications with shareholders and the investment community. Helen was formerly Head of Global Equities at Aviva Investors, and prior to that Investment Director at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, where she was responsible for investment analysis of UK-listed companies and managing UK Equity pension funds and portfolios. Helen is a graduate of Loughborough University and holds the CFA, Chartered Financial Analyst, designation.
Since 2013 Helen has been a committee member of the Assets & Liabilities Committee of the Futurebuilders England and Modernisation Funds, managed by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Cabinet Office.
Helen grew up in Suffolk, and after her investment career took her to Frankfurt, London and Edinburgh, returned to the county with her young family in 2012. When not supporting her children on the football pitch or in the swimming pool, Helen sings in a choir and enjoys getting out and about in the Suffolk countryside.
Orwell's Executive Team
Wendy Evans-Hendrick, BA (Hons), DipDM, DMS
Wendy Evans-Hendrick originally trained as a Town Planner but after a short time in the profession joined a housing association and moved into the development field.
Wendy was the Director of Development & Property Services for Orwell from 1994 until 2018 when she was appointed to the Chief Executive Officer role.
She also acts as the Director of Development for the e2 Development Consortium which represents three other associations in Norfolk and Suffolk and two local authorities and is a trustee for the Seckford Foundation.
Chris Wyer, FCCA
Director of Resources
Chris joined Orwell in January 2007 as Director of Financial Services.
He is a fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants having qualified in 1986 whilst working at BT plc.
Prior to joining Orwell Chris held senior positions within the construction and manufacturing sectors within the UK, Europe and America including 17 years as Finance Director of the manufacturing subsidiary of a FTSE 100 company. Two years after joining Orwell, Chris’s remit was expanded to include responsibility for Human Resources and Procurement, and more recently Customer Services and ICT.
Paul Kingston, MBA, FCIH, DMS, MCMI
Director of Housing & Care Services
Paul has worked at Orwell since 1994 and been in the housing sector for over 30 years, having worked for two local authorities and a housing association in Norfolk prior to working for Orwell.
Qualified to MBA level, Paul has been extensively involved with the Chartered Institute of Housing Eastern Regional Committee and the National Council, as well as in the past being involved with the Royal British Legion Housing Association, Abbeyfield Society and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, a mixture of voluntary and paid positions. More recently Paul is a Board member at Estuary Housing Association in Essex and chairs their Services Board.
Paul is a housing professional who enjoys the diversity and challenges of leading Orwell’s housing, support and care service.