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Board Members

The Board comprises a maximum of 25 individuals - 15 external members, the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, 2 staff representatives, 2 academic board representatives and 2 student representatives (the Students' Union President and one other sabbatical officer).

Role Descriptions for members of the Board are as follows:


Independent Governors

Craig Apsey

  • Craig _apseyBoard of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member


Craig Apsey has been on the Board of Northumbria University since November 2012, and is Chair of its Strategic Performance Committee.

Until 2016, Craig was Managing Director at Mouchel Business Services (MBS), one of two divisions of Mouchel Group which provided a range of expert and consultancy services in workforce management, property design, back office and education services until the company floated for £500m.

Previously Craig was Chief Operating Officer for BT's Local, Regional & Devolved Government Business, having spent a number of years in various roles in BT and Syntegra (a wholly owned subsidiary of BT) with a wide range of complex delivery responsibilities to organisations such as Land Registry of Northern Ireland and City of Edinburgh Council, based around the restructuring of customer services using ICT as a key enabler.  During this period he held a number of Directorships of BT Joint Venture Organisations.

Craig has also held roles with the Civil Service where he worked in the IT department of the DSS for 10 years and prior to this as a marketing manager for a group of small companies.

Craig has a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from Newcastle University and an MSc in Management of Information Technology from Sunderland University.

Outside work, he enjoys running, horse riding, fishing and wandering about the countryside, in fact anything to do with being outside.

James Bromiley

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member

James Bromiley has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2014, and is Chair of its Audit Committee.

James is Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of Elevate Multi Academy Trust, based in North Yorkshire. Previously he was Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support at Middlesbrough Council, with a remit covering key corporate services; and before that he was  a senior civil servant with in excess of ten years’ experience in the Department for Education as Deputy Director for Academies and Deputy Director of Finance. James has worked in a variety of other senior roles across local and central government -  North Yorkshire County Council; HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office; and at the National Audit Office.

James gained an MA in Modern History from Oxford University in 1994 and an MBA from Imperial College Business School in 2002.

James is a qualified chartered accountant and from 1998 has been a full member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Sally Pelham

Sally Pelham

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Observer
  • Northumbria University Services Limited – Director

  • Honorary Awards Committee - Member

  • University Health, Safety & Wellbeing Management Group - Governor Representative

  • Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors

Sally has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2014. Sally is also a founding Director of Northumbria University Services Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary company of the University. Sally is also the Governor representative on the University, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Management Group.

Sally is Chair of the Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle, Chair of Governors at Polam Hall School, Darlington and a Trustee of Kipling Hall, North Yorkshire.

As a qualified solicitor with sixteen years’ experience in the profession, Sally has held senior positions with Eversheds LLP (Leeds), Christie’s International Plc (London), Stephens Innocent (London) and Travers Smith Braithwaite (London).

Sally graduated with 1st Class Honours in Jurisprudence (Law) from Worcester College, Oxford University in 1988 and holds an MA in History of Art from the University of York in 2009.

In 1991, Sally was admitted as a Qualified Solicitor to the Law Society.

Nick Pope

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member


Nick has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2016.

Nick is Financial Director and Company Secretary at Godfrey Syrett, a  leading North-East Furniture Manufacturer. Nick’s background is a commercial and strategic CFO, with a proven track record of integrating businesses and delivering growth in a number of senior roles in the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

He has experience of matrix working in a Group structure, as well as founding his own B2B, B2C, SME property business, He has proven success in building and inspiring cross functional teams and commercial success in a number of different countries and cultures.

Nick has an eMBA from IMD in Switzerland and is ACMA qualified, and has expertise in strategic planning, commercial financial leadership, constructing and delivering forecasts and budgets, securing business growth through continuous improvement and ensuring first class risk management and corporate governance.

Amy Rice-Thomson

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member


Amy Rice-Thomson has been on the Board of Northumbria University since June 2014.

Amy’s career to date has centred on executive leadership of custodial services (prisons) in the North East of England, including as Deputy Director (Custody) of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and as Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Services with a portfolio of responsibility across the entire North of England.

Combined with this, Amy has experience of corporate governance, including serving as an Independent Director on the Board of the Special Purpose Company established to oversee the Grand Départ stages of the Tour de France which took place in Yorkshire and the South East of England in July 2014. Amy hails from Newcastle, and holds a degree in Law with French from the University of Leicester.

Helen Thorne, MBE

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Helen Thorne has been on the Board of Northumbria University since June 2016.

Helen is the Director of External Relations at UCAS, which provides information, advice and admissions services to people looking to enter higher education or purse other educational opportunities. 

In 2010 she worked at the Russell Group of Universities as Head of Policy, and prior to this Helen worked for the UK’s Research Councils for 17 years in a variety of management roles.  She led the Research Councils UK team for 5 years from its inception, promoting partnerships and joint working between the Councils and established and led the Research Councils UK office in the United States, strengthening collaboration between UK and US universities. 

With a degree in biology from the University of York, Helen began her career in pesticides regulation and managing food safety research for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

She was awarded an MBE in 2007 for services to the administration of science.

Dr Jeya Wilson

Board of Governors - Independent Governor

Dr Jeya Wilson has been on the Board of Northumbria University since June 2014.

Jeya has an international background and has worked in several countries and sectors, and is currently Chair of Adam Smith International Ltd, a company delivering around 400 development projects globally, on the Board (and previously founding CEO) of the Africa Initiative for Governance with a mission to develop future public sector leaders in Africa, and a Trustee of the Oxford Union.

She has been Chair of the World Health Organisation’s Independent Expert Oversight Advisory Committee, Vice-Chair of Fairtrade International, and has served at the International Labour Office, and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Among a wide range of executive positions, Jeya was CEO of Africa’s largest chamber of commerce and industry in South Africa, Director for Business Partnerships at UNDP, CEO of the World Heart Federation, and Adjunct Professor and Executive Director of the International MBA of the University of Geneva.  She was New Zealand Honorary Consul in South Africa.

After completing her first degrees in New Zealand she obtained her doctorate in international relations at Oxford as a Commonwealth Scholar, and was President of the Oxford Union. She holds the Financial Times Non-Executive Director Post-Graduate Diploma, the Certificate in International Enterprise Risk Management, and Certificate in Digital and Cybersecurity Management.  She has lived in Germany, Nigeria, New Zealand, Samoa, Sri Lanka, South Africa, UK and US and currently resides in Switzerland.

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods - Chair 

Roberta Blackman Woods

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods stepped down as a Member of Parliament, having been the MP for the City of Durham from 2005-2019.  During her time in parliament Roberta served as a Deputy Minister in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where she was involved in shaping higher education policy.  From 2011-2019 she was the Shadow Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Roberta helped establish the Westminster Higher Education Form and the Higher Education Commission and chaired the Parliamentary University Group for several years, a forum where Vice-Chancellors and other senior university officers discuss policy and strategic issues with parliamentarians and ministers.

At an international level Roberta was an active member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and made extensive use of these networks to support global education initiatives and foster better parliamentary governance. She was also the Vice-Chair of the United Nations APPG for a number of years.

Her career before entering parliament included working in social services at Newcastle City Council and as a social policy academic at the University of Ulster and the University of Newcastle. She was Dean of Social and Labour Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and a Head of School and Associate Dean at Northumbria University.

Having worked in the North East for many years as well as being a local councillor and MP, Roberta has excellent relationships with leaders in the North East region in business, industry, education, culture and politics. She is committed to the development of the region and what the talent and skills of the people offer for the future prosperity of the country.

Roberta has a strong belief in the power of universities not only to transform individual lives but transform communities and societies too. She believes the research, innovation and knowledge exchange they undertake are essential for the creation of new jobs and whole new sectors of the economy. She also greatly values the role universities play in educating  and growing leaders of the future.

Her goal as Chair of the Board at Northumbria University is to support and challenge the senior team  to take the University forward as a major player in the sector and globally, realising this potential with its excellent and distinctive mission, its highly engaged colleagues and successful students.

Roberta maintained close links with Northumbria over many years including as a Visiting Professor and she is delighted to be able to contribute to its ongoing success as Chair of the Board.

Dr Stuart Fancey

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member

Dr Stuart Fancey has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020.

Stuart is Director of Research and Innovation at the Scottish Funding Council where he has responsibility for research policy and funding for Scotland’s universities, including support for the exploitation of research for the benefit of business, society and places.  Stuart and his team work across a broad range of government portfolios and particularly closely with UKRI.

Before he joined the Scottish Funding Council, Stuart had a research career in Scotland and (through a Marie-Curie Fellowship) in Germany.  He then joined the founding management team of a Heriot-Watt University spin-out company, Helia Photonics.

A graduate of the University of St Andrews (BSc) and Heriot-Watt University (MSc and PhD), Stuart is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Outside work, Stuart climbs the hills of the Highlands and the Lake District.

Helen Fairfoul

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member
  • Remuneration Committee - Member

Helen Fairfoul has been on the Board of Northumbria University since March 2020, and is Chair of its Employment and Finance Committee.

Helen is the former Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), having been in that role from 2012 until February 2020. She was also Deputy CEO at UCEA from 2007. In this role Helen has contributed at a sector-level on employment and employee relations, nationally and internationally, including working extensively with trade union representatives.

Prior to working at UCEA Helen has held various lead roles as a Human Resources specialist. She was HR Director at the University of Roehampton, where she also spent three years as Clerk to the University Council, and Director of Personnel at the London Borough of Greenwich. Helen began her career in local government, joining the Inner London Education Authority and undertaking roles there ranging from teacher recruitment to school governance.

Helen has a degree in History and an MBA. She is also a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Employment Studies

Sophie Haagensen


  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Sophie Haagensen has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020.

Sophie is currently Head of Strategy and Planning at Atom Bank, one of the UK’s leading challenger banks and a globally recognised FinTech. Sophie joined Atom at its inception in 2014 and has covered a number of disciplines to support the start-up’s rapid growth from a team of just six to c.400 today. She played a significant role in securing Atom’s banking license, was Programme Director for the launch of the bank and has acted as Chief of Staff to the CIO.

Sophie joined Atom Bank from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership where, as Deputy Director, she played a central role in driving the development of the Strategic Economic Plan for the North East. The plan secured £290m in a competitive national bidding process - the third highest award in the country.

Previously, Sophie led a strategy team at the Department for Work and Pensions responsible for advising ministers on the viability of new policy proposals. She also advised on the digitalisation of services and a major organisational restructure to deliver digital transformation.

Sophie joined the Civil Service Fast Stream in 2010 before joining the Cabinet Office, where she project managed the launch of Big Society Capital – the world’s first social investment bank, and oversaw the £150m loan book of the Futurebuilders fund.

Sophie gained a BSc in Biology from the University of Nottingham (2004) and graduated with distinction from Northumbria University in both her MSc in Business and Management (2009) and her MBA (2014).

Peter Judge, MBE


  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member
  • Remuneration Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member
  • Senior Independent Governor

Peter Judge has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020 and is Chair of its Remuneration Committee.

A Northumbria graduate (Law 1993 and Legal Practice Course 1994), Peter re-joined the Board in January 2020 having previously served on the Board from 2010-2012.  Peter also holds a master’s degree in International and European law from Durham University and has served as Durham’s University Secretary.

Peter currently chairs the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), and the Development Trust of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM).  He is also a Board member of the Marine Management Organisation.

A solicitor with a wealth of leadership experience gained in complex organisations, Peter’s early career was as a corporate lawyer in private practice before serving as Legal and Procurement Director and Group Company Secretary of the Regional Development Agency, One North East and other in-house roles. Peter most recently worked as the Chief Legal Officer of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, continuing his work in the North East’s economic development.

As Attorney General of the British Overseas Territories of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014-2017), Peter was responsible for all the Governments’ legal and regulatory functions including directing public prosecutions and new legislation.

Peter was appointed as an MBE for services to Economic Development and the North East region in 2012 and named UK In-House Lawyer of the Year by The Lawyer Magazine in 2010.

Simon Yellowley


  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Simon Yellowley has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020.

Simon is Senior Consultant at Regional Network Solutions. Simon previously worked for BT having left in June 2020 where he was the North of England Regional Chair for British Telecoms (BT), and he also ran BT’s Public Sector business across the North of England with customers including Local Authorities, Health (National and Regional), Ambulance, Fire and Rescue, Universities and the largest Housing Associations. Simon is also a CBI Regional Councillor.

Previously Simon was the North East Regional Chair for BT and has run BT’s Public Sector business across various geographies in the UK.

Simon has held a number of different roles within his 22 year BT career, including Industry Executive, Business Development Director, Principle Consultant and Business Analyst. Simon has worked in the ICT industry for 30 years and one of his personal highlights was to Partner with South Tyneside Council to create BT South Tyneside, a successful 10 year strategic partnership to create local jobs, operate efficient Council services and build a new BT building on the riverside in South Tyneside.

Outside work, he enjoys running, art, dog walking and the historic Northumberland coast and countryside.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Wathey, CBE

  • Vice ChancellorVice-Chancellor
  • Chief Executive
  • Board of Governors – Member
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member
  • Nominations Committee – Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member 
  • Remuneration Committee – Attendee
  • Senior Posts Appointments Committee – Member

Professor Andrew Wathey became Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University in September 2008. He is the University's fourth Vice-Chancellor. Previously, he was Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway, University of London, from 2006, and Vice-Principal from 2003.

He was appointed Professor of Music History at Royal Holloway, University of London in 1999, where he was also Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He was a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College Oxford, and then a Research Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge, moving to Royal Holloway in 1989. He was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1998. Since 1989 he has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; he is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and of the Royal Society of the Arts, and was a Vice-President of the Royal Musical Association from 2001 to 2009.

Professor Wathey’s published research focuses on the social and cultural history of music in late-medieval England and France. He is a co-founder of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), and a member of the British Academy's Early English Church Music Committee, which he chaired 2002-2007. He also chaired the Music subject panel in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

Professor Wathey has served on a number of national bodies and committees. He chairs the Student Loans Company Stakeholder Forum, and is a Board member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, and of the Quality Assurance Agency, and is a member of the Council of the All Party Parliamentary Universities Group. He has chaired the North East regional higher education association Universities for the North East, and was Deputy Chair of the University Alliance 2009-12.

Regionally, he is an elected Member of the CBI Regional Council, and a Governor of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He also serves on the Boards of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

Professor Wathey was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year 2016 Honours List, for services to Higher Education.

Staff Representatives

Lorraine BrownLorraine Brown

  • Board of Governors –  Elected Professional Support Staff Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Observer

Lorraine Brown has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2017, having served a previous term as professional support staff Governor between 2011 and 2014.

 John Taylor

  • Board of Governors – Elected Academic Staff Governor

John Taylor has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2018, having served two previous terms as academic staff Governor between 2007 and 2011.

Please see John Taylor's staff profile page here

Academic Board Representatives

Jean Brown

  • Board of Governors – Academic Staff Representative Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Jean Brown has been on the Board of Northumbria University since August 2019.

Please see Jean Brown's staff profile page here


Daniel Monk

  • Board of Governors – Academic Staff Representative Member

Daniel Monk has been on the Board of Northumbria University since October 2020.

Please see Daniel Monk's staff profile page here


Student Representatives

Gaz Smith

  • Board of Governors – Student Representative Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Gaz Smith is the current Students' Union President for 2021/22.  Gaz sits on the Board of Governors in his capacity as a student representative.

Gaz leads a team of five sabbatical officers in the Students’ Union and also chairs the Union's Board of Trustees. The sabbatical officers have been elected by students, for students whilst they are also responsible for the strategic management of the students’ union.

Gaz is accountable to the Student Council (a democratic, representative body within the Students’ Union) for his actions and conduct as President of the Students’ Union.  

Ava Sjoberg

  • Board of Governors – Student Representative Member
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Observer 

Ava is the Vice President Education 21/22 and sits on the Board of Governors as a student representative. She represents students and their Northumbria education, particularly at an Undergraduate level. She leads a team of 24 representatives from all Departments and Faculties to ensure the student voice is heard across the University.

Secretary to Board of Governors

Georgina Bailes is Secretary to the Board of Governors

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