Southern Housing Group Board


Photo of Arthur Merchant  Arthur Merchant became Chair of the Group Board in July 2016. He is a former partner and Head of Housing for Grant Thornton UK PLC. He specialised in the provision of external and internal audit, business planning, governance and risk management services to the housing sector for over 20 years. His client portfolio also included the local authority, NHS and education sectors. He is a qualified accountant (CIPFA) serving as a member of their housing association panel for over 10 years. Arthur is an experienced non-executive director having served on the boards of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Mind and three other large housing providers. He is also currently a Trustee for the Dorset Mental Health Forum. His experience includes chairing audit and treasury committees and being part of the non-executive working group/committee successfully achieving substantial renegotiation of loan covenants and refinancing at two housing associations.  Arthur is a regular speaker at major housing events and conferences
Daisy Armstrong is a resident board member with life-long experience of living in social housing, and two of her great-grandfathers were housed in ‘Homes for Heroes’ in West London.  As a qualified teacher, she specialised in IT, design and technology. Her non-executive experience includes seven years in school governance before being Chair of Governors for eight years. Daisy's lived experience includes the barriers of being disabled and she is the Board's disability champion. As a member of the Housing and Communities Committee, Daisy is the residents’ advocate.
Phil Blume has, for many years, been the Administrator and fundraiser for a charity that operates in the cultural heritage sector. He works with volunteers to develop a historic building as a heritage centre and museum and organises projects to conserve collections, gather and disseminate historical records and present events and exhibitions. He also collaborates with university researchers to explore ways of telling stories using immersive technologies.
 Photo of Rob Clark

Robert Clarkhas been a qualified member of RICS since 1974 and retired as CEO of Durkan Ltd in 2016. As Managing Director and CEO, Robert was responsible for the management of all construction projects, business planning and HR management.  His board and committee experience has included joint venture companies, housing associations, construction skills training, The Housing Forum and The Hertfordshire Housing Conference 

 Photo of Janet Collier Janet Collier chairs the Group’s Audit and Risk Committee and the Crown Simmons subsidiary board, having joined the Group Board in September 2018. She is a CIPFA accountant with over 30 years’ public sector experience. She has worked at a number of local authorities in both housing and corporate finance and was previously Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance at City West Homes. She has also worked as a consultant providing financial consultancy and training for public sector organisations, especially on social housing finance and value for money. She is an experienced non-executive having been a board member and Chair of Audit Committee at another housing association and is currently also a board member and Chair of Audit and Risk at Advance Housing and Support
 Photo of Abi Gray

Abi Gray joined the Board in September 2019 and chairs the Group’s Remuneration and Nominations Committee, having served on the Committee for two years. Abi has 10 years' customer services experience, specialising in building customer-centric cultures by empowering employees to deliver excellent customer service. Abi is a qualified coach, counsellor and a specialist in employee engagement. Abi was previously also a member of the Customer Services Committee

 Photo of Joanna Hawkes

Joanna Hawkes joined the Board in July 2017 and chairs the Group’s Finance Committee. She is currently Director of Corporate Finance for Transport for London where she oversees the structured financing  for Treasury and Insurance and Pensions and  financing for  infrastructure, transport, and housing projects. She has been closely involved with all the funding discussions with HMG during the pandemic, since joining in March 2020. She has over 30 years’ experience in the private sector having worked with a number of blue-chip companies in various sectors in corporate finance and treasury roles. Most recently she was  Group Treasurer of Marks and Spencer plc. She is also Independent Chair of the Finastra defined benefit pension scheme

 Photo of David Lewis

David Lewis chairs the Group’s Housing and Communities Committee. He joined the Group Board in September 2019 and has over 25 years' asset management, regeneration and procurement experience in local government, Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) and housing associations. David has held both non-executive director and director positions for G15 housing associations and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and RICS

 Photo of Carol Rosati

Carol Rosati OBE is the Board’s Senior Independent Director (SID). She has over 25 years’ experience of talent management and workforce development, focusing on diversity and inclusion. She is currently UK lead Inclusion and Diversity for GSK. She is also a qualified executive coach and runs a coaching business, v2 Coaching. Carol joined the Group Board in 2014 and chaired the Remuneration and Nominations Committee from 2016 to 2019, before being appointed as SID.  She is Vice Chair of UN Women UK and chairs their Nominations Committee. In 2020, she also joined the Board of Alliance Homes based in Somerset, where she is both SID and Chair of the Remuneration and People's Committee. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2015 Birthday New Honours List for Services to Women in Business

Photo of Alan Townshend

Alan Townshend has almost 35 years of experience in the affordable housing sector, working with both public and private companies and running his own consultancy firm. Alan became Group Chief Executive in September 2018, having previously been Group Development Director for three years. Prior to joining the Group, Alan worked at Wandle Housing, initially joining as its Asset Investment Director before being appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer and overseeing the operational and strategic side of the business. His other roles include seven years at Circle Group as Group Regional Operations Director. Alan is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing

Ian Wilson is currently Joint Head of Residential Fund Management at Knight Frank Investment Management.  Previously he worked at CBRE Investment Management and was instrumental in launching the CBRE UK Affordable Housing Fund in 2018.  Ian has worked in real estate fund management since 2006 undertaking a variety of asset management, fund management and development roles. Prior to this he worked as both a residential and commercial property valuer.  Ian has worked in the real estate industry for over 20 years and has been a Member of RICS since 2000.