Arthur Merchant (Chair) 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. 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. He has been a regular speaker at major housing events and conferences.
Simone Buckley joined the Group Board in July 2015. She was previously Chair of the Group’s South Region Resident Services Panel and a Customer Services Committee Member. Simone is currently a member of the Group's Customer Safety Committee. Simone has over fifteen years’ experience working within blue chip organisations both in the UK and Australia, specialising in change management, communications and business integration.
Robert Clark is a qualified member of RICS since 1974, Robert Clark retired as CEO of Durkan Ltd in 2016. As Managing Director and CEO, he was responsible for the management of all Construction Projects, Business Planning and HR management.
His board & committee experience has included Joint-Venture Companies, Housing Associations, Construction Skills Training, The Housing Forum and The Hertfordshire Housing Conference.
Janet Collier is Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee and 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 now 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.
Abi Gray is the Chair of the Remuneration and Nominations Committee, having served on the committee for 2 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 joined the Board in September 2019 and was previously also a member of the Customer Services Committee.
Jo has over 30 years’ experience in the private sector having worked with a number of blue chip companies in differing sectors in corporate finance and treasury roles. This has included asset finance roles within Hilton International and as treasurer of rolling stock lessor Angel Trains. For the last three and half years she has been Group Treasurer of Marks and Spencer plc with responsibilities for the global treasury, pensions investments , captive insurance, M&S Bank and partnering business services. She is a fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers and a qualified accountant. She is also Chair of the Finsatra DB pension scheme.
David Lewis joined the Group in September 2019 and has over 25 years asset management, regeneration and procurement experience in local government, ALMO’s and housing associations. David has held both NED and director positions for G15 housing associations and currently runs his own consultancy providing asset management and property services support to the housing sector. David is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and RICS.
Carol Rosati OBE has over 25 years experience of talent management and workforce development, focusing on diversity and Inclusion. She is currently Lead Equality Diversity and Inclusion specialist at the Met Office. She is also a qualified executive coach and runs her coaching business v2 Coaching. Carol joined Southern in 2014 and chaired the Remuneration and Nominations Committee from 2016 to 2019 before being appointed as our Senior Independent Director. Carol is also Chair of Spruce Homes. She is also Vice Chair of UN Women UK and Chairs the Nominations Committee. In 2020 she also joined the Board of Alliance Homes based in Somerset, and she was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2015 Birthday New Honours List for Services to Women in Business.
Alan Townshend has over 32 years of experience in the affordable housing sector, working with both public and private companies and running his own consultancy firm. Alan became 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.
Mary Watkins is the Chair of the Community Investment and Care Committee. She has extensive board experience in the housing and health and social care sectors, including another housing provider and Chaired the Quality and Governance Committee at South Western Ambulance Service Foundation NHS trust where latterly she was Deputy Chair and SID. Her experience has involved significant changes to the businesses in which she has been a board member including the amalgamation of two NHS providers and two housing associations.
She is a qualified nurse, has held a University Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor position and published extensively in the fields of health and social care. She is a Visiting Professor at King's College London.
Mary was appointed a Cross Bench Life Peer in 2015 and speaks regularly on housing issues.