Our Trustee nominees for 2018

Stephen Craker


With over 20 years’ experience working at senior management level, Stephen has broad strategic and operational experience across public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He possesses solid knowledge of marketing and communications, IM&T, governance, procurement, risk management, change management and performance analysis.

Having worked in the public and not-for-profit sector for over 18 years, Stephen understands the complexities involved when operating in politically sensitive arenas. He believes the current political climate is especially important due to the unprecedented rate of change that Local Authorities and the NHS are undergoing. In this changing environment, NAVCA needs to ensure local organisations and partners understand and have the opportunity to influence change. 

Whilst working across the public and not-for-profit sectors, Stephen has been able to create trusting relationships with key stakeholders and is recognised as being in dialogue with, and acting upon, community views which has led to an increased understanding of the voluntary and community sector within the public-sector organisations.

Stephen believes it is essential to drive forward the achievement of NAVCA’s mission that creates a climate that empowers local infrastructure organisations with a focus on outcomes, sustainability, effective use of technology, collaboration and programme innovation. It would be a privilege to be able to take the organisation through its next period of development.

Stephen is CEO of Communities 1st, a newly merged infrastructure organisation (bringing together Community Hertsmere and Community Central St Albans) in Hertfordshire. In his spare time, he is involved with a number of voluntary and community-based enterprises, including Chair of Volunteering Herts CIC, as an Enterprise Advisor for a national non-profit, Editor for a newsletter that champions improved services for Older People and as Chair of Governors for a local primary school.

Judy Robinson


NAVCA has made great progress over the last three years but much remains to be done to meet the needs and aspiration of its members. After three years a trustee I’d like to continue to be part of the future of NAVCA.

In particular, my focus is:

* Communication: using communication systems to develop intelligence, engage with membership and influence others - vital for NAVCA;

* Health & social care: I Chair Sheffield Healthwatch and have understanding of critical issues and the increasing role the VCS and infrastructure play to ensure people are at the heart of services ;

* Governance: experiencing directly issues and opportunities facing local infrastructure. I bring the perspective of a trustee and of a volunteer but previously was an infrastructure chief officer and now a trustee of VA Rotherham, and, working closely with VA Sheffield via Sheffield Healthwatch

I want NAVCA to:

* offer tangible support to members,

* promote the role of infrastructure,

* contribute, with members, new responses to social and economic problems.

I will bring:

* senior executive and trustee experience in infrastructure organisations;

* commitment to equality and diversity and their practical expression;

* understanding of strategic planning ;

* understanding of and involvement in the policy environment, especially place;

* capacity to make positive and collaborative relationships…and a sense of humour !

Wendy Stephenson


The reduction in public services and increased reliance on voluntary/social action means that local voluntary sector infrastructure is more important than ever in supporting, co-ordinating and championing local social action. NAVCA is the only national voice for local infrastructure.

I was elected to NAVCA's board in 2015 and have been vice-chair since 2016. Until June 2017, I was CEO of Voscur, Bristol's local infrastructure organisation. I have more than 30 years' experience in the social economy sector at senior management level, as a trustee, and as a volunteer.

Having completed a three year term as a NAVCA board member, working with staff and fellow trustees to steer NAVCA through a period of massive change, I would very much welcome the opportunity to serve a further term and help NAVCA consolidate the changes and move into its next phase. Also, with the departure of two key officers this year, I would offer continuity of support to the new chair and treasurer.

The board has agreed that a governance review should take place now, in line with the whole organisation restructure, and I am keen to help the new NAVCA chair carry this out and ensure that we reflect and respect diversity in the organisation as well as across our membership.

NAVCA Board of Trustees

We have a fantastic, committed and enthusiastic Board of Trustees, chaired by Caroline Schwaller MBE.

The Board meets four times a year, each time at a different member's location, and hosts our Annual General Meeting in the autumn.

Trustees also attend events, speaking engagements, meetings and roundtables on behalf of NAVCA and our members.

Chair: Caroline Schwaller MBE

Caroline has been NAVCA’s Chair since November 2012 and was previously Vice Chair. 

Alongside local roles, latterly as CEO of KIVCA in Bradford district,  she has represented NAVCA nationally and after 30 years in the sector remains deeply committed to strengthening the voice of local voluntary action to inform government policy, and to the role of national and local infrastructure bodies in stimulating and supporting local voluntary action.

Vice Chair: Wendy Stephenson

Wendy is the former CEO of Voscur in Bristol. Her role at Voscur included strategic and operational management of the organisation, managing staff, representing Voscur locally, regionally and nationally. She worked with the Board of Directors to ensure good governance of Voscur.

Treasurer: Dr Soo Nevison


Dr Soo Nevison is Chief Officer of Community Action Bradford and District. She has worked in the VCS for as long as she can remember, beginning as a volunteer when she was student. 

Soo is committed to local voluntary and community action and sees NAVCA as a vital part of the mechanism in achieving better outcomes for local communities. 

In her role on the Board she brings her extensive personal and professional knowledge of volunteering and rural issues to the table.

Julie Farrow

Julie Farrow has been the Chief Executive at Hunts Forum since April 2008, and leads Support Cambridgeshire, an infrastructure partnership that provides strategic support and development to Cambridgeshire VCS groups. 

She has a specific interest in health and social care issues and is the only VCS representative on Cambridgeshire’s Health and Wellbeing Boa

Richard Jackson


Richard is Chief Officer of Voluntary Action Leeds, an organisation which aims to help ensure that Leeds has a thriving Third Sector through delivering a range of targeted support services to local voluntary and community groups.

As part of his job, Richard has a leadership role within the Third Sector, primarily as a facilitator helping bring conversations and relationships together within neighbourhoods, the City, City Region and England’s Core Cities.

Will Lindesay

Will is the Chief Executive at HVOSS (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service), the leading infrastructure support organisation in Herefordshire, West Midlands. 

Will played a leading role in establishing HVOSS following a merger of 3 local support services in 2012. Prior to this, he was Chief Executive of Herefordshire Voluntary Action for 6 years. 

Will's experience of managing change, mergers implementation and partnership development is an asset to NAVCA and other VCS leaders facing similar challenges.

Melanie Mills


As Social Sector Engagement Director for Big Society Capital, Melanie leads a range of programmes to support social enterprises engage with social investment. 

Previously, Melanie was CEO at Social Enterprise West Midlands CIC (SEWM), a leading membership network established to grow the social enterprise sector across the region. Melanie led it from a publicly funded project to a sustainable social enterprise through four years of trading and growth.

With a background of 20 years in retail Melanie has also deployed her commercial skills to run her own consultancy working with community organisations and charities to raise funds and to look at new ways of sustainable income generation.

Outside of her day job she is also Social Enterprise Champion for Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, and Chair of Governors at a rural primary school. Melanie was part of the Independent Commission which published ‘Change for Good’ which lead to her joining the NAVCA board as a Trustee.

Carole Phillips

Judy Robinson


Judy has worked in the VCS as a staff member, as a volunteer and as a board member. 

She is interested in how voices improve services and democracy and in policy development about local government, equality and local economies. Judy is Chair of HealthWatch Sheffield and promotes the role of VCS in creating wellbeing. 

Judy is a committed northerner and knows Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire well, having been the CEO of Involve Yorkshire and Humber and the Director of GMCVO.

Alison Semmence


Alison has worked in VCS infrastructure since 1997, firstly as the Director of Volunteer Centre Chelmsford and, since October 2008, as Chief Executive of SAVS (Southend Association of Voluntary Services).

Alison is passionate about supporting grass roots community action and in local people having a say in how services are developed and delivered, for example, through co-production. She believes a strong infrastructure is vital to a healthy and vibrant VCS.

Mike Wild



Mike is Chief Executive of Macc, the local development organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in the city of Manchester. 

Since 2005, Mike has led Macc to expand on its policy and campaigning work into areas such as capacity building support for local voluntary organisations, establishing Volunteer Centre Manchester and the Spirit of Manchester programme, an annual celebration of the sector’s work in the city.  

Mike has worked full time in the sector since 1996, having started with voluntary work at school. His background is in advocacy, promoting the voices of the marginalised and seldom-heard alongside creative thinking and values-based working. 

A champion of local voluntary action, Mike also promotes the value of civic leadership and an inclusive economy. Mike sits on Our Manchester Leaders Forum, Manchester Health & Wellbeing Board and a range of local partnership structures. He is also a founder member of the Greater Manchester VCSE Devolution Reference Group.

Board Advisor: John Tizard


John Tizard is a former NAVCA Trustee and since stepping down at the end of his term in 2016 has been a valued independent advisor to the NAVCA Board.


He is an independent strategic advisor and commentator on the VCS, public policy and public services. He works with a range of organisations in the public, VCS, social, trade union, academic and business sectors providing strategic advice and challenge, with a specific focus on governance, strategic change, and collaboration and partnership, and leadership.

John regularly writes, speaks and comments on public policy, leadership, public service reform and practice nationally and internationally. He mentors senior leaders.

John currently holds several non-executive and trustee appointments. He is a former Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Birmingham and a Visiting Fellow at London South Bank University. He is a Fellow of the RSA.

John has held senior positions in the corporate sector, academia and VCS sector; and has been a county councillor and leader of a county council. He has held non-executive and advisory appointments in in the NHS, police, social, housing, education and with central government; and at an European level in local government. John is an economic and mathematics graduate of the London School of Economics.