Meet the board
Our board members
In March 2020, The Stevenage Development Board was established to oversee the development of a Town Deal for Stevenage. The Board’s role is to provide strategic leadership and to set out a Town Investment Plan with a clear vision, strategy and delivery proposals in place, which reflect the ambitions of local people. The Board consists of key stakeholders from public sector organisations, private businesses, and not-for-profit organisation, to ensure a diverse range of views are represented.
The Board is chaired by Adrian Hawkins, founder of Weldability Sif and co-founder of biz4Biz, who has recently served as the Deputy Chair of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Adrian Hawkins OBE
Adrian Hawkins OBE is the former Deputy Chair of Hertfordshire LEP, Chair of the LEP’s Skills and Employment Board and the Founder of Weldability SIF, an innovative advanced manufacturing firm based in Letchworth Garden City. He is the Chairman and Co-founder of biz4Biz, an organisation established to support Hertfordshire business owners and leaders, as well as a Patron of Business Clubs, working alongside local MPs.
Adrian is a former School and College Governor and Chair of an Academy Trust. Adrian is also the Founder of the Weldability SIF Foundation, a registered charity which, working alongside FE Colleges and businesses like Make UK and EDF, has created 35 Welding Skills Training College Studios across the UK, delivering 16,000 qualifications since its inception.
Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE
Stevenage Borough Council
Councillor Sharon Taylor OBE is Leader of Stevenage Borough Council; a position she has held since 2006. Councillor Taylor was Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association and Deputy Leader of the Local Government Association Labour Group from 2008-2017. She is also a member of Hertfordshire County Council and was Leader of Hertfordshire County Council Labour Group from 2009-2014. Councillor Taylor is currently a member of the Local Government Association Resources Board and the District Council’s Network Board.
Councillor Taylor was born and brought up in Stevenage and was elected to Stevenage Borough Council for the first time in 1997. She is a mother of three and has 6 grandchildren.
Councillor Taylor has an extensive portfolio of experience, which includes being the Parliamentary candidate for Stevenage in 2010, 2015 and 2017, and a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum from 2010-2018. She is a graduate of the Leadership Academy and Leeds Castle Programme, a member of Labour’s ‘Learning the Lessons’ Task Force and co-author of Labour’s Local Government Innovation Task Force Report published in 2015. Councillor Taylor is a Localism Commissioner and was appointed Chair of the Co-op Council’s Innovation Network in 2017.
She is a Trustee of the Betty Game Opportunity Trust, a local education charity and volunteers regularly at the Stevenage Community Food Bank. Prior to becoming Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, Councillor Taylor worked as a Senior Civilian Manager for Hertfordshire Constabulary until 2008.
Cllr John Gardner
Portfolio Holder for Environment & Regeneration
Stevenage Borough Council
John is currently a Stevenage Borough Councilor and Portfolio Holder for the Environment and Regeneration.
Prior to becoming a Councillor in 1998 John had a 37+ year career in the aerospace industry. First coming to Stevenage in 1956, after joining English Electric which eventually morphed into British Aerospace, John moved through a range of engineering jobs into project management including being Project Director for a range of defense systems. During his airspace career he enjoyed a number of years in Australia and the USA.
Returning from the USA in 1996 John was keen to play a part in helping to shape the future of Stevenage. John has a lifelong interest in urban development based on consideration of social justice and environmental sustainability. A member of the TCPA, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Fellow of the London Zoological Society, John is equally enthusiastic about spatial planning as biodiversity. His other interests include photography, nature, geography, sport and social history.
John is married to Michelle. Their daughter, Natalie, was born in Stevenage and is now living and working in London.
Cllr David Williams
Hertfordshire County Council
David Williams is the Conservative Leader of Hertfordshire County Council. He was first elected in 2013 as the member for Harpenden North East and became Leader of the Council in November 2017.
David is passionate that good local growth builds on the strengths of the Hertfordshire economy, is sustainable and delivers good quality homes to meet local housing needs. He chairs the Hertfordshire Growth Board and sits on the board of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Nationally and regionally, David is the chairman of the County Councils Network – a cross party grouping for the 36 county authorities that represent 26 million residents and account for 39% of England’s GVA. He sits on the Executive of the Local Government Association.
David is also a deputy chair of the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium, a member of South East Strategic Leaders and the leaders’ group of England’s Economic Heartland.
Born and educated in North Wales, he has an economics degree from Cardiff University and an MBA from Henley Business School.
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE
Chief Executive Officer
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst
Sally Ann has been responsible for the strategy, growth and development of 4 internationally recognised science parks including Harwell Oxford (STFC), Colworth Science Park (Unilever), Norwich Research Park (BBSRC) and most recently Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (GSK/Wellcome).
Sally began her career with Unilever as part of the management training scheme and later had lead responsibility for In-Licensing, Strategic Alliances and Open Innovation within the Unilever Foods and Discovery divisions. Being part of the founding team of Unilever Ventures and Unilever Technology Ventures gave Sally Ann an insight into the needs of growing companies. She gained her property experience through Goodman International where she was Director of Science Parks responsible for the development and management of their UK portfolio.
Sally Ann is passionate about the translation of UK science into world leading innovations and the creation of supportive environments to help early stage companies grow. She has a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge and is a qualified management accountant (CGMA).
Chief Executive Officer
Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce
Briege Leahy is the recently appointed CEO of the Hertfordshire Chamber Commerce.
With over 20 years’ experience in technology logistics across global industries including banking/retail, data centres, medical and telecoms corporates she brings a wealth of knowledge and business contacts to the Herts Chamber.
The founder of Luna Logistics Ltd which was acquired in May 18. This was both an exciting and challenging opportunity which galvanised her career in growing a successful enterprise, working with corporates such as NCR, Canon, Toshiba Medical, and Vonage SG Gaming Traffic Master.
Managing and mentoring a young and dedicated team underpinned her hard work and dedication to ensure the enduring legacy of a thriving company.
Briege lives in Hertfordshire and is actively involved in the community being the Chair of the housing group for the Braughing Neighbourhood Plan and charities including the Red Cross open gardens, and Braughing Community Wellbeing.
Chief of Staff
Claire Dicks is the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the Deputy Managing Director at MBDA responsible for Infrastructure in the UK across all sites and our product portfolio. Claire has particular responsibility for driving MBDAs engagement in the Community to stimulate growth and promote synergies for the UK Governments industrial Strategy aims.
Claire has worked for MBDA for 9 years in various group strategic roles working internationally before taking up the CoS role 3 years ago. Claire started her career in banking moving on to Cambridgeshire County Council and the Ministry of Defence before taking up strategic positions in Westminster working for the Department for Education.
The Wine Society
Steve is an experienced retailer and has held senior executive roles at a number of household-name retailers including Marks & Spencer, Gap Inc. and Clarks International. Prior to joining The Wine Society as Chief Executive in 2019 he was Chief Commercial Officer at Clarks, a role he took up in 2014. During his retail career, Steve has held leadership roles in sales, operations, and HR, and operational responsibility for IT, Supply Chain and Digital.
Dr Stephen Ward
Chief Manufacturing Officer
Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult UK
Stephen became the Chief Manufacturing Officer of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in 2018, leading the strategic manufacturing, supply chain, skills and industrial growth programmes. Prior to this, Stephen was the founding Chief Operating Officer from January 2013, establishing the world-class process and analytical capabilities at both the Guy’s Hospital facilities in London; plus, designed, built and obtained a GMP license for the innovative manufacturing centre in Stevenage. He brings a career in biological medicine research, development, and manufacturing to the organisation, with a cell and gene focus for almost 2 decades.
Stephen enjoys bringing cutting edge technologies to patients, by developing commercially viable products. Stephen is passionate about securing and growing the cell and gene therapy manufacturing and development supply chain. He is the current Chair of the BIA’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee, actively promoting and supporting UK biomanufacturing at Government as well as grass root level.
Stephen’s first degree was from the University of Birmingham, and his second degree from the Medical School of Southampton University.
Chief Executive Officer
Since 2017, Ed has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Wenta, a Not-for-Profit Social Enterprise that supports pre-starts, start-ups and small businesses.
Ed is responsible for leading the organisation and providing the strategic direction. This involves working closely with Wenta’s Board Members and the Wenta Staff Team to ensure that, throughout the organisation, Wenta is always client-focused, continually striving to provide innovation and support to the business community.
Previously, Ed worked as the CEO of the ‘Peel Institute’, COO of ‘Coin Street Community Builders’ and as the Director of the National Charity at ‘Shelter’, as well as providing consultancy services across finance strategy, change management, product and brand development.
Earlier in his career, Ed worked in Senior Leadership roles within a fashion subsidiary of ‘Clarks International’, (the footwear retailer), leading brand development through operations, marketing and store design.
Ed is a lifelong Spurs supporter and has always been a keen golfer, but openly admits that his handicap could use a little work!
North Hertfordshire College
Kit is CEO of Hart Learning Group and Principal of North Hertfordshire College, an occupationally-focused further education college with campuses in Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth.
Kit has a degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at King’s College London. He is a member of the Public Sector Chief Executive Group and sits on the SEND Executive Board and Hertfordshire Schools Forum. Kit joined the LEP board in April 2019 and also sits on the LEP’s Skills and Employment Board and Programme Management Committee.
Lytton Enterprises Ltd
Martha Lytton Cobbold is the Managing Director of Lytton Enterprises Ltd., and Knebworth Estates and administrates the Knebworth House Education and Preservation Trust. She has worked with Knebworth House enterprises for over 27 years and volunteers/supports many local community groups and charities.
Martha chairs the VisitHerts DMO for the county, and is Deputy President of the Historic House Association which represents over 1500 heritage sites nationally, she is due to become President in November 2020.
Martha champions tourism, leisure and culture within the county and worked with the inward investment and tourism committees in the early days of the Herts LEP, along with many Stevenage business advisory groups over the decades including the Stevenage Arts and Heritage Forum, and is a Patron of the Stevenage Festival.
Born and educated in the USA, Martha is a dual UK/US citizen, and holds a BA from New York University with a double major in Journalism and Art History, and a double minor in law and Spanish.
Chief Executive Officer
Citizens Advice Stevenage
Charlotte Blizzard-Welch is the Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Advice Stevenage, a charity which gives Stevenage people the knowledge and the confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem. Charlotte has been with the Charity over two appointments since 2014 when she joined as a volunteer.
Graduating from the University of Essex in 2013 with a first in Business Administration, she relocated to Stevenage and became a volunteer at Citizens Advice Stevenage and quickly worked her way to the senior leadership team, through a number of roles. In 2018 she took a step into the private sector as Head of Business Development for a Haulage Company returning in 2019 to the Charity she holds a real passion for.
Charlotte champions the third sector and the power of volunteers to achieve sustainable positive social change.
Professor Julie Newlan MBE
University of Hertfordshire
Julie is Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire. She joined the University’s Business School in 1996 as a Senior Lecturer in Business Strategy, and held various posts before being appointed Head of the Business School in 2006.
Julie’s academic career began at the London Institute in 1993, after achieving management success in the hotel and restaurant sector. This included running a chain of high street cafés for Martin The Newsagent, and subsequent strategic marketing and merchandising positions with Guinness when it acquired the business.
Julie is a member of the Hertfordshire LEP Board and the LEP’s Skills & Employment Board.
Norman oversees the operational delivery of all programmes across Hertfordshire LEP’s strategic priority areas, which include Skills, Infrastructure and Enterprise. Norman also supports the LEP’s Skills & Employment Board, working with local education providers and businesses to improve the provision of careers advice for young people, upskill Hertfordshire’s labour market, and ultimately move towards fuller employment within the county for the benefit of its residents, businesses and economy. Norman joined the LEP in 2014.