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Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chair

Roy was born in England but moved to Central and Southern Africa with his family before his first birthday. During this time, Roy lived in Zambia and Zimbabwe as his dad worked for the copper mines and railways to improve efficiency. At age eighteen, Roy spent almost three years in remote parts of Zimbabwe during the country’s fight for independence, working in a civic capacity for the District Commissioner in Chipenge, close to the border with Mozambique.

Roy attended Sunday School and Church while growing up and committed to the Christian faith during his teenage years. Thanks to The Evangelical Alliance Mission in Zimbabwe, Roy had the opportunity to attend university in America. He pursued his education at Houghton College, a Wesleyan Liberal Arts college in New York State, and later attended Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

While in the United States, Roy worked with several organisations, including the Fuller Institute for Evangelism and Church Growth, the Presbyterian Church of Sunnyvale, and Episcopal Charities. He also served as the Stated Pulpit Supply for the Welsh Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles while attending seminary.

In 2004, Roy returned to the UK and assumed the position of Director of Development at St Christopher’s Fellowship, a children’s services charity. He then held Group CEO roles for Careers Development Group, Shaw Trust, and Capital City College Group. In each position Roy has undertaken, there has been a compelling social mission with a need for commercial acumen and a charitable purpose to achieve success. Throughout his career, he has played a central role in establishing innovative operating models, developing commercially sustainable activities to contribute cash reserves to charitable entities, and improving performance across complex groups.

Roy was integral in launching new ventures in his CEO roles, such as the Shaw Education Trust, 01Founders, and Visionnaires. He also led significant mergers and acquisitions, bringing the Disabled Living Foundation, Ixion and Prospects into the Shaw Trust Group. Roy retired from paid executive roles in March 2023.

Before his retirement, Roy served on several boards, including as the past Chair of Yateley Industries for the Disabled, and European VP for Rehabilitation International. In 2018 Roy led Shaw Trust in hosting the Global Conference for Rehabilitation in Edinburgh. He is a former Governor at Welburn Primary School in North Yorkshire, serves on the Executive Committee of St Michael’s Church in Crambe and chairs the Barton Le Willows Parish Council. In addition, Roy also chairs Bellanno Ltd and Twin Group.

Roy is married and has two children. His son is grown up and lives in the USA while his daughter is still in school and serves as a chorister at York Minster.

Roy’s association with the YMCA started as a teenager in Zimbabwe. It continued whilst living in San Francisco, where he was a member of the YMCA and a founding paying member of the Presidio YMCA. In the UK, several YMCAs were valued sub-contractors to CDG and Shaw Trust, supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people to find work.

Emma Osmundsen

Emma Osmundsen, Vice Chair

Emma Osmundsen is Chair of YMCA Exeter, a local YMCA charity and Housing Association that provides supported accommodation for young people as well as community outreach projects including job clubs, prison projects and youth work.

Emma has more than 20 years of professional consultancy experience in property, construction and development and is a qualified Chartered Building Surveyor.

She is Shadow Director (Development) at Exeter City Council and was elected to the National Council of YMCAs’ Board of Trustees in 2016.

Peter Calderbank

Peter Calderbank

Peter is the Chairman of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee at YMCA England & Wales.

He is a qualified chartered accountant and is currently the Chief Executive of Field Lane, a charity providing care, accommodation and support for adults with learning disabilities and vulnerable families. In his early career he undertook a number of commercial finance roles before becoming the Finance Director at BSS, a national charity providing information, support and advice to people through the delivery of high quality information services. In 2002 he was appointed Chief Executive of BSS and then, in 2015, Peter joined Field Lane as Chief Executive.

In addition to his executive experience, he has sat on a number of boards in a non-executive capacity. These have included being Chairman of the London Early Years Foundation, Chairman of The Helplines Association (THA) and being a trustee of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO).

In addition to his role at YMCA England & Wales, he is also currently a non-executive director at Inquilab Housing Association which provides social housing and related services for a wide range of London communities.

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Ross Hendry

Ross is chief executive of the Christian Social Policy Charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education), one of the oldest Christian organisations working with politicians across the UK which runs a pioneering internship programme for young adults interested in politics.

Before leading CARE Ross was the chief executive of the children’s charity Spurgeons which he joined after working with the Children’s Commissioner for England. In both roles he was a passionate advocate for young people’s participation in the development of public policy and the rights of marginalised and vulnerable children. Ross’ earlier career included roles in Action for Children, Unison, London Councils, and a London School of Economics based think tank/ research centre called CASE.

He is also a trustee of the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge (a Christian think-tank), the Family Matters Institute, and on the church council of a large and diverse church in the west end of London. There he leads a programme called the Ergon Fellowship which helps young adults study the theology of work and consider how their faith applies to their profession.

Jonathan Row

Jonathan Rowe

Jon was elected to the National Board in December 2019. He has been involved in the work of the YMCA at a local level for over 10 years. He originally joined the board of Wolverhampton YMCA in 2007 and was rather unusually asked to become Chair almost straight away. In 2009 the Boards of Wolverhampton and West Bromwich YMCA’s entered negotiations which culminated in them merging in 2010 and forming Black Country YMCA.

Initially, Jon was appointed joint chair of the new association and for the last 4 years has been sole chair. He stepped down from the board of Black Country YMCA in November 2010 and is looking forward to serving in a national capacity. After a 39 year career in Insurance and Financial Services Jon disposed of his business interests to pursue a new vocation and was one of the founding Pastors of Springs Church (Gornal) a free evangelical church that has a vision of “being a church for those who don’t do church” This was evidenced by the fact that the church was started in a local pub! Over the last few years, it has experienced substantial growth and now has a regular congregation of approx 100 and operates from a community hub in Gornal village centre.

Married to Carol, Jon is a keen golfer and was captain of Enville Golf club in 2015. He also takes an “unhealthy interest” in the fortunes of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC!

Jon’s passion for the YMCA is to see us move forward into our next 175 years based on the firm foundation of our Christian heritage.

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Hanna Sebright

Hanna graduated from the University of Kent in 1984  after which she joined British Airways where she was fortunate to spend much of the next decade travelling worldwide.

In 1995 she took on the role of Business Development Director at New Hall Hospital, Salisbury subsequently  transferring to the Berkshire Independent Hospital, both hospitals being in the Capio Group.  This was the beginning of a long association in health care.   In 2000 she left to take a new role as a Senior Health Consultant at the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA Technology/ Momenta) working on a number of government health care programmes.  She left in 2003 to join the  Real Creative Group as Business Development Director where she launched a digital led  health care communications programme in hospitals across the UK.

Real Creative Group was subsequently bought out by ScreenFX when Hanna was appointed Managing Director of a new operating division; HealthFX.

In 2006, she led a management buy-out and founded Electronic Health Media (EHM), a health screen messaging system in real time, showcased in NHS hospital and GP surgery waiting areas. Subsequently  EHM was bought by  Lord Sugar when Hanna became Managing Director of Amscreen Healthcare.

Hanna has been Chief Executive at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity since 2009 leading the Charity through a period of significant change and development. During this time she has held the roles of Vice Chair and Chair of the Association of Air Ambulances, the national representative body of UK Air Ambulance Charities and is currently a Trustee and a founder member of  Air Ambulances UK (AAUK).

Gillian

Gillian Sewell

Gillian Sewell is the Chief Executive of YMCA Derbyshire, Described by ‘Communities and Local Government’ as a visionary leader.

Gillian a graduate youth and community worker and business manager has transformed her YMCA by extending its youth empowerment activities, and masterminding the facility, known as The Campus for Learning and Development, a campus recognised as a Centre of National Significance with flagship status by the Department for Communities and Local Government for the combination of supported housing and vocational training tracking the employment opportunities of its local community.

Gillian is also an International strategic adviser to World Council of YMCAs on youth empowerment as well as a national YMCA England regional business development task and finish CEO developing regional strategies with underpinning funding plans around, sales, grants, contracts and fundraising.

Married to Ian, she is a mother to three sons – Mark, Matthew and Lewis

Dawn Ward

Dawn Ward CBE

Dawn is Chief Executive and Principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College.  She is a council member of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and a Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

She has had a successful international career, has extensive experience in senior positions at Board level (both as a member and Chair) across a number of national groups and is a published author. She has received numerous awards for her leading contribution to skills and education.

She served as a member of the expert panel for the Lingfield Review on Professionalism in Further Education and is now Deputy Chair of The Chartered Institution for Further Education, Dawn is a Trustee of YMCA Birmingham and a Trustee of the League of Mercy.  She has devoted her life to working with young people, raising aspirations and opportunities for all. She is married with two sons.

Chris Stern YMCA Bio

Chris Stern

Chris joined the YMCA E&W Board in December 2020. Chris is on the West London YMCA Board and a member of the Risk and Audit Committee for SPG YMCA. Currently Senior Independent Director for StepChange, the largest UK debt charity, and Pension and Investment Trustee at Centrica PLC.

He is a Licensed Lay Minister within the Church of England and acknowledges that his faith provides an important foundation for his desire to help young people and to see individuals reach their full potential. Previously he was Chairman of British Gas Insurance, a large UK insurer, and NED on several boards in the financial service and residential services market.

A qualified accountant, he enjoyed a successful executive career with British Gas and Centrica, undertaking a variety of roles including CEO BG Insurance, and prior to this Divisional Finance Director, for;  British Gas Services, Centrica Business Services, and the Automobile Association.

Paul Brown

Paul Forrester-Brown

Paul is currently the Chief Executive of YMCA Leicestershire with over 40 years of experience in community-based work, specifically with disadvantaged young people/adults.

Previously Paul was the head of youth services in the London Borough of Camden, an area youth officer in Birmingham and part of a specialist team of training and development workers in Coventry. He has a wealth of experience in social housing, education, health, governance, charity and property law.

Paul sits as a director of a Midlands Academy Trust and is a serving magistrate (over 20 years) specialising in youth and domestic violence courts; he was a former member of Leicestershire Police Authority, where he chaired a range of committees including professional standards, stop and search and EDI issues.

Paul currently chairs Leicestershire Police Adult and Youth Scrutiny Panels for out-of-court disposals.

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Josh Walker-Brooks

Josh is Head of Research and Development at YMCA Crewe, where he has worked since 2016. His work includes strategic development of new projects, fundraising, and understanding the needs of local communities. As part of his role at YMCA Crewe, Josh also develops videos, photographs events, and ensures consistency in branding and graphic design.

In addition to his work at YMCA Crewe, Josh has lectured in Pauline Studies and the Old Testament and spent ten years fronting Christian bands and playing music across the UK. He has an MA in Theology, focusing on the practical application of academic Biblical Studies for personal ethics and mental health recovery. Josh believes that the Christian faith is best expressed when it provides hope for people in their lives, and this belief underpins his work and direction.

Josh lives in Crewe with his wife and enjoys reading, exploring, and a good binge of a TV show.

Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Charlie is the Community Partnership Manager at YMCA Norfolk, where she supports the running of youth projects such as youth clubs and educational programmes.

Charlie has worked for YMCA Norfolk since leaving university, working on various pilot projects that are still running within YMCA Norfolk. Whilst working at YMCA, Charlie has also participated in YMCA England and Wales’ Youth Ambassador Programme. Charlie has built her confidence and skill set around supporting campaigns through this voluntary position. This role has also led Charlie to represent YMCA at events in Switzerland, New York and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Charlie’s passion is to ensure that all young people can have their voices heard.

Living on the east coast by the beach is a perk for Charlie, where she is often found walking the dog with her family. Even sometimes taking a dip in the sea!

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Alex Taylor

Alex is a JNC-qualified youth and community worker with a post-grad in Autism; her background is in SEND and participation. She has a passion for voice, equity and co-production.

She is the SEND Participation Officer for Barnsley MBC, working to ensure that children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers have a voice in shaping services, decisions and strategies across the local area. Alex is also a youth worker for the Yorkshire and Humber YouthWork Unit, where she coordinates young people’s voice work across the region.

Alex has been a member of YMCA Barnsley since birth, joining their board in 2014 at the age of 21 and recently elected vice chair.

Alex graduated YMCA England and Wales’ Youth Ambassador program after joining its original cohort in 2016. She is the current chair of the YMCA Europe nominations committee and a YMCA Europe Youth Policy Group member. She has often represented YMCA locally, nationally and globally at places such as the Council of Europe, the European Youth Forum and the United Nations.