Our People

Core team

Alex Skailes, Director, Consulting & Professional Development

Alex Skailes is Cass CCE's Director of Consulting and Professional Development. She is also a Senior Lecturer at Cass Business School, Faculty of Management.

Alex is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA), holds their post graduate diploma in charity accounting and has an MSc with distinction from Cass Business School in Voluntary Sector Management. She holds a BA from University College London and is a Freeman of the City of London. Alex is a fellow of both the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce, and the Royal Geographical Society. She is on the finance and audit committees of the Seckford Foundation and Community Action Suffolk.

Find out more about Alex on her Cass Experts page.

Professor Paul Palmer

Professor Paul Palmer is Professor of Voluntary Sector Management.

Paul has extensive knowledge of charity finance, management and governance issues. He was a member of the Charity Commission SORP committee from 2000-2005, and a Past President of the Royal Society of Public Health and a Director of the NCVO Trading Company.

Paul's current voluntary work includes being a Founder Trustee of the Honorary Treasurers Forum, the Chair of the Grant Making Committee of the Hospital Saturday Fund, and Vice President of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. He acts as an independent consultant on Charities to UBS Wealth Management, and an independent expert on charity dispute issues for courts and arbitration.

Find out more about Paul on his Cass Experts page.

Barbara Robertson, Centre Manager

Barbara is the Practice Manager for Cass CCE. She oversees budgets, administration for all programmes, events and consultancy projects. Barbara joined CCE in 2008 from the University of East London where she had the role of Web and E-learning Manager. Barbara is currently a director and trustee of Crown and Manor Boy's Club, Hoxton.

Having spent a number of years researching her family history, Barbara has discovered that her paternal great, great, grandparents lived and were married only a stone's throw from where she now works.

Ute Spittler, MSc Programme Coordinator

Ute is the MSc Charities Programme Coordinator and responsible for dealing with initial enquiries about the five postgraduate courses to attending graduations as a marshal. She also supports the academic team and guest speakers, and coordinates work with other departments in the University to ensure that scheduling and teaching run smoothly.

In previous professional incarnations she has worked in the culture sector as well as retail. When not in the office she enjoys spending time on her allotment, having her head in books or working on one of several craft projects.

Ian Shaw, Course and Exams Officer

Ian Shaw is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and assessment administration of five interconnected MSc courses within the Charities Masters Programme, providing front-line support for a wide range of students and academics.

Ian is studying for an MA in Higher and Professional Education with the UCL Institute of Education, due for completion in Autumn 2019, and is a part-time portrait and event photographer.

Cal Phillips, Events and Programmes Administrator

Cal Phillips is an Events and Programmes Administrator for Cass CCE. He is responsible for the administration for Cass CCE’s programmes and events which include our Aspiring Chief Executives and New Chief Executives programmes, along with our Outstanding and Inspiring Financial Leadership programmes. Cal also leads in supporting Cass CCE’s Charity Talk series and smaller events and programmes held throughout the year.

Robin Browning, Centre Administrator

Robin BrowningRobin is the Centre Administrator, and is responsible for the administration of Cass CCE's consultancy work, which includes being the point of contact for clients and consultants regarding financial matters.

He has previously worked in administrative roles in both the corporate and charitable sectors. When he's not working at CCE,  Robin is pursuing acting and genealogy - although not at the same time!

Dr Peter Grant, Director of the Cass Charity MSc programme

Dr Peter GrantDr Peter Grant is one of the UK’s leading practitioners in public and charitable funding. After working in the arts he was Director of an inner-city youth charity for eight years.  On the commencement of the National Lottery he moved to Sport England where he devised the first Lottery programme to favour areas of deprivation and was one of the architects of Awards for All.

As Director of Operations at the New Opportunities Fund between 1999 and 2005 he developed and delivered over £4.5 billion of funding programmes. He has published widely on philanthropy, CSR, and history (notably the period of the First World War). Peter's research and consultancy clients include government departments and charitable foundations.

Find out more about Peter on his Cass Experts page

Cass CCE Consultants

Fiona Ash

Specialist areas: Governance, Leadership & Organisational Development, People Management

Fiona Ash is our Service Lead Consultant for Governance at the CCE and a Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School, specialising in governance, organisational and people development, as well as performance management. She teaches on the Managing People and Quality module and facilitates action learning sets for the Cass CCE masters’ programme.

A qualified coach, Fiona coaches and mentors a variety of people from graduates at the start of their careers to chief executives and senior managers. She is a graduate of the MSc in Voluntary Sector Management at Cass. Her earlier education includes an MA in employment law, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has extensive experience in charity management at Director level.

Fiona is author of The Chief Executive’s First 100 days (2007, 2014) and How to Become a Third Sector Chief Executive (2010), published by ACEVO; is co-author of three guides (Governance, People and Compliance) in the Tools for Success series (2012) and good practice guides on board effectiveness (Board performance reviews/appraisal). She was part of the team that produced the Compass/Cass Outstanding Leadership Team study Building Outstanding Leadership Teams (2014).

Our consultants Caroline Copeman, Fiona Ash and Christine Fogg have written new and updated CCE Building Better Governance guides, which cover the essentials of nonprofit governance.

Download the Cass CCE Building Better Governance guides here.

James Barrett

Specialist areas: Leadership

James Barrett is our Service Lead for Leadership Development at the Centre and Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School. He has a Masters Degrees in HR Consulting, Cultural Studies and Fine Art and is licensed to use a number of psychometric instruments.

His facilitation draws on his own practical experience both of having been a Chief Executive himself, and of consulting to civil society organisations for over 20 years. He delights in supporting people to tap into their full potential as leaders, and in supporting progressive organisations to make a lasting positive impact in the world.

James is course leader on our open leadership development programmes for New and Aspiring Chief Executives. He led our Leadership Development programme for permanent staff of Students’ Unions and has delivered training to a number of other SUs. James led a major scoping review of leadership development in the social welfare legal advice sector, funded by the Baring Foundation, which resulted in the Baring Foundation and JP Getty Jnr Charitable Trust both commissioning our two year leadership programme for the advice sector which he led.

James was on The NHS Leadership Centre’s small team of “world-class” action-learning set facilitators for Primary Care Trust executives, and has coached numerous civil society leaders. His toolkit The CEO and Chair in Crisis – Positive Steps for Recovery was published by ACEVO.

Before becoming a consultant, James was CE of The HIV Project – a second tier research, training and development agency that had a profound influence on national strategy. Under his leadership this was the first ever NHS service to transfer to charitable status. He was Chair of the National Association of HIV Workers, and has served on a number of charity boards. James grew up in South Africa, where he was on the founding executive of a ground-breaking student-led human rights organization.

Caroline Copeman

Specialist areas: Strategy, Governance, Leadership

Caroline Copeman is a Consultant & Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School, City, University of London and works in the Centre for Charity Effectiveness. Caroline has taught on the Cass Charity Masters programme for 15 years, and teaches on three Cass CCE public leadership programmes: Building Financial Sustainability, Aspiring Chief Executives and New Chief Executives. She specialises in strategy development & planning, governance, and the design of leadership development programmes.

Caroline's recent work experience covers four key areas:

  • Supporting Boards & leadership teams in strategy development & planning
  • Organisation development/review & change
  • Governance & board review
  • Leadership development programmes.

Caroline is the lead author of the highly regarded strategic planning toolkit Tools for Tomorrow, and author of two NCVO guides: Looking Out; on how to make sense of your organisation's environment and Picture This on scenario planning. She is co-author of Tools for Success, the Cass CCE guide to effectiveness for small organisations and has recently published a toolkit titled Peering Over the Precipice, originally commissioned by Hospice UK, looking at how organisations can reinvent themselves to continue to ensure maximum impact for beneficiaries. Caroline is part of a CCE team, with colleagues Fiona Ash and Christine Fogg, that has recently published a series of good practice guides focussed on Building Better Governance.

Christine Fogg

Specialist areas: Coaching and mentoring, leadership development, governance, change management and strategic planning

Christine Fogg specialises in coaching, mentoring and facilitation, organisational capacity building and leadership development. Having initially trained as a nurse, Christine moved into NHS management before becoming Chief Executive of two HIV/AIDS charities and then Breast Cancer Care. She completed an MSc in Voluntary Sector Organisation and Social Policy at LSE. A qualified and experienced coach, clients have included senior staff as well as those at the start of their career, across all sectors. She is a member of the EMCC and is a licensed administrator of the MBTI inventory.

As a facilitator, Christine has worked with a wide range of non-profit and public sector organisations. Christine has particular experience within the health and social care field, has recently worked with the Department of Health, PHE, Imperial NHS Trust and Monitor and held an interim role at The College of Social Work. Recent clients for CCE include The Children's Society, RNIB, The Archbishop's Council, London's Air Ambulance, NCT, several hospices and Carers UK.

Christine is Chair of the Royal Free Charity and is a Trustee of Action on Hearing Loss.

Our consultants Caroline Copeman, Fiona Ash and Christine Fogg have written new and updated CCE Building Better Governance guides, which cover the essentials of nonprofit governance.

Download the Cass CCE Building Better Governance guides here.

Simon Laurie

Specialist areas: Coaching

Simon Laurie heads up Cass CCE’s Coaching and Mentoring Service. He has worked as a coach for 26 years, both in the UK, Europe, and the US. He works across all sectors and clients include University of the Arts: London, Teach First, Chiltern MS Centre, and firms in the manufacturing, technology, pharmaceutical and financial service sectors.

Simon also works as a coach supervisor, supporting other coaches in the professional practices, and delivers coach training for managers and individuals within organisations who have been identified as internal coaches.

Some of Simon’s recent assignments include:

  • Part of the Cass CCE team that delivered the CEO Leadership Programme for Non-profits at Al Fozan Leadership Academy in Saudi Arabia
  • Coaching three directors of a high profile charity in the education sector to support them as their roles grow alongside the development of the charity
  • Coaching members of the senior leadership team of a national charity as part of their strategic plans for the next five years
  • Supporting senior and middle managers of a national charity as part of a structured development programme, reviewing their 360° results and working with them to create their development plans.

Simon is a member of International Coach Federation (ICF) as a Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC). He is also a member of the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), The Association of Coach Supervisors (AoCS), CIPD, Chartered Institute of Management and Institute of Directors.

Prior to becoming a coach Simon worked in the hospitality sector in line management and support roles in the UK, North Africa and the Middle East. His interests include travel, music, photography and spending time in his house in France

George Levvy

Specialist areas: Leadership

George Levvy's career has spanned the voluntary, public and private sectors, both as a manager and as a consultant. Within the voluntary sector, his first post was as Head of Marketing and Communications at the British Red Cross. He was then appointed Chief Executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, leading it for ten years through a period of rapid and far-reaching growth and change.

As a consultant, George's clients have included; Citizens Advice, RSPCA, the International Institute of Environment & Development; the Science & Technology Facilities Council, the Housing Ombudsman, the Medicines & Healthcare Devices Regulatory Agency, Comic Relief, the International Livestock Research Institute, Microsoft, Nokia, and Sanofi Pasteur.

Ernie Messer

Ernie Messer specialises in governance, collaborative working with non-profits and also ventures between non-profits and commercial or public sector businesses. He is skilled in managing conflict.

Before working exclusively in the sector, Ernie had a wide-ranging general management career, leading major change and project portfolios for large PLCs and is an expert in successfully managing the people aspects of large scale change plus mergers, acquisitions and disposals.

He often provides interim top end executive support during changes of CEO, including detailed situational analysis of organisations and guides on what might be needed in future. Ernie has recently delivered major collaborations for charities in the criminal justice, health, and children sectors, and has a detailed knowledge of health and social care.

He is also Vice Chair of an NHS Mental Health Trust and Chair of an associated Mental Health Charity - Headlight. Ernie is a visiting lecturer on the Managing People and Quality module of the Cass CCE Charity Accounting and Financial Management MSc programme.

Mark Salway

Specialist areas: Sustainable finance, charity accounting

Mark sits on the Board of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, who won the Skoll Prize for Social Innovation and Impact in water services to the ultra-poor.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and holds their postgraduate diploma in charity accounting.

Matthew Simkins

Matthew is an experienced financial and commercial Company Director and Charity Trustee who has simultaneously developed his career in both sectors bringing his strong corporate skills to situations in the charity and not for profit sectors, and the softer skills required in not for profits to situations in the commercial sector.

He has spent 22 years creating and implementing change in a broad range of organisations initially working for banks and other creditors, but for the last 16 years as an independent working for the trustees, shareholders, or directors.

Matthew has been involved with over 250 different organisations across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, disability, environment, and conservation, with grant making, fund-raising, and service delivery charities. Commercial sectors include engineering, house builders, commercial construction, contracting, professional firms, retail, manufacturing and printing.

He has undertaken a range of roles including leading turnarounds and change programmes, executive and non-executive directorships, cash-flow management, independent reviews, and the mentoring of chief executives through a turnaround. He has also worked with many start-up organisations helping them to get their structure right from the beginning giving them a better chance of success. While his work necessitates a focus on the financial and commercial aspects of the business, Matthew prefers to take a holistic approach across the performance of the whole organisation.

Matthew is a recognised speaker on Turnaround Management and has been a guest lecturer at Cass Business School since the charity courses began there in 2004. He has created and chaired courses for R3 and IFT including a series of workshops for the business support departments of the main UK banks, and was awarded a Judges Commendation at the IFT annual awards in 2008 for his role in the turnaround of the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos Islands.

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is a coach and facilitator who engages in one to one and team coaching and designs and delivers open and tailored in-house leadership programmes.

She is a consultant with the CCE, the Institute of Employment Studies, The Work Foundation, and Leadership Works. Maggie is also a fellow of the Centre for Progressive Leadership at London Metropolitan University.

She delivers sessions that focus on:

  • Leadership development
  • Creativity and innovation (She has been trained by the Enterprise Development Group from the USA)
  • Personal resilience and confidence building on work from the area of positive psychology to improve wellbeing, performance and productivity
  • Effective working relationships which includes overcoming barriers, perceptions and beliefs, assertiveness and negotiation skills
  • Working with strengths (a certified practitioner working with the Stengthscope™ team and individual profiling tools) and using these to inform areas for focus.
  • Coaching skills for line managers and leaders.

Maggie works with public, voluntary and private sector organisations including the Metropolitan Police Service (with whom she trained as a solutions focus coach), Prospect, Surrey Police, Shepherds Bush Housing Group, Ipsos-Mori, DEFRA, the Society and College of Radiographers, National Union of Students, Keniston Housing and Midland Heart.

With a couple of colleagues she’s founded Towards Outstanding Leadership and alumni from those leadership programmes come from the Home Office, the Department for Transport, the Cabinet Office, South Hook Gas, the FSCS, Accord Housing Group, Ipsos-MORI the Society and College of Radiographers and Plan International. She holds a diploma in Executive Coaching from the Academy of Executive Coaching which is accredited by the International Coach Federation (of which she is a member), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and Middlesex University.

Previously, Maggie worked at The Work Foundation in the leadership programme and as part of the Advocacy team. As Head of Events she was a lead on their high profile party conference fringe programmes and organised events for speakers including Tony Blair whilst Prime Minister, Greg Dyke, former Director General of the BBC and Sir Terry Leahy, ex-CEO of Tesco plc. This follows many years in management positions in the events and hotel industries where she specialised in project management and leading diverse teams.

In her spare time she is studying Psychology with the Open University and has recently completed a foundation programme in positive psychology.

Cosette Reczek

Cosette Reczek is a Consultant at Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness specialising in governance, organisational design, HR and transformation. She holds an Executive MBA from London Business School as well as the FT Non-Executive Director/Corporate Governance post-graduate diploma. Cosette's consultancy and professional experiences includes:

Board and Advisory Committee Experience:

  • Chair, Audit Committee and Trustee for UNICEF UK
  • Co-Opted Member, Audit Committee, Capital City College Group (CCCG)
  • Independent Member, Audit Committee, Girl's Day School Trust
  • Honorary Officer, Bournemouth Primary Multi-Academy Trust (BPMAT).


  • FT Non-Executive Director post-graduate diploma Form Tutor
  • Member, Corporate Governance Committee, ICAEW
  • Board effectiveness reviews, and Governance/Delegation of Authority assessments for charities, academy trusts and financial services organisations.

Organisational Design and HR:

  • Organisation design engagements for charities and financial services (e.g. Girl's Day School Trust)
  • Experience with whistle-blowing, safeguarding investigations, and grievances
  • Group Head of Organisation Design, HSBC - accountable for oversight and facilitation of organisational design and implementation activities group-wide.


  • Leadership of complex change programmes within the financial services arena: improved services, streamlined operations, and sustained change at a number of financial services institutions
  • Specialty in turnaround of failing or challenged teams or change initiatives.

Cosette also volunteers her time with Fairbanking Foundation, a charity dedicated to improvement of the financial well-being of their customers.

Stephen Thorn

Stephen ThornSpecialist areas: strategic marketing, fundraising & development

Stephen Thorn is our marketing strategy lead and has a Masters in NGO Management from Cass Business School and a Postgraduate Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is also an alumni of the INSEAD Social Enterprise Programme.

Advising on charity growth and development strategy Stephen draws on his experience as a marketing director in the commercial sector, a fundraising director in the charity sector, and as founding executive in the creation of a charitable Foundation for one of the big 4 accountancy firms.

Passionate about the adoption of professional and innovative business methodologies to drive impact and efficiency in the nonprofit sector, he has advised organisations that include trusts, foundations, UK charities, international NGOs, student unions, faith-based charities and academic institutions.

Stephen has represented Cass as a Charity Talks speaker and is currently developing a new marketing and development workbook for the Tools for Success series.


Dr Justin Davis Smith

Senior Research Fellow

Research areas: Volunteering; History of Voluntary Action

See Dr Justin Davis Smith's profile.

Professor Jenny Harrow

Research areas: Leadership, Policy

See Professor Jenny Harrow's profile.

Professor John Hailey

Research areas: NGO Management.

See Professor John Hailey's profile.

Stephen Lee

Research areas: Fundraising, Marketing

See Stephen Lee's profile.

Atul Patel

Research areas: Leadership, HR

See Atul Patel's profile.

Rick James

Rick James has more than 25 years’ experience working with NGOs in Africa, Latin America and Europe. He has worked with INTRAC since its inception more than 20 years ago. He focuses on organisational change specialising in strategy and leadership development. He has consulted for more than 100 NGOs, faith-based organisations and official aid agencies, and has published over 50 articles and books. He has a PhD in NGO Management from City University and is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Management at CASS. Rick teaches on MSc NGO Management.