Board Members - Register of Interests | NCFE | NCFE

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Our board

Here you’ll find a list of our board members and information about their background, career and perspective.


Deborah Jenkins headshot

Deborah Jenkins

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Deborah joined NCFE as Chair in December 2017. 

Deborah runs her own consultancy (Kindling Ltd) which delivers project creation, consultancy and facilitation to explore better collaborative work methods.  

Since its creation in 1991, Deborah has run the Derwent Initiative (TDI). Deborah acted as Chair until 2006, when she became CEO. TDI is a small, independent charity based in Newcastle upon Tyne which aims to reduce the risk of sexual offending. It provides a pragmatic, partnership approach to risk reduction, and creates and operates public protection schemes. 

In addition, she’s held other rules including: 

  • Chair of the Barnard Castle Vision Partnership 
  • Chair of the South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust 
  • Chair of the Northern Neonatal Network, which is an NHS Operational Delivery Network.
  • Chair of the Cultura Trust
  • Independent Chair of the Northern Neonatal Network 
  • Vice Chair of the Mental Health Act Commission 
  • Chaired the AllTalk FM Northeast bid for North East commercial radio franchise The Wireless Group
  • Board member of the Northern Community of Interest and Decision-Making  
  • Director of Trades4Care

Deborah received an MBE in 1995 for services to urban regeneration and was named the North East Alternative Business Person of the Year in 2011. 

Deborah co-founded and held various director roles at Common Purpose, the national charity that runs leadership programmes for city decision-makers to improve active citizenship and strategic direction, based on the US model. Deborah developed and ran programmes for senior urban leaders throughout Europe and the UK. While at Common Purpose, Deborah wrote an impact study commissioned by Baring Foundation in 2000. 
Deborah lives in County Durham with her husband, but also spends time in Newcastle and Nice, where she and her husband are honorary
Niçois and acquire ideas that they can use in their work. 

Deborah has a lifelong interest in domesticity, which she tries to find time for and greatly enjoys spending time with her family. 

Deborah joined us as Chair of our board following eight years as Chair at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust. 


Roz Cuschieri headshot

Roz Cuschieri

Board Member

Roz is a highly driven, experienced CEO, Chair, Non-Executive Director and coach, with a passion for growing brands, people and business. Roz is most energised by doing the difficult well and has worked in senior board positions in both PLC and family owned, private businesses.

Roz worked for Warburtons Ltd for 12 years, latterly as the Commercial Director on the Board, building the commercial strategy that saw revenue grow from £270 million to £480 million. She then joined Genius Gluten Free where, as CEO, Roz presided over the growth of this exciting, dynamic, category creating business from £7 million to £50 million, building its Executive Team for the next stage of growth.

Roz has been a Non-Executive Director of Marstons Plc for 9 years and was the inaugural Non- Executive Chair, of start-up Emily Crisps Ltd.

Her charity work has involved Chairing one of Scotland’s largest charities, the Social Bite Fund, from 2018 – 2021.

She is currently a Non- Executive Director with Lightbody Ventures Ltd, with Babease Foods Ltd and is a Trustee of Worldwide Cancer Research and also NCFE.

Roz acts as commercial advisor to a number of start-up food and drink brands.

Roz is a highly experienced, accredited Executive Coach and Mentor.

In Oct 2019 Roz was awarded the Non Exec Board Director of the Year at the annual WES awards.


Heather Ashton

Board Member

Executive Director of Business Change and Improvement at Thirteen; Heather is responsible for Corporate Affairs (communications, influencing, impact, research, policy and insight), Business Change (projects and programme management, ideation, service improvement, data reporting and data integrity), IT, People (HR, OD, reward and recognition) Cyber and Data Compliance.

Heather has worked in the quasi-public sector for over 15 years in both housing and higher education and has many years of commercial experience in both the retail and manufacturing sectors. She is a member of the CBI NE Council and a Governor at Middlesbrough College. She is deputy chair at NCFE and also chairs the Audit, Risk and Investment committee.

Heather joined the NCFE board in October 2017.


Chris Peel headshot

Chris Peel

Board Member

Chris is the current CEO of Route2work, a digitally-driven vocational education and career services business. He has a strong track record of leading businesses in vocational education and employment services. Chris is passionate about technological innovation and business transformation.

Before his current role, Chris launched and led Interserve Learning and Employment, a training and education company operating in the UK and the Middle East. Chris brings to NCFE extensive board-level experience, both as an exec and non-exec, as well as expertise in vocational education, business transformation, growth strategies and operating within government-funded markets.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys spending time with his family along with sports such as cricket, rugby and golf.

Chris joined the NCFE board in October 2017.


David Wilson headshot

David Wilson

Board Member

David joined the NCFE board with a demonstrable track record of improving shareholder value across diverse industries including financial services, manufacturing, and service sectors. David’s experience unites a strong operational background with commercial and entrepreneurial acumen. He focuses on how companies can leverage digital, data, and cultural innovation to address the challenges and opportunities in the near term.

David brings significant international experience. He worked in the United States for three years for subsidiary manufacturing firm Courtaulds, as part of an advanced development programme, after joining Courtaulds on its graduate entry programme. David spent a total of nine years developing from production management through to operations director.

David continued his international experience as a Director of International Operations for NYSE Company Nautilus (NLS) where he defined and delivered operational strategy across a USD 100m international division.

Most recently, David was Head of Global Payments, Infrastructure, and Innovation before his current appointment of Director of Strategic Transformation at Barclays Bank, one of the top four UK clearing banks with a revenue of £30bn and 130,000 employees.

David joined the NCFE board in October 2017.


Joanne Whitfield

Joanne Whitfield 

Board Member 

Joanne Whitfield is Fund Director at FW Capital in the North East. She leads a team of investment and portfolio executives across the North East and Yorkshire.

Joanne joined FW Capital in 2010. She has a strong track record of making debt, mezzanine and equity investments in growing businesses. Joanne is an experienced investment professional who has worked in venture capital since 2003. During that time, she’s led investments into companies at all stages of development, across a broad range of sectors, and has backed many of the successful businesses based in the North East. She studied Mathematical Engineering at the University of Leeds and is a qualified Chartered Accountant, having completed her training with Deloitte and Touche in Newcastle. She also holds the ICAEW Corporate Finance qualification

2022 Register of Interests - Members and Directors 

Pay policy for senior staff 

We undertake annual, independent benchmarking of remuneration for executives and the senior leadership team. Salaries for executives are agreed by trustees, with salaries for the senior leadership team being set by the executive team within parameters defined by the budgets approved by trustees.