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Meet our Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors have a wide portfolio of expertise and knowledge in children's services and commercial and financial disciplines. The Board provides support and challenge on the direction and strategy of Together for Children.

Paul Moffat


Paul Moffat joined our Board of Directors in April 2020.

Paul was the Chief Executive of Doncaster Children's Services Trust, the UK's first independent organisation delivering children's social care and youth offending services on behalf of the local authority. He was also an Executive Director of the Trust Board and has been a qualified social worker for 30 years.

Paul has been a Department for Education (DfE) Children's Service Advisor in a number of local authorities including Sandwell, Bradford and Sunderland, and he is currently a DfE Children's Commissioner and Advisor, supporting a range of authorities.

He has been an active member within SOLACE and part of the ADCS Advisory Groups, including regional and sub-regional action learning sets. He is also currently chairing a number of Improvement Boards.

Paul has previously held several senior management posts including, Head of Strategy and Performance, Director of Family Services, Corporate Director of Children's Services, and chaired several Boards, including Improvement and Local Safeguarding Boards.

He has over 25 years' experience with a number of councils in the North East and has also worked for the NSPCC, other voluntary organisations, the Health Authority and in student services in a North East university.

Paul was the Director of Children's Services for Northumberland when they were assessed as "outstanding" for children's services by Ofsted in 2012. He has also held senior strategic positions for other authorities who achieved three and four star ratings under the previous Corporate Performance Assessment (CPA) arrangements.

He served on the regional council for the Prince's Trust in the North East, where he supported young people to develop their key skills, confidence and motivation, which enabled them to move into work, education or training.

He is currently a Non-Executive Director/Trustee on the Pause 'Creating Space for Change' Board, based in London. Paul's passion for supporting young people to reach their potential has led him to be a member of Sheffield Institute of University Advisory Board, advising on strategy and policy. His background is as a professional social worker and he is also a qualified occupational therapist.

He is married with three grown up children and his hobbies include trekking in Nepal and supporting a range of voluntary organisations.

Catherine Auld

Assistant Director of Economic Regeneration, Sunderland City Council

Catherine joined our Board of Directors in April 2019.

Catherine has developed her career in the public sector, focusing initially on external funding and international engagement, before taking on leadership responsibilities related to Sunderland's economic development and economic regeneration, including a city-wide approach to becoming carbon neutral. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, she began international work in the Higher Education sector before joining Sunderland City Council.

Catherine's responsibilities bring together the development and implementation of the city's strategic planning policy, Low Carbon Framework and International Strategy, alongside economic development, regeneration projects and programme delivery and performance across City Development.  The combination of these services provides an enabling environment for Catherine's responsibilities for business investment, working with a wide variety of businesses from Sunderland's key sectors - from small and medium-sized businesses who may be developing future technologies, to large multinational companies who have chosen or are considering Sunderland as their location.

She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Newcastle University Business School.

Jill Laverick

Assistant Director of Corporate Affairs, Sunderland City Council

Jill was appointed as Assistant Director of Corporate Affairs in September 2020, after working in a number of communications-focussed roles for Sunderland City Council.

Responsible for leading the council's marketing and communications and corporate partnerships activity, she plays a key role in connecting the organisation and city to residents, businesses and government.

Jill has worked in both the public and private sector and has experience across various marketing disciplines but with a real interest in reputation, brand and public affairs. Jill is a lifelong Sunderland resident and is passionate about improving opportunities for all in the city.

Catherine Hearne

Non-Executive Director

Catherine joined our Board of Directors in April 2020.

Catherine is an Independent Consultant working in the cultural, media and charitable sectors, helping businesses become more creative, resilient and nimble. She stepped down as CEO at Helix Arts in 2019.

Catherine trained as a producer and director with the BBC and ran BBC London TV News, BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and then BBC Midlands between 2003 and 2013. She taught for 10 years working in Norfolk, Northumberland and Gateshead. She was one of the first advisory teachers for media education, funded by the British Film Institute, producing films, radio output and newspapers with schools and community groups across the North East.

Catherine was born and brought up in Whickham and went to school in Lanchester, County Durham. She graduated with a French and Spanish degree from University of London, and has an MA from Warwick University in Creative and Media Enterprise.

She is a Board Member at Changing Lives and is Chair of Culture Bridge North East.

Steven Mason

Non-Executive Director

Steven joined our Board of Directors in April 2020.

Steven is a qualified accountant and has 35 years' experience within the public sector, mainly within Health and Local Government. He is employed as Director of Finance at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, having previously been the Chief Executive and Finance Director at Northumberland County Council.

Steven was formerly Chief Executive and Director of Finance with North Durham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

He is married with five children.

Denise Exley

Non-Executive Director

Denise joined the our Board of Directors in November 2019.

A lifelong Sunderland resident, Denise was attracted to the role to improve outcomes for local children.

Having built an accomplished career in HR and Transformation, Denise brings experience of working in numerous complex, regulated organisations, ranging from social housing to utilities and financial services.

Much of Denise's career has been focused on delivering results during times of immense change and financial challenge.

A Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, Denise's professional expertise in HR is wide and varied. More recently focused on working with Executives and Boards, making the business case for and leading large-scale organisational change and cultural transformation projects.

David Gallagher

Non-Executive Director 

David joined our Board of Directors in November 2019.

David is Chief Executive Officer at NCFE, a leading educational charity with business operations in Awarding, Assessment and Learning Technologies and Resources. David initially joined NCFE in 2018 as Managing Director of NCFE EPA Plus, leading a new team to deliver End-Point Assessment for apprenticeships. NCFE is the third largest Awarding Organisation in technical and vocational education in the UK and has recently been selected by Government to develop and accredit six T Level pathways. NCFE's core purpose is to 'promote and advance learning' and all NCFE businesses play a role in supporting learners to achieve the best possible education, career and life outcomes. 

David has enjoyed a successful career in employment and skills for over 18 years, spanning from frontline delivery in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK to his current role as CEO of an educational charity that is particularly focussed on supporting the most disadvantaged.

David's diverse career has shaped his perspectives on education, skills and employment. This has included working in the public sector for the Learning and Skills Council (now ESFA), where he was heavily involved in qualification reform policy and the introduction of the QCF; working with several leading national employment and skills providers including Working Links and Ingeus during periods of significant market shift, such as the introduction of 'payment by results'; twice being nominee for an Ofsted inspection; and also working with a variety of devolved authorities and stakeholders in the design and delivery of locally responsive skills provision.

Jill Colbert

Director of Children's Services and Chief Executive, Together for Children

Jill Colbert commenced in post as Director of Children's Services and Chief Executive for Together for Children in July 2018.

Jill started her career as a Youth Justice Social Worker in Birmingham Council and moved on to working in a community NHS Trust as an HIV Prevention Outreach Worker with sexually exploited adults and children. Wishing to focus more on work with vulnerable children, she moved into a national children's charity and managed a range of services for young people missing from home in Manchester.

Jill has an undergraduate degree in Sociology, and a Public Service MBA from the University of Birmingham. She has spent the last 13 years in local government, most recently in Trafford Council for six years, where she was the Corporate Director for Children, Families and Wellbeing. This incorporated the role of Director of Adult and Children's Services, and briefly, acting Chief Executive.

Steve Renwick

Director of Finance, Together for Children

Steve joined Together for Children in June 2018 as Director of Finance, and lead for Information Governance and Transformation. 

Steve is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Chartered Public Finance Accountant and graduate of Sunderland University. He started his career from school with Darlington Borough Council, before training as an Accountant with Touche Ross in Newcastle. 

He has been qualified for 30 years and during his career, has been a Director of Finance in an NHS Trust, Owner/Manager of a successful consultancy, and Non-Executive Director of both NHS Lothian and Disclosure Scotland. 

In consultancy, Steve worked with 24 of Scotland's 32 Councils, and was a Registered Teacher with Stirling and Strathclyde Universities, as well as a sought-after Associate Trainer with CIPFA. 

Steve is wholly committed to the principle that the money in Together for Children is not an end in itself, and that investing in better outcomes for children is the epicentre of all that the company does; putting the child first!

Outside of work, Steve is married with three grown up children and two awesome granddaughters.

Sue Carty

Director of Corporate and Commercial Services, Together for Children

Sue was appointed as Director of Corporate and Commercial Services for Together for Children in May 2016.

Sue has over 25 years' experience leading on commissioning, performance, planning and quality within Local Government and the private sector including Orange, T Mobile and Cadbury. 

Sue has worked on a regional and national basis, as well as working internationally with colleagues to develop quality frameworks and transformation. 

Sue is passionate about driving a high performing culture which positively impacts on the lives of children, young people and their families.

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