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Board Members

Board members of Northumbria University.

The Board comprises a maximum of 23 individuals - 13 external members, up to 3 co-opted Governors, the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, 2 staff representatives, 1 academic board representative and 2 student representatives (the Students' Union President and one other sabbatical officer).

Role descriptions for members of the Board are as follows:


Independent Governors

Dr Birju Bartoli

Dr Birju Bartoli- Independent Governor
  • Board of Governors- Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee- Member


Dr Birju Bartoli joined the Board of Northumbria University in September 2022. Birju is an Executive Director within a large acute hospital trust in the North East of England, holding the position of Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer. Birju has held executive positions within the organisation for ten years, working in a number of operational areas of the trust.

Birju's portfolio consists of overarching management- both operational and strategic- of medicine and emergency care.  Along with her executive responsibilities, Birju is also the Chair of the Trust's Organ Donation  Committee, and is their Board Champion for race equality.

Prior to her current role, Birju was the senior responsible officer for the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, which opened in June 2015 as the first hospital of its kind. Birju's background is that of a scientist; holding both an applied biochemistry degree and a PhD in cancer research, along with further healthcare leadership qualifications, the most recent from  Harvard Business School. Birju worked as a post-doctoral fellow before joining the NHS in a management role.

Professor Dame Janet Beer

Prof Dame Janet Beer- Independent Governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor

Professor Dame Janet Beer has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2023

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods - Chair 

Roberta Blackman Woods


  • Board of Governors- Chair
  • Employment and Finance Committee- Member
  • Nominations Committee- Chair
  • Remuneration Committee- Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee- Member
  • Pro-Chancellor. (Pro-Chancellors are authorised to act on behalf of the Chancellor in the performance of their ceremonial duties and other functions as agreed by the Chancellor.)

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods stepped down as a Member of Parliament, having been the MP for the City of Durham from 2005-2019.  During her time in parliament Roberta served as a Deputy Minister in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where she was involved in shaping higher education policy.  From 2011-2019 she was the Shadow Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Roberta helped establish the Westminster Higher Education Form and the Higher Education Commission and chaired the Parliamentary University Group for several years, a forum where Vice-Chancellors and other senior university officers discuss policy and strategic issues with parliamentarians and ministers.

At an international level Roberta was an active member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and made extensive use of these networks to support global education initiatives and foster better parliamentary governance. She was also the Vice-Chair of the United Nations APPG for a number of years.

Her career before entering parliament included working in social services at Newcastle City Council and as a social policy academic at the University of Ulster and the University of Newcastle. She was Dean of Social and Labour Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and a Head of School and Associate Dean at Northumbria University.

Having worked in the North East for many years as well as being a local councillor and MP, Roberta has excellent relationships with leaders in the North East region in business, industry, education, culture and politics. She is committed to the development of the region and what the talent and skills of the people offer for the future prosperity of the country.

Roberta has a strong belief in the power of universities not only to transform individual lives but transform communities and societies too. She believes the research, innovation and knowledge exchange they undertake are essential for the creation of new jobs and whole new sectors of the economy. She also greatly values the role universities play in educating  and growing leaders of the future.

Her goal as Chair of the Board at Northumbria University is to support and challenge the senior team  to take the University forward as a major player in the sector and globally, realising this potential with its excellent and distinctive mission, its highly engaged colleagues and successful students.

Roberta maintained close links with Northumbria over many years including as a Visiting Professor and she is delighted to be able to contribute to its ongoing success as Chair of the Board.


You can view Roberta's latest Chair's Briefing here.

Dr Stuart Fancey

Dr Stuart Fancey, governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee -Chair

Dr Stuart Fancey has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020.

Stuart is University Secretary and a member of the senior management team at the University of Strathclyde, where he is responsible for university governance and for leadership of professional services teams focusing on strategy, policy, educational enhancement and the student experience.

Prior to taking up his role at the University of Strathclyde in June 2022, Stuart spent 17 years at the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), latterly as Director of Research and Innovation, and was responsible for research funding in Scotland and advising the SFC board and Scottish government on policy issues affecting Scottish universities.

Stuart began his career as a researcher in Scotland, including a fellowship in Germany, before helping to establish a start-up company (Helia Photonics.)

A graduate of the University of St. Andrews (BSc) and Heriot-Watt University (MSc and PhD), Stuart is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Arts and the Academy of Social Sciences.

Helen Fairfoul OBE

Helen Fairfoul- Governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member
  • Remuneration Committee - Member
  • Pro-Chancellor. (Pro-Chancellors are authorised to act on behalf of the Chancellor in the performance of their ceremonial duties and other functions as agreed by the Chancellor.)

Helen Fairfoul has been on the Board of Northumbria University since March 2020, and is Chair of its Employment and Finance Committee.

Helen is the former Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), having been in that role from 2012 until February 2020. She was also Deputy CEO at UCEA from 2007. In this role Helen has contributed at a sector-level on employment and employee relations, nationally and internationally, including working extensively with trade union representatives.

Prior to working at UCEA Helen has held various lead roles as a Human Resources specialist. She was HR Director at the University of Roehampton, where she also spent three years as Clerk to the University Council, and Director of Personnel at the London Borough of Greenwich. Helen began her career in local government, joining the Inner London Education Authority and undertaking roles there ranging from teacher recruitment to school governance.

Helen now works as an independent consultant focusing on team, organisational, and governance matters. She acts as an independent chair of nominations and appeals for the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals.

Helen has a first degree in History from the University of Birmingham, and completed her MBA with the Open University. She is also a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Employment Studies

Alison Fellows

Alison Fellows- Independent Governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member

Alison Fellows has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2023

Sophie Haagensen

Sophie Haagensen, governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member

Sophie Haagensen has been on the Board of Northumbria University since January 2020.

Sophie is currently Chief Operating Officer at KodyPay, a payments aggregator and mobile point of sale platform. Prior to this, Sophie was Head of Strategy and Planning at Atom Bank, one of the UK’s leading challenger banks and a globally recognised FinTech. Sophie joined Atom at its inception in 2014 and has covered a number of disciplines to support the start-up’s rapid growth from a team of just six to c.400 today. She played a significant role in securing Atom’s banking license, was Programme Director for the launch of the bank and has acted as Chief of Staff to the CIO.

Sophie joined Atom Bank from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership where, as Deputy Director, she played a central role in driving the development of the Strategic Economic Plan for the North East. The plan secured £290m in a competitive national bidding process - the third highest award in the country.

Previously, Sophie led a strategy team at the Department for Work and Pensions responsible for advising ministers on the viability of new policy proposals. She also advised on the digitalisation of services and a major organisational restructure to deliver digital transformation.

Sophie joined the Civil Service Fast Stream in 2010 before joining the Cabinet Office, where she project managed the launch of Big Society Capital – the world’s first social investment bank, and oversaw the £150m loan book of the Futurebuilders fund.

Sophie gained a BSc in Biology from the University of Nottingham (2004) and graduated with distinction from Northumbria University in both her MSc in Business and Management (2009) and her MBA (2014).

Peter Judge, MBE

Peter Judge, governor

  • Board of Governors - Senior Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member
  • Nominations Committee - Member
  • Remuneration Committee - Chair
  • Pro-Chancellor. (Pro-Chancellors are authorised to act on behalf of the Chancellor in the performance of their ceremonial duties and other functions as agreed by the Chancellor.)

Peter Judge has been on the Board of Northumbria University as Senior Independent Governor since January 2020. Peter chairs the Remuneration Committee.

A Northumbria graduate (Law 1993 and Legal Practice Course 1994), Peter re-joined the Board in January 2020 having previously served on the Board from 2010-2012. 

A solicitor with a wealth of leadership experience gained in complex organisations, Peter’s early career was as a corporate lawyer in private practice before serving as Legal and Procurement Director and Group Company Secretary of the Regional Development Agency, One North East and other in-house roles. Peter is currently the Company Secretary and Assistant Director Governance of Homes England, the National Housing Accelerator

As Attorney General of the British Overseas Territories of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014-2017), Peter was responsible for all the Governments’ legal and regulatory functions including directing public prosecutions and new legislation.

Amongst other non-executive roles, Peter currently chairs the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI).  He is also a Board member of the Marine Management Organisation, England's marine regulator.

Peter also holds a master's degree in International and European Law from Durham University and has served as Durham's University Secretary. 

Peter was appointed as an MBE for services to Economic Development and the North East region in 2012 and named UK In-House Lawyer of the Year by The Lawyer Magazine in 2010.

Hassan Kajee

Hassan Kajee- Independent Governor

  • Board of Governors - Deputy Chair
  • Employment and Finance Committee- Member
  • Pro-Chancellor. (Pro-Chancellors are authorised to act on behalf of the Chancellor in the performance of their ceremonial duties and other functions as agreed by the Chancellor.)

Hassan Kajee joined the Board of Northumbria University in September 2022.

He is a Senior Responsible Officer for the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA,) leading a portfolio of major and complex digital programmes including the Covid Pass. He Co-Chairs the BAME Network and is passionate about creating an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace for all.   

Hassan has been a senior leader in the NHS since 2014 and has operated across several business disciplines including Commercial and Procurement, Learning and Organisational Development and Digital, Data and Technology. He has led the NHS into commercial negotiations with large, global technology providers for Deep Tech solutions and played a key role in the design of public sector procurement frameworks for digital development services. 

Prior to his current role, Hassan led the NHSBSA’s organisational development programme to design and implement a hybrid working business model for the NHSBSA.

In addition to his NHS role, Hassan is also co-owner and Non-Executive Director of a law firm in Manchester specialising in personal and business immigration matters.

Hassan has a BA (Hons) in Politics with Philosophy from the University of Central Lancashire and an MA in Management from Durham University Business School.

Outside work, Hassan is a football coach for two junior teams at Heaton Hawks FC, is a qualified referee and works with the county Football Association to improve the involvement and engagement of South Asians in grassroots and elite levels. He is an anti-racist campaigner and works with charities such as Show Racism the Red Card to raise awareness and funds to combat racism. 

Mark Larsen

Mark Larsen- Independent Governor of Northumbria University

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member
  • IT Advisory Board- Member

Up until retirement in 2021, Mark was a Managing Director at the IT consultancy firm Accenture.  His focus over a thirty year career was primarily in the Government sector, often on large and complex delivery programmes, and working alongside many public and private IT organisations and platform providers. Latterly, Mark was also the global lead for Accenture’s Public Service Microsoft Business Group, exploring how IT could transform government processes and citizen experiences.

Mark also led Accenture’s Newcastle Advanced Technology Centre, employing more than eight hundred staff and serving more than seventy clients.  He has served as a non-executive advisor for a number of charities and remains a school governor for a secondary school in Newcastle.

Mark has an MA (Hons) in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.

Outside work, Mark enjoys watching sport, particularly rugby, walking his daughter’s dog, and sailing (mostly as a cook.)

Jan Thompson

Jan Thompson - Independent Governor

  • Board of Governors -Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee

Jan Thompson has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2023.

Helen Thorne, MBE 

Helen Thorne- Independent Governor

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Chair
  • Nominations Committee - Member

Helen Thorne has been on the Board of Northumbria University and was a member of its Strategic Performance Committee from June 2016, before joining Audit Committee in 2023. Helen is also the Chair of the Local Governing Body for a group of primary and secondary schools in Swindon on behalf of United Learning.

With over 25 years of senior and executive experience in the higher education sector, Helen provides consultancy and assurance services to Universities with Uniac.

Previously, Helen was Director of External Relations at UCAS, with responsibilities for strategy, marketing, events, and stakeholder relations, as well as crisis management and data risks. Helen has held senior roles with the Russell Group of Universities and the UK's Research Councils (now UKRI.) This included leading the Research Councils UK team from its inception, promoting partnerships and joint working between the Councils, as well as establishing as establishing and leading the Research Council team in the United States, strengthening trans-Atlantic research cooperation.

Helen was awarded an MBE in 2007 for services to the administration of science.

With a degree in Biology from the University of York, Helen has also achieved professional qualifications in project, programme, and risk management.


Ian Wilkin

Ian Wilkin, member of Northumbria University's Board of Governors

  • Board of Governors - Independent Governor
  • Audit Committee - Member
  • Estates Strategy Advisory Group- Member

Ian is currently Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at LCI Real Estate, an owner-centric, real estate investment manager.

Previously, Ian was Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Streetwise Young People’s Project, helping lead the senior team to support the physical and mental health of young people aged 11-25 by providing advice, information, and support.

Prior to this, Ian was CFO & COO at Jaguar Growth Partners, a global investment management firm focused on real estate private and public equity in developing and developed markets. Based in New York City, USA, Ian was responsible for leading a startup private equity firm with operations in the USA, Brazil, Mexico, and Singapore.  

Ian joined Jaguar in 2016 from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).  Based in Abu Dhabi, UAE from 2011 to 2015, Ian was responsible for delivering major organisational transformation programmes, including the design and implementation of new management information systems, IT systems and operational policies, processes and controls.

Ian is a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, qualified with Ernst & Young, which is where he began his professional career.

Outside work, when not spending time with family Ian can likely be found watching Newcastle United or trying to stay awake late enough to play tournament poker with an ambition to one day enter the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.   

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Andy Long

Andy Long VC

  • Board of Governors – Member
  • Audit Committee- Member
  • Employment and Finance Committee- Member
  • Nominations Committee- Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee- Member

Andy joined Northumbria University in 2022 as Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive. Prior to joining Northumbria, Andy was a member of staff at the University of Nottingham since 1990. He most recently served as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor leading on strategy development and resource allocation across the University and line managing the five Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors. Previously he was Dean and then Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering from 2011 to 2018. Andy was also Chair of the Executive Management Group for Midlands Innovation, a partnership between Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick Universities. He was awarded a personal Chair in Mechanics of Materials in 2004.

Andy has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham, which was awarded for work on process modelling for the manufacture of composite materials. Prior to this, he obtained a BSc in Applied Mathematics from Warwick University and an MSc in Computer Integrated Engineering from Loughborough University. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. He served as Course Director in Mechanical Engineering (2004-08) and Head of the Polymer Composites Group (2004-08).

Andy’s research interests are on the design and manufacture of Polymer Composites for demanding applications particularly in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors. Andy was founding Director of the EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub, collaborating with a number of other universities as well as companies in the field of high performance composites. He has published over 350 papers including around 130 refereed journal papers, co-authored/edited three textbooks on polymer composites, supervised over 30 successful PhD students, and been principal investigator for research grants totalling around £33million. 

Staff Governors

Dr Laura Brown

  • Board of Governors – Academic Staff Governor

Laura Brown has been on the board of Northumbria University since September 2022.

Laura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment.

Laura has a BSc (Hons) in Sport & Exercise Development from the University of Sunderland (2007), BA (Hons) in Architecture (RIBA Part I, 2011), M.Arch in Architecture (RIBA Part II, 2014) and PhD in Architecture (2020) from Northumbria University. Her doctoral thesis, which examined the architectural design and planning legacies of the Summer Olympic Games 1948-2012, drew upon her previous photographic training (Newcastle College, 2004) to examine architectural history and legacy through photography as one facet of a qualitative, mixed methods approach. Laura is a recipient of the Advanced Olympic Research Grant (awarded by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage, 2019), and the Early Career Researchers grant (awarded by the British Society of Sports History (BSSH), 2019), which led her to explore architectural design, adaptation and reuse in a variety other sports contexts.

Laura has drawn upon her research in her teaching on both the Undergraduate (BA (Hons) Architecture & BA (Hons) Interior Architecture) and Postgraduate (M.Arch Architecture &  Degree Apprenticeship in Architecture) Architecture programmes at Northumbria University. Laura is Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Architecture programme and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

For further information, please see Laura’s staff profile page here.


Katherine Fawcett

  • Board of Governors –  Elected Professional Support Staff Governor
  • Academic Board – Faculty Aligned Staff Representative Member
  • Strategic Performance Committee- Member

Katherine Fawcett has been on the Board of Northumbria University since December 2021. Katherine is the Faculty Registrar aligned to the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences (including Pathway provision and Northumbria Language Centre) as part of the University’s Student, Library and Academic Services (SLAS) portfolio. 

Katherine joined the University in 2006 working initially in the Newcastle Business School and brings 16 years experience of working at Northumbria in both her immediate role and across faculties and services, through the leadership of and contribution to multiple cross-university team projects and initiatives focused on improving experiences and ways of working. 

Katherine represents Faculty-Aligned Professional Support teams on the University Academic Board alongside holding the role of Foundation Governor at a regional Primary School. She is an experienced mentor, supporting the Aurora Women’s leadership Programme, with a real desire to help colleagues and as a recent Northumbria Graduate on the Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship Master in Business Administration she holds a recent, real-life student experience and relevant leadership study and knowledge. 


Academic Board Representatives 

Professor Libby Orme- Staff Governor and representative to Academic Board

Libby Orme

  • Board of Governors – Academic Staff Governor

Libby is an Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching, and Deputy Head of the Department of Psychology.

Her doctoral thesis investigated the integration of long-term and short-term visual memory. Since then, much of her research in psychology has focused on how novel visual information is grouped in memory to reduce information load, the cognitive processes involved and the ERP components associated with encoding and retrieval of such material. 

As a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Libby primarily engages in research related to learning and teaching. She has a strong interest in student community and wellbeing, the use of technology in higher education and academic staff development. Libby is programme leader for the BSc Psychology programme at Kaplan in Singapore, runs the second year undergraduate quantitative laboratory skills module and teaches Individual Differences on the MSc Psychology via Distance Learning.

Libby Orme has been on the Board of Northumbria University since November 2021.

For further information, please see Libby's staff profile page here.

Student Governors

Liv Bird

Livia  Bird- Student Governor

  • Board of Governors- Student Governor
  • Strategic Performance Committee-Observer

Liv Bird is Vice President of Education at Northumbria Student's Union and sits on the Board of Governors as a student representative. She works alongside Northumbria University to ensure that all students are given the chance to reach their full academic potential and enjoy their time at Northumbria while doing so.


Nerius Shah

Nerius Shah- Student's Union President of Northumbria University for 2023-2024

  • Board of Governors – Student Governor
  • Employment and Finance Committee- Student Governor
  • Northumbria  Students' Union- President

Nerius is the SU President 23/24 and sits on the Board of Governors as a student representative. He is committed to ensuring that the student’s voice is heard and reflected in all University decisions.

Nerius is passionate about representing the student body and believes that students should have a say in shaping the future of the University

Co-Opted Governors

Professor James McLaughlin- co-opted member of Board of Governors

Professor James McLaughlin

  • Board of Governors- Co-opted Governor

James graduated from Durham University in 2002 with a MSci (joint honours) Mathematics and Physics degree. He then moved to the University of St Andrews for his PhD studies in Applied Mathematics and Solar Physics. After successfully defending his thesis entitled “Magnetohydrodynamic wave propagation in the neighbourhood of magnetic null points", he accepted a research scientist position at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA. Later, he returned to the University of St Andrews as a Research Fellow funded by the Leverhulme Trust. In 2010, he was appointed Lecturer at Northumbria University.

Since then, James has initiated and driven multiple, major academic initiatives across the University, and he has led on complex inter-disciplinary large-scale projects. These include creating and leading the ‘Solar and Space Physics’ research group, which is one of the University’s ‘peaks of excellence, ’ acting as Principal Investigator of NUdata STFC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Data Intensive Science and acting as Departmental Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange (Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering.) James is also REF2021 UoA12 Engineering Academic Lead for Impact Case Studies portfolio) and REF2021 UoA14 Geography and Environmental Studies Co-Lead.


James has sat on multiple University panels, including REF2021 Planning Group (university-wide); played a leading role in the creation and approval of the Multi-Disciplinary Research Theme “Extreme Environments”; Faculty Research & Innovation Committee (FRIC); Faculty Research & Ethics Sub-Committee (FRESC); Faculty Research Strategy Sub-Committee (FRSSC); Faculty Research Grant Promotion Sub-Committee (FRGPSC), and Faculty Sabbatical Group.

Secretary to Board of Governors

Georgina Bailes is Secretary to the Board of Governors

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