AchieveAbility Board members

Barry Sheerman MP

Barry Sheerman has extensive experience in educational issues and has played a key role in education policy and debates. Chair of the Education Select Committee for ten years.
He is an energetic social and political entrepreneur having initiated over 30 different social enterprises over 20 years. He is currently actively involved in Policy Connect, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, Urban Mines and the John Clare Education and Environment Trust.
Board of Trustees

Richard Pitts

Richard Pitts is an expert in the voluntary sector. An experienced professional manager and senior executive with over 20 years of project and organisation management experience within the community and voluntary, social enterprise and higher education sectors. His work for the Multiple Sclerosis Society has included:
Managing staff, volunteers, resources, finances, information technology
This includes securing funding to implement a new volunteer management database system
Implementing effective monitoring, evaluation, governance and quality standards systems.
Enhancing the reputation and financial sustainability of the Centre through effective leadership and
management of external funding partnerships and stakeholders. This includes securing a 3 year
contract with Dacorum Borough Council to deliver infrastructure support for the community and
voluntary sector

David Hermanstein

What started off as a one-month placement at a Jobcentre Plus in Manchester back in 2003 has since become the most fulfilling of careers for David which has seen him provide one-to-one support to nearly 2,000 residents in the in the areas of education and employment across all sectors in North, West and Central London. His aim is to always make the service he provides as straightforward, accessible, practical, positive and inclusive as possible. He also knows this cannot be achieved without learning first and foremost from the people he is trying to support and understanding the individual as well as the community at large. This continues to be David's philosophy to this day.

Dr Katherine Hewlett
Founder and CEO

Dr Katherine Hewlett is the founder and a Director of the AchieveAbility charity formed in 2014. AchieveAbility successes are due to the high calibre of people who have worked as a team with AchieveAbility. All the projects were devised in collaboration and as a team effort.

Katherine is an expert within development work particularly for the partnership context. She has managed local, regional and national projects to improve the potential of Neurodivergent adults. Katherine has lectured lectured in three-dimensional design both at degree and postgraduate level, at educational institutions such as the Royal College of Art and National College of Art and Design Dublin. For six years, following the RCA, she set up and developed projects within an interior glass design setting, such as a major project at the Ritz Hotel Paris. Katherine transferred her learning and teaching skills to development and progression work at the University of Westminster where she worked for 20 years to eventually headed up the Education Development Office (2010).

She is a member of the Dyslexia Guild, Vice Chair and Trustee of Waltham Forest Dyslexia Association and Trustee of Thomas Wall Trust. Katherine set up the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission with colleagues from AchieveAbility and the Dyslexia Adult Network (DAN). More recently she has gained a PhD in a Socio-cultural investigation of visual dyslexic cognition (2018). She has delivered talks for the BDA and Dyspraxia Foundation Conferences (2018).

Craig Kennady
Advocate for Neurodivergence

As an autistic man and father to children, who also have disabilities, Craig is dedicated to standing up for and championing individuals who are neurodivergent. This is due to his understanding of the difficulties faced by adults with disabilities, and their families and carers. His experience has inspired him to support others and apply his experience and knowledge to the benefit of AchieveAbility.

Craig has several voluntary roles in education including being a Parent Governor and is a SEN&D Governor at a local school in Derbyshire. As par of his role with AchieveAbility he is a commission member of two Parliamentary groups, advising and working alongside MPs and key stakeholders to defend the rights of people with dyslexia and neurodivergence. Craig passionately believes in everyone having the same chance in life and, as a person with disabilities himself and that is why he is a Trustee of AchieveAbility.

Professor Debra Kelly
Co-Director of the Routes into Languages

Debra Kelly was Professor of French and Francophone Literary and Cultural Studies in the Department of Modern and Applied Languages at the University of Westminster. She has published widely in the fields of Text and Image Studies, War and Culture Studies, Cultural Memory and Franco-British Cultural Relations. She is Director of the international research network the Group for War and Culture Studies, and an editor of the Journal of War and Culture Studies. In 2005 she was made a Chevalier dans Ordre des Palmes Acadamiques by the French Government in recognition of her services to French language, literature and culture. Her current research focuses on the history of the French presence in London from the seventeenth century to the present day.

She is Co-Director of the Routes into Languages Capital L London Consortium and the author of the Routes Research Report Languages and International Events. Are we ready to talk to the world in 2012? She is also Co-Director of Network for Languages London which provides professional development and support for all those working in the languages community across primary, secondary and further education institutions.

Kevin Maskell
Vice Chair

Kevin Maskell set up AimHigher London South. As Director he was responsible for strategic direction of AimHigher London South and he has been instrumental in supporting the new AchieveAbility training sessions to teachers in schools and colleges in London. Kevin was a Deputy Head teacher at a large London School prior to being Director. Kevin is now the Deputy Portfolio Holder for Economic and Community Development for Sevenoaks District Council

Becki Morris

Becki Morris supports museums, agencies and heritage organisations in intersectional inclusive practice through her role as the Director of the Disability Collaborative Network (DCN). She works across sectors as an Associate Consultant for EMBED. Becki is a creative, solution-based practitioner and thought leader who supports and empowers organisations in creating solutions representative to their needs. Becki created and founded DCN in 2015 and in 2018 DCN became a Community Interest Company. In 2020, DCN became a partner of EMBED, a unique partnership to support the Heritage Sector. This partnership supports the sector in strategic planning to embed inclusive practice from the top down; in the removal of barriers to digital, physical, communication and access. The partnership looks at policies, processes and practices with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and people at its core. All services offered reflect the budgetary constraints of the sector and organisation.

Becki has a wealth of experience supporting change and was part of the Advisory Board for Universal Music (UK) on Creative Differences. The result was a handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries. She believes in the power of conversation and collaboration for positive change. This thinking led her to support the profile for Changing Places toilets within Public Spaces. She collaborates with families and disabled people, speaking at events and supporting legislative change. This work has enabled Becki to advise on the reduction of organisational barriers to install these important facilities. For over 14 years Becki has supported neurodivergent adults and is a lead volunteer for the grassroots organisation called Dig-It, Tamworth. This work screens and coaches adults who felt they have neurodivergent traits.

EMBED’s "Reopening Recommendations Support Service" has offered significant support for the sector as we return to visitor and office locations. This vital resource was co-authored by Becki alongside Sarah Simcoe, (Founder of EMBED) and Dr Katherine Deane BSc PhD at the University of East Anglia. This support service has enabled and empowered organisations to reduce barriers to the workforce and service provision. This has been particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for neurodivergent and disabled people,

Dr. Melanie Thorley

STAART Lead – University of Greenwich

Melanie has worked within disability services since 1997 and has led the STAART (originally the *AccessAbility Project within Aimhigher) since 2007. Melanie works with a dedicated team who are as committed as she is to widening participation, this also includes the specialist STAART Ambassadors (who all have a disability; long-term health condition; specific learning difficulty and/or mental health difficulty themselves). Melanie has stated often how her colleagues and ambassadors are a joy to work with and she realises how very lucky she is to co-ordinate such an innovative team. The team also works with different departments across the university and our success is testament to all of the people who have worked with us to make this project so successful. Melanie has also been fortunate enough to take *AccessAbility and STAART to conferences and staff training across the UK, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Trinidad and Cairo.

STAART adheres to the affirmation of disability which does not view disability as a tragedy or personal deficit. The model promotes positive social identities and believes strongly in the social model’s initial philosophy of ‘nothing about us without us’.

Melanie's reputation for exemplary support for the disabled and neurodivergent students (and staff) she works with continues. She won the Individual Student Support Award in the Student learning and teaching awards at the University of Greenwich in 2020, she also won the same award in 2021. Winning an award during a pandemic made the 2021 award even more significant, but shows that appropriate support does make a difference for many of the students the Board works with. Melanie was also delighted, and startled, to win the Good Health and Wellbeing Award in the Levelling Up Universities Awards 2021.

Dr Ross Cooper Emeritus Trustee

Ross was Director of the Dyslexia, Literacy and Learning Styles Division at the LLU+, London South Bank University, UK. He has been involved in making sense of how different people learn, through his own experiences, academically and professionally, and through his work in special schools, FE and HE. Dr Cooper has argued that it is time to reframe the debates about learning styles in terms of meaning-based learning.

John Pike legal Adviser
Career: Law

Educated: QEGS Wakefield and Keighley School. Jesus College, Cambridge. De Montfort University
Partner, Addleshaw Goddard LLP from 1976 to 2009.
Consultant from 2009 to 2011.
Management/leadership responsibilities have included:
Establishing the firm's Environmental Department, and obtaining a master's degree in environmental law from De Montfort University.
Head of the nationally regarded Real Estate Division for eleven years.

A leading role in relation to the firm's strategy for its own premises for over twenty years until retirement. The firm has premises in Leeds, London and Manchester, and the role has involved representing the partnership in relation to acquisitions, lettings,fit-outs, refurbishments and disposals. For example, the firm acquired, developed, funded, pre let and pre-sold its offices in Leeds, and more recently fitted out its new headquarters offices in London when the design brief had to be worked up, the project tendered, the fit out completed and staff relocated against a challenging fourteen month time frame.

Member of the Partnership's Executive Board at Booth & Co (a legacy firm) including at the time of negotiations with Addleshaw Sons & Latham to create the merged firm of Addleshaw Booth & Co.
Member of the Partnership's Executive Board at Addleshaw Booth & Co (a legacy firm) including at the time of negotiations with Theodore Goddard to create the merged national firm of Addleshaw Goddard.
A member of the firm's Professional Conflicts Committee.
Externally trained in relationship audits and management in order to carry out independent audits of key clients of the firm to evaluate the firm's performance and relationship from their perspective.
Retains trusteeships for clients of the firm.

Voluntary Appointments:
Former governor, former chairman of governors, Moorlands Preparatory School, Leeds 1992 - 2005.
Former governor, former chairman of governors, St Peter's School York 1999 - 2010. Elected an honorary Fellow of St Peter's 2010.
Director and Trustee, Urban Mines Limited, an environmental charity finding innovative solutions for waste materials and waste management.
Director, AchieveAbility Limited, a not for profit company assisting the education of people who might have a specific learning difference.
Director and Trustee, The John Clare Trust, an educational charity advancing educational experience outside the classroom.
Trustee, the Wade's Charity, a charity providing parks, open spaces and other facilities for the general welfare of the more deprived areas in Leeds.
Honorary legal adviser, The Purey Cust Trust, a charity supporting health and healing in and around York.