Our Board and Executive Team

Wayne Morris, Group Chair

An experienced housing professional, Wayne has spent nearly 25 years working at Chief Executive level within major housing associations across the South West, notably Spectrum Housing Group (2007-13) before it merged with Sovereign Housing Association in 2016. Wayne previously held the role of Vice-Chair of the Yarlington Housing Group Board and chaired the Remuneration & Nominations Committee. He is a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Joanna Makinson, Group Vice-Chair

Joanna joined the Board in November 2019 and was previously Board Member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee at Yarlington Housing Group. Prior to this Joanna was Finance Director and Company Secretary at United Communities, having qualified as an accountant in Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ public-sector team in Bristol. Joanna has a first-class degree in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge and holds the role of Chair of the Treasury Committee.

Simon Porter, Senior Independent Director

Simon is a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience in the financial sector specialising in audit, transaction support and risk management. He currently has a small portfolio of Non-Executive roles, including University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Octavia Housing. Simon has worked with Radian since 2014 and previously chaired the Audit & Risk Committee. Simon is Chair of Inspired to Achieve Ltd., Chair of the Customer Service & Performance Committee and sits on the Board of Radian Developments Ltd. as well as the Treasury and Audit & Risk Committees as well as the Board of Radian Developments Ltd.

Mandy Clarke, Board Member

Mandy is a Chartered HR professional with over 25 years’ international and multi-sector experience. She has undertaken a number of senior and executive roles globally and operates a management consulting business. Mandy is a non-executive director at GreenSquare Group and at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed). Mandy was formerly the Chair of Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Mandy, who has worked with Abri since 2013, is Chair of the People & Culture Committee and sits on the Integration & Transformation Committee.

Jane Alderman, Board Member

Jane is a senior leader who has successfully managed large development programmes in the affordable and market housing sectors. She has extensive professional expertise gained within the area of property development, social housing and regeneration. Jane has previously held roles with a number of social housing groups, including Curo Group. Currently, Jane is a consultant, providing a range of services to clients in the public and private sector, this includes advice on policy and governance and joint ventures. Jane is a chartered surveyor and member of the Institute of Housing. She joined Abri Group as a non-executive Board Member in February 2019 and is Chair of Yarlington Homes Ltd. and Chair of the Development & Assets Committee.

Lou Taylor, Board Member

Lou has more than 20 years’ experience in media, advertising and community-based enterprises in the south of England – as an owner, entrepreneur, director and board member. His career spans both commercial and social enterprises. He is currently a non-executive member of Hampshire Constabulary Force Executive and a strategic board member of the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton. He brings considerable experience of creating partnerships to support local communities and to give them a voice. Since 2015, Lou has been responsible for running Black History Month in Southampton and has formed a successful social enterprise to promote knowledge and understanding of Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic issues and experiences across the region. Lou’s knowledge in this area will be a significant asset as Abri strives to better understand and serve the needs of its diverse community of customers and colleagues.

Jocelyn McConnachie, Board Member

Jocelyn is currently Deputy Chair of Western Power Distribution’s Customer Engagement Committee and a Non-Executive Board Member at Western Isles NHS. She has held senior posts with National Grid, E.ON Energy and Calmac Ferries. She is highly experienced in leading customer and digital transformation programmes and cultural change.

Mary-Kathryn Adams, Board Member

Mary-Kathryn (MK) has over ten years of experience investigating the intersection of evidence, policy and practice in housing and urbanism across the UK. After completing her doctorate in 2013, she joined the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust, most recently serving as the Deputy Chief Executive, working with housing providers across the UK, particularly in relation to community investment, social value measurement, and the implementation of data standards across the sector. In 2019, MK joined Simetrica-Jacobs (a partnership with Jacobs, the global infrastructure and engineering firm) as the Director of Strategy, where she focuses on strategy and business development. She retains an academic research interest in the connection between people, place and space, and in particular in cities undergoing conflict transformation, serving on interdisciplinary panels and contributing to peer-reviewed articles. She loves music, plays violin (though admittedly is out of practice) and spends weekends enjoying long walks and the outdoors with her family.

Veronica Gordon, Board Member

Veronica Gordon is a former BBC local radio and ITV regional news journalist and the founder of Our Version Media CIC – a Southampton-based organisation that is increasing authentic representation of Black and marginalised communities. She brings considerable experience in broadcast and digital media and is committed to equipping others with media skills to tell their own stories. Veronica, who is a long-standing customer of Abri, also has a unique perspective on the voice of the customer through well-established links with Abri’s communities across the south where she has worked and volunteered for the past 15 years.

David Montague, Board Member

David served as the Chief Executive of L&Q, one of Britain’s largest housing associations between 2008 and 2021. Over thirty-two years David has, in a number of roles, overseen the company’s growth and success through mergers, acquisitions, major regenerations schemes and development partnerships with smaller associations. A leading figure in the sector, David has been chair of the G15 and served on the board of the National Housing Federation, as well as working with successive London Mayors. In 2013 David was awarded a CBE for services to housing in London. David now holds a number of non executive and advisory roles for organisations including The Housing Finance Corporation, Joseph Homes, Hadley Property Group, Heylo Housing Group, proptech Staykeepers and Lloyds Banking Group.

Sarah Beckwith, Independent Director

Sarah is a Chartered Surveyor who has held director positions at BNP Paribas Real Estate and CBRE, advising on asset management and lease negotiation strategies. She has undertaken numerous board roles at Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing leadership skills and creating positive change in communities. Her roles include Local President (Chair) of JCI London and National President (Chair) of JCI UK. She is a Trustee and the Company Secretary at Yateley Industries for the Disabled, a charity providing accommodation, training and employment to people with disabilities. Sarah is an Independent Director appointed to the Development & Assets Committee.

Ailsa McGregor, Independent Director

Ailsa has more than 25 years’ experience in Human Resources and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Her career began with a major blue chip food manufacturing, before joining an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for accrediting educational awards. Ailsa moved to the South West some 20 years ago to work in Higher Education. Ailsa spent six years consulting concentrating on her interests in equality of opportunities focusing on gender and race inclusion projects as well serving for 2 years as a Trustee of a regional charity supporting older members of the community. She brings considerable experience in project management, transformation, organisational development gained through a variety of projects including the Combined Universities in Cornwall project and the creation of the University of Exeter Medical School. Ailsa has a strong interest in equality, inclusion and diversity. She was part of a small team commissioned by a world leading conservatoire to carry out an independent EDI assessment, has sat on national groups for gender equality in Higher Education and advised and supported both UK and a leading top 30 international university in planning to achieve their equality and inclusion ambitions. Ailsa is an Independent Director appointed to the Customer Service & Performance Committee.

Helen Lacey, Independent Director

Helen is an experienced sales and marketing professional with over 23 years’ experience within the recruitment industry, 13 years running her own company and successfully exiting in 2021. Helen has over 11 years Board Director, NED, Chairman and Board advisor experience including: Board Director for the LEP; Chair for the Somerset IOD; Chair for the Somerset Chamber of Commerce; Chair for the Yeovil and Mendip FSB; and NED for Inspired to Achieve. Helen brings energy, emotional intelligence, passion and consideration to the boards she sits on as well as an extremely high level of interpersonal and motivational skills. Helen is an Independent Director appointed to the Customer Service & Performance Committee.

Gary Orr, Group Chief Executive

Gary has worked in the housing industry for over 22 years. Formally CEO of the ALMO Homes in Sedgemoor, he has also held senior executive positions within regional and national housing organisations. Gary was Chief Executive of Yarlington Housing Group for seven years prior to joining Abri as Chief Executive in 2018.

Caroline Moore, Chief Financial Officer

Caroline is Chief Financial Officer of the new organisation. Caroline joined Yarlington from PricewaterhouseCoopers where she specialised in providing consultancy and audit services to the housing sector in the South West and nationally. Caroline was appointed to the Yarlington Housing Group Board in April 2015. She is also a Trustee of Hollis Hospital Almshouse, Sheffield.

Andy Skarzynski, Executive Director - Strategy, Business Intelligence & HR

Andy’s responsibilities within the new organisation include strategy development, IT, HR, communications, the project management office and the change function. He works to ensure that Abri has the right people, guided and motivated by the right values, and supported by the right technology in order to deliver its full potential. Andy’s background includes significant experience in marketing, communications, ecommerce and change management gained across a range of businesses and sectors. Andy has held senior roles within the media, advertising, charity and retail sectors. Prior to his current role at Abri, Andy was the Executive Director of People, Information and Culture at Yarlington Housing Group, which he joined in April 2018.

Stephen Lodge, Executive Director - Development and Strategic Asset Management

Stephen is responsible for leading the property directorate of Abri to ensure the growth of good quality new homes, spanning all tenures across the south and south west of England. This encompasses home ownership, sales and asset management. Stephen has worked in the housing sector for around 30 years, initially as a volunteer in hostels for the homeless before pursuing a career in development and asset management. In his role, Stephen is focused on investing more into existing homes, giving our customers great opportunities, and achieving carbon neutrality. He is also has a particular interest in Modern Methods of Construction and champions this approach in the sector. Stephen is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing and in 2018, he won the Exceptional Contribution Member award for the South West.

Ralph Facey, Executive Director - Operations

Ralph has over 15 years Executive Director experience in a wide variety of roles, following a housing management and regeneration career in local government in Portsmouth, Birmingham, Southampton and then as Chief Housing Officer at Gosport, leading the service through a period of successful and significant change. Following several Executive Director roles for the Swaythling Housing Society, Ralph was appointed as Radian’s Group Director of Housing and Customer Services in December 2009, and became Executive Director of Partnerships & Projects in June 2018. Following the formation of Abri, Ralph was appointed as Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships & Projects for the new organisation, and in November 2020 was appointed as Executive Director of Operations, leading Abri’s housing management, repairs and maintenance and community investment services.

Gemma Burton-Connelly, Company Secretary

Gemma has worked in the housing sector for seven years, having taken on roles including Head of Governance and Legal and Group Company Secretary at Yarlington Housing Group. Prior to this, Gemma worked in private practice as a Lawyer. She has broad experience of governance and regulatory requirements within private companies, registered charities, community benefit societies and public limited companies. Gemma has a keen interest in raising the profile of governance and removing the perception of bureaucracy by working with individuals, teams and organisations to embed good governance practices. Gemma is a dual qualified lawyer in the UK and USA. Gemma is passionate about motivating and empowering her team to achieve their full potential and provides mentorship to aspiring young leaders too.

Read more about the selection and appointment process of our Board and Committee members.