AMOSSHE elects a new Chair, Vice Chair and Executive Committee members

03 August 2021 15:27 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

At last month's AMOSSHE Annual General Meeting, Helen McNeely (AMOSSHE Vice Chair Operations) announced the results of our recent Executive elections. Every year six roles become available on the AMOSSHE Executive Committee, and members have the opportunity to nominate themselves to join the team. The final candidates were chosen by a membership ballot.

The elected members, who will serve for the 2021 to 2023 term of office, are as follows:

  • Jill Stevenson (University of Stirling) is the new Chair of AMOSSHE
  • Simon Lee (Teesside University) is the new Vice Chair

Also, four Executive Members were elected for a two year term:

  • Emma Bales, University of Cumbria
  • Craig Best, The University of Sheffield
  • Sarah Cavendish, University of Leicester
  • Claire Slater, University of Bristol

In addition, three more Executive Member roles have become available for one year, due to other Executive members leaving or changing roles. So three more Executive Members were elected for the 2021/22 academic year:

  • Kelsey Coward, Cardiff University
  • Sammy Li, University of Birmingham
  • Sarah Sweeney, Lancaster University

Helen was joined by her Executive colleagues and members in welcoming all the new members to the Executive team. Find out more about the new Executive Committee.

The Executive team also gave their thanks to Jayne Aldridge, who has left her role as Chair, Fay Sherrington, who has left her role as Vice Chair, and also Rotimi Akinsete, Anji Gardiner and Lesley O'Keeffe, who have left the Executive as well. Many thanks to them for all their hard work and dedication to AMOSSHE over many years!

Nomination statements

Here are the nomination statements from everyone who takes a role on the AMOSSHE Executive this year. These are personal statements about their intentions and why they're right for the roles:

Jill Stevenson (Chair)

Jill Stevenson (Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services, University of Stirling) takes the role of AMOSSHE Chair. Here’s Jill’s nomination statement.

Over the past four years as a committed and dedicated member of the AMOSSHE Executive Committee, I have invested passionately in enabling and empowering our members to deliver maximum impact and a world class student experience across our universities. I believe I have contributed significantly to AMOSSHE and that, as Chair, I can drive further transformation in collaboration with our members and partners to position the student experience and Student Services at the top of the agenda for university leaders, policy makers, funders, and regulators. During my time on the AMOSSHE Executive Committee, I have:

  • Led the development of the current five-year AMOSSHE strategy, setting a clear vision, set of values and strategic objectives for the organisation and our membership.
  • Co-chaired the 2019 National Conference in Birmingham.
  • Co-chaired the 2018 and 2019 Winter Conferences on Building Belonging and Mental Health.
  • Co-chaired the first AMOSSHE conference on anti-racism and racial equality in April 2021.
  • Represented members nationally and internationally on topics including gender-based / sexual violence, mental health and wellbeing, anti-racism and race equality, and student experience, including sharing our Resilience Toolkit with European partners and publishing a report for the sector on developments in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Championed the experiences and perspectives of Home Nations institutions, ensuring that they are considered in all aspects of planning and delivery.
  • Represented the sector on Universities UK, Universities Scotland and Scottish Government strategic and Ministerial groups, currently on Mental Health and Wellbeing, Equally Safe (GBV), 'Changing the Culture', and anti-racism, and contributed to successful lobbying for increased investment in Student Services.

As AMOSSHE Chair, I will use my platform, influence, and leadership skills to:

  • Lead and support our members to build back stronger from the pandemic - in partnership with the Executive Committee, I will review our priorities to ensure that resources are targeted effectively at the most pressing and valuable areas and activities.
  • Build influential and impactful collaborations - nationally and globally - that further the aims and ambitions of our membership, in line with the vision of our AMOSSHE strategy.
  • Increase opportunities to engage members in our work, ensuring that the Executive Committee and National Office teams harness the talent and experience in our membership whilst further empowering our members and providing development opportunities.
  • Ensure that our work meets the evolving needs of the membership, particularly in the areas of policy analysis, continuing professional development, and agile response to developments in the external environment.
  • Ensure that the experiences and perspectives of members from across the UK, including all home nations and diverse institution types are represented in discussions and decision-making.
  • Ensure that the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion permeate all aspects of our work and are visible in all that we do.
  • Support the Executive Committee and National Office team, ensuring that their wellbeing and mental health are protected and enhanced and that they continue to derive fulfilment from their work with AMOSSHE.
  • Strengthen succession planning and ensure that the organisation continues to meet the highest standards of governance.

I will dedicate strong vision, great passion and energy, coupled with 13 years of experience in higher education, latterly as Director of Student Services and Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. I believe in the power of strong collaboration and an inclusive approach in all that I do. It would be a true privilege to lead our organisation and work in partnership with all our members to make a lasting, life-changing impact on the lives of the students we serve.


Simon Lee (Vice Chair)

Simon Lee (Deputy Director, Resilience, Sport and Wellbeing, Teesside University) takes the role of AMOSSHE Vice Chair. Here’s Simon’s nomination statement.

I am currently a member of the AMOSSHE Executive Committee having been appointed in 2018 and I would relish the chance to step up into the Vice Chair position and continue to work alongside my colleagues to support the development and recognition of the great work of Student Services.

Since joining the Executive, I have embraced both the challenges and opportunities that being part of the committee offers, working hard to promote the development of AMOSSHE and our profession. Examples include:

  • I was joint-lead for both the 2019 and 2020 Winter Conferences in Cardiff and Bath respectively focussing on "Data-driven, technology-enabled services for students" and "Mental Health and Wellbeing".
  • On behalf of the Executive Committee I have represented AMOSSHE at the NASMA conference (leading sessions on boundaries and resilience) and Universities UK roundtables on supporting international students and student initiations.
  • Chaired national conferences on student safeguarding and the 2021 Student Mental Health Conference.
  • Working closely with my Executive colleagues, I have supported the development of the new AMOSSHE Strategy and am taking the lead on the external development workstream with a view to building our links with Student Services professionals across the globe.
  • Responding to the needs of our members during the pandemic, changing the way AMOSSHE operates to ensure we continue to support colleagues in these most challenging of times.

My day job is Deputy Director - Student and Library Services at Teesside University, where I lead a range of key student support functions, including mental health, student welfare, sport, and our multi-faith chaplaincy. I enjoy tackling the more challenging issues facing Student Services, having researched the management of multi-faith spaces for AMOSSHE, and I am the Chair of the North East Regional Prevent Group. I hope to continue and build on this work if elected Vice Chair.

Having been an elected member of the Executive Committee for three years I feel ready to step up into the Vice Chair role as I understand AMOSSHE, the needs of our members and how we as an organisation need to respond. I have a range of leadership experience, which I believe equips me well, including chairing regional and national committees and events as well as AMOSSHE's work around international engagement.

My priorities for the Vice Chair role are to:

  • Support colleagues as the sector emerges from the pandemic, ensuring that we return to campus safely but also keep and develop further those relevant innovations in how we deliver our services which have served us so well in the last 12 months.
  • Develop and grow our regional networks, building on their increased impact during COVID-19.
  • Strengthen our links with key policy makers and agencies, both at home and overseas, to ensure the voice of Student Services is at the heart of all relevant discussions.
  • Develop our approaches to the most challenging topics facing our profession, including diversity and inclusion, supporting international students, student mental health, relationships with local service providers, and helping those students who have been affected most by the pandemic.


Emma Bales (Executive Member)

Emma Bales (Director of Student Services, University of Cumbria) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for two years. Here’s Emma’s nomination statement.

Having worked in higher education student support services for over 18 years, I am currently the Director of Student Services at the University of Cumbria (UoC), which is a role I have held for the last 12 months. I am keen to widen my engagement with the sector through actively contributing to the ongoing development of AMOSSHE to support its members, the sector and the student experience.

I firmly believe in the transformative effect of higher education through raising aspirations and through the provision of excellent, accessible, impactful support.

I am passionate about the student experience and committed to the delivery of high quality student support. Following my disengagement with higher education at the age of 18, whilst working at UoC I have been supported to complete a part-time MBA and a PGDip in HRM as a mature student with a young family. As such I have an understanding of, and empathy with, the pressures many students across the sector face.

I have been fortunate in my career to date to develop knowledge and experience which I hope would be of benefit to the AMOSSHE Executive Committee. I have served as the Staff Director on the UoC board since 2013. Outside of work I am a member of the Board of Trustees for St John's Hospice North Lancashire and South Lakes. Through these roles I have gained valuable knowledge, skills and experience in relation to organisational governance and the role of a (non-executive) Director or Trustee.

AMOSSHE's vision, mission and values resonate strongly with me, reflecting my own values and my leadership approach. Therefore, if I were successful in this application, I would consider it a privilege to join the AMOSSHE Executive Committee and support AMOSSHE in representing Student Services in the sector.


Craig Best (Executive Member)

Craig Best (Deputy Director Student Support Services, The University of Sheffield) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for two years. Here’s Craig’s nomination statement.

Joining a new university at the start of the pandemic and working remotely was challenging and, at times, isolating. However, it showed me the real importance of connections and the essential need for collaboration and opportunities to share our frustrations and worries, and importantly an environment that enables us to map out a way forward. AMOSSHE has and continues to be that space for us all, and I have personally found it invaluable during the last 12 months.

I would welcome the opportunity to be an Executive Member, to learn more about our sector and contribute to the work of AMOSSHE's priorities. I am keen to support the work already underway in establishing a dynamic and integrated movement by enhancing our approach to collaboration and membership engagement through providing more accessible opportunities to equip ourselves and others with the tools and skills to embrace the future of student support.

My broad experience in Student Services and appreciation of the unique value proposition these services provide at all stages of the student lifecycle hopefully gives me the skills and knowledge to be part of your next Executive Committee. My career has focused on enhancing the student experience and equipping colleagues to provide the best support they can.

Working in partnership has been key to this success and delivering on innovative technological solutions, such as student engagement dashboards, to bringing teams together to ensure appropriate end-to-end support and providing "how-to" and "what works" guides that can translate across organisations and teams.

AMOSSHE is our organisation, and I honestly believe you get out what you put in. So I would love to volunteer my time and experience to ensure that AMOSSHE works in the best way to support our members and drive forward our aim to be a values-based movement of Student Services leaders.


Sarah Cavendish (Executive Member)

Sarah Cavendish (Head of Student Support Services, University of Leicester) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for two years. Here’s Sarah’s nomination statement.

Since joining Leicester in 2018, I have been in awe of AMOSSHE and its work. I have personally appreciated the support and professional sharing of experiences through the AMOSSHE community - this has never been more important!

I am keen to be elected to the Executive Committee of AMOSSHE as I believe Student Services' voice has much to say, and is very much the heart of the student experience and success within higher education. I believe I have a unique set of skills and professional background to offer the Executive team.

My professional life as an occupational therapist has given me a unique understanding of the importance of 'occupation' = what we do, and the impact on our lives. This is a principle at the heart of supporting students' engagement in education and learning, and wider student experience. In addition, mental health is an intrinsic component to my career, due to spending the majority of my clinical practice in forensic psychiatry. This has been invaluable to understanding the mental health needs of the student population.

On moving into academia I have gained an acute appreciation of the issues facing academics in supporting students, and the key role of Student Services. I then moved into professional services and organisational / population health and wellbeing, which has given me a fantastic grounding of social models to support health and wellbeing in large populations.

There are a number of challenges within higher education currently, that I am keen to support AMOSSHE progressing its voice in: safeguarding, mental health, sexual violence, suicide prevention and service standards. I believe my ambition, experience and unique professional background make me an ideal candidate for election to the AMOSSHE Executive Committee.


Claire Slater (Executive Member)

Claire Slater (Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, University of Bristol) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for two years. Here’s Claire’s nomination statement.

I have been working in Student Services for over 20 years and AMOSSHE has played an important part in my professional development. I have been a member of the AMOSSHE Executive Committee for the last three years and have worked with the National Office team on a number of projects. It has been a privilege to be involved in the ongoing work to support our members and I would like to continue in this role, networking with colleagues, organising different events and ensuring that the voices and opinions of our members are heard. I have organised a number of continuing professional development events including Crisis Communications, Intersectionality and Wellbeing, and Self-care, as well as helping to facilitate different webinars and online discussions. I am also part of the team that is planning the 2021 National Conference.

I have also contributed to the development of the new AMOSSHE strategy, focussing on the member engagement workstream, reaching out to members to find out more about their views about what AMOSSHE brings to their professional development and what more we can do to continue to support them. I have also represented AMOSSHE at different events including the Universities UK Working Group that produced guidance on tackling staff / student sexual misconduct.

I have personally really benefitted from both my AMOSSHE membership and my time on the Executive Committee, and would like to continue to give something back to the organisation and our members. I am committed to continuing to raise the profile of the important work we do in Student Services, supporting students, promoting equity and inclusion, making a difference every day but also to ensure that all our colleagues are supported in their roles and can benefit from everything that AMOSSHE can offer.

I am the Director of Student Life and Wellbeing at the University of Bristol, leading on a number of key projects including the delivery of our Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the introduction of several new teams and services, including a Student Wellbeing Service, a Residential Life Service and a dedicated team to support survivors of sexual violence. I am also working with colleagues across the institution to plan and deliver a range of activities and campaigns to bring about cultural change, challenging unacceptable attitudes and behaviours and promoting and developing a more inclusive university experience for all. I have to say, I wouldn't be where I am today without the opportunities, skills, knowledge, support and inspiration from AMOSSHE over the years.


Kelsey Coward (Executive Member)

Kelsey Coward (Head of Operations, Cardiff University) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for one year. Here’s Kelsey’s nomination statement.

I joined the Executive Committee in July 2020 on a one year tenure. I was co-opted following a request for expressions of interest from the Welsh AMOSSHE group to ensure that the Executive Committee had representation from all four UK nations.

Since joining I have attended all the Executive meetings and co-led the continuing professional development event 'Rethinking disability services in a post-pandemic world'.

I have learnt a lot since July and my confidence as an Executive Member has increased. I feel that I am finding my feet on the Committee and I am keen to continue to develop my knowledge, share my skills and provide continuity on the Committee in a year when many of my colleagues are relinquishing their roles.

I have worked in higher education for 17 years in four very different universities both in England and in Wales. This experience combined with the different roles that I have had has given me a real understanding and appreciation of the need for AMOSSHE to ensure that it represents and supports all its members and can identify and respond to nuance as well as similarity and shared experience.

I was the first in my family to go to university. With little understanding of higher education and unsure of where to seek help I struggled to find my feet and did not complete my course. Years later I decided to give it another go and returned to higher education as a part-time mature student enrolling at Birkbeck College, University of London. It was this second experience which led to a real love of learning and a change in career. I have really enjoyed working in Student Services and to be on the Executive Committee for AMOSSHE has been an ambition that I have held for many years.


Sammy Li (Executive Member)

Sammy Li (Adviser on Student Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, University of Birmingham) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for one year. Here’s Sammy’s nomination statement.

AMOSSHE has been a tremendously supportive community for enabling my transition from an academic role to a Student Services professional four years ago. I have since been an active member at AMOSSHE, contributing as a National Conference presenter and one of the hosts for regional non-lead meetings. AMOSSHE's value proposition is underpinned by the principles of inclusion, equality of opportunity, and respect for diversity. It resonates with my institutional role as a strategic lead on student equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) to ensure that students from all backgrounds have a positive university experience and the best chance to fulfil their potentials. This is also manifested in my international collaborations on student EDI with Student Services at the University of Amsterdam.

As the Student Services Organisation, it is paramount for us to recognise the diverse needs of students and members from institutions across the UK. The AMOSSHE vision on student success, world-class student experience, and the achievement of institutional goals must be united with our commitment to leave no one behind because of who they are. Therefore, AMOSSHE is best placed to support the development and innovation of members for embedding good practice for an inclusive campus culture.

However, this will also require the body of Student Services professionals to reflect the diversity of our student population. We need to do more to widen the participation of our regional and national activities. This includes supporting our sector diversifying the leadership pipeline of Student Services and broadening our engagement as the Student Services Organisation.

Coming from a first-generation in higher education background, the sector has offered me a life-changing opportunity. I would be honoured if I can have your support to allow me to contribute more to this community, and for me to learn more from fellow Student Services professionals.


Sarah Sweeney (Executive Member)

Sarah Sweeney (Head of Student Support and Wellbeing, Lancaster University) takes the role of AMOSSHE Executive Member for one year. Here’s Sarah’s nomination statement.

I would like to be elected to the AMOSSHE Executive Committee because throughout my career I have benefitted from sharing best practice with colleagues in the sector and working through challenges as part of cross-institutional teams, and I would like to help others to do the same. Sharing knowledge and joint working has been particularly helpful in addressing the challenges created by the pandemic. I would really value the opportunity to work with AMOSSHE to support colleagues across the sector to connect, problem solve and learn from each other, and to influence change in the sector through joint working.

I am passionate about using digital solutions to improve student support services and I am already a member of the AMOSSHE member resources development group. Improving equality, diversity and inclusion is another area I would like to focus on, developing a more inclusive student experience.

I have a strong enthusiasm and commitment to delivering excellent service to students. I have 17 years of experience working in higher education, gained through leadership roles in academic departments, faculty offices, research centres, and central professional services, and at a national level for HEFCE. I'm currently Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at Lancaster University, where I am responsible for delivery of student support and wellbeing services across the university, working with academic departments and Lancaster's nine colleges to ensure high quality and consistent student support across all areas. I have responsibility for the Counselling and Mental Health Service, Disability and Inclusion Service, Student Advice Service and the University's COVID-19 student response and support team. I was also co-lead on our most recent institutional Athena SWAN submission and delivery plan. Prior to working at Lancaster I worked at Newcastle University where my experience covered student recruitment, marketing, resources, HR, research, quality assurance, student support, and events.


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