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Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

 

Liza-Jo Gee

Chair of the Board

Liza-Jo is a dynamic professional educator, coach, and consultant with a remarkable journey that embodies the transformative power of education. Her inspiring path began when she embarked on her educational journey as an adult, learning to read and write at the age of 28. Undeterred by challenges, she went on to achieve a science degree, igniting her passion for learning and her unwavering commitment to supporting others in enhancing their life opportunities.

Liza-Jo has served in diverse roles as a teacher, manager, and senior leader and has successfully coached, mentored, and trained a multitude of professional educators, business owners, and senior leaders, leaving an indelible impact on their personal and professional growth.

Liza-Jo possesses a profound and comprehensive understanding of vocational learning. Her work extends beyond traditional boundaries as she has had the privilege of engaging with communities considered the hardest to reach. She generously gives her time as a volunteer enterprise advisor for Mary Elliot Special School in Walsall and is deeply passionate about inclusion and diversity. She owns coaching and consultancy business, 'Cultural Concepts,' where she empowers managers to evolve into authentic effective leaders and catalyses cultural change in the FE sector. In addition, she serves as an inclusive leadership advisor for the Irish Centre for Diversity, where she conducts equity, diversity, and inclusion training to promote more inclusive workplaces.

As the Chair of the board of trustees for AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group, she ensures that Inclusion remains at the forefront of the organisation's agenda, embodying her unwavering commitment to creating a fairer and more inclusive world for all.
 


 

Everton Burke OBE DL FCFE

Deputy Chair

Everton Burke is a Fellow of the Chartered Institution for Further Education (FCFE) and has worked in the FE sector for almost forty-years, championing the benefits of education by guiding young people on the path to adulthood and work.

He was awarded an OBE for his services to education, as well as his passion and commitment to the FE sector. In 2024, he was also appointed Deputy Lieutenant (DL) for the West Midlands.

As a strong believer of lifelong learning, Everton holds several senior leadership and management roles in education, bringing a wealth of knowledge to his role as Deputy Chair of the AIM Board. He is currently Chairman of Burton and South Derbyshire College, Chairman of The African Caribbean Reference Group working with West Midlands Police and Vice Chair of YMCA Heart of England. He is also an education consultant and member of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes FE Panel.

As a former vice principal of an FE college, Everton supports the post-16 agenda; recognising the learning and achievements of those who seek to empower themselves through education and training. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of Access to HE Diplomas.

“This all started for me when I first heard the phrase ‘Access to HE provision’ when I was a lecturer in an FE college. Access to HE resonated with me because I would have loved to have had the provision at the time when I, and others like me, wanted to gain higher level qualifications to assist me in my career progression, but did not have any traditional A level qualifications.”


 

Leslie Atkin

Born and educated in Blackpool, Lancashire, Leslie moved to Leicester to study an art and design degree before working in a range of employment sectors and raising a family. With a change in career beckoning, in the late 1990s Leslie began to study for a degree in social and political history with the Open University, achieving First Class honours. Further studies resulted in qualifications in human geography, social science and a post-compulsory PGCE.

During the latter stages of her degree studies, Leslie began working part time at Leicester College as a teacher of Advanced level and Access to HE geography, sociology and history, and later, at Wreake Valley Community College as an Access to HE course leader, progressing to Programme Area Manager at Leicester College in 2005.

Leslie has been responsible for co-ordinating Leicester College’s Access to HE provision for a number of years, working closely with AIM to continuously develop and improve both the offer, and student experience. She served on the Access to HE Committee for AIM for many years, latterly as deputy-chair, and as that group disbanded, joined the Board of Trustees in 2016 with a position within the Access to HE sub-committee.

Committed to the ethos of widening participation and lifelong learning, Leslie works closely with a number of regional HEIs to champion the Access to HE Diploma qualification and to support learner progression.


 

Stephanie Ajayi

An MBA qualified business graduate with over 20 years’ experience in a variety of sales/marketing and business development roles at Group Account Director level working for major clients including Sainsburys, National Grid and Dixons Carphone.

Currently employed as a director in a consultancy where she specialises in racial justice, Stephanie also performs additional roles as Chair of Governors at a primary school and Chair of the School Appeals Panel for the local council. She is also a trustee for the London Diocesan Board for Schools which supports the learning of over 160 church schools and over 60,000 pupils and sits on the Operations and Finance committee.


 

Dr Charlotte Barratt

Charlotte has been with the University of Leicester for over twelve years, working with mature and Access to HE students for about six of those years. She is now a Student and Education Equality Diversity and Inclusion Project Manager, supporting all students from the beginning of their course to the end. Her team projects look at awarding gaps, curriculum content, and quality marks. 

She is Chair of the Mature Learners Working Group for NEON. Charlotte completed her PhD on museum visiting with super-diverse communities and was also a trustee for the City of Leicester Museums Trust for ten years. Charlotte has a general belief that anyone can achieve what they want as long as they are getting the support they need to do so.


 

Ian Bond

Ian Bond is the Director of Inspire Learning, running the Adult and Community Education Service on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council. Ian has over 30 years' experience of working in education, as a secondary teacher of English and drama, as a trainer delivering Word Power and Number Power, as a careers adviser specialising in adult guidance and as a manager/director working for several General Further Education Colleges in Greater Manchester, Leeds and London.

Prior to joining Inspire, he worked for NIACE (now the Learning and Work Institute) as their lead on apprenticeships, 19 + Advanced Learning Loans, traineeships and latterly as the Head of Marketing.  

Ian is a passionate advocate for adult community and family learning, and hopes to bring his experience of running successful programmes and securing external funding, to the exciting role on the AIM Board of Trustees.


 

Donna Dawson

Starting as an administrator in the mid-'90s with Link Training, Walsall, Donna Dawson progressed into teaching, assessing and then onto quality assurance. Donna is currently working in the role of Regulatory Compliance Management for Lantra Awards.

In a career spanning 25 years, she has managed training establishments across a range of sectors within the West Midlands. She has worked in the construction, engineering, land-based and environmental sector. Always keen to learn new skills, Donna is a qualified holistic therapist and yoga instructor.

She has a passion for raising money for charities, always looking for the next adrenaline venture!


 

Teresa Flowers

Teresa Flowers is the Access to HE and Vocational Manager within the Widening Participation Team at the University of Nottingham. This role involves delivering information, advice and guidance outreach sessions to support Access to HE students who are studying at local FE colleges.

Teresa also runs several schemes and events to help support the transition of mature students into Higher Education once they arrive with the university to undertake their undergraduate studies. Teresa knows about this first hand as she undertook an Access to HE Diploma in the year 2000 and went on to achieve a first-class BA (Hons). This was followed by a degree in English and a PGCE before teaching English at Central College Nottingham for five years.  

As a clear examples of her passionate for Access to HE, Teresa was appointed to the Board in 2013 as the Chair of the then Access to Higher Education Committee.


 

Fiona Grant

Fiona Grant is Quality Assurance Manager at Swim England Qualifications. With over 16 years experience in Further Education, Fiona has had a range of roles in the education section including Tutor, Assessor, Director and more. She has also been part of the Senior Leadership Team for Accreditation Bodies and Awarding Organisations for the last 15 years.

Fiona is passionate about how values, ethics, cultures, quality and leadership can impact and inspire people to create opportunities for learners that enable them to change their lives for the better.

Fiona is grateful for the privilege to have been invited to join the AIM Board (and ‘Family’) and she looks forward to being a part of the group's future and ongoing successes.


 

Suzanne Henson

Suzanne Henson is a past Chair of a UK based International Awarding Organisation and founder of Hensonia International Academy – located in Cheshire, UK. With over 30 years' experience in teaching and training across a range of industry and education (private and state sector), Suzanne brings knowledge of a range of fields including, health and safety, beauty, spa, sports, holistic therapies and more.

Suzanne holds a Masters degree in Education and writes articles for professional and trade publications, and is an official visitor and panel judge for Professional Beauty Awards. Suzanne is presently involved as an advisor / IQA for a Liverpool based education and training charity.


 

Pauline Riley

Pauline Riley's passion for interior design developed from her extensive business interests in property development. Always keen to learn more, she looked into design training opportunities and was shocked at the lack of flexible learning available.

Pauline understood the challenge adults already faced with juggling work and family commitments, as she was doing this at that time. This made it difficult or impossible for them or for her to study traditionally on campus. 
Pauline started the Academy to offer adults with a passion for design an opportunity to study flexibly, in order to achieve their diploma qualification.

In 2013 the academy opened a branch in Dubai, delivering AIM qualifications to international students. Everyone at the Academy is passionate about helping our students to achieve their goals and we all truly believe that learning should be fun! 

Pauline firmly believes that student achievement should be recognised and rewarded as currency for their future. When looking for an Awarding Body for the Academy, she chose AIM as, unlike other AOs, AIM puts the students first and were happy to accommodate and recognise flexible learning.

Pauline has since then been a member of the AIM Board for a total of 34 years. She is particularly excited about the opportunities for the newly merged AIM Group and very much look forward to being part of its future. 


 

Dr Govind Desai

Dr. Govind Desai has held the position of Director and Principal at Imperial English UK and Birmingham College since 2003. His impressive academic credentials include three master's degrees and a PhD from Leicester University, which is among the top 20 universities in the UK.

Dr. Desai possesses extensive experience collaborating with institutions across more than 25 countries. He has successfully executed numerous projects in partnership with various governments, including a national training programme for 100,000 teachers.

Over the past two decades, Dr. Desai has dedicated his expertise to academic and charitable organizations within the UK. In a relatively short span of time, he has transformed Imperial English UK into a highly regarded British brand that has authored over 150 books, developed five world-class applications, and established a presence in more than 25 countries. As the Principal of Birmingham College, Dr. Desai forged academic alliances with three British universities and government entities.

Dr. Desai's passion lies in crafting cost-effective digital solutions for academic institutions to deliver English language courses that adhere to British standards, ensuring quality and recognized qualifications are at the forefront of education.