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Meet the team

The leaders at Villiers Park have diverse backgrounds and bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise. They are united by a passion and commitment to improving social mobility in the UK. 
   Villiers Park Educational Trust thrives thanks to the commitment of dedicated, expert staff who work across our centres. Throughout the year our residential courses, masterclasses and workshops are supported by around 100 specialist tutors and speakers.  

Rae Tooth - Chief Executive

Rae brings extensive experience of higher education policy, in particular around improving access, progression and success for socially disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. She is an expert in effective evaluation of practice and outcomes, and in bringing together practice, policy and academic discourse in relation to social justice. Rae also has first-hand experience of the impact that Villiers Park has on the lives of young people, having attended one of its courses when she was a student in the early 1990s.

Before joining Villiers Park as CEO, Rae spent two decades in the civil service leading work on higher education and equality. As head of strategy and change at Office for Students and, prior to that, the Office for Fair Access, she advised Cabinet ministers on developing evidence-led policy aimed at improving outcomes for disadvantaged and underrepresented students. Rae is also a board member at the University of Winchester, and co-chair of the Fair Access Coalition of third-sector sectors working to improve educational access for disadvantaged students.

Rae grew up with disadvantage, and manages living with dyslexia. She lives in Bristol where she is a lone parent to two children. They share their home with two very silly and adored cats.



Tina McEwan - Chief Operating Officer

Tina has operated in CFO and COO roles for several Cambridge-based businesses. Prior to this she worked for EY (formerly Ernst & Young), advising a wide range of entities including start-ups, large privately-owned business and listed companies.

In her role as COO at Villiers Park, Tina is responsible for finance, HR and operations. She enjoys solving business challenges by ensuring operational efficiency to enable her colleagues to deliver the best programmes for young people.

Tina is a life-long learner who enjoys expanding her knowledge. Most recently she qualified as a coach with the University of Cambridge’s adult learning programme, and also completed a senior leadership programme in 2018 with Churchill College, Cambridge.  Tina’s experience in talent and leadership management, and her experience as vice-chair of a large primary school’s governing body, has motivated her to make a difference for disadvantaged young people and encourage diversity and opportunity for all.


Dr Julian Crockford - Chief Programmes Officer

Julian Crockford is responsible for the design, delivery, and evaluation of our programmes. Julian set up one of the first widening participation research units at the University of Sheffield, and has contributed to toolkits evaluating and enhancing outreach practice used across the sector.

He continues to pursue academic research and has published on HE-related evaluation issues. He sits on the board of NERUPI and provides consultancy for small, specialist institutions developing their outreach offer.


Stephen Exley - Director of External Affairs

Stephen has over a decade of experience in education journalism and policy. He is a passionate advocate for further education and skills, and has worked extensively in communications, media relations, strategic partnerships and public affairs.

After starting his career in the regional press, Stephen became education correspondent at the Cambridge News in 2008. Two years later he joined Tes (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) as a reporter, and subsequently was twice named the winner of the Award for Outstanding National Education Journalism at the Chartered Institute for Public Relations’ Education Journalism Awards. In 2015 he was appointed Tes’ Further Education Editor.

More recently, Stephen has written reports on education and skills policy for the Further Education Trust for Leadership. As well as coping with the onerous demands of his two children and cat, he is a primary school governor and a Fellow of the RSA.


Hannah Coppersmith - Director of Funding

Hannah is an energetic and entrepreneurial commercial leader with experience building businesses, products and not-for-profit organisations. She strongly believes that education is the key to social and economic empowerment, and is passionate about her role in driving change to achieve this.

Hannah started her career in real estate, spending a number of years living and working in Switzerland, growing a property start-up into an international, multi-million pound business. Before joining Villiers Park, Hannah was the CEO of UK charity Nepal Youth Foundation UK, during which time she also launched a contemporary, ethical fashion brand, helping women in Nepal who had been freed from childhood slavery to gain financial independence.

Hannah has a chaotic but contented life with her husband, three children and her adorable Miniature Schnauzer. Hannah is a founding member and the group coordinator of the Cambridge Stroke Group, which provides support to stroke survivors.


Catherine Kottritsch - Director of Partnerships

Catherine is a qualified teacher and educator with over 12 years’ experience in both formal education and educational outreach. Having started out in the classroom, she saw first-hand how a young person’s background can impact their education and wellbeing. This has driven her to work alongside schools and with young people directly to empower them to visualise a positive future and equip them to make it happen.

She brings a breadth of experience in developing and implementing national programmes. Having held both operational and strategic positions, she has a sound understanding of what different stakeholders need for success. Catherine is always looking to develop new ways of working. She pursues her passion for collaboration by exploring and developing partnerships, which enrich the curriculum and provide bespoke support for our Future Leaders.

When not working, Catherine can be found exploring either on foot or by bike, and spends much of her time volunteering for organisations such as the British Red Cross and Over The Wall.



Deborah Richardson - Director of Curriculum

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