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Meet the Team

Our people come from diverse backgrounds and bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise. They are united by a passion and commitment to improving the life chances of less-advantaged young people in the UK. 

   Villiers Park thrives thanks to the commitment of dedicated, expert staff who work across our centres. Throughout the year, our courses and workshops are supported by around 100 specialist tutors and speakers.

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Rae

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.

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Senior Leadership Team
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Programmes Team
Julian

Dr Julian Crockford

Chief Programmes Officer

I joined Villiers Park in 2020 as Chief Programmes Officer. I oversee the charity’s delivery activities, and help to steer, develop and evaluate the Future Leaders programme. I also deliver knowledge exchange activities for partner organisations, supporting them with implementing theory-driven evaluation, and developing a learning-and-thinking culture. I continue to research and write on HE-related evaluation issues and contribute to sector-wide activity and projects in this area.
 
Following several years studying and researching contemporary American fiction, I spent nearly a decade as Admissions Officer in a Russell Group university. I then set up and managed a Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit at the University of Sheffield.
 
When I'm not thinking about all things social mobility, I'm trying to complete an Educational Doctorate. My research uses theory-of-change approaches to explore the types of knowledge and expertise informing the development of widening participation activities. And when I'm not thinking about theories of change, I spend my time fruitlessly trying to train Missie, my wayward lurcher-lab-staffy cross, or making annoying music with unloved synthesisers from the 1980s.

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Senior Leadership Team
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Programmes Team
Deborah Richardson 5

Deborah Richardson

Director of Curriculum

I’m driven and motivated to support young people to explore their interests, passions and ambitions, and to see all their possible selves.

I started working with Villiers Park in 1990 - 31 years ago - making me the longest-serving member of staff. The organisation has changed almost beyond recognition over those years, but our commitment to equality of opportunity hasn’t wavered. I firmly believe that Future Leaders is the best iteration of our programme yet.

I’ve been in education all my working life, ending up as a Head of Modern Foreign Languages before joining Villiers. My interest and expertise is in curriculum development, using methodologies and pedagogies to develop subject-specific and skills-based resources, materials, courses and activities - both online and face to face - to meet current needs of young people.

With many years’ experience of working in partnership with schools, universities and a host of other training providers, I’m well-placed to support Future Leaders on their chosen pathways.

Outside work, my dog Olga and I love going on long walks and spending time with my son and family. I love exploring the UK and abroad; being a linguist, I am endlessly fascinated by language and culture.

 
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ProGrammes Team
Catherine

Catherine Kottritsch

Director of Partnerships

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

 

I bring wide-ranging experience in developing and implementing national programmes. Having held both operational and strategic positions, I have a sound understanding of what different stakeholders need for success. I'm always looking to develop new ways of working. I'm passionate about collaboration through developing partnerships which enrich the curriculum and provide bespoke support for our Future Leaders.

 

When not working, I can be found exploring either on foot or by bike, and spend much of my time volunteering for organisations such as CoFarm Cambridge and Over The Wall.

Senior Leadership Team
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Fundraising team
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Gaby Sumner

Director of Fundraising

Coming soon!

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Communications team
Stephen

Stephen Brooks

Interim Director of External Affairs

As Director of External Affairs, it’s my job to raise Villiers Park’s profile and persuade decision-makers that a young person’s background must never be a barrier to education and career opportunities. For me, Villiers Park’s work is personal: I was raised on one of England’s most deprived estates, and a lucky council-house swap opened up new opportunities. That’s why I’m passionate about everyone having the same opportunities to reach their potential.

 

The Comms Team’s day-to-day activities include promoting the Future Leaders programme, securing coverage in the media, and communicating our evidence and research to policy-makers and opinion-formers. We’re also focussed on creating and contributing to communities of practice within education and related sectors.

 

As the son of a market trader, communicating and influencing are skills I learned early in life and have used extensively over the past 20 years in the world of policy and campaigning. After university, I was elected President of the National Union of Students in Wales, and then went on to work in politics and for charities including Oxfam and Sustrans.

I combine my Villiers Park role with other freelance work, and I’m also a trainee psychotherapist. Outside work, I love volunteering, spending time with family and friends and obsessing about all things Nordic.

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Programmes Team
John Frangoudi

John Frangoudi

Project Coordinator

Online, self-directed learning can sometimes feel daunting and disengaging. It’s my role to find ways of making Launchpad, Villiers Park's virtual learning environment, easy to follow; and for courses to be informative yet interesting and fun. The platform is reasonably new to the organisation and I get excited when I find new and interactive features that can be incorporated into our courses.

 

I work closely with the Programmes Team, providing support to their roles, whilst working with Directors and Coaches in adapting their courses from directed, face-to-face learning to self-directed, online learning. With over 15 years in managing software implementation and business change projects in the commercial sector, my experience places me well for this role.

 

I'm a dad to 4 happy souls (2 humans and 2 Japanese Akitas), a keen and seasoned traveller, and a lover of lazy days with my family who live in Cyprus that often involve Greek food and ice cold beers. Give me an Ouzo and I’ll give you Zorba the Greek!

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Programmes team
Alex Grant (Hastings)

Alex Grant

Assistant Director, Hastings & Bexhill, Tyneside and Early Entry

I have been with Villiers Park for 10 years, first as a Progression Coach (formerly Learning Mentor) and for the last 5 years as Assistant Director for Hastings & Bexhill, Tyneside and Early Entry. I am passionate about supporting young people to choose their own future pathways and have fair opportunities to access them.

 

Prior to joining Villiers Park, I trained as a dancer at The Royal Ballet School and Rambert School of Dance, before touring nationally and internationally for 6 years. Following my dance career, I moved into dance education with the Hastings & St Leonards Excellence Cluster, working with schools and community groups, before diversifying my role to include youth participation work and "gifted and talented" provision.

 

Away from work I still enjoy dancing for fun, reading, and family walks by the sea or in the woods.

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Programmes Team
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Julie Kiddier

Assistant Director, Swindon

My team and I work with schools and colleges across Swindon to deliver the Future Leaders Programme. I joined Villiers Park in 2014, initially as a Progression Coach, and became an Assistant Director in 2017. I have a particular interest in working with employers on our Apprenticeship Support Programme, enabling young people to gain insights into their chosen career paths while developing the knowledge and skills to succeed.

 

I have an extensive career background in education outreach, including international roles supporting children, young people and adults in various settings. Immediately prior to joining Villiers Park I was a coordinator and part of the teaching team working in a detention centre delivering a literacy and numeracy programme for asylum seekers. I did this alongside a part-time role as Assistant Director at a Language school where I taught various Professional English courses. This followed my role working with the Australian State FE college system supporting Adults returning to Education through an individual tutor outreach programme.

 

I am a passionate learner myself, having recently completed Level 6 Career Coaching qualification which followed an MA in Education, and I'm looking forward to new challenges in the near future. Otherwise, I'm a mum of two and an enthusiastic heritage volunteer.

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Programmes team
Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston

Progression Coach, Swindon

I am passionate about working with young people to improve their aspirations and social mobility with the help of Villiers Park. I have been part of the Programmes Team for almost 5 years, delivering coaching sessions, skills workshops and application support. 

 

I have worked with students in a number of skills-building and pastoral roles during the past 18 years, and I enjoy seeing the Future Leaders find the confidence to take their next step in their academic and life plans.

 

Outside of work, I love to spend time with my family, going out for walks with our adopted dogs and relaxing with a good book (and some chocolate).

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Laura Towers (Hastings)

Laura Towers

Progression Coach, Hastings & Bexhill

As part of the Hastings & Bexhill delivery team, the main part of my job is working in schools delivering the Future Leaders Programme. I am passionate about empowering young people to become the best possible versions of themselves and this is what I value most about working 1:1 with the Future Leaders.

I have previously worked with young people elsewhere in the charity sector, both in schools and in the community. I studied Modern Languages at university and I have a Master’s degree in gender studies, which I love to talk about given half the chance!

In my down-time, you can find me tap-dancing, crocheting, or watching period dramas on Netflix.

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Musetta Ripamonti

Progression Coach, Hastings & Bexhill

I have spent most of the last two decades working with disadvantaged children in the Hastings and Bexhill area. The last ten years have been with Villiers Park as a mentor/coach. I am a languages graduate with specialisms in the China field and have spent several years in China and Japan, working in education and travelling.

 

I am an artist in my spare time and enjoy going on Summer camping trips.

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Programmes Team
Julie Penn (Swindon)

Julie Penn

Progression Coach, Swindon

Prior to joining Villiers Park I spent several years working in the secondary education sector. Witnessing how lack of self-belief and opportunities hindered some students from reaching their true potential motivated me to apply to be a Progression Coach. Seeing how the work that we do can make a real difference to student’s performance and aspirations is really rewarding.

 

Outside of work, I like to keep active and enjoy tap dancing, swimming, gardening and walking. I am also a keen runner and this year completed the London Marathon.

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Fundraising team
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Claire Greenwood

Trust Fundraising Manager

I joined Villiers Park in April 2022 as Trust Fundraising Manager. I'm responsible for securing grant funding from and building long term relationships with philanthropic trusts and foundations, to support the delivery and sustainability of our work. 

 

I have 26 years’ experience in fundraising, having worked in economic regeneration in the private and public sectors including supporting charities and community groups to fundraise, before working directly within the third sector. I've worked for several youth charities including Rathbone, Street League and OnSide Youth Zones, and raised millions in revenue and capital funding that has enabled some of the most disadvantaged young people to achieve their potential.

 

I'm an avid sportswoman and enjoy cycling, swimming and yoga, but stand-up paddleboarding is my biggest passion and I can be found pootling around Norfolk’s finest waterways most weekends. I'm mum to Labradors Bruce and Sandi, and Albie the cat. My favourite holiday destination is Wales, and I'm currently learning to speak Welsh. 

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Communications team
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Tim Arnold

Interim Communications Manager

I’m passionate about telling Villiers Park’s stories. I especially love hearing first-hand from the young people we serve about the positive impact the Future Leaders Programme has had on them. I work closely with the Programme and Income Generation teams, but my job connects me with everyone in the organisation as well as alumni, partners and supporters. 

 

I’ve been helping to connect education organisations with their audiences for nearly 20 years. I cut my teeth at the WEA, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, before holding senior marketing and communications positions at Scientia, a leading provider of timetabling software for universities, and Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge

 

I'm a dad, cyclist, socialist, bookworm, cat-lover, parish councillor, recent teetotaller, reformed social media addict and retired raver - though I still occasionally dust off my dancing shoes.

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Support team
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Michele Perrett

PA to CEO, SLT and Board

Someone once described me as a ‘facilitator and fixer’. I loved this description of me as I thrive on helping people make their lives easier in any way I can. I am weirdly passionate about organising people and things - I love a list! This passion helps me enormously in my daily life when it comes to organising the CEO and Trustees.

 

I have been in one type of administrative role or another for nearly forty years, beginning back in the early 1980s. I remember the introduction of the fax machine! I have organised people in many industries, everything from airlines, construction, IT, pharmaceuticals and finally Villiers Park.

 

I am a traveller and sailor at heart, and combined these two passions when I wrote my first novel, Island of Youth; but to relax, I indulge in cooking, crafting and painting.

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