Please see the below Pen Portraits for each of our Corporation Board Governors:

Our Board


Peter Lauener – Independent Governor – Chair of Corporation

Peter had a career in the Civil Service, with a particular focus on policy development and delivery roles in education and skills. From 2010 to 2018, Peter held a number of demanding Chief Executive roles including Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, interim Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and interim Chief Executive of the Student Loans Company.

Peter now holds a number of non-executive roles, including Chair of NCG, a group of seven colleges in communities from the North and North West England through the Midlands to London.  Peter is also Chair of the Student Loans Company which manages applications from students in further and higher education for financial support as well as repayments after graduations.  He is also Chair of the Construction Industry Training Board, which raises a £200m pa levy from construction industry employers to invest in training and skills for the industry; and Chair of the Orchard Hill College, an Ofsted outstanding provider of post 16 education for special needs young people in London and South East England.  Peter is also a non-executive director of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, an integrated clinical and community provider of services to children and young people.

Peter is a member of the Appraisal and Remuneration Committee, the Premises and Estates Committee and the Search Committee.


Chris Roberts – Independent Governor – Vice Chair of Corporation and Chair of Search Committee

Chris Roberts is Vice Chair of Northern Education Trust, Chair of North Country Leisure and Trustee of Greenwich Leisure. Chris formerly served in executive roles with the Skills Funding Agency rising to Chief Operating Officer.

Chris is the Vice Chair of the Corporation, Chair of the Search Committee and Chair of the Premises and Estates Committee.


Mark Squires – Independent Governor – Chair of Appraisal and Remuneration Committee

Mark Squires is the former Chief Executive of Benfield Motor Group and recently stepped down as Chair of the National Franchised Dealerships Association. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Hull and a Master’s in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in Chicago. He is Chief Executive of St Ebba Capital Ltd, an investment company and Partner in Squires Barnett Architects. Mark also serves on a number of charitable boards including as Chair of the Royal Grammar School Educational Trust and Deputy Chair of the Prince’s Trust North East Development Committee.

Mark is the Chair of the Appraisal and Remuneration Committee, and a member of the Audit Committee and Search Committee.


Caroline MacDonald – Independent Governor – Chair of HE Governance Committee

Caroline MacDonald has a degree and PhD in molecular biology from the University of Glasgow and held a number of positions in universities in Scotland and the North East of England. She retired in 2014 from Teesside University as Deputy Vice Chancellor and is currently a member of the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board and Vice Chair of the University of the West of Scotland.

Caroline is the Chair of the Higher Education Governance Committee, and a member of the Appraisal and Remuneration Committee and Search Committee.


Jeannette Strachan – Independent Governor

Jeannette has worked in education for over 25 years. She was the Registrar and Secretary at the University of Hull and she has held senior positions at Newcastle University, City University London, UCL and St George’s, University of London. She has also worked in Further Education at Barnet College in North London.

Jeannette has a BSc in Economics from the University of Hull. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Administration from the University of London and a Master’s in Business Administration from City University. Whilst at University, Jeannette was a member of the University Air Squadron and after graduation served as an officer in the Royal Air Force.

Jeannette is a member of the HE Governance Committee and the Audit Committee.


Shirley Atkinson – Independent Governor

Shirley is the former Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland and led the University through a period of sustained growth with the expansion of operations in Sunderland, London and overseas. This incorporated a new School of Nursing, a new Medical school, a University Technical College in Durham, a new Cultural partnership in Sunderland, and the early adoption of degree apprenticeships.

Throughout her career she has held senior executive roles both within and outside of the Education sector. She has a wealth of experience in non-executive roles both at national and regional level. Her recent national roles have included; Board membership of the University and Colleges Employers Association, the Social Mobility Advisory Group, and the Cultural Cities Inquiry Board. Regionally she is currently Chair of the NE STEM Foundation and Chair of Members at the Beacon School. Shirley was awarded an OBE in the Queens 2019 Honours list for Education with a focus on widening participation and access to higher education.

Shirley is a member of the HE Governance Committee.


Andrew Cunningham – Independent Governor

Andrew trained as a chartered accountant with Deloitte Haskins & Sells (a predecessor firm of PwC) and served as an audit and corporate finance partner from 1989. In 1996 he was appointed Finance Director at Grainger plc, which was to become the UK’s largest listed residential investor, and was made CEO in 2009. He retired from Grainger plc at the end of 2015 and now acts as non-executive director or adviser to a number of businesses, mostly based in the North East of England. Andrew is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Andrew is the Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Appraisal and Remuneration Committee.


Chris McCourt – Independent Governor

Chris is a Corporate Finance Partner who works with shareholders and Directors of owner managed businesses to help them plan for the future. Chris trained as a Chartered Accountant with a Big 4 firm in Newcastle and after a spell in London returned to the North East to work in regional accountancy firms before joining Armstrong Watson LLP in 2019.  Chris was Chief Operating Officer at the North East England Chamber of Commerce during which time he had Board responsibility for the Chamber’s training company, an independent apprenticeship provider working with around 1,000 apprentices each year. This gave Chris a good understanding of the apprenticeship funding regime and Ofsted inspection process.

Chris is a member of the Audit Committee.


Robert Holt – Independent Governor

Rob is a strategy-oriented Senior Executive with 30 years’ industry recognised results developing and implementing strategies to establish, transform and grow businesses within the construction and services sectors. This includes transferable expertise in the acquisition, integration and disposal of significant businesses to support and deliver organisational strategic objectives for both the businesses involved and respective partners. Rob also has extensive experience in the management of significant construction and services businesses delivering a number of complex UK public sector programmes in the Education, Healthcare and Local Authority sectors. Rob is also a Non-Executive Director of the Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall company.

Rob is a member of the Premises and Estates Committee.


Matthew Otubu – Independent Governor

Matthew Otubu is a political organiser with over 10 years’ experience in Europe and Africa, most recently as Deputy Field Director on the Rory Stewart independent campaign for Mayor of London.

Matthew is an alumnus of NCG. He completed his A Levels at Newcastle Sixth Form College where he was elected onto the Students’ Union Executive Committee and was invited to join the Newcastle College Advisory Committee. He went on to receive academic scholarships in South Africa, Austria and Sweden, and holds a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from Queen Mary University of London with Islamic Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Matthew has served on a number of non-executive and advisory boards in the charity and education sectors including as a Governor of Mitchell Brook, an Ofsted outstanding primary school in North West London. He has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.  He was awarded a BEM in the New Year 2020 Honours List for voluntary service to young people and communities in the United Kingdom and Africa.

Matthew is a member of the HE Governance Committee.


John Widdowson – Independent Governor

John Widdowson CBE began his career as a lawyer but has worked in Further and Higher Education for nearly forty years. He left his post as Principal and Chief Executive of New College Durham in July 2020 after twenty years in the post.

In addition to his roles in colleges across the country, John has played a leading role in a number of national educational bodies including the Further Education National Consortium and the Mixed Economy Group of Colleges. He has been a Board member and President of the Association of Colleges and was a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England for six years. He is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Workers Educational Association, a national charity supporting adult education.

John has published papers and articles on a range of education subjects and has spoken regularly at national and international conferences.  He has a particular interest in the development of college-based Higher Education to provide alternatives to traditional approaches to university education.

John is a member of the Premises and Estates Committee.


Liz Bromley – Ex-Officio Governor and CEO

Liz has worked in Higher Education for more than 20 years having held senior roles at the Open University, Salford, Goldsmiths and most recently at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) where, as Deputy Vice Chancellor, she was accountable for corporate planning and the international strategy. Liz was also responsible for marketing, recruitment, communications and the University’s external engagement agenda, including the management of the University’s many partnerships. Liz was acting CEO of University Alliance for some months during 2018, on secondment from UCLan.

First in family to go to University, Liz studied English Language and Literature at Worcester College, Oxford. She has been a passionate advocate for social equality and for widening access to all forms of education, in practical as well as in policy terms, throughout her career. Liz is well known across the education sector for leadership development, positive change management, entrepreneurial leadership, and for making things happen.

Liz is deputy chair of the Mulberry Multi Academy Trust in Tower Hamlets, and is a Trustee of the Sir John Brunner Foundation in Cheshire. She is a non-executive director of Common Purpose (UK) and was a member of AHUA’s executive board for some years. Liz is married to Andrew and has three daughters, a son, a stepson, three grandchildren, a cat and a dog.


Jennifer Mitchelson – Staff Governor

Jennifer has worked within Education for 13 years, the last 3 have been at Newcastle College. Jennifer has held a variety of finance, funding, strategic planning and compliance roles; affording her the ability to look at the “bigger picture” when making decisions in her day to day role, and when making recommendations to others throughout her roles.

For Jennifer, positive relationships are the foundation for success and she makes every attempt to build effective relationships with all colleagues. Jennifer has, during her time at Newcastle College, gotten involved in many opportunities to work with and assist other colleges within the group; as well as working closely with many parts of group services. Jennifer leads on the Newcastle Staffing budget; Apprenticeships Contracts & Funding Team, and Subcontract Management at Newcastle College. Jennifer’s role requires high levels of confidentiality, integrity and regular engagement with college SMT.

Skills Jennifer brings are; leadership, integrity, staff engagement and an ability to initiate and deliver projects.

Jennifer is a qualified accountant, and in addition to this, she is treasurer and an active member of a small local charity: MVS Northumbria.


Student Governor – Vacancy

We are currently recruiting for a Student Governor for the NCG Corporation Board.