For more than twenty years, Canopy Housing have been tackling the empty homes crisis in Leeds by refurbishing derelict properties with the help of volunteers and homeless people, who then become our tenants.
Canopy’s Board has been vital to this growth, deciding on strategy, providing leadership and supporting the work of the senior management team. We seek people from diverse backgrounds so that a range of voices can be heard at the top table.
So, what does it mean to be a Board Member?
As a Board Member, you would be expected to prepare for and attend the following activities:
- four board meetings each year
- up to four sub-committees each year.
- our annual AGM in the Spring/Summer
- a biannual Strategy Day
Taking into account ad-hoc involvement – such as our annual trip to Scarborough and Christmas meals – we expect the time commitment to be around 50 hours each year. Some of our board members get involved more deeply, working on task-and-finish groups with staff, but we recognise that some members – particularly those that work full time – might only be able to attend the core activities.
We ask board members to make a three-year commitment to being involved with Canopy, after which they may leave or stand for re-election. We stagger these terms so that one third of the Board stand for re-election each year. From 2021, members can stand for a maximum of two consecutive terms (six years).
There are a variety of roles available to board members: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary or Sub-Committee Chair.
Papers for each full board meeting are distributed around a week in advance. You would be expected to familiarise yourself with them before each meeting. They will include minutes of the last meeting, performance reports and updates on any ongoing projects. They will also outline any decisions (resolutions) expected to be made by the Board on the day.
If you join the Board and want to raise something that is not included in the papers, you should let the Chair know well before the meeting,
We offer a mentoring scheme for each newly appointed Board Member, through which you would receive support and guidance to help you reach your full potential. Fellow board members and/or staff are here to assist new Board Members in understanding our operations and how the Board functions.
If you became a full Member, you would be given access to a Dropbox folder, which contains all sorts of information to help you get up to speed, such as papers from earlier meetings, action plans, regulatory documents, financial information, policies and procedures and good practice guidance.
Our current Board Members
Andrea Cowans (Chair): Andrea joined Canopy’s Board as Chair in 2023. She is Group Director of Student Life at Leeds City College and has been involved with GIPSIL’s Board for more than five years. Voice, influence and co-production inform her priorities and she actively promotes participation in democratic processes, championing equality, diversity and social mobility. She is an effective partnership developer, working across organisations, agencies and networks to create opportunities and stimulate ideas, and is currently training as a leadership coach.
Keith Gibson (Deputy Chair): Keith stood down as Canopy’s Chair in 2023 but agreed to remain on the Board for twelve months to support Andrea. He has 40 years of experience working in local government, mostly in area regeneration and private sector housing renewal, but also managing teams dealing with food, health and safety, environmental sustainability and pollution control. At Leeds City Council, he managed a department of almost 100 staff with a budget of £8 million. He has a broad range of skills including building construction, management, human resources and financial skills.
Bridget Relton (Secretary): Bridget is a tenant of Canopy Housing and our current Company Secretary. She has worked for national government agencies and MPs offices in both procurement and financial roles. She has a broad skillset including health and safety, human resources, construction and maintenance, civil engineering and dealing with the aftermath of flooding.
Danielle Joy (Treasurer): Danielle joined Canopy’s Board in 2022. She is Chair of the Finance Subcommittee and prepared our 2022 financial accounts. Having originally trained as a veterinary surgeon, she now works as a Chartered Accountant at First Actuarial LLP. She has reduced the amount of paid work she does so that she can give more time to support Canopy’s housing and homelessness work.
Martyn Broadest: Martyn joined the Board in 2017 and having chaired the Governance Subcommittee for two years, now sits on our Development Review Group. He is Director of Home at Connect Housing, where his current role encompasses development, asset management, customer services and community investment. He is also a Commissioner at the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.
Lyn Charters: Lyn joined Canopy’s Board in 2021. Having grown up in a poor area of Doncaster, she studied both law and civil engineering, which together helped her secure her current post as Group Legal Director and Company Secretary at Able UK. She lives in Leeds and wants to help others create better lives for themselves by being given similar opportunities to progress.
Leroy Ivanov: Leroy volunteered with Canopy for three years before joining the Board in 2022. Aside from his work with Canopy, he has put in many valuable hours at Forward Leeds and Battlescars, where he was an ambassador.
Anna Łysakowska: Anna joined Canopy’s Board in 2021. She has a wealth of experience working with CATCH Leeds in Harehills and her son was among our first cohort of trainees. She is a keen advocate for the Gypsy and Roma Community and has worked with West Yorkshire Police around strategic planning and community engagement. She is studying towards a BA in Innovation and Skills for Social Change at Leeds Beckett University.
Janet Onslow: Janet first joined Canopy as a site volunteer. She is a Prince2 Project Manager and can think and work both strategically and practically. She has worked on projects including education sector capital builds and a programme to help long-term unemployed young people back into work. She has a business degree and has worked in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Mark Rutherford: Mark has been involved with Canopy’s Board since our early days and currently chairs our Governance Subcommittee. He recently retired from his role leading Leeds City Council’s Empty Homes and Loans team. He is a qualified Environmental Health Officer who worked for the city’s housing and regeneration teams for almost 40 years.
Kinga Salisbury: Kinga joined Canopy’s Board in 2022. She is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Having worked on prevention initiatives targeting under-represented groups, she has always focused on supporting those most in need.
Mhairi Tomlinson: Mhairi joined the Board in 2017 and was Treasurer for the first five years of her tenure. She continues to sit one our Finance Subcommittee, supporting our new Treasurer, Danielle. She is a chartered accountant with over 20 years’ experience across a variety of areas including the energy, building society and charities sectors. She currently works for The Brontë Society in Haworth.
If you are interested in joining the Board please email email@example.com or call us and ask to speak to the Director, David Nugent, or Liaison Officer, Gary Trewin on 07808 039068.