Board of Governors Biography

Governor Biographies

Mary Curnock Cook OBE – Chair of Corporation

Mary Curnock Cook is an independent educationalist, with expertise in participation and progression in the different stages of education, and with a particular focus on those who are disadvantaged in education.

From 2010 to 2017, Mary was Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, UCAS, overseeing a transformation of the organisation’s operations, communications and data services. Prior to 2010, she was Director of Qualifications and Skills and the QCDA.  Earlier in her career she held a number of senior executive and non-executive posts in private, public and not-for-profit organisations in the biotechnology, food, hospitality and education sectors.

She is Chair of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College, a Trustee of the Access Project and the National Star College, and Vice-Chair of Governors at Swindon Academy.

Mary has an MSc from London Business School. She was awarded an OBE in 2000 for services to training in the hospitality industry, and is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London.

Diana Buckley – Vice Chair of Corporation

Diana Buckley is Faculty Registrar for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Westminster. She has worked at the University for over 20 year in a range of roles including in the Registry and in Quality and Standards and has considerable experience working with – and supporting – academic staff and students as well as working strategically with the Dean and Pro Vice Chancellor and senior staff in the Faculty.


Dr Elaine McMahon CBE – Interim Principal & CEO


Peter Hay – Governor

Peter Hay has a background in senior public sector management, including 10 years as a Director in a general hospital and mental health NHS Trust leading on strategic and annual planning, marketing and business development. He originally worked and qualified in HRM in manufacturing industry and is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development. Before joining Kensington and Chelsea College, he was a Governor of City Lit for eight years taking an active role in marketing, governance and audit. His first degree was in English Literature from Sussex University.


Phil Wilson ACMA CPA – Governor

Phil Wilson qualified as an Accountant in 1988, and then used this qualification to obtain Australian citizenship. He then spent 8 years in Sydney, taking further exams to gain Australian qualifications and working in the Arts & Media sector before returning to the UK in 1999.

Continuing the Arts theme in the UK, Phil worked for Universal Pictures for a year before consciously moving into the not-for–profit sector; initially for Circle Anglia Housing Association, then Business Link for London. He then moved to International Students House where he has been the Finance Director since 2007.

Phil is passionate about helping young people to achieve their potential and believes finance professionals can gain more leverage from their qualifications by using their skills to benefit the educational sector. He was privileged to be a Treasurer, then Chair, for a Westminster charity called Pursuing Independents Paths (PIP) which supports young people with Learning Difficulties.

David Adams – Governor

David Adams is a business and leadership coach and mentor. A chartered accountant, he has been a stockbroker and corporate financier and ultimately chief executive of a major firm. He has acted as a consultant to professional practices and The London Stock Exchange and interim managed a medical technology company leading to its sale to a listed company. He has held a number of non-executive directorships inter alia in property, publishing, retail, recruitment and hedge funds.

David has spent the last decade providing executive and business coaching to both individuals and groups. He runs groups for Vistage International, the world’s leading chief executive membership organisation.

He is an accredited member of the Association for Coaching and a director of the Hampstead Theatre, London. He is a governor of the Kensington & Chelsea College of Further Education and a former president of the London Society of Chartered Accountants. He is a trustee of the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association.

As an international performance poet he has brought poetry to coaching as a means of unlocking creativity and driving innovation in teams and individuals.

QUOTE: ‘Being a governor enables me to bring my business skills and knowledge to help younger people advance in the world.’

Wendy Charles-Martin – Staff Governor

Most of Wendy’s working career experience has been in HE and FE, having worked in a student services /student support capacity as a manager for 25 years. 

Wendy’s relevant skills and experience are in Business Management, including both operational and strategic aspects of her work history.  Her main qualifications are, MBA, DMS and Diploma in Careers Advice & Guidance Practitioner.

Being a Staff Governor has been a personal developmental journey which has allowed her to be a representative for colleagues/students and be part of some very important College decisions, which will support a positive future for staff, students and the community.

Michael Doolan – Staff Governor

Michael is the College’s Curriculum Manager for English and is also staff union representative for UCU.

Ian Valvona – Governor

Ian Valvona is a civil servant at the Department for Education with experience of qualifications and curriculum policy, 14-19 education reform, youth engagement and participation and – most recently – children’s social care where he has led interventions in several Local Authorities judged by Ofsted to be inadequate for children’s social care services. He led on  establishing independent children’s social care Trusts in Doncaster – the first of its kind in England – Slough and Sunderland. Ian is a trained broadcast journalist‎.



Thomas Woolf – Governor

Thomas Woolf, born and raised in London is an entrepreneur and former professional athlete. His pioneering approach to frontier markets and technology has seen him build successful businesses in the UK, Middle East & Africa.

Thomas’s commercial grounding was delivering innovative solutions for some of the UK’s leading banks as part of Accenture’s financial services strategy team in London.

In 2011, Thomas launched JustGiving the world’s largest fundraising platform for charities, across the Middle East and Africa. JustGiving has raised over $4.5 Billion for 12,000 charities since 2002.

In 2015, Thomas launched a crowdfunding platform for students to finance their higher education, interest free. EdAid has transformed the way students can fund their education; saving the average student £30,000 in interest repayments and 10 years of debt burden.

EdAid’s sister company Qard Hasan is the world’s first interest-free Islamic student funding platform. It launched in March 2017 and has already worked with over 1000 students.

In his spare time, for fun, Thomas remains a competitive athlete and is dedicated to expanding community sport in his capacity as Head Coach for Nike in the Middle East.

Suzanna Rennie – Governor

Suzanna is a Chartered Investment Manager who works for Santander Bank. She lives in North Kensington and has worked in the Borough for a number of years.  As well as a local perspective, she brings to the Board of Governors her understanding of finance, her analytical skills and a real commitment to helping other young people extract the maximum benefit from their education.

Alice Bragg – Governor

Alice worked in the feature film industry as a professional screenwriter before moving into the charity sector via education. Combining her skills teaching drama to children with a knowledge of making films and constructing stories, she launched a charity, World Film Collective ( Between 2008 and 2015, World Film Collective delivered filmmaking courses using mobile phones and social media to young people and adults in marginalised and deprived communities around the world including Brazil, South Africa, Palestine, France and Britain. Alice has used the knowledge she gained to launch other grassroots film platforms and, since 2015, she has been documenting her experience in an eponymously entitled blog,

Alice holds a BA from Cambridge University in History and a Masters degree in Middle East Politics from SOAS, University of London. She has extensive on-the-job experience organising events, fundraising and in all aspects of running an organisation including management, accounting, reporting, partnership development and strategy.






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