Back to What we do

How we work: our governance and leadership

The Board of Trustees: The Trustees are collectively responsible to the members for developing a five year vision for the organisation, defining goals, setting targets and monitoring performance against those targets. As Trustees they share corporate responsibility for all decisions of the Board including setting the organisation’s values and standards, ensuring compliance with its legal obligations and ensuring that its obligations to members are understood and met. They meet formally four times a year. Read the latest on the Board of Trustees.

Finances and Resources Committee (FRC): This committee is responsible for all things relating to finance and resources including investments, contracts, HR, IT infrastructure, data security, health and safety, property, membership records and RCSLT Heritage. They meet four times a year. Meet our FRC committee.

Professional Practice and Policy Committee (PPPC): This committee specialises in policy and public affairs, as well as professional practice and standards. They also make sure that our members and service users are considered when it comes to the RCSLT’s strategic aims, objectives and general governance. They meet three times a year. Meet our PPPC committee.

Honours Committee: The Honours Committee is responsible for evaluating and agreeing on the nominations for awards, including RCSLT Fellowships and Honorary Fellowships. They also make recommendations to the Board of Trustees when it comes to supporting a nomination for national honours. See the RCSLT Honours roll call 1945-2023 (PDF).

The Nominations Committee: This committee is responsible for the strategic oversight of the RCSLT’s trustee and committee member selection and induction processes. They meet at least once a year but more often when required. Meet our Nominations Committee.

Selection Panel: The Selection Panel is a group of members with an interest in or experience of recruitment. The panel will take part in interviewing prospective Trustee and Committee members. They will then make their recommendations to the Nominations Committee on the most appropriate candidates for the positions available.

Our Patron and President

Nick Hewer, President

Nick Hewer, former presenter of iconic television programme Countdown, holds the role of RCSLT President. He is passionate about raising awareness of communication and swallowing difficulties, and helps to promote the message of the RCSLT to the general public. His ongoing work with the RCSLT has earned him an honorary degree from Plymouth Marjon University.

Nick is also a published author, and he has previously worked as a public relations consultant and as Lord Sugar’s right-hand-man on The Apprentice. He is also patron for several charities, including Fairtrade, Hope and Homes for Children, Pancreatic Cancer Action and Street Child Sierra Leone.

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh, Patron

Our Royal Patron is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh GCVO, who is following in the footsteps of past generations of the royal family.

Part of her role is attending official events to keep up with the latest in the profession, and celebrating and thanking SLTs for their crucial work at awards ceremonies and celebrations.

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh is the patron of over 70 charities and organisations, championing an array of causes. These include supporting the agriculture industry, preventing avoidable blindness and putting a stop to gender-based violence.

Meet the Board of Trustees

Dr Sean Pert, chair

In 1995, I qualified as an SLT. Since then, I have worked in the NHS, charity sector and higher education, and was awarded the Sternberg Award for Clinical Innovation on three occasions. My PhD investigated the identification of developmental language disorder (DLD) in bilingual children. As a gay man, I am keen to promote diversity and inclusivity in the profession. I currently work as a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Manchester and as a consultant SLT for the Indigo Gender Service in Greater Manchester, providing voice and communication intervention for trans and gender diverse people.
Twitter: @seanpert

Irma Donaldson, deputy chair

I qualified as an SLT in 1993 from De Montfort University and since then have worked for the NHS. I started working in a rotation post with adults in community hospitals and children in community clinics and special schools. I subsequently worked in a variety of community and acute settings supporting the communication and swallowing needs of babies and children with complex special needs, including autism diagnostics and intervention. I worked in Brent, Lambeth, Haringey and West Essex before starting in Hertfordshire in April 2012. I am currently a specialist services manager (CAMHS and Autism Pathway lead) in Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. I completed the NHS Leadership Academy’s Ready Now Programme in 2019 – a programme for senior staff from a Black, Asian and ethnic minority background. I was a 2021 nominee for the Positive Role Model (Race, Faith and Religion) Award in the National Diversity Awards for my work with NHS Ready to Rise – a collective of senior staff working to influence change in the NHS for staff from a minoritised ethnic background.
Twitter: @IrmaDonaldson19

Sundeep Sidhu – lay trustee (digital)

I’m a product, design, and technology generalist with 20+ years’ experience founding and leading teams to deliver new and better digital products at start-ups, agencies, consultancies, and global brands.

I’ve founded two small businesses, a marketing platform for membership-based organisations and a development coaching and training business working with large media brands.

In the last five years, I’ve worked at senior levels in design and innovation agencies and on digital transformation projects with roles as Chief Product Officer and Head of Customer Experience and Success.  Lately, I’ve been advising start-ups on their business and product strategies.

Personally, I’m curious, an explorer more than an expert, and always learning (with a long list of qualifications and acronyms after my name)!  I have an interest in inspiring the next generation, and in personal/professional development. I like people and working collaboratively and am a critical thinker, so great at making sense of complex situations and navigating complexity.

I volunteer my time as a trustee at RCSLT as I want to be actively involved in meaningful work that makes a difference, and having overcome my own fears and improved my confidence in public speaking, I understand the power of giving people a voice.

Leasil Burrow – lay member (HR/OD)

I am an associate fellow at the University of Oxford where I direct and teach leadership on various executive programmes. I have a degree in Law from the University of Central Lancashire, an MSc in Major Programmes from the University of Oxford, and have studied behavioural economics and corporate governance at Harvard Business School and neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am also the founder and executive director of an organisational effectiveness and executive coaching company, specialising in transformational leadership and personal branding.

Country representatives

Helen Robinson – country representative for England (North)

I graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2003 and began working as a community paediatric therapist in Bradford. I spent the first twelve years of my career there, initially specialising in cleft lip and palate but then moving on to work with complex needs, autism and then AAC. This quickly became my passion and I have spent the past fifteen years working with children and adults who use AAC. I currently job share to role of AAC service lead for the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team, delivering specialised AAC services for Yorkshire and Humberside. I am interested in leadership and service development. I have an ILM Level 5 qualification in coaching and mentoring and I enjoy supporting AHPs with their career development using this. I am developing my career as a clinical academic and in 2020 I completed the National Institute for Health Research Internship programme. I am a committee member of the UK SLT Pride Network and am passionate about supporting SLTs, assistants and students to bring their authentic selves to the workplace.

Twitter: @HelenATSLT

Pauline Downie – country representative for Scotland

I have been a speech and language therapist for 30 years, qualifying in 1992 with a degree from Jordanhill College, Glasgow. My first job was in Carlisle working with children and young people. I then moved to Lanarkshire in 1993 and have been here ever since. I have worked with children and young people, adults with acquired difficulties and adults with learning disabilities. This gave me a good grounding for my current post, which I have held since 2012, as professional lead and head of service for speech and language therapy. I am committed to providing the best possible care for people with communication and swallowing support needs. This includes leading with compassion and a commitment to staff health and wellbeing. I would love to connect more with RCSLT members in Scotland so please get in touch.

Twitter: @paulinedownie

Viki Baker – country representative for England (South)

Hi, I am Viki and I qualified in 1990. My current day job is as a clinical director for learning disability and neurodevelopmental services and the trust lead for speech and language therapy in a large mental health and learning disabilities trust. A number of things make me tick but in particular – human rights, social justice, equalities and inclusion and I am extremely proud of the difference the SLTs make to people’s lives; and how as a profession we have a key role to play in these agendas. I always try and model compassionate leadership and am a qualified coach and mentor. My roles at RCSLT have included being on the PPPC, chairing the National Network for Learning Disabilities (LD), and being a member of the Learning Disabilities (LD) National Senate. As a Trustee I am very active within our anti-racism movement. It has been a privilege to serve as a Trustee since 2019 and I am excited to have been reappointed. In other news, I like chilli on everything, singing and blobbing about in the sea.

Ruth Crampton – country representative for Northern Ireland

I qualified as a speech and language therapist from the Ulster University in 2005 and enjoyed working for 10 years in the NHS with a fantastic group of SLTs. I then took up a part time lecturing position in 2016 and started my independent practice at the same time. The lecturing in university allowed me to share my enthusiasm with new therapists. I now manage 12 independent SLTs across Northern Ireland, providing our services to individual families and educational settings. My passion for Autism and Early Intervention Services has grown over the years, leading me to undertake specialist training in the ADOS assessment and Natural Language Acquisition.

I am currently the past chair of ASLTIP, having undertaken the role of chair between 2019 and 2023.

I provide clinical supervision to independent SLTs across the UK and enjoy the opportunity to support the broadening portfolios our profession has to offer.

I received the ASLTIP Outstanding Leadership Award for my leadership of the organisation through the Covid-19 pandemic. I have also completed the London Marathon three times raising money for local charities who support children I see in therapy sessions.

Lauren Edwards – country representative for Wales

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a Speech and Language Therapist. I trained at the University of Manchester, working as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant every summer before graduating in 2003.

I have had an extensive career as a clinician and senior clinical leader within both the NHS and private healthcare sectors, with significant experience developing quality and governance structures and processes within organisations, ensuring strong clinical and patient involvement and influence. My previous roles include Chief Allied Health Professional in an integrated community and mental health trust in England, as well as Deputy Director for Quality and Deputy Director of Engagement. I chaired the national group that developed the standards for the degree-level apprenticeship for Speech and Language Therapy in use in England.

My current post as Executive Director of Therapies and Health Science in Wales involves professional and strategic leadership of the allied health professionals and healthcare scientists across a large and complex NHS organisation with over 13,000 employees. I am passionate about AHP clinical leadership development, the importance of just and learning organisations, and driving cultures that promote openness and excellence.

Research and general trustees

Marian Brady – trustee for research

I am an experienced speech and language therapist, working in hospital, community and educational settings in Ireland and the UK before leaving the NHS as a senior stroke rehabilitation specialist to complete my PhD at the University of Strathclyde. I joined the Chief Scientist Office-funded, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, becoming the founding director of the successful multidisciplinary stroke rehabilitation research programme in 2000. I chair the Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists – a research network of over 270 aphasia researchers across 40 countries, funded by the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. I am a member of the Cochrane Stroke Group and Aphasiology Editorial Boards and I hold an Honorary Chair at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. I was awarded the Robin Tavistock Award (2017), and an RCSLT Fellowship (2019) for my contribution to aphasia research and practice.


Frances Johnstone – general trustee

I qualified as a speech and language therapist in 2001 from City University in London and have worked in a variety of paediatric clinical roles, specialising in supporting children with complex learning and physical/medical needs, with particular interest in AAC and dysphagia. I have had a variety of roles within the NHS to include service co-ordinator and professional manager roles in which I learnt a huge amount and really benefited from the wider multidisciplinary and strategic opportunities afforded to me. I left the NHS in 2018 and set up the multi-disciplinary not-for-profit social enterprise Therapy Links UK C.I.C which aims to provide fair access to therapy for everyone, and continue to enjoy collaborative working opportunities across the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors. This is my second term as a general trustee for the RCSLT and I am very excited by and committed to the journey that RCSLT is currently taking, and look forward to doing all I can to support it.

Angela Shimada – general trustee

I have been a registered speech and language therapist since 2007 after successful completion of MSc Speech Pathology from Newcastle University. Following a broad career working with a wide range of adult speech, language and swallowing difficulties I specialised in complex stroke and dysphagia. I am currently working as the deputy director of allied health professions and operations at Lincolnshire Community Health Services where I hold a number of roles including personalisation lead for the organisation and the Lincolnshire Integrated Care System AHP council chair. I am married with two fabulous children, a dog, a cat and a fish (the fish is indestructible and has survived many house moves and I’m sure should deserve to be in the Guinness Book of Records for longest living fish!).

Twitter: @shimada_angela

Dharinee Hansjee – general trustee

I obtained a BSc in speech therapy and audiology in South Africa in 1995. I have spent over 25 years working predominantly with adults in hospital and community settings across the country and abroad. Since 2010, I have taken on the leadership of teams within the NHS and education sectors. I achieved a master’s degree in advanced practice (leadership) through King’s College London in 2012. Whilst maintaining a clinical career, I delved into academia with visiting lecturing roles and assumed a part-time senior lecturing position, whilst continuing to work and lead within the NHS. I am currently the programme lead/course director for the BSc speech and language therapy course, delivered across University of Greenwich and Christchurch Canterbury. My expertise lies within swallowing in the older adult population, which was acknowledged by taking up the role as RCSLT national advisor for dysphagia (dementia) in 2016. I have collaborated and led on publications, international presentations, national guidance, and research. I was awarded a Fellowship by the RCSLT in 2021 and awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in April 2022.

Twitter: @DharineeHansjee

Eve Baird – general trustee

I qualified as a speech and language therapist from the University of Sheffield in 1999 and my first speech and language therapy post was as a generalist SLT in Lincolnshire. Over the years I developed my interest in working with individuals with complex communication needs and behaviours that challenge services across a variety of settings including high secure mental health services. I have been in leadership and management roles since 2012 including Rampton SLT service manager, associate director of AHPs for forensic services in Nottinghamshire, and quality improvement and assurance lead in Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT). I am currently the associate director of operations for specialist services in LPFT. The services I am responsible for include child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), adult eating disorder services, veterans mental health services, and mental health services for adults with intellectual disability and/or autism. In addition to my substantive role, I also work as specialist advisor for the Care Quality Commission and was a member of the NICE/SCIE Guideline Committee for supporting decision-making for people who may lack mental capacity.

Twitter: @EveBairdLPFT

Jemma Haines MBE, FRCSLT – general trustee

I qualified as an SLT in 2003 from Newcastle University. In my early career, I worked as a voice clinician and quickly understood the significance of the larynx during respiration. I subsequently developed two multidisciplinary Airways Services to support patients suffering with respiratory upper airway disorders.  I am now Chief Allied Health Professional at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and a NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre PhD Fellow. I have been actively involved with RCSLT since qualification, contributing to national guidelines, holding an advisor role and sitting on several committees. In 2021, in recognition of my leadership within the field of upper airway disorders, I was incredibly honoured to be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and a Fellow of the RCSLT. I am so proud to be a SLT and feel fortunate to be as enthused and passionate about the profession today, as I was as a student in 1999. My family are the most important thing to me and I’m very lucky to have a supportive husband, three fabulous children and an untrainable cockapoo!

Meet the senior team

Headshot image of Steve Jamieson

Steve Jamieson MSc BSc (Hons) RN, Chief Executive Officer

As CEO, I am accountable to the Board of Trustees for the delivery of the RCSLT strategy, delivery of the annual operational plan and management of the RCSLT. I also provide leadership for the profession and work to build relationships with key stakeholders.




Derek Munn photo

Derek Munn, Director of Policy and Public Affairs

As Director of Policy and Public Affairs I’m responsible for the RCSLT’s relationships with the four governments of the UK, politicians and decision-makers, as well as our policy positions and asks. I also look after our partnerships and relationships with other organisations and stakeholders, and the RCSLT’s work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Cara McDonagh, Director of Engagement and Communications

As Director of Engagement and Communications, I’m responsible for the RCSLT’s strategic communications with its members, stakeholders and the public. We use a range of channels to engage, including events, Bulletin magazine, media, social media, and digital content, including the RCSLT website. I’m also accountable for our branding, advertising and sponsored partnerships.

Judith Broll, Director of Professional Development

I lead the Professional Development team, which provides a range of services including encouraging research and supporting development of the evidence base relating to speech and language therapy, developing professional standards, creating resources, and responding to members’ professional development enquiries.



Karen Willis, Director of Finance and Resources

As Director of Finance and Resources, I’m responsible for the finances of the RCSLT, our buildings, IT infrastructure, HR and contracts. I’m also the Company Secretary of RCSLT and its trading subsidiary, making sure that everything we do is in accordance with company law and our Articles of Association.

Legal structure

The Charity is known as the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (the RCSLT); registered number 273724. It is a registered charity in Scotland, registered number SC041191.

The RCSLT is also a company limited by guarantee, registered number 518344, and therefore has no share capital. In the event of its winding up, the members’ liability is limited to £1 per member. The Memorandum and Articles, which were last amended at an EGM on 5 December 2019, govern the RCSLT, supplemented by its Bylaws.

It has a trading arm, known as CSLT Trading Ltd; registered number 0268820.

1  of  5