Rob Douglas | Lori Cunningham | Ian Newman | Julia Spencer | Carol Riddington | Juliet Armstrong | Pete Donell | Stephanie Kogels


Rob Douglas
Chair of Trustees

Rob DouglasRob combines being a business consultant with wide experience as a non-executive director in the public and voluntary sectors. Rob’s consultancy is primarily in the area of senior executive relationship development and coaching.

Prior to his consultancy and non-executive roles, Rob was a senior executive with Royal Dutch Shell where he held a number of senior executive positions, including Area Co-ordinator, China and East Asia; Chief Executive, Shell Belgium; Chief Executive, Shell Italy; and Vice President for Mergers and Acquisitions in the Global Exploration and Development Business. Rob had initially joined Shell from the Inland Revenue and had held a number of senior tax posts, including Shell UK Tax Manager, and Head of International Taxation, based in the Hague.

“I used Makaton with my grandson and that triggered the interest when I learnt the Charity was recruiting a new Chair. I enjoy being part of an organisation that makes a positive difference to people’s lives”.

Lori Cunningham
Vice Chair, Member of the People Committee

Lori CunninghamLori has spent her career working across Digital Strategy, E-commerce, Product Development, Advertising, and Subscriptions.  She started her career as a Strategy Consultant with Booz Allen in New York and London, advising Media and Telco clients in the early days of Digital.  She then moved to industry as the VP of Strategy at AOL UK where she helped lead the change from flat rate internet access and deliver widespread Broadband adoption.  After AOL, she led new business development at Net-a-Porter where she was responsible for developing the Outnet, NAP’s discounted sister.  She spent the next six years driving Digital transformation in the publishing sector, at Johnston Press and the Telegraph Media Group.  Following her time in publishing, she was the Chief Digital Officer at Countrywide plc and now is VP of Digital and Business Development at Vodafone Smart Tech.  Alongside her corporate role she runs an ethical clothing business, Loskey.

“I was introduced to the Charity through some consulting work in 2016 and was so impressed with its work and the impact it has on the lives of so many.  I jumped at the opportunity to join the Board in 2017, and to do what I can to leverage my digital skills to help the Charity bring the Makaton Language Programme to everyone who needs it!”.

Ian Newman
Trustee, Chair of the Finance Committee

Ian NewmanI am a qualified accountant with experience working in the senior management team in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. I have worked in the not-for-profit sector for the past twenty years and held the role of Head of Finance and IT at Business Link for London, The Inspiring Futures Foundation, and The Institute of Hospitality. My skills include Finance, Information Technology, eCommerce, General Management, Governance, and Charity Law.

Having worked for various not-for-profit organisations I have always found the skills and enthusiasm of Trustees helpful in developing my business skills. As a result, I wanted to use my experience to help a charity. I chose to apply to Makaton as the work they do truly makes a difference to people's life. Further, I have experience in the educational sector and have an interest in helping young people.

I enjoy helping the team at Makaton develop and grow as the charity strives to help more people with communication difficulties. I have also been immensely proud of how the charity has developed its eCommerce platform to extend its reach beyond traditional face-to-face communications.

I am a Governor at a school for children with complex speech, language, and communication needs. Makaton is used in all lessons to support and help young people. In this role, I have seen at first-hand how transformational the Makaton Language Programme is.

Julia Spencer
Trustee, Chair of the Quality Standards Comittee

Julia SpencerI have a long and happy connection with the charity, first through my career as a teacher in both mainstream and special schools, then as a partner in an education training consultancy and latterly as a freelance trainer. Over the years I have seen so many examples of how the use of Makaton has supported the development of effective communication. It can be wonderfully life changing.

Recently I have enjoyed being part of a project to make my home city Makaton friendly and have been delighted to be able to teach Makaton vocabulary over various zoom sessions.

I feel very privileged to be part of the trustee board and to support the charity’s development. Without a doubt the wider its reach the more people will benefit! I am currently the chair of the quality and standards committee.

Carol Riddington
Trustee, Member of the Quality and Standards Committee

Carol RiddingtonI have been a trustee of other charities so have experience of governance and safeguarding at board level.  As a social researcher I hope that my skills can provide support and guidance to identify the:

  • needs of users (e.g. families, individuals with communication difficulties, stakeholders) and
  • impact services and resources have on users  

I have worked in social policy research for many years having commissioned and managed research projects in areas including disability, health and social care, local government and audience research.  My PhD was in learning disability from The Tizard Centre, University of Kent, and I have written articles on involving people with learning disabilities in policy development.

In addition to my role as trustee for The Makaton Charity I am also a Research Network Volunteer for the Alzheimer Society conducting lay reviews on research grant applications and being involved in monitoring commissioned studies.

I have been a supporter of The Makaton Charity for around 40 years having started my career in the learning disability sector at St George’s Hospital where Margaret Walker was working at the time on the development of the Makaton Language Programme.  In 2018 I collaborated with Margaret Walker and Shelina Mitha (one of Makaton’s Senior Tutors) on an article ‘Cultural issues in developing and using signs within the Makaton Language Programme in different countries’.  My involvement in the chapter brought me back to Makaton and this is when I decided to apply to become a trustee.

Working alongside a talented creative team at The Makaton Charity and being a member of a dedicated board of trustees who have a diverse range of skills and experience.

I am not a regular user of Makaton but I am in frequent contact with adults who are Makaton users. So, knowing Makaton signs helps when a person wishes to tell me what they want and how they feel.  This is important to me as I believe people with a disability should be able to make their own choices and have control of their life.

Juliet Armstrong
Trustee and Chair of the People Committee

Juliet ArmstrongI have over 30 years’ experience of large-scale transformational change and digital transformation. I’ve worked in over 20 FTSE 100/250, public and private-equity backed organisations across many sectors (retail, health, consumer goods, media and financial services) and many business environments (e.g. start-up, growth, M&A, turnaround). As a partner I helped to grow a successful international management consultancy and am currently a NED at South West London and St. George’s mental health NHS trust, where I know we use Makaton with children and young people in some of our services there.

I have been a Trustee since 2017. I was drawn to the ambition to support more people and the role of digital in doing this, as well as how the charity helps many with that core, very human need to communicate.

It’s been great to be part of the journey towards our ambition and to be involved with our committed and talented team of directors and staff, never more so as over the last year in these most challenging of situations. I’ve also enjoying mixing in my interest in running and doing a bit of fundraising for the charity along the way, including my first Triathlon in 2019!

Pete Donell

Pete DonnellI am a Chartered Accountant who specialises in high growth technology businesses and am currently the Finance Director at CloudNC. My interest in charity and not for profit finance goes back to university, where I carried out research on both sports finance and microfinance charities. Whilst at PwC, where I then started my career, I volunteered in a number of roles supporting not for profits, including for Sport England and Accounting for International Development.

I later joined Countrywide Plc, where I held a number of roles including working with the Marketing, HR and Digital teams, and worked alongside Lori Cunningham who introduced me to The Makaton Charity. Working with stakeholders across the business helped drive a broader understanding of different disciplines and trying to combine this with financial understanding is something I try to bring to any role. My experience working particularly with Digital & Technology is also highly relevant to the Charity’s objectives and it is hugely exciting to see the progress being made.

I am not a Makaton user, and being a Trustee has been a fascinating learning experience for me so far. I particularly enjoy hearing stories from Makaton users and really trying to understand the impact the charity can have.

Stephanie Kogels

Biography to be supplied.