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Executive Group

The Advance HE Executive Group leads on the work of five directorates – Membership and Accreditation, Programmes and Events, Business Development and Delivery, Knowledge Innovations and Delivery, all supported by Finance and Resources.

Alison Johns – Chief Executive

Alison was appointed chief executive of Advance HE in autumn 2017.

Prior to that she was the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation. She has worked in higher education for 25 years. 

Before becoming chief executive, she was head of policy for leadership, governance and management at the Hefce (now the Office for Students), where she established both the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit. 

She is a past president of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and represents the UK on the Association of Commonwealth Universities Human Resources Management Network and has recently joined the British Council’s planning committee for Going Global, the major international higher education conference. 

Alison has extensive international experience of higher education including leading the review of teaching and learning for the Australian government. This led to the establishment of the Office for Learning and Teaching to enhance teaching quality across the Australian higher education sector. Alison regularly takes part in conferences and events, both nationally and internationally, speaking on all aspects of university leadership, governance and management.

Alison Johns

Andy Shenstone – Director of Business Development and Delivery

Andy is Director of Business Development and Delivery and is responsible for leading the development and delivery of new services and associated commercial operations in the UK and globally. He also provides strategic leadership of Advance HE's strategic consultancy services.  

Andy is a widely experienced higher education leader who has worked with universities and higher education colleges and sector agencies for over eighteen years. As a consultant he supports university and agency executive teams and governing bodies in delivering strategically critical transformation initiatives. His main focus is on shaping, supporting and evaluating reviews of institutions’ future direction, assessing board and senior team performance, effectiveness and cohesion; and assessing and responding to the impact of changes in government policy at a sectoral and institutional level. His experience encompasses over 50 UK and overseas HEIs and all of the sector’s main agencies, representative bodies and funding councils, typically working to chief executives and vice-chancellors. Previously Andy founded and led Capita’s higher education advisory business for five years and prior to that Oakleigh’s higher education consulting practice.

Andy Shenstone

Gary Loke – Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery

Gary Loke is Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE where he is responsible for leading on research, thought leadership and content delivery of Advance HE’s services.  Prior to his current role, Gary was Deputy Chief Executive at Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). At ECU, he led on numerous projects, including joint guidance with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Universities UK on the intersection of equality legislation and the Prevent duty. 

His career has been focused on equality policy and practice, and he previously worked in the third sector on age-related issues in health and social care and for a semi-rural race equality organisation. He has worked internationally including leading ECU’s participation on the European Commission funded GENDER-NET which was the first European Research Area Network dedicated to the promotion of gender equality. 

He is a member of the gender equality commission of the Swiss National Science Foundation and he contributed to Arday, J. and Mirza, H. S. ‘Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, Whiteness and Decolonising the Academy’ (2018).

Gary Loke

Hannah Harris – Head of Corporate Support and Company Secretary

Hannah Harris is Head of Corporate Support and Company Secretary responsible for ensuring that Advance HE complies with its statutory and regulatory requirements and maintains high standard of corporate governance practice. She oversees all governance arrangements providing advice and guidance in relation to the conduct and running of Board and committee meetings and leads Advance HE’s approach to risk management. Hannah also leads and manages the Corporate Support Team which provides professional and administrative support to the organisation and more specifically the Chief Executive’s Group.

Hannah has a BSc in Psychology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, a Diploma in Management and has recently completed all exams for the Governance Institute’s, Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme.

Kat Hunt – Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

Kat Hunt is Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Advance HE. She leads the strategic development and management of Advance HE’s marketing, communications and business intelligence, including student surveys.

Prior to her appointment, she was Head of Marketing at the Higher Education Academy. Kat has a BA (Hons) in Public Relations from Leeds Beckett University. With 16 years’ experience in marketing and communications, she started her career working in specialist marketing agencies, where she gained experience working in a wide range of sectors, including higher education, FMCG, property and professional services. She then moved to in-house roles in financial services, working on marketing strategy and planning, with a strong focus on customer journeys, and customer and stakeholder engagement.

Kathryn Harrison-Graves – Director of Membership and Accreditation

Kathryn Harrison-Graves is Director of Membership and Accreditation. In this role Kathryn leads Advance HE's core membership services such as Charters and Fellowships and is responsible for relationships with Member institutions and partner agencies both across the UK and internationally.

From 2001 to 2012 Kathryn held a number of teaching and learning focused roles within specialist land-based higher education. Prior to joining the Higher Education Academy in 2012 Kathryn was Director with responsibility for teaching, learning and quality enhancement at Askham Bryan College. 

Since 2012 Kathryn's work has focused on professional development and the professional recognition of teaching within the broadest of contexts. In her most recent role as Head of Global Partnerships she has worked with institutions across the UK and globally to establish HEA accredited programmes and international initiatives to support the development of teaching and learning within higher education.

Kathryn is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and remains actively involved with specialist land-based higher education through her work as an external examiner and college Governor.

Kathryn Harrison-Graves

Sarah Threadgold – Director of Finance and Resources

Sarah Threadgold (FCCA) is Director of Finance and Resources. She joined Advance HE (previously at the HEA) in May 2017. 

In her role she oversees the directorate whose departments are Corporate Support, Culture, Finance, ICT, Legal, and People. 

She has spent the past 13 years in the not-for-profit sector (in the disadvantaged communities, environmental, and welfare to work arenas) after spending 14 years in the private sector (transport, engineering, chemicals, printing and manufacturing). She is also the Independent Examiner for a church.

Tracy Bell-Reeves – Director of Programmes and Events

Tracy started her career in the private sector working for Imperial Inns & Taverns setting up new brands such as Harvester and Little Chef before moving to the wholesale travel industry then to HCTC, a national training provider for the hospitality industry where she was regional manager overseeing both commercial and government contracts. Tracy then moved to higher education, where she worked for 17 years initially at University of Kent then to Canterbury Christ Church, where she was latterly deputy/interim director of HR & OD before joining LFHE in February 2016.

Tracy Bell-Reeves