Our Board of Trustees
Doug Nicholls (Chair)
I first came to Ruskin events when I was a part time youth worker in Oxford in the mid-seventies.
I have always seen it as a powerhouse of ideas and opportunities for the Labour and Trade Union Movement and sought to promote and support its activities.
As General Secretary of the Community and Youth Workers’ Union from 1987-2012, I was centrally involved in the support of these areas of work and the development of progressive policies for young people. I served on the National Youth Agency for over 20 years. I remain Chair of Choose Youth, the national campaign for youth services.
In 2012 I was elected General Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) which has a long association with Ruskin.
I am passionate about the transformative and liberating effects of trade union and adult education and informal learning and have written widely on these topics as well as on working class history and literature.
Kevin Flanagan (Vice-Chair)
As a mature student in the mid-seventies, I have retained a passion for promoting education and learning for adults and young people, especially in the world of work. I returned to establish St Antony’s Centre in Manchester promoting economic development, social justice and wider community development across the North West.
I am the current Director of the St Antony’s Centre charity, and have retained a strong involvement in my Trade Union as a Branch Secretary and a National President of the GMB Union Commercial Services Section.
As Director of the Charity I have responsibility for 18 staff working across four regional centres and in Northern Ireland.
I work with our European partners through the European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) having organised two European Conferences in recent years on Digital Work and Social Welfare issues.
I am a widower with three children and four grandchildren.
I have enjoyed a successful and varied 30 year career in adult education, starting as a part time tutor, progressing through management in a large Further Education College and culminating in the role of Deputy Principal, directing curriculum and student experience at Working Men’s College. My career highlight has to have been leading my team there to achieve the grade of outstanding in our OFSTED inspection.
I am now retired from paid work and am relishing the opportunity to maintain involvement in my chosen field through voluntary work and in particular as a governor at Ruskin College.
After graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, I qualified as a barrister and practised for two years before going “in-house” as a corporate legal advisor. As the Group Legal Advisor of the Automobile Association I held a wide range of responsibilities across many commercial enterprises. On leaving the AA after nearly 20 years I entered the field of local government, and became Manager Legal Services of Oxford City Council. I am thus experienced in both the private and public sectors. This post at Ruskin has allowed me to become more directly engaged in pursuing my interest in higher and further education, and my wish to see its benefits enjoyed by all sections of society. I will seek to bring my legal experience to ensure the sound governance of college affairs.
Alison has dedicated her life and career to supporting people and potential with her unfailing vision and positive regard.
She has worked in the fields of Sport, Music, Education and Politics; coaching, counselling and managing people and projects, often through adversity, to reach successful outcomes.
I have been an activist in the labour and trade union movement for over 45 years and and involved in further and higher education in a number of capacities for 35 years. Until taking early retirement in January 2019, I was Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union and, prior to that, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. I have been Chair of the Board of Governors for a large and successful FE college in London, a trustee of a training provider, a college Vice-Principal and Clerk to the Corporation. I was a Governor of a former polytechnic and for nine years was Chief Executive of the Association for College Management. I was a recipient of the NBM award for leadership for race equality in FE.
Currently I am an employment tribunal member in East London, a pension fund trustee and a board member for the National Education Museum charity. My education qualifications include an MBA from the Open University Business School.
Bio coming soon.
I am a former professional footballer and in a career spanning over thirteen years I was privileged to represent several clubs including Southampton, Stockport County, Port Vale and Preston North End. After retiring through injury in 1989 I became the Community Development Officer for Preston North End, a role I enjoyed for several years. After a brief spell in management I returned to full time study as a mature student gaining a BA Honours in Politics and History from the University of Salford, which reinforced my belief in education as a transformative experience. I subsequently went on to work in the Further Education sector at North Trafford College and Manchester College of Arts and Technology (MANCAT) before joining the PFA Education Department in 1996.
As PFA Assistant Director of Education, my role is to ensure that both current and former members have access to as many education and training opportunities as possible in preparation for life after football. I am active in the promotion of greater diversity within areas of governance acting as a facilitator on the PFA sponsored ‘On the Board’ programme of corporate governance aimed at increasing BAME representation and visibility at committee and boardroom level. It was therefore with great pride that in May 2019 I became the first BAME President of the GFTU.
Currently the Director of Education for ‘UNITE the Union’ the UK’s and Ireland’s biggest trade union, Jim is from a Clydeside engineering background.
As a mature student Jim studied Economics at Heriot-Watt University and then as a post-graduate at University of Edinburgh conducted research into Adult Education and Community Development. Lecturing at the Institute of Extension Studies at Liverpool University Jim was instrumental in setting up the Worker’s Educational Association’s Trade Union Study Centre at the Royal Institution. Becoming the TUC Education Officer for the North West Region, his period of office covered the ‘Winter of Discontent’.
A Fellow of Cogent the Sector Skills Council, Jim was a Director of the National Skills Academy and is UNITE’s Archivist at Warwick University’s Modern Records Centre.
Jim has represented his Union at all levels. Signing the first ever single table agreement in the privatised Utilities sector. The first single union deal in the steel industry and latterly led for all Unions in the chemical, oil and pharmaceutical sectors in the UK, Ireland and Europe. And for 18 years Jim served as a board member on the Engineering Construction Council.
Jim was with the Labour Deputy Prime Ministerial mission to India, he was also part of the team which set up Health & Safety procedures in the Bulgarian Nuclear Industry. Recently Jim has been lecturing in the USA and in Canada.
Jim chaired the first Windsor Leadership Meeting and, for over a decade, he contributed to the Runge Management Course at Balliol College, Oxford.
Staff and Student Members
Paul Di Felice
I have a wealth of experience in teaching, leadership and management across FE and HE sectors. For over 20 years I have taught History in both higher and further education contexts and have focused particularly on making history accessible and meaningful to all.
I have a very strong background in post-16 adult education and the widening participation curriculum and have led the ‘inclusive’ provision for adults and young people in three Colleges.
Leadership and management are my key strengths; I have served at every level within a college structure and held the position of Vice Principal in three institutions. I have been an Open University Associate Lecturer in Arts and Humanities for the past decade, I hold a PGCE in Further Education and studied History and Politics at the University of Salford. I completed my MPhil on my Italian working class roots, looking at Italian migration into Manchester in my grandparents’ day.
I joined Ruskin at the end of August 2018 to co-ordinate the Access courses in my professional role as Access Programmes Leader. I have worked in a leadership position in Further Education for over thirty years. I am an experienced course manager and I worked with the local Open College Network to develop courses and also to validate submissions from colleagues working in Access. During my career I have represented staff in such roles at Union representative and Academic Board Member.
I have been specialising in adult education and in teaching learners whose first language is not English. I developed a bespoke Access course for multilingual learners and was privileged to teach refugees and other migrants who would progress to university in the UK. I drew on this to complete a Master’s in Education (Inclusive Education) with the Open University in 2018 and to develop the curriculum at Ruskin so it is more directly inclusive of refugee and migrant learners. I have also taught Functional Skills and GCSE English to adult native speakers and this aspect of Ruskin’s work is expanding. This gives me insight into the challenges that such learners face and I can use this expertise to support Ruskin’s commitment to the marginalised.
Ruskin College was a name that resonated with me as my father was a student here in the 1960s. My background in education gives me empathy with the learners here and I espouse the values that Ruskin represents.