Lord Bob Kerslake

Former Head of the Civil Service and CEO of both the Department for Communities and Local Government and Homes and Communities Agency, Lord Kerslake has extensive experience of promoting new and affordable housing, supporting regeneration, improving housing stock and advancing sustainability and good design. He is currently Chair of Peabody Housing Association and has chaired a number of public Boards including King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Centre for Public Scrutiny and the Local Government Association. He became Baron Kerslake of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield in 2015. He also serves as Chair of Sheffield Theatres and on the Board of Governors for Sheffield Hallam University.

Deborah Aplin

Deborah has worked at a senior level in property development for the past 30 years, specialising in brownfield urban mixed use and mixed tenure schemes.  The majority of her career was spent with the Berkeley Group, particularly St George, where she progressed to become Land and Planning Director.  Deborah is currently Managing Director of Mayfield Market Towns Ltd, promoting a new market town in Sussex. She is a Non-Executive Director of the Methodist Housing Association, a member of the CITB think tank on construction industry training and skills, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Synthia Griffin

Synthia has over 15 years of experience working in museums, local authorities and across the cultural sector and currently curates the Regeneration & Community Programme at Tate. She has extensive experience of leading programmes of work on community and audience participation as well as cultural led regeneration and commissioning artists. She originally studied Fine Art with a particular interest in relational practice. She is a recognised arts leader having been part of the Museums and Resilient leadership programme supported by ACE. She has previously presented and contributed towards conferences nationally and internationally.

Nabeel Khan

Nabeel was appointed to the Board of Be First in July 2022 and brings 15 years experience of working with senior policy makers and politicians across a range of economic development and regeneration projects in the public sector. He currently heads up the economy and culture division at London Borough of Lambeth, where his remit covers place-shaping, inward investment & business support, cultural programming and supporting residents into good work.

He used to work for the Mayor of London where he was responsible for delivering the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy and has worked on major regeneration projects at various stages in their development cycle, ranging from negotiating commercial development agreements to help unlock key regeneration sites for new housing estates and schools to working on the land assembly of a £1bn mixed-use shopping centre redevelopment scheme.

He is also a Board Director at Homes for Lambeth, a Registered Provider and not-for-profit company which builds, sells and manages private, intermediate and genuinely affordable homes in Lambeth.

Tony Middleton

A chartered building services engineer by background, Tony has 33 years’ experience in the property industry, holding director roles in the private and public sectors including the NHS, transport and higher education. As Director of Regeneration at the London Borough of Croydon, he led a number of high-profile developments before working for five years as Property Director for the global insurance giant, AIG, and then Chief Operating Officer for a local enterprise partnership. Tony has a wealth of experience in company governance and organisation and has held a number of non-executive director positions. He is currently non-executive director of another local authority trading company.

Peter Murray

Architect Peter Murray is a Design Advocate for the London Mayor and Chairman of New London Architecture and of The London Society. Peter is a regular writer and commentator on environmental issues and is a Visiting Professor at the IE School of Architecture in Madrid, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architecture, a Member of the Academy of Urbanism and Founder Director of the London Festival of Architecture. A keen cyclist he is a member of the Ealing Cycling Commission and the Construction Industry Cycling Commission. He curated the NLA’s ’New Ideas for Housing’ exhibition and is coordinating the London Housing Expo.

Ceri Richards

Ceri started her career in local government where she qualified as a CIPFA accountant. She then spent over 20 years in corporate and investment banking with BNP Paribas, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds. She specialised in project finance, equity investments and securitisation, and worked across a number of sectors including infrastructure, housing and energy for both private and public sector clients. She then spent over six years at Laing O’Rourke leading the investment and treasury functions. She sits on the HCA Social Housing Regulator Committee, is a board member of Red Funnel and a member of the Investment Committee for a private equity Infrastructure Fund.

Catherine Thomas

Catherine has held senior marketing and communications roles in real estate and fashion retail including Debenhams and Land Securities, and has a particular affinity with tech, data, content, reputation and experience convergence.

Her skills in place making and destination marketing were honed at Land Securities, where she led the communications team for Victoria SW1, including Nova, the highly successful mixed-use complex. She has also worked on major European and Middle Eastern real estate and luxury retail projects.

Catherine co-founded strategic communications agency Brand Love, is a Governor of Lady Eleanor Holles Girls School and a non-executive director of SoundOut, the leading music and fashion predictive data platform.

Davena Wilson

Davena was appointed to the Board of Be First in July 2022. She is currently the Director of Projects at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) with responsibility for the organisation’s regeneration and economic development programme.

Davena started her career in the private sector where she qualified as a chartered development surveyor. She then spent almost 15 years in a consultancy environment – working for Drivers Jonas and Deloitte – advising public sector clients on the implementation and delivery of complex and long running regeneration projects. Over the last 10 years, she has worked in local government, for the Greater London Authority and OPDC, specialising in land acquisition and assembly, developer procurement and structuring development and joint venture agreements