Gateshead Citizens Advice
Alison Dunn is a committed social justice advocate who strives to empower communities in
the creation of a fairer society for all. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of Citizens
Advice Gateshead since 2012. She leads the independent charity to support hundreds of
thousands of people in the North-East and maximise household income, resulting in
approximately £84m of financial gains over a ten-year period. Under her leadership, the
charity has undergone significant growth, increasing turnover from £1.4m to over £5.8m,
growing a workforce of more than 220 staff members, and supporting around 70 volunteers
In 2018, Alison took on a second role as Service Director for Voluntary and Community Sector Development and champion for VCSE participation and commissioning in Council activity. In this role, she provides a single point of leadership across the charitable and public sectors, encouraging a
less bureaucratic, more open, mutually beneficial and impactful cross-sector collaboration to
deepen outcomes and bring about change.
Alison is the Chair of VONNE, a Commissioner for the Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission, and an Executive Director for Society Matters Community Interest Company.
Speaking about her role as Chair of the VONNE Board, Alison said, “Over a decade of welfare reform, austerity, a pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis the VCSE has proven itself time and time again to be an essential support for North East communities. Given the ever-present crisis in which we seem to live and the unprecedent demand for charitable support ensuring the sector has the policies, good practice, influence and funding required to protect and develop its work is a priority for me personally and something VONNE is renowned and revered for, so VONNE was the obvious place for me to land”.
Steven is an experienced charity trustee having previously held the position of Chair at Age Concern Tyneside South alongside Chair and Treasurer roles in North East VCSE organisations.
Steven has over twenty years' experience in the NHS as both a clinician and commissioner where he has led large programmes of clinical improvement. He is also a qualified mentor and coach.
“I'm interested in public policy and passionate about the value and values that public service- in whatever sector- bring to society.”
Craig is a chartered accountant, with more than ten years’ experience working in the accountancy and finance industry. He currently works as Associate Audit Partner at Haines Watts serving a wide range of charity and not-for-for profit organisations around the North East region. He therefore has a keen understanding of the finance and governance arrangements needed in charitable organisations. It is these skills he brings to the VONNE board which he joined as part of a desire to help promote the interests of VCSEs across the North East, knowing the pivotal role that VONNE plays in this area.
Outside of accountancy and finance, Craig enjoys golf and cricket when he isn’t being run ragged by his young twin sons.
Jon has been CEO of Catalyst, the VCSE sector infrastructure organisation in Stockton-on-Tees, since 2020, having previously held CEO roles in other bodies in the public and VCSE sectors. He is passionate about reducing inequalities in North East England, through external investment and community development.
North East Law Centre
Michael is Centre Director at North East Law Centre and has extensive experience across all sectors. Prior to joining the Law Centre, Michael worked for a private law firm, and before that was CEO of a national charity. Michael is passionate about social justice and protecting human rights. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and spending time with his family.
Kumareswaradas Ramanathas (Ram)
Young Asian Voices
Ram is Executive Manager at Young Asian Voices (YAV), a national award winning charity based at the Heart of Sunderland UK. He has been supporting and providing Youth and Community Services for over 27 years. His mission at YAV is to help young people develop and transform diverse communities through sport, employability, training, cultures, youth empowerment and volunteering.
Colin is Senior Partner of Ward Hadaway. He has advised on company law, commercial contract, charity law and public sector issues for over 40 years. He is one of only four members of the Legal 500's Hall of Fame for company and commercial law in the North East. Colin also heads the Ward Hadaway team which undertakes a range of initiatives supporting charities.
Colin is also a Trustee of the Community Foundation Serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and is a leading figure in the local economy being a member North East Local Enterprise Partnership board, the strategic advisory board of the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative Limited and a director of the Open North Foundation.
Sunderland Software City
Adam Hill is a digital leader and serial entrepreneur having setup his first business over 25 years ago aged 17. He specialises in digital, business, community development and social change and has worked across the world helping people and organisations make a difference with technology.
In 2020 Adam founded his digital consultancy Digital Changemakers, before taking on the role of Head of Digital Adoption at Sunderland Software City. Since then he has founded the No-Code North East community and is now leading on Tech for Good North East initiative with regional partners, while supporting the strategic and operational development of Software City as Continuous Improvement Lead. He is an active member and advocate of the Drupal open source community and was invited to the Community Working Group (CWG) supporting 100,000's of developers and designers globally.
At the end of 2022 Adam was invited to become a trustee of VONNE, bringing his specialism of digital in the VCSE sector to the board.