Keynote and plenary speaker’s biographies

Housing Learning and Work Conference

25 February 2021


Dr Fiona Aldridge

Fiona is director for policy and research at Learning and Work Institute, responsible for leading L&W’s programme of research and development, and ensuring that our work influences policy and practice, by providing a credible and influential voice on learning, skills and employment.


Fiona has more than 20 years’ experience in the adult learning and skills sector, and currently works across a range of policy areas including apprenticeships and T Levels, with a particular focus on building the capacity of local areas, providers and employers to lead and respond to changes in post-16 education and skills.


Mike Brewer

Mike’s research has covered aspects of inequality in income and wealth, including the role of the labour market and the impact of personal taxes, and the social security system. He also has a long background in using microsimulation methods. He is the author of a book, What Do We Know And What Should We Do About Inequality?, published by SAGE in 2019.


Stephen Evans

Stephen became chief executive in 2016 after two years as deputy chief executive, where he was responsible for Learning and Work Institute’s research and development work. He joined from Working Links, a leading provider for employment and skills services, where he led on policy, strategy and business development. Prior to this, he worked for the London Development Agency as director of employment and skills, commissioning programmes and leading the work of the London Skills and Employment Board; was chief economist at the Social Market Foundation; and spent six years as senior policy advisor in HM Treasury, leading on policy to cut child poverty, increase employment and boost productivity.


Since joining, Stephen has helped develop the organisation’s new strategic plan and further extended its reach and impact. At the London Development Agency he introduced a new approach to commissioning programmes that led to more people finding work and improved value for money by more than one third. At the Treasury, he developed a number of policy packages across learning, skills and employment, and led work on the independent Leitch Review of Skills. Across roles, he has published a range of research and policy papers.


Helen Evans

Helen Evans is Chief Executive of Network Homes and is the current Chair of the G15. She joined Network Homes in March 2010, having previously been chief executive of Brent Housing Partnership. She has a background in London’s local government, having begun her career at Southwark Council and subsequently becoming assistant director of housing at Brent Council. Helen took over as Chair of the G15 in July 2019.


Ralph Facey

Ralph has over 15 years Executive Director experience in a wide variety of roles, following a housing management and regeneration career in local government in Portsmouth, Birmingham, Southampton and then as Chief Housing Officer at Gosport, leading the service through a period of successful and significant change. Following several Executive Director roles for the Swaythling Housing Society, Ralph was appointed as Radian’s Group Director of Housing and Customer Services in December 2009, becoming Executive Director of Partnerships & Projects in June 2018. Following the formation of Abri, Ralph was appointed as Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships & Projects for the new organisation, and in November 2020 was appointed as Executive Director of Operations, leading Abri’s housing management, repairs and maintenance and community investment services.


Jane Hickie

Jane is approaching her third anniversary with AELP, creating opportunities for those from deprived or disadvantaged communities. Jane’s vision is to make AELP the UK’s leading membership service organisation for the employment and learning sector, an ambition that is coming to fruition as AELP is now recognised as the “go to” organisation for providers in this sector. Jane’s career centred around key areas of employment, work based learning and social mobility. From this background, she offers members extensive experience in directing operations, developing strategy and building relationships with government stakeholders and major employers.


David Orr

David joined the Group Board for Clarion Housing in November 2018, after serving for 13 years as the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation (NHF). He has had a thirty-year career in housing, which includes time as the Chief Executive of Newlon Homes and working for Centrepoint, the homelessness charity. In his time as the CEO of the NHF, David campaigned to advance the interests of housing associations at all levels of government and worked with four different prime ministers.


Will Quince

Will Quince was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on 4 April 2019. He has organised

support for disadvantaged groups in Universal Credit including prison leavers and survivors of domestic abuse. In 2015 Quince was elected MP for Colchester in which he secured vital funding and set up a cross-party group working with the Government to half the stillbirth and neo-natal death rate.


James Reed

James is the Chairman of REED – Britain’s biggest and best-known recruitment brand. James is a regular media commentator on work and labour market issues, with recent appearances including BBC News, Sky News, BBC Radio 2 and The Apprentice. He has contributed insight to a wide range of publications including the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review and the Sunday Times. James is also a best-selling author of three books, The 7 Second CV, Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again and Put Your Mindset to Work, which he co-authored with Dr. Paul Stoltz.


Lynsey Sweeney

Lynsey is managing director of Communities that Work, the voice of housing providers that deliver social mobility through employment support. For decades, Communities that Work has been championing the role of social housing in building up vibrant communities, and holds established links across housing, employment and government.


Lynsey has worked across housing, learning, employment and skills since 2006.  She was director of enterprise at a central London Further Education College, co-founded the first Apprenticeship Training Agency in the UK and consulted for KPMG on their World Class Skills programme.  From there Lynsey joined the National Housing Federation as a special adviser on apprenticeships and employment and went on to be the founding managing director at Communities that Work. Prior to this, Lynsey studied philosophy and worked for VSO in China, Ethiopia and London.