Keynote and plenary speaker’s biographies

Housing Learning and Work Conference

23 February 2022


Jon Yates

Jon Yates is the Executive Director of the Youth Endowment Fund – a £200m endowment whose vision is ‘a world where no child becomes involved in violence.’ The Fund’s mission is to find what works to reduce violence and build a movement to put this into practice. To this end, it has constructed the largest repository of evidence on youth violence in the world.

Jon is an experienced leader and social entrepreneur. He was the co-founder of a number of charities and initiatives including the fastest growing programme for young people in Europe since the creation of the Scouts.

Jon has spent a portion of his career working with and in government. This includes a period as the chief policy adviser in the Department for Education, reporting directly to the Secretary of State.

Jon is the author of ‘Fractured: Why our societies are coming apart and how we put them back together’, which was published by HarperCollins in 2021. He lives just outside London with his wife. Together, they are outnumbered by small humans and small animals.

Councillor Kevin Bentley

Kevin Bentley was elected to Essex County Council in 2009.

Kevin is also a Colchester Borough Councillor and has previously been Leader of the Conservative Group in Colchester. He has also served in the Colchester Borough Councillor Cabinet of holding the portfolio for Business, Tourism and Leisure. He has also stood for Parliament twice in Colchester.

Outside of politics Kevin is the Chairman of the awarding winning PR agency Mosaic Publicity and is a journalist by profession. Before leaving to set up Mosaic Publicity in 2000 he spent 20 years working for the BBC as a radio and television reporter and producer.

Johanna Hoyal

Johanna is the Head of Local Labour Market Strategy in the Policy Group within the Department for Work and Pensions and NTCA Inclusive Economy Board member.

She is a career civil servant who has significant experience on labour market, private pensions, disability and child maintenance policy and corporate governance, planning and performance management.

Johanna has a Master’s in Public Administration from Warwick Business School alongside degrees in Social and Public Policy, and Social Anthropology.

Now living in Surrey she maintains close family ties with the North East (Sunderland) and has also lived in North, South and West Yorkshire as well as Hertfordshire, Bristol, Brighton and Oxford.

Lord Steve Bassam

Lord Bassam began his career working as a legal adviser In Deptford’s Law Centre, moving on to a number of senior research roles in London local government. He served as an assistant secretary at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, before consulting in the private sector for KPMG and Capita.

Lord Bassam became involved in local politics in the early 1980s and quickly rose to become Leader of Brighton, and then Brighton and Hove City Council. In November 1997, he was created a life peer and introduced into the House of Lords. Bassam was promoted to the frontbenches as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office in 1999. In 2001, he was appointed a Lord-in-waiting where he served until 2009. During the same period, he served at various times as Government spokesman for several other departments, including Communities and Local Government, Culture Media and Sport, and Transport. He was Chief Whip for 10 years.

In 2018/19 he chaired and authored a report as Chair of the Lords Select Committee on The Future of Seaside Towns, which recommended the expansion of town deals and argued for improved connectivity and levelling up. In 2020, Lord Bassam was appointed as Co-Director of Business in the Community’s Place Programme.

Jane Hickie

Jane joined AELP in 2016 as Chief Operating Officer with a wealth of experience gained in the not for profit sector with an emphasis on creating opportunities for those from deprived or disadvantaged communities, was appointed as Managing Director in July 2020 and in January 2021 was appointed as Chief Executive of AELP. Jane is also a member of the AELP Board.

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. Membership is growing steadily and the organisation is regularly attracting and recruiting new patrons.

Prior to joining AELP, Jane’s career centred around key areas of employment, work based learning and social mobility. For nine years she was Operations & Corporate Partnerships Director for Groundwork, the national environmental charity. From this background, she offers members extensive experience in directing operations, developing strategy and building relationships with government stakeholders and major employers. At Genesis Housing Group as Head of Regeneration Jane pioneered large scale collaborations to win major projects in London and the South East. She spent 7 years at West London Leadership, recruiting major corporates into a network which provided pro-bono support to the most hard pressed communities.

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.

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.