Learning Link Scotland is governed by a board of directors recruited from the field of adult learning and voted in annually at our annual general meeting.
Simon Ashpool, Chair
Simon joined the board in January 2017 and became Chair in February 2018. Simon has a MA in English Literature from the University in Glasgow and is a qualified teacher, gaining specialisms in Literacy and ESOL.
His career began as a Graduate Trainee at The University of Glasgow Library, before embarking on a career in teaching. Simon taught English in China for two years and he moved back to the UK to join Newcastle College as an ESOL Instructor, before being promoted to ESOL Instructor Coordinator.
Since 2018 Simon has been Learning, Development and Innovation Lead at Community Justice Scotland. Prior to that he had been Learning Manager at Crisis, formerly at the charity’s Newcastle centre and currently at its Edinburgh service. Simon set up the charity’s learning service in Edinburgh and is responsible for its development and expansion. His role involves leading on all aspects of the service’s educational delivery. Simon is also on the Board of Governors for West Lothian College and co chairs Education Scotland’s ESOL Widening Access and Participation Group. Personal interests include travel, swimming and reading.
Emma Whitelock, Vice Chair
Emma has had over 20 years of experience working within the voluntary sector for organisations which promote equality of access to post school learning opportunities, volunteering and independent living, particularly working with disabled people and carers. Emma has been the CEO of Lead Scotland since October 2015, is the Co Chair of the Family learning working group taking forward the Statement of Ambition for Adult Learning and is an Associate Assessor for Education Scotland. She volunteers with Edinburgh’s All Ability Cycle Club promoting accessible cycling and had 4 years studying, working, cycling and travelling in Australia, USA, New Zealand and South America.
Gillian Caughey, Treasurer
Gillian is a Chartered Accountant with over 16 years of experience in Big Four accountancy firms. In 2016 she launched her own accountancy practice, Fearless Financials focusing on creative and purpose led businesses. She is now finally proud to be an accountant now that she is using her skills and experience to help inspiring businesses, social enterprises and charities thrive and enrich our lives.
She is also the Treasurer of Theatre Nemo, a charity which uses the arts to help improve mental health and wellbeing. Previously she was a member of the Phoenix Futures Scotland board.
Jean Nelson, Secretary
Jean Nelson started her career in Adult Learning after repatriating from the Middle East. She joined Dumfries & Galloway’s Adult Basic Education Service as a volunteer tutor. She was not entirely sure of this move as her previous experience had always been with young children. Something must have hit a chord as she developed a passion for the work. She then became a Community Learning Assistant and has worked hard to gain many and numerous qualifications, including a Community Learning and Development Degree. She has attended many conferences and training opportunities to enhance her practice.
Jean recently joined the Board of Learning Link Scotland and NATECLA Scotland. The early passion has not dimmed. Jean is deeply committed to her family, is an Events First Aider with the British Red Cross and enjoys reading and gardening in her spare time.
Asma Abdalla, Director
Asma has over 25 years’ experience in research, academia, international development, community capacity building and development and climate change. Her first job was a research assistant in a renewable energy research Institute in Sudan and then in Belgium in the Agricultural Research Institute in Gembloux. Her academic career started as a teaching assistant in thermodynamics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the University of Khartoum. Asma’s international development work started working with USAID in Khartoum, Sudan, for 8 years. Her career in community learning and development started in Sudan in the area of climate change awareness and mitigation, then in the Netherlands in the areas of integration, equality and human rights; and in UK from 2002 as lifelong learning coordinator with the focus on adult learning and development in the areas of literacy, personal development, lifelong learning, vocational skills development, CLD policies and community engagement. Asma was a member of Learning Link Scotland’s policy committee from 2003 up to 2010, and a member of the Executive Committee from 2003 up to present.
Lesley Dunbar, Director
Lesley Dunbar is currently a Director with the Scottish Wider Access Programme, an organisation that aims to develop opportunities for adults wishing to study within higher education. SWAP access programmes run at local colleges and give students routes into universities and HNC/HND courses at college. Lesley has worked in education for over 20 years, in a variety of managerial roles, including international, community and adult learning. She is an alumnus of Aberdeen and Loughborough Universities and a passionate advocate of lifelong learning and the opportunities that education gives. Lesley has been a Director of Learning Link Scotland since January 2016.
Wendy Burton, Director
Wendy is the Director of Scottish Union Learning, a Scottish Government project hosted by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC). Wendy worked in Higher Education and the NHS prior to joining the STUC in 2003, initially as Adult Literacy Co-ordinator. In 2008 she became a Development Officer, with a specific remit for Everyday Skills, and took up her current post in 2015. Wendy has a BA (Hons) in Politics from Glasgow Caledonian University, and a Master of Education (MEd) from The Open University. In her free time, Wendy enjoys reading and photography, and sings in a soul choir. She has also been a volunteer adult learning tutor for over 20 years.
Sarah Cox, Director
Sarah joined the Board in 2017. She has 11 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector In Glasgow and over 17 years’ experience working in Adult Learning in teaching and management roles. She came to Glasgow in 2006 and is now Strategic Manager for Glasgow ESOL Forum. Her role includes overseeing the development of all Employability and Work related ESOL delivery for the organisation, including all SQA qualifications She also has shared responsibility for strategic direction of the organisation as a whole. Prior to coming to Glasgow Sarah studied in Germany and taught in Japan. She holds CELTA, DELTA and TQFE qualifications. Her personal interests include travel and languages.
Kathleen Richardson, Director
Kathleen became a director of Learning Link Scotland in May 2017 and has worked for WEA Scotland for the past fourteen years in various roles, latterly as Education Development Manager – West Central and South West Scotland. She is passionate about adult learning and the contribution it makes to social justice.
She is responsible for all of the WEA’s provision in West Central and South West of Scotland including membership support, ESOL, Adult Literacies and Employability Services in workplaces and in communities. Partnership working and contributing to strategic and planning groups are an important part of her role. She brings many years of experience of managing person–centered, quality services and educational activity
Kathleen has a Social Science degree and in her spare time she reads and participates in various forms of fitness including yoga.
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