The University Council

The Council is the University's governing body. It comprises lay members (who make up the majority of the membership), staff members, and student members. 

Chair of Council – Alastair Da Costa 

Alastair has extensive leadership experience in the professional services sector and in the further and higher education sectors.  

In addition to his role as Chair of Council at the University of Leeds, he is Chair of Capital City College Group, one of the largest further education providers in the UK; Chair of digital education business 01Founders Limited; and he has served on the Councils of the London School of Economics and the University of Sussex. 

Alastair has been a partner and shareholder in a number of professional services organisations, and he qualified and practised as a corporate lawyer. He had a long career with international law firm DLA Piper, where he was a Partner, Managing Director (for Asia Pacific and Middle East), Global Board and Executive member. 

Between 2018 and 2021, Alastair served as a Commissioner to the UK Government’s Social Mobility Commission and was lead commissioner for further education and adult skills. Alastair has a Law degree from the University of Leeds, an MSc in Development Management from The London School of Economics. 

Alastair can be contacted through the Secretary's office by emailing the University Secretary via

Council members

Liz Barber

Liz has been a lay member of the Council since 2013 and, in 2019, became a Deputy Pro-Chancellor. She recently stepped down as CEO of Yorkshire Water. 

Formerly the Finance Director of Kelda Group, owners of Yorkshire Water, she covered finance, but strategy, regulation, markets, risk and assurance. Liz joined Kelda in 2010 from EY (formerly Ernst & Young), where she had worked for 23 years as a partner and led the audit practice for the North Region and the UK-wide water utility team. 

Liz is a member of the CFO Network of Accounting for Sustainability (established by King Charles III in 2004) of which she was Chair for two years. She also sits on the board of the Natural Capital Coalition and is a non-executive director of KCom plc, where she chairs the Audit Committee.

Tom Clark

Tom joined the Council in 2019. With over 30 years’ experience in technology, he has held a variety of leadership roles in multiple countries, and is currently Group Chief Architect and Chief Technology Officer, Lowell Group. 

He was previously Chief Information Officer at Leeds Building Society, IT Director for HSBC Global IT Operations and Vice President for IT for HSBC Global Software Delivery in Chicago. 

He has experience in  the full range of IT-related services expected at a senior level, including cyber security and risks, digital, IT strategy, and infrastructure and asset management. He has previously been a non-executive director of Ongo Homes, Scunthorpe. 

Qualified with a Bachelor degree in Business Studies and a Masters degree in IT Management, he is also a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society. 

Bethan Corner

Bethan is the Education Officer at Leeds University Union.

Seb Elsworth

Seb has been a lay member of the Council since 2016. He graduated from the University in 2004 with joint honours in History and Philosophy. 

Since 2015, Seb has been chief executive of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, which supports charities and social enterprises across England to be more financially resilient through developing enterprise activity and providing blended finance. 

Seb’s previous roles have been within the charity sector covering policy, strategy and funding. Following his graduation, he held two consecutive terms on the executive of Leeds University Union, during the latter of which he also served on the Council as a student representative.

Helen Grantham

Helen joined the Council in 2019. She studied  her law degree at the University of Leeds and qualified as a solicitor at Hammond Suddards (now part of Squire Patton Boggs). 

She has spent the majority of her career as General Counsel and Company Secretary of listed companies across a range of industries – retail, building materials, security and leisure. She has recently stepped down as General Counsel and Group Secretary at the Co-op Group where she led their legal and secretarial functions and is a member of the Executive Team.  

She participates in the School of Law mentoring scheme.

Dr Kendi Guantai

Kendi is the co-Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and an Associate Professor of Corporate Communication Practice in the marketing department of the Leeds University Business School (LUBS).

She joined LUBS in 2005 as a postgraduate student, after seven years in industry in Kenya. Following completion of her Masters in Advertising and Marketing, she went on to successfully complete her PhD studies at Leeds in 2011 before joining LUBS as a Senior Teaching Fellow.  

Kendi also designs and delivers entrepreneurship courses on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women's Programme, which is run in partnership with the University of Leeds. 

Outside the University, she is a Trustee and Chair of the Board for ActionAid UK and Vice-Chair of the Chartered Association for Business School's Race Equality Action Group. She has held several board leadership roles both in the corporate and the  third sector and is a co-founding trustee and former Chair of the Leeds African Communities Trust (LACT).  

In 2020, Kendi was recognised as a Local Hero by Leeds City Council for ‘outstanding and tireless services within the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic’. 

Lauren Huxley

Lauren joined the University of Leeds in 2013 to study  BA Theatre and Performance followed by an MA in Applied Theatre and Intervention and has remained a member of the University community since.  

She previously held the positions of Activities Officer and Union Affairs Officer at Leeds University Union before taking up her current role as Student Experience Officer in the Lifelong Learning Centre.

In this role she supports mature, part-time and foundation-level learners at the University and works to develop a sense of belonging among students from widening participation backgrounds. 

Professor Peter Jimack

Peter is a Professor of Scientific Computing in the School of Computing, and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics. He joined the University in 1990 as a Lecturer in Mathematical Software. 

Peter has since undertaken a wide range of leadership positions at school, faculty and University level, and roles across many parts of the organisation including School Director of Research, Faculty Pro-Dean for Research, and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering between 2010 and 2019.   

Most recently, he was interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education. As Executive Dean he played a key role in establishing the Joint School with Southwest Jiatong University. 

Iain Moffatt

Iain joined the Council in 2019 and is a chartered accountant by profession.  

He retired from KPMG in September 2019 after 22 years as a partner, for the last seven heading KPMG’s UK national business, and prior to that, he was the senior partner in Leeds. During that time he has worked with most of Yorkshire’s leading businesses and institutions.  

He is now a non-executive director of two companies, and is a governor of Barnard Castle School. When he is not doing this, he’s following most sports and playing some.  

Iain is married to Jan, with one son, Jamie, who is studying at Newcastle University. 

Dr Yvette Oade

Yvette has been a lay member of the Council since 2015. She is Chair of the University Research Ethics Committee.  

She joined Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as Chief Medical Officer in June 2013, retiring in 2019 to become Medical Director at Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and Humber. Her portfolio includes responsibility for quality improvement and patient safety, and leading medical education and research. 

Originally trained as a doctor in Leeds, Yvette became a Consultant Paediatrician in Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation NHS Trust. On moving into clinical management, she held a number of senior managerial roles before being appointed Executive Medical Director.  

Yvette served for two years as the Chief Medical Officer of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Deputy Chief Executive, focusing on quality improvement and patient safety. She was also  involved in the development of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network.   

Yvette is a trustee of Yorkshire Cancer Research. 

Professor Alice O’Grady

Alice is a Professor in Applied Performance and currently Dean for Student Education with responsibility for quality and standards. She is a Leeds graduate, having completed her undergraduate and PhD studies at the University.   

Alice took up her post at Leeds in 2003 and has held various leadership positions in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries including admissions tutor and Director of Student Education. She served a five-year term as Head of School from 2015 to 2020.   

She chairs a number of key committees, including the Quality and Standards Committee, the Cultural Institute Steering Group and Digital Assessment at Leeds Project Board. 

Leyla Okhai

Leyla is the Director of Diverse Minds UK Ltd, providing workplaces with training, and consultancy on mental health, wellbeing and inclusion. Previously, Leyla was the Head of Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Imperial College London for five years.  

Before joining Imperial College, Leyla worked at the University of Oxford for six years, firstly in student recruitment, specialising in increasing applications from underrepresented BAME young people, then becoming Oxford University’s first specific advisor for race and religion. 

She is a Leeds alumna and was Leeds University Union’s Welfare Executive Officer from 2003 to 2004.

Maria Papageorgiou

Maria is the Union Affairs and Communications Officer at Leeds University Union. 

Dr Cordelia Rogerson

Cordelia is the Head of Collection Care and Metadata Management at the British Library, overseeing the care, use, and risk management of the library collections to enable access and preservation of a varied and actively used collection.   

Leading a team of 240 people, her remit includes setting and managing building environmental conditions, conservation, collection management policy and procedure, appropriate metadata creation, and managing the loans programme.   

She is currently a member of three project boards for major capital projects to transform both St Pancras and Boston Spa library sites, and a member of the British Library Senior Leadership Team. 

Cordelia is the nominee from the Clothworkers’ Company of London.

Ken Sargison

Ken is originally from Sheffield. A former senior post holder in education and, for over 25 years, a professional services partner with experience of building consulting business, delivering public sector, education and skills engagements in the UK, Middle East, Far East and Australia. 

In 2020, he retired from the Deloitte Australia Partnership, having been a part of the national leadership teams of the Public Sector, Human Capital, and Education businesses. He returned to the UK and is now the founding partner of a boutique consultancy business. 

Janet Sheriff

Janet was appointed head teacher at Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, in 2009, and is the first female head teacher in the school’s 400-year plus history. She was also the first BME secondary head teacher in Leeds. 

More recently she was appointed to the role of CEO for the Collaborative Learning Trust, a Multi Academy Trust with Prince Henry’s as the first member school. 

Janet is a passionate advocate of greater diversity in school leadership. She is chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Diversity Steering Group and, as part of this group, she has developed the Diversity Internship Programme for the Yorkshire Leadership Community, along with other equality and diversity programmes and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for women and BME teachers. 

Tim Smith

Tim joined the Council in 2019 and is currently Chairman of the Trade and Agriculture Commission and an independent adviser and non-executive director. He has advised Pret a Manger on consumer protection and Tesco on food policy, including health, agriculture and food waste. Tim graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Microbiology and Zoology. 

In October 2012, Tim joined Tesco as the Group Quality Director where he led a team responsible for product development, responsible sourcing, standards, quality and food policy. He stepped down in 2017. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive of the UK’s Food Standards Agency for five years. 

He is now a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Cranswick Plc and Pret a Manger, and holds a number of external advisory and charity roles. 

Tim was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to agriculture, food, and drink trade policy in the 2022 New Year Honours. 

Simon Thompson

Simon Thompson was elected to the Council in 2020 as one of the two support staff members. He is a Client Assurance and Administration specialist within IT.

Dr Rachel Tsang

Rachel is currently Deputy Director for Digital Identity at the Government Digital Service, part of the Cabinet Office. Rachel has also been a Deputy Director for GOV.UK, the online home for HM Government, enabling support on a range of critical national priorities including COVID-19, and Brexit. 

Rachel has held a number of digital, programme delivery, and strategy roles across government including HM Treasury, Department for Education, Ministry of Justice and Department for Work and Pensions. Rachel holds a PhD in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

You can read more about the Council on our Secretariat website

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