Our Board

Advance’s Board has the ultimate responsibility for how Advance is run, and for determining its strategic objectives and future development.

The Board Member Register of Interests is here


Marie Mi Low Ching, Chair of the Advance Housing and Support Board

Marie Li Mow Ching was appointed as Chair of the Board in April 2019, having been a Board member since September 2017. Marie has extensive experience as a Non-Executive Director in the housing, health and healthcare regulatory sectors.

Marie has had a successful career in central government, overseeing the delivery of large scale regeneration, housing and economic development projects by Arm’s Length Bodies; ensuring robust governance, sound financial management and business administration of publicly-funded programmes.

Marie is a member of the Service Quality Committee and Remuneration Committee.

Janet Collier

Janet Collier joined the Board in February 2017. She is a CIPFA accountant and previous CIPFA examiner with over 30 years local authority experience specialising in Housing Finance.

Janet has worked at a number of local authorities in both housing and corporate governance, and until becoming a consultant in 2006, was Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance at City West Homes, and a member of the Executive team who lead it through both its 3* excellent audit inspections. As a consultant, Janet provided financial consultancy and training for local authorities and public sector organisations, with a special interest in social housing and value for money.

Janet is passionate about the provision of good quality social housing and helping people to be able to afford a decent home, as well as supporting people to live independently in the community.

Janet is the Senior Independent Director for Advance, Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee and a member of the Remuneration Committee.

Mark Coates

Mark Coates was appointed to the Board in July 2019. His recent career has been in the voluntary, social enterprise and housing sectors – he is currently Chief Executive Officer for a youth charity in the West of England, and previously held Executive Director roles with large housing associations where he was responsible for their supported housing and related support services. Prior to that, Mark had successful careers within the private sector (creative/music industries) and as a solicitor.

Mark is passionate about social justice, and was motivated to join Advance having been impressed by the organisation’s work, and seeing an opportunity to help make a difference for its customers.

Mark is Chair of the Service Quality Committee.

Steve Sharples

Steve Sharples was appointed to the Board in July 2019. He has worked in the Housing Sector for over 10 years in a variety of finance roles, currently as Director of Corporate Finance at Southern Housing Group.

Prior to this, Steve worked in commercial banking for 20 years in a range of sectors and specialisms, including Commercial Property, Private Finance Initiatives and Corporate Lending. He is ACIB qualified, with a DMS and BSc in Maths & Management Sciences.

Steve is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Vivien KnibbsVivien Knibbs was appointed to the Board in July 2019. She is a highly experienced professional with significant experience gained working at the highest levels in the social housing sector. She has a track record of delivering strategic change programmes to achieve business growth, increased efficiency and first class customer service. Vivien has an excellent understanding of risk management and control and all aspects of operational delivery of a housing service.

Vivien is Chair of the Remuneration Committee and a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Rob ToveyRob Tovey was appointed to the Board in February 2021. Rob is a social care professional with 38 years’ experience across the statutory, public, voluntary and private sectors. Most recently, he was Head of Quality at Home Instead Senior Care - the largest home care provider in the world and the highest-ranked provider in the UK. Immediately prior to that he was Head of Inspection, Adult Social Care for the Care Quality Commission.

Rob is a member of the Advance Customer Partnership.

Julie Layton

Julie Layton was appointed as Chief Executive of Advance in 2015, having worked for the organisation for a number of years as Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive.

Julie is a qualified accountant and a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing. She has extensive experience in the social housing sector. She is a strategic, visionary leader who is passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable people and believes the non-profit sector has a big part to play in delivering change. Her philosophy is to embed a collaborative and open culture within the organisation and to inspire and empower people to perform well.

Julie has developed partnership working initiatives to ensure Advance can work with others to provide more high quality support options to customers to enable them to live the lives they choose.

In 2017 Julie was appointed to the Board of the Association of Mental Health Providers and is keen to take an active role in shaping the future of the Association and the mental health sector.

Julie is an executive member of the Advance Board.  Unlike other Board members, she is not a shareholder and therefore does not participate in shareholder decisions.  Julie is a member of the Service Quality Committee, and attends other Board Committees but, in accordance with Advance’s Standing Orders, is not a member of the Audit and Risk or Remuneration Committees and does not Chair Board Committees.  Julie chairs the Advance Customer Partnership and the Safeguarding Panel, which are not Board Committees.