Advance Housing and Support Board

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

It is made up of non-executive members and members of Advance’s Executive Leadership Team. A short biography of each Board member is below.

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

Marie Li Mow Ching was appointed as Chair in April 2019 having joined the Board in September 2017. Marie has extensive experience as a non-executive director in the housing, health and healthcare regulatory sectors.

She has had a successful career in central government overseeing the delivery of large scale regeneration, housing and economic development projects by arm’s length delivery bodies ensuring robust governance, sound financial management and business administration of publicly funded programmes.

Janet Collier

Janet Collier joined the Board in February 2017, and is also a Non Executive Board member and Chair of Audit committee at Wandle Housing Association. She is a CIPFA accountant and previous CIPFA examiner with over 30 years local authority experience specialising in Housing Finance.

She has worked at a number of local authorities in both Housing and Corporate governance, and until becoming a consultant in December 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.

David Mell

David Mell joined the Board in September 2017. This follows a thirty year career at IBM and, over the last eight years, roles on the Boards of a number of NHS Providers, Commissioners and "Arms Length" Bodies. Most recently David was Non-Executive Director and Vice Chair of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust from 2013 to August 2017. He is currently Non-Executive Director and Chair of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland NHS Facilities Management Collaborative.

David has significant expertise and experience in developing strategic vision, enhancing organisational governance and driving productivity improvements across organisations. His community ventures include being the founder and Director of Belvoir Networking - a Community Interest Company (CIC) formed to bring faster broadband to the Vale of Belvoir. His IBM career was characterised by leadership of the European technical community through significant shifts in IBM and the technology industry.

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 CFO 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 residents/clients.

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 Performance Improvement at Catalyst following the merger with Aldwyck. He is also a Board Member of Lea Valley Developments Ltd, which is Aldwyck’s development subsidiary.

Prior to this he worked in commercial banking for 20 years in a range of sectors, including Commercial Property, PFI & Corporate Lending. He is ACIB qualified, DMS & BSc in Maths & Management Sciences.

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 significant 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.

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.

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.

Julie has been a member of the Charityworks Board since 2012, and became Interim Chair in 2017. Advance was one of the founder members of Charityworks, which was set up to create a network of leading non-profit organisations committed to building capacity through collaboration to increase the reach, quality and impact of their services and improve the lives of the people they serve.

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.