Worcestershire Children First company board

Information about who is on the Worcestershire Children First company board.

Rob Morrison, Chairman

Rob MorrisonRob has wide ranging senior leadership experience having worked in a number of local authorities, including nearly ten years as Chief Executive Officer of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

Following his retirement in 2011, he re-located to Wolverhampton and was appointed Chair of Engaging Communities Staffordshire (ECS) in 2012 a community interest company whose major role was to provide Healthwatch services in Staffordshire initially, but following its success, it expanded and now provides Healthwatch for 9 local authorities across the country as well as advocacy services in 3 local authorities.

He was appointed as Chair of Worcestershire Children First by the Secretary of State for Education, through a collaborative process with Worcestershire County Council, and is funded by the Department for Education.

Rob commented on his appointment as being an exciting opportunity to use his knowledge and experience to provide the Board Leadership required to continue the improvement journey and improve the outcomes for all children and young people.

Tina Russell, Chief Executive

Tina RussellTina began her career working with vulnerable children as a nursery nurse and then as a residential support worker before qualifying as a social worker in 1992. Post-qualifying, Tina worked across seven different local authorities for over 20 years building up a depth of experience in a wide range of social work roles before moving to her first Assistant Director post in 2014. Tina joined Worcestershire in October 2016. In December 2020 Tina said “Working as the director of Social Care & Safeguarding and leading the improvement journey has been the most rewarding time of my professional career. Seeing what we have achieved and experiencing the support, growth and commitment I have seen in my leadership team and the workforce makes me so very proud”

Appointed as Chief Executive for Worcestershire Children First in July 2021 Tina says: “I will use my experience, my influence and my authority to realise our ambition and vision as a company and I will ensure our staff across the company have all the things they need to deliver high quality services that make a difference to the lives of children and young people”.

In addition to her role as Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First she will fulfil Worcestershire County Council’s statutory Director of Children’s Services role.

Sarah Wilkins, Director for Education, Early Years, Inclusion and Place Planning

Sarah WilkinsSarah has over 25 years’ experience working in the public sector, primarily in children’s services, including roles in education, social care and early help. She joined Worcestershire County Council in December 2016 having previously worked at Shropshire Council since 2001. Sarah is a values’ driven and committed Local Authority Senior Officer with over 10 years' experience of senior management and system leadership including both service delivery and commissioning.

Chris Bird, Interim Director of Resources

Chris BirdChris has over a decade of Local Government finance experience, and has worked for Worcestershire in various roles across the County Council and the Company since 2012.

Chris worked as the finance lead on the project to establish Worcestershire Children First in 2019 and was the Senior Finance Business Partner in Worcestershire Children First until 2022, when he took up post at Chief Accountant in Worcestershire County Council, before returning to Company as Interim Director of Resources.

Emma Brittain, Director of Early Help, Children in Need and Family Front Door

Emma BrittainEmma qualified as a social worker in 1996 following her training in Worcestershire. Emma has 25 years’ experience working with children and families as a practitioner, manager and leader. Emma previously worked for Birmingham and Solihull Local Authorities before joining Worcestershire County Council in December 2016. Children and their families are at the heart of Emma’s leadership and with a child and young person focus she strives to achieve outstanding services by developing innovative ways of recognising and responding to their needs and ensuring their safety and protection.

Adam Johnston, Director of Child Protection and Through Care

Adam JohnstonAdam has worked alongside children and families for 27 years and began his career as a residential worker. After qualifying as a social worker, Adam worked across a breadth of social work teams and areas as a practitioner, team manager and ultimately - senior manager. Adam joined Worcestershire County Council in Spring 2016 and became Director of Child Protection and Through Care of Worcestershire Children First in October 2021.

Melanie Barnett, Director for All Age Disability (0 – 25)

Melanie BarnettMelanie joined Worcestershire Children First as the Director for All Age Disability in June 2022. Since qualifying as a Social Worker in 2006, Melanie has held a number of positions within Social Work and Education teams as an Operational and Strategic Leader. With experience in working with adults, children and young people with disabilities and additional learning needs, Melanie is passionate and motivated by the importance of ensuring that there is disability inclusion in all aspects of society and everyday life.

Councillor Tracey Onslow, Non-Executive Director (WCC)

Tracey OnslowTracey joins the company board following her appointment to the Cabinet of Worcestershire County Council in May 2022 as Cabinet Member for Education. Prior to this, Tracey was Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for West Mercia for 6 years, and with two sessions as Cabinet Member on Wyre Forest District Council before that, she has a wealth of experience in public sector strategic leadership. Tracey was born and lives in Worcestershire and is married with two sons. She is also Managing Director for a family property company.

Councillor Marcus Hart, Non-Executive Director (WCC)

Marcus HartMarcus has been a councillor at Worcestershire County Council since 2005 and is the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities. He has served as a district councillor in Wyre Forest since 2002, during which time he was Deputy Leader for 10 years and Leader for 5 years. Marcus is also a Parish Councillor on Wolverley and Cookley Parish Council where he lives. He was a school governor of a primary school from 2002-2015, a secondary school from 2006-2017 and a special school from 2009-2014. Marcus has been a solicitor since 2003 and specialises in mental health law and criminal law and works for Morgan Cullen and Ball in Birmingham.

Andrew Spice, Non-Executive Director (WCC)

Andrew SpiceAndrew joined Worcestershire County Council in April 2018 as their Director of Commercial and Commissioning. He has a broad range of experience having spent most of his early career at Royal Mail Group before undertaking a number of senior roles in public service organisations including the NHS.  Prior to joining Worcestershire, Andrew was at Essex County Council for four and a half years undertaking a number of roles including Commercial Director. Andrew has extensive Non – Executive Director experience in the public and private sectors.

Claire Burgess, Non-Executive Director (Independent)

Claire BurgessClaire has 30 years’ experience working in a variety of roles in the children’s sector. Her professional background is in social work having worked as a social worker and manager in Worcestershire for 13 years. More recently she has worked as a social care adviser to the Department for Education and a Children’s Improvement Adviser for the Local Government Association in the South West and West Midlands regions.

Gareth Moss, Non-Executive Director (Independent)

Gareth MossGareth is a qualified accountant (CIPFA) and is currently the Finance Director for CIPFA, he has also previously won LGC Finance Director of the Year. He is also non-executive chairman of the John Taylor Multi Academy Trust, a mixed Trust based in Staffordshire and advises the Regional Schools Commissioner and Academies Minister on running successful multi-academy trusts.

Sally Taylor, Non-Executive Director (Independent)

Sally TaylorSally is an education professional whose career includes positions as Director of Education and Commissioning for Birmingham City Council and Assistant Director for Children’s Services for Oxfordshire County Council. Most recently as a consultant she was the interim Chief Executive of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership and then Interim Assistant Director for Education for Warwickshire County Council.