New Board Member joins Tpas

Thursday 28th of April 2016

We are delighted to welcome Leslie to our board. She brings strong commitment to engagement and is an active voice for tenants. Read our interview with Leslie and get to know our newest board member.

What is your backgound?

Most of my adult life was spent working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where I worked as an executive producer and fundraiser, as well as an actress and singer. In 2009, I decided to move back to the UK not only as it seemed a better place to raise my children than the hustle and bustle and smog of LA, but also to be closer to my family.

What is your current role?

I am currently in the process of handing over to my successor, Jo Bunyan, as Chair of Cottsway’s Resident Scrutiny Panel (RSP).  I step down at the end of the month after five years on the panel.  I have enjoyed myself and learned a lot about the housing sector and co-regulation. During this time I developed a passion for housing – I caught the housing bug!  I also graduated last year from the University of Westminster with a Master’s degree in Housing Studies.  My dissertational research was awarded the Chartered Institute of Housing PRIZE and I was commissioned to write a Brief on my research, which was published in February, 2016.  I currently sit on the Chartered Institute of Housing’s South East regional board.  I have spoken nationally on Cottsway’s Tpas award winning scrutiny model, delivered workshops and developed a scrutiny conference for the CIH SE Board (2014).  As both my children are now in full-time education, I am now looking for my next employment opportunity within the housing sector. 

Why did you join the Tpas Board?

There are several reasons really why I wanted to join the Tpas Board: firstly, Tpas delivered most of the co-regulation training to our scrutiny panel and I have experienced, first-hand, the quality of their training offer.  Secondly, I believe Tpas has an important voice that is heard and respected within the sector.  As it is a crucial time for social housing and I wanted to get on board (excuse the pun) and help support Tpas’ continued success in championing for tenant engagement on all levels, and finally, I wanted to join the Tpas Board because I truly believe great work can be achieved with residents and landlords working together.  In this tough new environment we find ourselves in I wanted to join the ‘experts’ in this field and make a difference.  Through my own personal journey as a social housing tenant and my five years’ experience with co-regulation, I have become an avid champion of co-regulation and tenant engagement.  I have a sincere commitment to customer service principles and I strongly believe that customer service needs to be at the heart – the golden thread – of everything.

What will you bring to the role?

Through my three years as RSP Chair and five years total as a panel member, I have worked effectively not only with the RSP team, but also with Cottsway’s staff, Chief Executive(s), the Executive Team and Governing Board as well as external stakeholders.  Co-working and cross-sector working is an important part of success.  As a Board member of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) South East (SE) regional Board, I have also had the opportunity to work with a range of different collaborative stakeholders including: SE board members, CIH central staff, Brighton annual conference team, CIH policy team, regional CIH members, conference delegates, speakers, and exhibiters.  I have also represented the SE Board at the annual Presidential dinner, where a wide range of the housing sector attends.

I appreciate and understand the conflict between a company’s need for business improvement and demonstrating value for money (VFM) whist operating under the constraints of policy and governmental legislation.   I am knowledgeable and understand the bigger picture of current housing policy, practice and law.  I have an up to date knowledge of local government, political issues and public affairs having recently gained my MA in Housing Practice, which included the study of Housing Law, Housing and Public Finance, Governmental Legislation; including Localism, devolvement of powers, Welfare Reform et. al, Urban Policy and Strategy, Housing and Regeneration, Public Participation and Engaging Communities.  I am a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and subscribe to Inside Housing and keep abreast of housing issues.  Additionally,my background as an executive producer and business owner has honed my skills in business, marketing and public relations – I am media savvy and confident with and enjoy public speaking and public debate, presenting, delivering speeches and/or press releases, and being interviewed on-camera and in-print.  And lastly, but most importantly, Passion! I am passionate about tenant engagement.

What are your thoughts on the sector - what’s worrying you?

With the ever-increasing constraints and the multitude of pressures facing the social housing sector, there is a fear that co-regulation and resident involvement will be brushed aside as other things seem more important to the business.  However there is emerging quantitative and qualitative evidence that involving tenants in all areas of the business is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense.  For example, the Amicus Horizon report, published last year, was able to demonstrate business savings of 2.2million per annum by involving residents in all areas of their business structure.  My own MA dissertational research explored and evidenced the benefits residents gain from their involvement with their landlord.  I believe this is an important time for resident involvement and Tpas. Just because something is hard to measure doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the effort. I am beyond excited for this opportunity to join the Tpas Board and to be part of finding new and innovative ways to continue championing tenant engagement.