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Trustees are recruited through a variety of means including advertisements in the national press and through direct contacts. All recruitment is based upon building and maintaining a board with a balanced range of strengths and expertise. The Board of Trustees follows a regular cycle of termly meetings and has an annual away-day with the Executive Leadership Team. The committees are chaired by Trustees with relevant expertise and who report to the full Board.

The Joint Finance and Resources Committee meets regularly and is responsible for general oversight and scrutiny of systems of planning, financial management and reporting, internal control and risk management. The Joint Nomination and Remuneration Committee is responsible for organisational decisions including those concerning pay conditions, policies and employment and deals with Trustee renewal, support and review. The Joint Education Committee ensures the effective oversight of the development and delivery of education services, oversight on the research, policy and looks at the developments and initiatives to maximise its reach and impact for the benefit of children and young people. The School and College Governing Bodies examine all matters relating to performance and are overseen by the Education Committee.

The Youth Council report directly to the charity’s board of trustees, and give their views on all parts of Ambitious about Autism’s work.

Here, you can find full information about the trustees of the Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust.


Neil Goulden profile image

Neil Goulden

Chair of Ambitious about Autism Board and Chair of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust Board

Neil had a highly successful 40 year career in the Leisure and Hospitality industry. Since 2014 he has followed a portfolio career focussed on his keen interest in promoting Social Justice through equal opportunities in Health, Housing and Education. He is Chair of Clarion Housing, the UK's largest Housing Association, Chair at Nottingham Trent University and Chair of the Finance Committee at healthcare charity Sue Ryder, in addition to his work with Ambitious about Autism.

Lesley Longstone profile image

Lesley Longstone

Vice Chair of Ambitious about Autism and Vice Chair of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

Lesley has many years' experience at very senior levels in the public sector, both in the UK and overseas. She has been a member of the Department for Education Board, initially as Director General with responsibility for young people, working with the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, police and Youth Justice Board to deliver positive outcomes for young people. She then moved on to lead the change programme that among other things, saw the successful delivery of the Academies programme. Lesley's career before then included several years working for the Employment Service, an arms-length body of the Department for Employment. She spent time working in New Zealand as the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education.

Elizabeth Stanton profile image

Elizabeth Stanton

Treasurer of Ambitious about Autism and Treasurer of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

Elizabeth is a recently retired Ernst and Young (EY) partner. She graduated in Mathematics before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. She moved overseas after qualifying, returning to the UK in 1986 when she joined EY. In her career with EY she was an audit partner on a wide range of FTSE listed clients. She has lead Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), bid/defence work and large fraud investigations. She also held various management roles most recently being responsible for Risk Management in the assurance practice for the UK and Ireland. She is a Governor of Cranleigh School where she is a member of the Finance, Strategic Planning and Risk Management committees.

Paul Disley-Tindell profile image

Paul Disley-Tindell

Trustee of Ambitious about Autism and Trustee of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

Paul is Director of Corporate Real Estate at Telereal Trillium, a privately owned, London based property company. The company, which owns £6bn of assets, has long-term property partnerships with some of the UK’s largest occupiers, including BT and the Department for Work and Pensions. Paul is responsible for new business opportunities in both the public and private sectors, asset management and operational property strategies. Prior to joining Telereal Trillium, Paul worked for the asset management team at Royal Mail Property Holdings, where he was responsible for a number of operational property portfolios. A Chartered Surveyor, Paul has a BSc (Hons) in land management from Reading University and a postgraduate certificate in property investment from Cass Business School. He is a committee member of the Reading Real Estate Foundation, an educational charity, established to support real estate education at the University of Reading by engaging with industry to help students to achieve their full potential. 

andy forbes

Andy Forbes

Trustee of Ambitious about Autism and member of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

Andy has spent his working life in education and training. He completed his teacher training at Manchester University and began his career as a secondary school English teacher, before moving into further education by joining Manchester College. His first senior management role was as Director of Widening Participation at Oldham College and he went on to be Vice Principal of Blackpool and the Fylde College.  

He has since served as Principal of four colleges: Hertford Regional College, the College of Haringey Enfield and North East London (CONEL), City and Islington College, and most recently City of Bristol College.  

As Principal of CONEL he was involved in the partnership which established the first Ambitious College campus. He is a UCAS Trustee and Chair of the Board of UCAS Media Limited. Andy has a degree in English from Cambridge University, and a PGCE and Diploma in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester. 

eduardo garcia

Eduardo Gutierrez-Garcia

Trustee of Ambitious about Autism and member of Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust

Eduardo is a senior partner at DPI LLP a leading private equity firm focused exclusively on Africa which currently manages private equity funds totalling some $1.9 billion. Eduardo has been in the private equity industry for over 25 years, and he has extensive experience as a director on boards of directors, and their sub-committees, including those of publicly listed companies. 

Eduardo is a chartered accountant and trained at KPMG in South Africa. He holds a BSc (Med) (Hons) (Medical Biochemistry) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting, both from the University of Cape Town.  

Eduardo has four children one of whom is autistic and has learning difficulties.

helen jeffries

Helen Jeffries

Trustee of Ambitious about Autism

Helen currently works in the Covid Task Force in the Cabinet Office and before that worked in a range of crisis management roles and on EU Exit.  Helen trained as a musician and an academic before joining the Civil Service so sings in the BBC Symphony Chorus and plays in the Whitehall Orchestra.   

Helen was diagnosed autistic about four years ago and has become an active campaigner in the public sector for more understanding of autism and acceptance of autistic colleagues.

jack welch

Jack Welch

Trustee of Ambitious about Autism

Jack is an autistic advocate and highly experienced with roles across the charity and health sectors for over a decade. From 2015-19, he was a member of Ambitious about Autism’s Youth Council. He is a co-author of the award winning 'Know Your Normal' research co-produced with UCL in 2017. From 2018, Jack was appointed as Chairperson of Royal Mencap Society’s Voices Council, which is made up of people with lived experiences of learning disability to inform and support the governance of the organisation.  

Within healthcare, Jack sits as an advisor for NHS England on issues relating to learning disability and autism, as well as being a member of a public engagement group for NHS Dorset CCG. For four years, until this year, Jack was an independent advisory group member.