KNH - Senior leadership team

Senior leadership team

Content owner : housing@knh.org.uk Last updated : 27/02/17

The senior leadership team is responsible for the day-to-day management of KNH.


Joanne Bartholomew, Interim Chief Executive

Liz Cook

Joanne joined Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing as Interim Chief Executive in March 2018. She brings with her a wealth of experience and a proven track record of building collaborative and successful partnerships following an extensive career across both the public and private sectors.


Joanne has worked in public services for Kirklees Council for over ten years, where her knowledge, credibility and insight have made her a valuable addition to their leadership team. She joined to project manage the single status implementation, moving on quickly as Head of Design and Property Services. Having achieved significant success in this, and two Assistant Director roles, she was most recently appointed as Service Director - Commercial, Regulatory and Operational Services. In this role her broad remit included strategic problem solving, change management, direct labour management, capital construction, emergency response and the development of policy and strategies that support the future development of Kirkless.


Joanne's early career was in the private sector where she began work as an apprentice electrician for ICI. She went on to work across Europe and the USA in a range of planning and procurement roles before joining Kirklees Council.


Outside of work Joanne supports local schools with leadership development and critical thinking sessions and is a mentor for the University of Lancaster's Future Women programme.


Penny Gilyard, Director of Resources

Penny Gilyard

Penny is the Executive Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive at Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing, a role she has held since November 2016. This follows an extensive senior-level career in the housing sector within both large-scale and specialist registered providers. Penny's early career spanned a number of industries within the private sector.


As a commercially astute progessional, Penny brings substantial experience of operating at a strategic level and has recognised expertise in cultural transformation and business turnaround. Values driven, people focussed and passionate about driving performance, Penny combines this with commercial awareness of maximizing value for money and developing businesses from the inside out.


Academically, Penny holds and MA in Human Resource Management, has Fellowship status with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is a chartered member of Chartered Institute of Housing. In addition she has studied at the UK's most influential business schools, Cranfield and Ashridge, as well as Harvard in the United States, as part of executive development programmes.


Christine Gummerson, Director of Neighbourhoods

Christine Gummerson

I have worked in housing since 1986 when, after leaving University with a degree in Geography, I started work as a Clerical Officer in the Kirklees Council Housing Department, as a stop gap until I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Within weeks I realised that, by accident and very luckily, I had discovered a career pathway that was exactly right for me and I have been passionate about housing ever since.

I have a Post Graduate Diploma in Housing Administration and also an MBA and I have been a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing since 1990.I started my first management role in 1991 when I left Kirklees to take up a Neighbourhood Manager role with Bradford Council and returned to Kirklees in 1995 as an Area Housing Manager. Since then I have had various management and leadership roles leading to me becoming the KNH Director of Neighbourhoods in May 2016.

The customers and communities that we support are facing unprecedented challenges so the priority for the Neighbourhoods Directorate is to make sure the service we provide are of an excellent, customer focussed standard and deliver positive, sustainable outcomes. We are all very privileged to work in housing and be in a position to make a real difference to the lives of so many people and I am very proud to work for KNH and with so many colleagues who feel the same as I do about what we are here to do.


Heidi Thompson, Director of Property

Heidi Thompson

I'm a construction professional with over 25 years' experience in social housing and the construction industry, and a Building Surveyor by profession.

During my career, I have worked with major organisations including Kier Services, Willmott Dixon Partnerships and City of Lincoln Council, successfully managing all aspects of asset management, including leading Direct Labour Organisations (DLOs) through transformational change; implementing partnering contracts to deliver repairs, maintenance and capital planned programmes; and delivering major change management initiatives.

I moved to the private sector in 2008, where I managed diverse workforces, focusing on customer satisfaction and client relationships, whilst further developing my commercial awareness and skills.

I'm the founding member and Chair of the Women in Social Housing (WISH) Yorkshire and Humber regional group and a keen ambassador for Women in Construction, where I hope to inspire future generations by encouraging young people to explore a career within construction.

In my spare time, I'm a Master Scuba Diver and the proud owner of 3 whippets.