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.


Liz Cook, Chief Executive

Liz Cook

I have worked in housing for more than 25 years, from intensive housing management and regeneration in Waltham Forest, East London to Assistant Director at Barnsley MBC, before joining Sheffield City Council as the Programme Director for Services for Vulnerable People Health & Social Care Partnerships.

I joined Leeds City Council in 2010 as the Head of Affordable Housing, where I enabled the development of new affordable housing programme. In April 2011 I became the Chief Officer for Statutory Housing and in April 2014 moved to become the Chief Officer for Housing Management & Support. I created the new service following the Council's decision to bring the three Leeds ALMOs in-house, provided strategic and operational leadership for the housing management service to 58,000 homes.

In January 2016, I joined KNH as the Chief Executive to drive the formation of the new organisation merging KNH and Building Services, with the ambition of becoming the ‘go to' housing organisation for Kirklees to drive the quality of homes and services in successful communities.

I am a Board Director for the Northern Housing Consortium and am on the Risk & Audit Committee and a Board Director for ONGO Homes.


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.


Penny Gilyard, Director of Resources

Penny Gilyard

I have worked in the Housing Sector both within large scale and specialist registered providers at a senior level for the past 14 years. Prior to this I worked in various industries within the private sector.

I'm a commercially astute professional with substantial experience of operating at a strategic level and significant expertise in cultural transformation and business turnaround. I'm values driven and passionate about driving performance, maximizing value for money, developing people and businesses.

I have an MA in Human Resource Management and have Fellowship status with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and member status with the Chartered Institute of Housing. In addition I have studied at the UK's most influential business schools, Cranfield and Ashridge, on Executive Development programmes.

I am Vice Chair for the Yorkshire and Humberside Chartered Institute of Housing and am an active member of key organisations including the National Housing Federation and BME National.


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.



Dan Ilsley, Head of Business Support Services

Dan Ilsey

I started working in housing in 1994 as a Housing Steward, visiting tenants in their homes and collecting rent. Since then, I have focused on business functions which support the great services KNH offers. I find delivering service improvements through process change, and the talented staff at KNH a rewarding challenge.

Supporting a positive "can-do" culture through the company's support services gives me a focus on coaching, IIP, Customer Service Excellence as well as communications, HR and IT. I see my current role as being about supporting our people with the tools they need to do their jobs, and supporting a work environment where they can flourish.



Mark Freeth, Head of Building Services

Mark Freeth

I began my career as an apprentice heating engineer on a Youth Training Scheme at Kirklees in 1983, where I learned the value of studying while working and the benefit of getting the right qualifications.

That's something I've applied throughout my career. As I've moved into new areas of work, whether designing heating systems for schools, estimating or managing teams and multi-million pound budgets, I've continued to learn and gain further qualifications. I'm a fully qualified Building Services Engineer and have an MBA.


Michelle Anderson, Head of Partnerships

Michelle Anderson

I began my career in administration, before becoming a housing assistant for Leeds Federation Housing Association for four years, and later a housing officer for seven years with the Ridings Housing Association. Whilst at Ridings, I was seconded to the Community Action and Support Against Crime (CASAC) Partnership as a director, working on community and safety initiatives. I then spent seven years as a senior project manager in regeneration services with Leeds City Council.