Sue joined the organisation in 2017, becoming the charity’s Finance Director. A qualified accountant, Sue has worked in a variety of senior financial and strategic roles, across the private sector, for the likes of Merrill Lynch and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. For the past 15 years, Sue has worked within the arts and charity sectors, including for Bluecoat and FACT in Liverpool, and the Big Life Group in Manchester.
Jane Carolan, Deputy CEO and Director of Operations
Jane is passionate about services for people who have autism. Working in health and social care for over 30 years, 17 at Director level, Jane has used her knowledge and enthusiasm to promote person-centred specialist services for people who have autism.
Within her professional career Jane used this passion and drive in 2000 to help create Prior’s Court School – a school that has gone on to achieve international recognition.
Since 2009 Jane has brought this drive and ambition to Autism Together, ensuring that specialist autism approaches are used across the organisation – achieving Outstanding status with CQC for a purpose-built innovative service for people who have autism.
Autism Together has been recognised for its outstanding achievements in supporting people with autism by Laing and Buisson, 3rdSector Care Awards, Great British Care Awards and the National Autistic Society.
Jim Strain, Director of HR and Organisational Development
Jim is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) with over 30 years HR and Training Experience.
Originally from west Cumbria, Jim went to University in Liverpool and stayed in the Northwest. After graduating he initially worked for Cheshire Police before joining, what was then, HM Customs & Excise for 7 years on a Civil Service Commission.
Whilst working there, both in HR and Training roles, Jim was also a trustee for a Liverpool based Charity. This was a service provider for people with learning disabilities and sparked his interest in the health and social care sector.
Jim joined the organisation as Personnel Officer in 1996 when there were less than 100 employees. During this time, he also undertook the Post. Grad. Certificate in Business Management. Currently, he is also a trustee for another smaller social care charity in North Wales and a governor for a local primary school.
Louise Parnell is Autism Together’s Finance Director, joining the charity in March 2020.
A qualified accountant, Louise had 11 years prior experience in the charity sector, most recently as Executive Director of Business Resources at National Museums Liverpool. Prior to that, Louise worked at Unilever for 12 years in various financial roles. Louise is also a trustee for UK-Med in Manchester, an organisation providing humanitarian medical support across the world in response to health emergencies. It is important to Louise to feel that in her role she is making a positive difference to individuals, which is why she was attracted to Autism Together and the important work the organisation does in supporting people with autism.
John Kennedy, CBE, KSG, DL, is a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 1961 he founded John Kennedy Civil Engineering and built it into one of the most successful construction and engineering businesses in the UK. After selling the company John focussed on creating the John Kennedy Charitable Foundation which has invested in tremendous causes throughout the UK, Africa and South America. John was awarded a CBE in 2003 to acknowledge his unique contributions to civil life and charities both home and abroad.
John sums up his philosophy as: “Those of us who are blessed with success have a duty and responsibility to assist and guide those who require encouragement and support to succeed and be self-sufficient wherever possible.”
Trish Chapman, Patron
Trish Chapman became a patron at Autism Together in 2018, after supporting the charity through various fundraising events for the last 5 years. Trish is a business owner with a branch depot in Bromborough, Wirral, and has business interests across the North East. Several years ago, the branch depot chose to support Autism Together as their nominated charity, and after a tour of the facilities, Trish decided to become personally involved with our charity, too.
Trish is a keen gardener, and often enjoys visits to Bromborough Pool Garden Centre, which is run by staff and service users at Autism Together.
Andrew has been a trustee since 2012. He is a lawyer who has spent much of his career working for trade unions and their members. He became a fee paid judge in 2013 and works in two jurisdictions dealing with human rights, immigration, asylum and European law in one and social entitlement issues in the other.
Andrew has a long history of involvement in public life including 12 years from 1979 to 1991 as a Wirral councillor. Most recently he completed his second and final term on the board of Wirral Metropolitan College which is outstanding in its work with disadvantaged students.
Andrew splits his time between Wirral and Stockholm where his wife works as a teacher.
Helen has been a trustee since 2018. She comes from a public sector background in local authority; her last post being Assistant Director in Children’s Services for Liverpool City Council.
Helen has a lot of experience of strategic management of services, including special needs and behaviour management services. A key role in Helen’s last post was integration of services, particular around health and children’s services and links between the transition from children to adult services.
Helen also worked for 10 years in Liverpool Community College, as a lecturer and curriculum manager.
Ted has been a trustee since 2013 and became Vice-chair in 2020. He has many years’ experience working at both a strategic and operational level, primarily in the social housing and education sectors. His background lies in finance and estates and property management.
Ted is also Chair of Governors at two local primary schools and was also appointed as a National Leader of Governance in 2014.
Ted is also very passionate about cultural diversity and spent significant time over the past of couple of years supporting and volunteering with educational projects in South Africa and Tanzania
John has been a Trustee since 1998; he has a son with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 1988. John is a retired company director of Kennedy Civil Engineering and maintains many business and charity interests.
John was awarded the CBE in 2003 in recognition of his many charitable commitments.
John is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester.
Cath has been a trustee since 2016 and became Chair in 2020. She is a solicitor who has also worked in the management of law firms. She has strong organisation skills and is used to juggling a portfolio of clients and business needs. Cath has worked in the property industry for 15 years in various roles at managerial and director level. Responsibilities have included debt structuring and succession planning.
Cath has a daughter with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 2014.
Carole was elected to the Board in 2016. She was formerly a special educational needs teacher and also ran an evening centre for adults with moderate and severe learning difficulties. From 2010-2014 she was a governor of Bridge College in Stockport – part of The Together Trust.
Since 2012 Carole has worked with the NAS Accreditation Team and has undertaken several inspections of registered care providers around the country.
The eldest of her four sons has autism and has been supported by Autism Together since 1993.
Iain has been a trustee since 2016. He has over 20 years’ experience in accounting and business operations from working for PLCs, limited companies and partnerships in the legal, retailing, manufacturing and marketing sectors and has held senior positions at both Board and managerial level.
Iain has a strong background in financial management, financial planning and analysis and strategic planning. He also has a broad knowledge of IT and systems development and strong management and administration skills. Iain has a son with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 2008.
John was elected to the Board in 2016. He is a retired professional engineer working for over 50 years in the international power business at director level in power station management, sales and marketing, HR and Health & Safety. John has also been responsible for business P&L and for establishing budgets from first principles and managing their delivery to target.
From 2008 to 2013, John was a non-executive Director at Wirral Primary Care Trust and was Chair of the Provider Services Board and a member of the Audit Committee. Since 2008 John has served on the Board of Involve North West, a community service charity which specialises in helping difficult to employ people back into the workplace. After 5 years as Chair of the Board he remains an active Board Member.
Tony became a trustee in 2016. He started his career in building services and facilities management and after 20+ years, moved into the rail industry working as a Senior Asset Manager in property at national level. He specialised in policy and strategy for maintenance, renewals and major project development, including internal statutory compliance audit.
Tony has now retired as director of his management consultancy company, specialising in property policy and strategy and rail franchise bid support. He has a young grandson with autism.
David was elected as a trustee in October 2019. David, who has recently retired from private practice, was a partner in a national law firm advising employers and insurers on their health and safety obligations to employees, service users and members of the public. His work included advising on claims relating to pupils with special needs. He has also served as a school governor for nine years, three of them as vice-chair.
David has two nephews and a godson with autism. He looks forward to being able to support AT and to making a positive impact as a trustee.
He is driven, enthusiastic, creative and passionate about promoting the great work of the social care sector.
Nuala has a strong organisational and administrative background in business, running her own successful property business for over 20 years.
Her brother has autism and has been supported by Autism Together since 1988. Nuala has been involved with many charitable programs over the years. She is passionate about improving and enhancing the quality of care and the continued development of support systems.
Chris is Director of Compliance at the Co-operative Bank. Having initially qualified as a chartered accountant, Chris has spent the past 19 years working across Risk, Finance, Audit and Governance disciplines for PwC, Lloyds Banking Group, and now the Co-operative Bank. Chris chairs the Bank’s Operational and Compliance Risk Committee and is approved by the FCA in his current role.
Chris is driven by delivering fair customer outcomes, being particularly interested in ensuring customers identified as vulnerable are fully supported. Chris is ethically minded and passionate about making a positive difference to people’s lives.