Our board members

Our board and committee members include executive directors, independent non-executive directors, council members, and tenants.


Gentoo Group and Gentoo Homes board members

Keith Loraine, Group Chair

Keith has over 40 years’ experience in the housing sector. He retired after 24 years as Chief Executive Officer of Isos Housing Group in December 2016 and was awarded the OBE in recognition of his services to housing and the North East Community.

Keith joined the board of Gentoo Group in February 2017 to continue his career in the sector, in a non-executive capacity. Through his role at Isos Housing Group, he brings a wealth of knowledge of the local area, and the North East business environment. He also has a strong understanding of the requirements of the Regulator of Social Housing and will help Gentoo through his knowledge of governance, finance and best practice.

He is also the Chair of the Development Committee.

Alison Fellows, Non-Executive Director

Alison Fellows joined the Gentoo Group Board in February 2019. She has extensive experience working at a senior level in the public sector. She currently works as the Commercial Director of Teesside International Airport, having previously been the Group Commercial Director at Tees Valley Combined Authority where she was responsible for the development and delivery of place-based projects and managed extensive funds to deliver transformational change.

Alison was previously Executive Director of Commercial Development for Sunderland City Council and Assistant Director of Capital Investment for Newcastle City Council. Before that she worked as a partner in a large law firm.

Alison spent 8 years as a non-executive director with the North East Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust and was also on the board of governors of Sunderland College for 3 years.

She is also a member of the Development Committee.

Brenda Naisby, Board Member

Brenda Naisby joined the Gentoo Group Board as the tenant member in January 2021. She is also a member of the People Committee. Having been actively involved with the group for more than 5 years, most recently as Chair of Gentoo’s Community Engagement Forum in Washington. She brings a wealth of experience as a Gentoo tenant and volunteer and will ensure the voice of tenants is at the forefront of the group’s decision making.

A domestic abuse champion, Brenda is also the Tpas’ reigning ‘Tenant of the Year’, for the influential role she has played in helping other residents in Sunderland.

Carol Long, Non-Executive Director

Carol Joined the Gentoo Group Board in July 2018. She has considerable experience of working in the social care sector with a career spanning 35 years in local government, the private sector and for nearly a decade with national charities providing support and accommodation to children and adults with special needs. She is currently a researcher at Durham University.

Carol has considerable experience as a chief executive and has well developed skills in business planning, risk assessment and management, and safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults. She has a background in service development. She has experience serving on many boards and committees. This includes the YMCA, as an executive for the NSPCC, and as vice-chair of governors of a large secondary school in South Tyneside.

Carol is also a member of the Risk and Audit Committee.

Chris Watson, Non-Executive Director

Chris Watson was appointed onto Gentoo Group Board in September 2017. He is a retired civil engineer and previously was Head of Strategic Asset Planning and Economic Regulation at Northumbrian Water Ltd. He has extensive experience of complex asset management and working with the industry regulator, Ofwat.

From 2007 to 2015, he was a non-executive director of Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission. Chris also brings strong health and safety understanding through his management of Northumbrian Water’s capital plan and as a former Director of Constructing Excellence in the North East.

Chris is also a member of the People Committee.

Claire Long, Non-Executive Director

Claire is the Finance Director at Newcastle-based law firm Muckle. She previously spent a significant part of her career working in senior finance roles at Procter & Gamble.

Claire qualified as a chartered accountant in 1995 and has experience in strategy, governance, acquisitions and shared services.

She is passionately committed to the North East and currently serves as a director and trustee at Northumbria University Students' Union.

She is also a member of the Risk and Audit Committee.

David Murtagh, Chair of Risk and Audit Committee

David Murtagh joined the board as Chair of Risk and Audit Committee. A chartered accountant since 1989, he has held senior finance roles within the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

David is currently a finance director within a major multi-national company but also has 9 years’ experience on the board of Teesside-based Thirteen Group. His technical expertise and commercial experience are welcome contributions to the skills on the board. David has a strong understanding of risk, particularly in the context of social housing.

Emily Cox MBE, Non-Executive Director

Emily is the Ambassador for the North for Lloyd’s Banking Group and the Group Head of Colleague Relations & Policy. She was previously the Director of Public Affairs at Virgin Money.

Emily is the previous Chair and now Vice Chair of the CBI North East Regional Council. She is also a member of the boards at Gentoo and Sage Gateshead, an international music venue.

She was awarded an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to gender diversity in the financial services sector.

Emily is member of the People Committee and Development Committee.

Kehri Ellis, Non-Executive Director

Kehri Ellis joined the Gentoo Group Board in April 2021. She is currently the Chief Executive of North Tyneside Learning Trust, the foundation to 43 schools in North Tyneside.

She has experience working for national charities and spent six years on the board of Isos Housing.

Kehri has worked in housing for 30 years and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Patricia Smith, Non-Executive Director

Councillor Patricia Smith is Sunderland City Council's nominated board member. Patricia represents the Silksworth ward. Prior to being elected for Sunderland City Council in 1999, Patricia worked for the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

She became a local councillor and went on to become the cabinet member for children’s services for 14 years. During this time, she also sat on the Board of Governors at Sunderland College and Sunderland University. She was also Chairman on the Children, Education and Skills Scrutiny Committee.

Independent committee members

Ged Walsh, independent member of the Development Committee

Ged Walsh was appointed to the Development Committee in September 2020. Ged previously worked as a Director of Development and Assets at a large northern housing association and has over 30 years' experience working in the construction and housing sectors.

Ged is a chartered surveyor and during his career has worked for several large social housing organisations as well as for Homes England. Ged is also the Vice-chair of Leazes Homes, based in Newcastle.

Alan Gallagher, independent risk specialist on Risk and Audit Committee

Alan Gallagher joined the Risk and Audit Committee as the independent risk specialist in October 2021. Alan is currently the Head of Risk and Regulatory Services with North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. In addition to his full-time role, Alan is a long-standing trustee with a charitable organisation.

Alan has worked in the public and private sectors and has significant senior management experience in the specialist areas of safety and risk at local, regional and national level.

David Langley, co-opted member of Risk and Audit Committee

David Langley was co-opted onto the Gentoo Audit and Risk Committee in October 2021. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, a membership organisation representing over 2,000 North East businesses.

He has experience working across a wide range of businesses in the private and not-for-profit sectors. David has worked in finance for 20 years and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Gentoo Developments Board

Keith Loraine

Louise Bassett

Gentoo Genie Board

Simon Walker, Company Secretary and General Counsel

Steve Hicks, Managing Director

Steve is an experienced financial services executive who joined Genie because he believes in its power to transform the UK housing market. Before joining he was a board director at Arbuthnot Latham, a private bank in the city.

He spent 27 years with Barclays, led the business banking operation in London and the South East before becoming the Head of Barclays Premier Banking, a division responsible for 300,000 retail customers. Steve is a member of the Institute of Bankers and attended Harvard in 2005 where he studied Strategy, Sustaining and Building Competitive Advantage.