Here you’ll find information about many of the staff who work at the College and the best ways to get in touch with them.

Simon Parkinson Chief Executive & Principal
Cilla Ross Vice Principal
Amanda Benson Projects & Research Co-ordinator
Angela Colebrook Learning & Development Manager
Joe Goddard Learning & Development Co-ordinator
Sarah Alldred Projects Development Manager
Manuel Pérez Digital  Co-ordinator
Nina Eastwood Membership Co-ordinator
Greg Giddins Finance Manager
Rosey Massey Business Support Assistant
Sheree Sandbach Finance Officer
Steve Kingman Business Support Manager
Gillian Lonergan Librarian
Sophie Stewart Archivist
Clare Hirst Assistant Museum Manager (Rochdale Pioneers Museum)
Liesl Beckles Museum Assistant
Andrew Mallinson Communications and Marketing Officer
Paul Cocker Fund and Partnership Development Officer
Liz McIvor Co-operative Heritage Trust Manager
Dylan Wilby Learning & Development Co-ordinator
Sue Nield School Improvement Co-ordinator 
Norman Chipakupaku Project Manager (Malawi)

Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive & Principal

Simon joined the College in March 2015 and has previously worked at Royal Mencap Society, the country’s leading charity for people with learning disabilities for 16 years, most recently as the Director of External Relations and Communities. He was responsible for supporting and building the membership as well as leading on the delivery of community based education, learning and work programmes.

Simon grew up in Salford and attended both Salford University and Warwick University and has a Masters degree in Public Administration.

Dr Cilla Ross, Vice Principal

Cilla originally trained as a historical sociologist, taking her BA at York University and her MA and PhD at the University of Sussex. She has a background working primarily in higher, adult and trade union education at the universities of Sheffield and Leeds and for organisations such as the Workers’ Educational Association.

Before joining the College full time, Cilla worked as an associate, delivering programmes for Twin Trading in Ghana and Tanzania on behalf of the College as well as co-managing a number of projects in East Africa. In addition to continuing to research and publish, Cilla works for the Working Lives Research Institute and University of Derby supervising and examining Doctoral research students across the humanities and social sciences.

Amanda Benson, Projects & Research Co-ordinator

Originally holding a BA (hons) in French from Manchester University and having spent many years working in organic agriculture both in the UK and overseas, Amanda returned to education to pursue a Masters in International Natural Resource Development at University of Wales, Bangor. Amanda was interested in gender and agricultural development, particularly in relation to access to resources and preserving indigenous knowledge of both plants and growing systems, going on to pursue fieldwork in Mali on urban and peri-urban vegetable production. This led on to a PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University that used a multi-institutional perspective to examine women farmers’ access to resources and gender sensitivity within the Indian agricultural extension system.

Having spent the last 4 years working in community development in the voluntary sector, Amanda is delighted to now be able to unite her love of community work, international development and research in one post! Outside of work, Amanda enjoys the theatre, live music, long walks and being outdoors.

Angela Colebrook, Learning & Development Manager

Angela joined the Co-operative Learning and Development team in February 2010, having previously worked for the College for a number of years as an Associate. Angela’s working life began in food retail management, where she soon identified her passion for training, achieving a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. For the majority of her working life, Angela has been employed by or involved with co-operatives, promoting co-operative values and principles through education. In her current role, Angela works closely with clients to identify the training and development needs of managers, members and directors and leads the implementation, operation and quality of our tailor made learning programmes. Angela was born and brought up in Marple, south of Manchester, and despite living in various towns and villages in the North West of England now resides back in the same area with her husband and son. Outside of work, Angela is a keen supporter of her local lacrosse club in Poynton and manager of one of the junior teams for which her son plays.

Joe Goddard, Learning & Development Co-ordinator

Born in the small and scenic town of Hebden Bridge, Joe was heavily involved in the Woodcraft Folk youth movement. At the age 18 he was not quite ready to say farewell to the charms of Yorkshire so tentatively ventured a few miles south moving to Sheffield where he studied history at the University. While there he was active in student politics both on and off the campus. After graduating Joe emerged from university, like so many of his peers, baffled and unsure of the next step. While deciding what direction he wanted his life to take, Joe spent a year volunteering, focusing on helping tackle elderly isolation. Once an opportunity arose to be part of the Co-operative College, Joe bravely crossed the Pennines and enthusiastically joined the team. Joe works as part of the Learning and Development team, where he liaises with a wide range of diverse co-ops and helps the college in the creation and delivery of world class training.

Dr Sarah Alldred, Project Development Manager

Sarah joined the Co-operative College after four and a half years at Co-operatives UK, where she was project manager on the Making Local Food Work programme. Sarah has a background in peace studies, with a Masters from Bradford University and a PhD from the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation studies at Coventry University. She has also worked with victims of the Northern Ireland conflict living in the UK and has a keen interest in social justice and social transformation. Sarah manages the College’’s programmes in eastern and southern Africa. Working collaboratively is one of Sarah’s strengths, and she enjoys working with different departments of the College–, as well as asking lots of questions!

Manu Pérez, Digital Co-ordinator

Manu drifted to England from his native Spain by chance. Rather than feeling stranded, he’’s managed to build a home from the solid pillars of co-operation and several cups of tea. Thanks to his background in digital journalism, Manu does everything from designing brochures and newsletters to editing videos and keeping the College website up and running. He cures his homesickness by helping to link Spanish and English co-operative schools and spreading the word about the wider co-operative movement everywhere he goes.

Nina Eastwood, Membership Co-ordinator

Nina studied History and Psychology at The University of Gloucestershire before joining the college in 2008. She has a background in working for educational institutions and organising events, so being a part of the Schools and Youth Programmes team enables her to combine her experiences. Nina is involved in administration for the Co-operative Identity Mark, co-operative Academy conversions and organising training and events. She particularly enjoys co-ordinating and attending events with schools, and working with European partners to arrange work placements for graduates. In her spare time Nina can be found knitting or chasing after her two little boys.

Greg Giddins, Finance Manager

Greg joined the College in March 2008. As Finance Manager he is responsible for all aspects of the College’s financial wellbeing, and sees his role as providing assistance to all departments to help them maximise their performance. After graduating in Politics from Lancaster University, Greg went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. After a few years as a Commercial Manager for a retail chain, Greg returned to Finance upon joining the College. He lives with his wife and three boys in Shaw, Oldham. The boys take up most of his spare time and energy, but in revenge he has managed to indoctrinate them into a life of following Blackburn Rovers.

Steve Kingman, Business Support Manager

Steve lives with his wife and two young children in Heaton Moor, Stockport. Steve joined the College team in 2003 and has enjoyed working in various roles over this time. As Business Support Manager Steve is responsible for lots of the College’s back office operations as well as managing College events and co-ordinating the many international visits that the College hosts each year. Steve also oversees the College’s new membership function. Outside of work Steve enjoys spending time with his family and is a keen follower of all sports, particularly his beloved Manchester United.

Gillian Lonergan, Librarian

Gillian has spent her working life with the co-operative movement. After a short period at the Co-operative Wholesale Society, she moved to the Co-operative Union, overseeing the change of focus from Library to Archive and the merger of two archives to form the National Co-operative Archive. She also carries out editorial work on the publications of the Co-operative College.

Gillian is a Chartered Librarian, a qualified Archivist and a Fellow of the Society of Indexers. She is a trustee of the Robert Owen Museum, Vice Chair of the UK Society for Co-operative Studies, Deputy Editor of the Journal for Co-operative Studies and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Human Resource Development Practice, Policy and Research.

Sophie Stewart, Archivist

Sophie has a BA and an MA in history and followed this with a Masters in Archives at Records Management at the University of Liverpool. After doing voluntary work at record offices in Liverpool and Chester, she has spent the past years being archivist at the National Co-operative Archive, resulting in a keen interest in the history of the co-operative movement. In her spare time, Sophie enjoys reading, going to the cinema and cooking. She also likes going to galleries and museums.

Clare Hirst, Assistant Museum Manager, Rochdale Pioneers Museum

Clare was born and raised in Rochdale and has memories of visiting the Pioneers Museum when she was at school. She previously worked at the town’s Touchstones Arts and Heritage Centre and Tourist Information and hopes the Museum will make people feel more positive about the town, and leave with good memories of Rochdale. Clare studied Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in printmaking, and loves museum objects. Clare also worked in the community arts team at the Co-operative Academy of Manchester, so really welcoming school groups to the Museum and sharing information with people of all ages!

Paul Cocker

Paul studied Drama at the University of Exeter before studying for postgraduate qualifications in law and pursuing a legal career. After moving to Australia in 2010 at the height of the recession, Paul developed a career in the third sector working in numerous fundraising and business development roles in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

On his return to the UK, Paul worked in Corporate Fundraising for a national charity in London. He then returned to his native North, working for both large and small regional charities. Outside of work Paul enjoys travel, the arts and is also an amateur playwright.

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