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Our Trustee Board and Director

The Trustee Board is responsible for directing the affairs of the UPP Foundation, ensuring it is well-run and delivering the charitable outcomes for which it has been created. All UPP Foundation grant applications are reviewed and authorised by the Trustee Board.

Jon Wakeford, Chair of the Trustee Board, UPP Foundation, and Corporate Affairs Director, UPP

Jon is responsible for UPP’s business development, communications, public affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and has been on the Group Board for almost a decade.

Jon has more than 25 years’ experience in the higher education sector and originally joined UPP in 2000, when UPP was established as a specialist business unit of Jarvis plc.

As Head of Research and Development he originated the company’s selective approach to partnerships and played a key role in the establishment of the Group’s bond programme and acquisition by its current Shareholders.

He has also worked as a Senior Advisor for the higher education team at KPMG.

Jon is a member of the cross-party Higher Education Commission.

Karen Morgon, Transaction Director, UPP

Karen joined UPP in the summer of 2016 as Transaction Director, working in the area of securing new business. Karen leads teams of UPP colleagues, external consultants, and design professionals to pull together compelling new projects which help UPP to secure new partnerships with universities. 

Starting her career in retail banking, Karen studied to become an associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers. She then moved into local government, which is where she developed a passion for social inclusion issues and ways of keeping young people in education.  Karen later became involved with a number of school governing bodies, serving on disciplinary committees and focusing on helping pupils avoid being excluded from the educational environment.

Karen has a keen interest in the performing arts and regularly participates in amateur dramatic productions.  She plays the clarinet to orchestral standard as well as being an accomplished choral singer and ballroom dancer.  When not commuting into London from her home in Somerset, Karen is a keen apiarist and also enjoys spending time in her garden or walking her dog.

Andrew Percival, Managing Director, Commercial, UPP

Andrew was appointed Managing Director, Commercial, in 2016. He oversees the Group’s design, planning, funding and development business which is responsible for the origination, negotiation and subsequent financial close of all transactions. Since joining UPP, Andrew reached financial close on five transactions, creating two new partnerships (at the University of Hull and Swansea University), as well as growing UPP’s established relationships with the University of London and the University of Exeter through new residential development projects. This has resulted in an increase of over 5,000 rooms in UPP’s portfolio. An established speaker within the sector, Andrew is passionate about creating developments that enhance student experience and wellbeing and complement the strategic objectives of university partners. He is also an active lecturer at the Bartlett School (UCL), covering topics such as complex projects, supply chain and the development process in a management context. Andrew joined from VINCI PLC where he was Director of VINCI UK Developments and VINCI Investments. He is also Chairman of Stevenage First, a partnership focused on achieving the long term regeneration of Stevenage town centre.

Rt. Hon Chris Skidmore MP

Chris Skidmore is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Kingswood. He was elected following the 2010 General Election and served as the Universities Minister on two occasions between 2018 and 2020. He has also previously had Ministerial roles at the Department for Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office. Prior to becoming a Government Minister he was George Osborne’s PPS for a year between 2015 and 2016 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. As a backbencher, he now co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary University Group alongside his new role on the Advisory Board at the UPP Foundation.

Before being elected as an MP Skidmore was an education adviser for the Conservatives, working for then-Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove, and has also served as Director of the Party’s Public Services Improvement Group, run by Stephen Dorrell and Baroness Perry. He is also a historian and published author. His first book, ‘Edward VI: The Lost King’, was released in 2007 and his second, ‘Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Death of Amy Robsart’, was published in 2010. He has a First Class Honours in Modern History from the University of Oxford.

Alexandra Slater, Partnerships Director for Student Experience and Satisfaction, UPP

Alex leads the student experience and satisfaction strategy at UPP Ltd, developing relationships with partner universities and demonstrating the value UPP can add to the sector through a strategic approach to enhancing the student experience.

After studying at Sheffield and Newcastle, Alex worked as a careers adviser helping young people get into work and training.  Alex went on to develop projects to support marginalised young people across several UK regions.  She later worked with organisations in Holland, Germany, Spain and Sweden advising on the development of similar initiatives. From 2000, Alex worked at the East Midlands Development Agency for 12 years starting as Regional Observatory Director then later working in learning and skills, business growth and finally as Transition Director managing transition to the new economic development structures and the implementation of the corporate plan across the organisation.

Prior to joining UPP, Alex was involved in the redesign of teaching and learning organisational structures and student experience enhancement at the University of Nottingham, both in the UK and at the overseas campuses.

Alex is currently studying towards a MA in Higher Education at Anglia Ruskin University.

Alexandra Slater, Partnerships Director for Student Experience and Satisfaction, UPP

Alex leads the student experience and satisfaction strategy at UPP Ltd, developing relationships with partner universities and demonstrating the value UPP can add to the sector through a strategic approach to enhancing the student experience.

After studying at Sheffield and Newcastle, Alex worked as a careers adviser helping young people get into work and training.  Alex went on to develop projects to support marginalised young people across several UK regions.  She later worked with organisations in Holland, Germany, Spain and Sweden advising on the development of similar initiatives. From 2000, Alex worked at the East Midlands Development Agency for 12 years starting as Regional Observatory Director then later working in learning and skills, business growth and finally as Transition Director managing transition to the new economic development structures and the implementation of the corporate plan across the organisation.

Prior to joining UPP, Alex was involved in the redesign of teaching and learning organisational structures and student experience enhancement at the University of Nottingham, both in the UK and at the overseas campuses.

Alex is currently studying towards a MA in Higher Education at Anglia Ruskin University.

Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor, University of Lincoln

Professor Mary Stuart is Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focussed on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.\rMary has a strong track record in all aspects of University management, having worked in senior roles in three different universities. Since joining Lincoln she has established and grown the first new Engineering School to be created in the UK for more than 20 years (in collaboration with Siemens plc). Mary has also successfully led the development of Science provision at Lincoln (including the Schools of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Physics and Mathematics) and has established the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology, to develop the future of farming and grow our food industry’s competitiveness. Passionate about the student experience, Mary seeks to continually drive change and improvements in the partnership with students and the academic community, working closely with the Students’ Union at Lincoln. Mary is currently a Board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Chair of HEFCE’s Teaching Excellence and Student Opportunity Committee, Vice Chair of the Equality Challenge Unit and Trustee of Universities Partnership Programme (UPP). She is also a Fellow of the Bridge Group. Mary is Chair of the Lincoln Cultural and Arts Partnership (LCAP) and the Founding Director of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), a member of the Greater Lincolnshire Leaders Board, Director of Lincoln Science and Innovation Park (LSIP), Director of Lincolnshire Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and Chair of the Members of Lincolnshire Educational Trust.

Ellie Rapley, Commercial Manager, UPP

Ellie is Commercial Manager for UPP Residential Services, UPP’s facilities management business unit, where she has been employed since 2012. Ellie originally joined as an assistant in UPP’s post room whilst studying Psychology at the University of Reading. After graduating, she secured a position on UPP’s customer service helpdesk and subsequently became the helpdesk manager. She was later appointed performance manager for the business standards team before assuming her current position.

Her role involves resolving commercial enquiries and she spends a lot of time working with operational teams to offer direction and help them to review operational processes for the best outcomes.

She is passionate about the community and serves as the communications officer for her local community association in Reading. It focuses on sustainability and improving the locality for the neighbourhood. At UPP, Ellie has been involved with the UPP Gives employee fundraising committee which supports a range of charities through the work of the organisation.

In her spare time, Ellie enjoys cycling and yoga, and has an interest in vintage fashion and drum and bass music. She is also content spending days reading books and playing boardgames. 

Our Director

Richard Brabner, Director of UPP Foundation

Richard Brabner was appointed Head of UPP Foundation in July 2016 and was promoted to Director in 2018. Working with the trustees, he sets its strategy and leads on all aspects of the UPP Foundation’s activities. Richard joined UPP in 2015 as Business Development Manager and his responsibilities included setting up the UPP Foundation.

Prior to joining UPP, he was Head of Policy at the University of Hertfordshire, advising the Vice-Chancellor and senior management team and leading the University’s public affairs function. Before this, he worked as a researcher for two MPs in Parliament. He graduated from the University of Essex in 2007 and holds an MRes in Public Policy and Management from Birkbeck, University of London.