Our People

Our Board

Chair and Vice-Chairs

Elected members provide direction and oversee the work of the LGA. Governance structures are led by a senior group of members from each of the four political groups.

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Cllr Shaun Davies – LGA Chair
Cllr Shaun Davies has been a Labour Councillor at Telford and Wrekin Council since 2011 and was elected Leader of the Council in 2016. It was under his leadership that the Labour Party won a key by-election in a long-standing Conservative ward, allowing Telford and Wrekin Council to become Labour-led once again.

Councillor Shaun Davies helped the council secure one of the largest recent Direct Foreign Investments into the UK, which created local jobs in the rapidly growing technology industry. He also oversaw the transformation of the council’s Children’s Services from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Outstanding’. His ‘inspirational’ leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic meant Cllr Davies was a finalist for the LGIU Council Leader of the Year in 2021.

Shaun became LGA Labour Group Leader and the LGA Senior Vice-Chair in June 2022 and was elected as LGA Chair in July 2023

Cllr Kevin Bentley – Conservative Group Leader and LGA Senior Vice-Chairman
Cllr Kevin Bentley was elected to Essex County Council in 2009 and appointed as the Deputy Cabinet Member to the Leader. Having served two years in this post he was promoted to the Cabinet in 2011 and appointed Deputy Leader to the Council 2013, where he led on Economic Growth and Infrastructure. He was elected Leader of the Council in May 2021.

Kevin is also a Colchester City Councillor and has previously been Leader of the Conservative Group in Colchester. He has served in the Colchester Cabinet holding the portfolio for Business, Tourism and Leisure. He has also stood for Parliament twice in Colchester. Kevin has been the Chairman of LGA People’s and Places Board, and led the Brexit negotiations on behalf of the LGA with Government.

He is also Chair of Transport East. Outside of politics Kevin is the Chairman of the awarding winning PR Digital and Marketing Agency, Mosaic Publicity and is a journalist by profession. Before leaving to set up Mosaic Publicity in 2000 he spent 20 years working for the BBC as a radio and television reporter and producer.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan – Labour Group Leader and LGA Vice-Chair
Cllr Nesil Caliskan was first elected as Leader of Enfield Council in 2018 after serving as a councillor since 2015. Born and raised in Enfield, she was proud to be elected as the Council’s first woman and ethnic minority leader in the borough’s history.

In 2022, following her re-election as Council Leader, Nesil was elected as a Local Government representative on the Labour Party’s NEC with the highest number of votes. She also serves as the Executive member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Care for London Councils.

In 2023, Nesil was elected as Leader of the LGA Labour Group, becoming the first woman to serve in the role.

Cllr Joe Harris – Liberal Democrat Group Leader and LGA Vice-Chair
Joe has lived in the Cotswolds all his life. He attended Cirencester Deer Park School and Cirencester College.  Working at a local Youth Club inspired Joe to get involved in local politics.

When he was 18 Joe was elected to Cotswold District Council, and re-elected in 2015 and 2019. He was the Mayor of Cirencester in 2013, and then became Leader of the Council. He is also a Gloucestershire County Councillor.

Joe is a big football fan and supports Swindon Town and Chelsea. In his spare time he enjoys running and Italian food.

Joe was elected Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group and Vice-Chair of the LGA in July 2021.

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE – Independent Group Leader and LGA Vice-Chair
Cllr Marianne Overton MBE serves on Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council, where she sits on the Planning Committee. She is the Independent Group Leader in both authorities and is particularly active on environmental issues, health and social care and education.

Marianne’s education was spread between South Africa and London. She served as a Non-Executive Director for NHS Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust and a Governor of the University of Lincoln. She is a qualified biologist and a past Chairman of the Society of Biology (East Midlands) and Fellow of the University of Lincoln. As a Director of Biosearch Expeditions, she has organised many expeditions to remote Third World regions to carry out field research for conservation management. Marianne is very active in Lincolnshire supporting business and communities. Her contribution to local government was recognised with a Queen’s New Year’s Honour in 2014 and the award of an MBE.

Marianne was first elected as Leader of the LGA Independent Group in June 2011.

The LGA’s Office Holders

The Chair, Vice and Deputy Chairs of the Association are nominated annually by the four political groups, and approved by the LGA General Assembly. Together they form the LGA board. Under Article 21 of the LGA Articles of Association each group whose share of the weighted electorate exceeds five per cent of the total is entitled to one Vice-Chair. The larger groups are entitled to Deputy Chairs according to proportionality. The Chair of the Association is nominated by the largest group.

Executive Advisory Board Members

The LGA Executive Advisory Board comprises the members of the Leadership Board, the Chairs of the policy boards and representatives of Wales and the nine English regions. The County Councils Network (CCN), District Councils Network (DCN) and the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) also have a non-voting place, along with the chair of Local Partnerships.

Board Lead Members

Each policy Board includes a Chair, Vice-Chair and two Deputy Chairs – one nominated by each group. Collectively these are known as ‘Lead Members’ and they oversee delivery of the priorities in the LGA’s Business Plan, particularly between Board meetings.

LGA President / Vice-Presidents

Every year the General Assembly elects a President of the Association. The four Groups also appoint a number of Vice-Presidents. The President and Vice-Presidents are parliamentary representatives from the House of Commons, House of Lords, and they represent and champion the interests of local government in Parliament.

Senior Management Team

The LGA’s Senior Management Team works with the LGA Board to oversee the strategic operational objectives of the organisation.

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Sarah Pickup, Acting Chief Executive

Sarah has been Deputy Chief Executive of the LGA since September 2015 and is currently Acting Chief Executive. In her time at the LGA, Sarah has taken a lead on finance policy and adult social care and health integration, and is responsible for the Workforce and Pensions teams as well as overseeing the LGA’s own finances. She previously worked for Hertfordshire County Council as Deputy Chief Executive with responsibility for finance and corporate services and prior to that was Director of Health & Community Services in Hertfordshire for 10 years. She is a CIPFA-qualified accountant.

Sarah was president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) in 2012/13. She is currently Chair of HUC, a community benefit organisation delivering urgent care and a trustee of the Nuffield Trust as well as of a local arts charity in her home town. She is also on the Board of Hightown Housing Association.

Sally Burlington, Director of Policy (People) & Deputy Chief Executive

Sally had a wide ranging career in policy and strategy development in the Civil Service, before joining the LGA. She spent six years in HM Treasury and a year at Kent County Council during which time she reviewed the council’s procurement of social care and negotiated one of the first innovative Local Public Service Agreements with the Government. She was instrumental in developing the original Sure Start policy, and from 2004-07 she led the secretariat for Sir Michael Lyons’ Inquiry examining local government and how it is funded.

From 2007-2012 Sally led policy on Children in Care and Adoption and then on Children’s Centres and Early Intervention at the Department for Education.

Sally joined LGA in 2012 and led on policy for children and then adults. Since 2015 she has been Director of Policy for “people” issues, supporting the LGA’s work and lobbying on children’s issues, social care and health, covid, asylum, fire, community safety and regulatory services. Sally is also Deputy Chief Executive and leads the LGA’s internal change programmes.

Nicky Old, Director of Communications

Nicky Old joined the LGA as Director of Communications in September 2022. She brings with her a wealth of experience from her previous roles including as Director of Communications and External Relations for the membership oragnisation Universities UK, leading business communications and working as Chief of Staff in the Education Funding Agency, managing communications for a Non-Departmental Public Body and running a busy media and public engagement function for the University of Oxford.

Nicky’s extensive experience in communications, campaigns and lobbying activities covers a wide variety of issues both proactive and reactive. In 2022, Nicky’s team won the PR Week UK Global Awards Campaign of the Year: Issues and Crisis category for the #WeAreTogether campaign showcasing support for students and communities during the Covid pandemic.

Dennis Skinner, Director of Improvement

Dennis Skinner has been at the LGA since May 2011. He is responsible for the LGA’s improvement work including the peer challenge work, leadership training particularly for councillors, the LGA’s productivity programme including support for councils on cyber, digital and technology, the Planning Advisory Service, One Public Estate, the Children’s Improvement programme and the research and information team.

Before this he was a Regional Associate at the IDeA covering London and the East Of England.

Dennis also has over 30 years’ experience working in local government across a range of services including corporate policy, equalities, regeneration and community safety, business planning and communications.

Ian Hughes, Director of Policy

Ian Hughes has been Director of Policy at the LGA since June 2015. He is responsible for the Association’s  policy work on “place” issues, including support to councils on devolution, housing, transport, planning, the environment and culture. He manages the Association’s work in Brussels and on Brexit and its work across the U.K. with the associations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Previously, Ian worked in local government, the civil service and in Brussels. He joined the LGA after being a senior civil servant for three years. Before that he had senior management positions in both Southwark and Thurrock Councils where he managed a range of services and corporate functions. In the 1990s, he worked in Brussels.