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About WLN


About WLN

WLN Board

The WLN Board provides strategic oversight, direction and governance to the WLN. Board members are advocates for the work and aims of the WLN and use their influence to leverage support and resources. The WLN Board meets termly.

Our co-chairs:
  • Mel Lenehan, CEO and Principal of Fircroft College
  • Jackie Grubb, Principal of City of Westminster College.
Board members:

Arinola Edeh Head of Service, Westminster Adult Education Service

Dr Cheryl Turner, Chair of Governors Fircroft College
Jan Edrich, CEO and Principal Eastleigh College
Jan Richardson-Wilde, Director of Operations Learning Curve Group
Julia Von Klowowski, Director Digital Career College
Kate Webb, CEO and Principal East Berkshire College
Katie Shaw, Unionlearn
Nicky Buckland Cobalt Partners
Sally Dicketts, Group Executive Officer Activate Learning
Yana Williams, CEO and Principal Hugh Baird College

Supported by:

Pauline Odulinski
Kathryn James
Catina Barrett

Our vision

The WLN works to ensure women in all our diversities and relationships between the different and multiple dimensions of our identities are empowered and enabled to make our full contribution to the leadership at all levels across the Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning sector.

The context for WLN’s work is the drive to widen social inclusion. Greater diversity in leadership is essential to individual and organisational success and to a flourishing sector. Promoting and celebrating women’s equality and inclusion benefits us all.

It is a simple truth that whatever helps women become leaders, and more effective leaders, is good for the sector and for wider society.

Throughout this strategy we use the term ‘women’ as inclusive of women in all our diversity. Werespect and celebrate women’s different diversities. We also work to tackle the very real inequalities for and between women of multiple protected characteristics, and backgrounds, education and circumstances. Through the work of WLN we seek to make our diversity and intersectionalities as women visible and valued.

WLN – Past, present, and our future

WLN was established 35 years ago to support more women into senior leadership, particularly principalship, in the FE sector. With a predominance of men at senior leadership level, the WLN perspective on gender was driven by a binary approach to difference and inequality.

Times have  now changed. Our thinking and understanding on identity, inclusivity and difference has moved on and is continually evolving.  WLN has moved on too. We want to be a network that is fully inclusive and supportive of women (cis, trans and non-binary) of all diverse backgrounds and identities.

WLN Mission

Our mission is to invest in the sector’s current and future women leaders, advancing their effectiveness and status.

We will achieve this by:

  • championing progressive and innovative practices that increase the representation of women and other groups with protected characteristics in positions of influence and power
  • providing purposeful, strong leadership and collaborating with partners to promote women’s leadership
  • advocating for equality, inclusion and respect for women and girls in the sector – and more widely – using research, evidence-based practice and strategic alliances
  • promoting women’s individual and collective empowerment through self-development, reflection and learning for leading
  • recognising and respecting women’s intersectionalities as integral to achieving equality, diversity and inclusion in the sector
  • recognising excellence in inclusive leadership across the sector; motivating, inspiring and enabling sector leaders to achieve and sustain high performance standards
  • working with partners nationally and locally to be a strong voice of challenge on issues of inclusion and equality
  • promoting the sector as a place where women wanting to enter the sector see it as a welcoming, equitable and exciting place offering opportunities to work and/or learn, where their contributions and talents will be valued and nurtured.