RUSS AGM 2020: Trustee elections

Update Sunday 21 June, 9.15am

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) each year, RUSS elects new trustees onto the board. In this post, we set out how the process works, the candidates who are standing (including those who are being nominated for election by the board), and how you can stand for election.

This year, four current board members are stepping down: Ted, Colette, Gillian and Megan. Beatrice stepped down earlier in the year. Anurag and Ethan are continuing their terms as trustees. Phil and Anne, who were co-opted onto the board this year, are standing for election at the AGM, and are included in the list of candidates below.

You can sign up to attend the AGM here.

How trustees are elected
Ahead of the AGM, the RUSS board sets out for its members how many vacancies need to be filled at the meeting. This year, there are 7 vacancies to be filled. This number was arrived at through a skills mapping exercise (set out below), taking into account the number of trustees who are stepping down this year as well as the need to strike a balance between having a wide breadth of expertise and having a group size that enables us to be agile and responsive in the years ahead.

All candidates for election to fill the vacancies need to be proposed and seconded by two other RUSS members. This is set out in more detail at the bottom of the page.

According to our rule 63.1: “If at an annual general meeting, the candidates for election as board members do not exceed the number of vacancies on the board the chair shall declare those candidates to have been duly elected.” In other words, if there are less, or only as many, candidates as there are vacancies, then those candidates are automatically elected.

If there are more candidates than there are vacancies, then a vote is carried out at the AGM. All members have one vote per vacancy (so, in this case, each member will have 7 votes), and can only vote for each candidate once. The candidates with the most votes are elected to the board. The mechanics of the virtual voting process will be explained in more detail at the AGM. Retiring board members are not permitted to vote.

As a result of the process set out below, the board is recommending 7 candidates to members for election. As things stand, no other candidates are currently standing for election. This means that unless other candidates come forward, these 7 nominated candidates will be automatically elected at the AGM. In this event, the candidates will still introduce themselves to members, and there will be space for questions and comments from members about the candidates and the election process. The process that you can take to stand as a candidate is set out at the bottom of this page.

It is worth noting that once the new board is formed, we’ll be regularly reviewing whether we have skills gaps or any other reasons to co-opt additional people onto the board throughout the year, to make sure we have the right set of people around the table for what we’re trying to do as an organisation.

How the board has chosen its nominated candidates
The board and our core staff carried out a skills mapping exercise at the beginning of the year. This identified the key responsibilities and activities that the RUSS board has to carry out, and the skills and experience that it needs amongst the board members to do so effectively. For example, we need a treasurer with finance and accountancy expertise, and we need a secretary with governance and compliance expertise.

The board used this to assess what kinds of skills and experiences would be needed in the new trustees. These included expertise in governance, finance, housing and development, community engagement, law, fundraising, organisational development and communications.

We put out a call for trustees on our website and social media, in housing publications, in volunteer and trustee recruitment websites including Women on Boards, ICAEW volunteers and, as well as circulating the call through a range of third sector and community housing networks.

As a board, we identified a shortlist of candidates for us to recommend based on our skills mapping analysis, alongside considerations of diversity, the need for future resident representation on the board, and demonstrable capacity and enthusiasm to commit a significant amount of time and energy to our mission.

We then interviewed the shortlisted candidates focusing particularly on their capacity to commit time to our work and how they would help lead in specific areas of the board’s activities.

On the basis of this process, we have decided to recommend the candidates set out below for election at the AGM. We believe that they have the depth of experience, mix of skills and commitment to our core values needed to drive us forward over the years to come.

The candidates nominated by the current board of trustees:

Shelina Hooper
Shelina has over a decade of social housing experience. She currently works at the Regulator of Social Housing as a financial analyst. Prior to this, she worked as an accountant and senior finance officer in the housing departments of Camden, Hackney and Islington Councils. She has extensive experience in assessing and improving the financial viability of housing projects, as well as the governance and regulatory compliance of housing developer organisations. Her in-depth knowledge of social housing regulations, funding, finances and management, as well as her experience working within both regulators and local authorities, will be invaluable both to the Church Grove project and RUSS’s wider work.

Anne Kennedy
Anne has experience as both a trustee and secretary at RUSS, having been active with RUSS since 2015. As well as being a co-opted trustee, she currently runs the RUSS School, where we share our model and pass on lessons from our work to others to help support community housing projects across the country. She also manages our membership system and is part of the team developing how we use our community hub. Her longstanding experience leading many areas of RUSS’s work, spanning the School, the board and the community hub, demonstrates her passion for our vision and gives her a thorough understanding of what we do, how we do it and the community housing sector in which we operate.

James Kinnersly
James is a Chartered Town Planner with a decade of experience in both planning and development. He has managed the delivery of housing developments ranging from small resident-led regeneration projects to 2500+ home schemes, working for both developers and councils. He has wide-ranging expertise that includes negotiating and holding relationships with planning authorities, conducting feasibility studies, engaging and involving residents, and advising and overseeing housing projects through to delivery. All of this will be invaluable in helping to steer the Church Grove project and in developing RUSS as an effective community housing developer.

Benny Lee
Benny is an active RUSS volunteer with experience in accounting, finance and risk management – all of which will help ensure that we maintain robust governance and financial management. Benny has previously acted as secretary to the Board of Trustees for one of the largest pension schemes in the UK, giving him valuable insight into how to establish, improve and utilise best practice governance procedures. His experience in cashflow modelling and company accounts, both as an actuarial consultant and a company secretary, will enable the board to maintain effective oversight of our finances and develop into a well-functioning organisation.

Eleanor Margolies
Eleanor is a future Church Grove resident and longstanding member of RUSS. An experienced campaigner and community leader, she was Chair of the East Dulwich Estate Regeneration Project Team for 5 years, where she worked with residents and Southwark Council to plan and oversee new building work and the refurbishment of estate landscaping, and ensured that residents’ views and interests were heard and acted upon. During this period, she helped raise £58,000 from SITA Landfill Trust to create a new community garden, and she organised a range of community garden events. This experience in both fundraising and resident and community engagement would be hugely beneficial to RUSS as the Church Grove project progresses.

Phil Morris
Phil is the current treasurer on the RUSS board of trustees. He is a semi-retired accountant who has worked in social housing for most of his career. He is a board member of Coin Street Community Builders, having been involved at Coin Street since 1984. He was previously the finance director at South London Family Housing Association, where he developed funding arrangements for self-build housing for rent and shared ownership, and worked with Chisel Neighbourhood Housing Association. Phil’s in-depth understanding of our finances and our accounts, combined with his extensive experience in the community housing sector, will help us to steer forward and maintain robust financial management in the years ahead.

Jessica Tsang
Jessica is a Vice President in Operational Risk Management at Goldman Sachs, giving her a keen understanding of governance processes, board reporting and project management, all of which will be crucial over the coming years as we make progress on the Church Grove development. Jessica is a longstanding RUSS volunteer with a background as an economist researching land use, planning, growth and regeneration. She also has experience in managing relationships with financial sponsors, and can help us manage and secure grants and loans for Church Grove and our core organisational work.

Other candidates standing for election
We will update this page with information on other candidates as and when they apply.

How to stand for election to the board of trustees
All members are welcome to stand for election to the board of trustees. If you wish to do so, you will need to be proposed and seconded by two other members. It would be helpful if you could let us know in advance of the AGM if you wish to stand, so that we can communicate this to our members ahead of the AGM. Please email with the names of the two RUSS members who have proposed and seconded your candidacy, and a short paragraph about you and what you could bring to RUSS as a trustee, which we can share with other members.

If you have any questions about any of this ahead of the AGM, please feel free to get in touch with us at