At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) each year, RUSS elects new trustees onto the board. Here, we set out how the process works and introduce the candidates who are standing.

This year, five board members are stepping down: Anurag, Ethan, Jessica, Anne and James, with four trustees staying on: Ben, Eleanor, Phil and Shelina.

RUSS members can sign up to attend the AGM here.

How trustees are elected


Ahead of the AGM, the RUSS board invites people to apply for the trustee role. Candidates need to apply at least 21 days before the AGM, and need to be proposed and seconded by two other RUSS members. The board can have up to 12 members (or up to 15 in any given year if this is approved by members at the AGM). Over the past few months, we have called for applicants through our newsletter, our website, our social media channels and on recruitment websites.

The current board carried out a skills mapping exercise to establish the types of background and expertise for incoming trustees that would best suit RUSS’s needs over the coming year. The board assessed applications and conducted interviews of applicants with this in mind, to decide on a set of candidates to recommend for election at the AGM. This year, the board are recommending eight candidates (who we will introduce below) to fill the eight vacancies on the board.

According to our rules 63.1 and 63.2, if there are more candidates than there are vacancies, then the appointments are decided by members at the AGM through a ballot. If there aren’t more candidates than vacancies, then the chair can declare the candidates duly elected. In the case of a ballot, all members have one vote per vacancy, and can only vote for each candidate once. The candidates with the most votes are elected to the board.

As a result of the process set out below, the board is recommending 8 candidates to members for election. At the meeting, the candidates will introduce themselves to members, and there will be space for questions and comments from members about the candidates and the election process.

The candidates nominated by the current board of trustees

Bernadette Marjoram

Bernadette has worked in the public sector for over 40 years, in housing, regeneration, front line services and community engagement, with recent roles as Interim Chief Executive at Hornchurch Housing Trust and Interim Director of Housing at London Borough of Havering. She also has 40 years’ service as a Non-Executive Director on local, regional and national organisations, including previously serving as a Councillor on Lewisham Council and a 4-year term on the board of University Hospital Lewisham NHS Trust.

Ben Beck

Ben was involved in the tenants’ movement in Lewisham from the late 1970s, when he moved to the Milton Court estate in New Cross, and in the 90s became a founder member and the first chair (and is currently acting treasurer) of Five Ways Housing Management Limited, which is one of the only two Tenant Management Organisations in Lewisham (set up under the Right to Manage). He was employed in housing from 1989 to 2016, initially for Lewisham Council but subsequently for Southwark. For the last 16 years of his working life he was a member of the Tenant Management Initiatives team in Southwark Housing, which had responsibility for overseeing all the 15 TMOs in the borough. Most recently, he was chair of Voluntary Action Lewisham for the final two years before its merger with the METRO charity.

Carina Kusi

Carina has over 7 years’ experience working within community and stakeholder roles. She is currently a Stakeholder Engagement Consultant at CJ Associates, with previous roles at Moat Homes and Axis Europe. She prides herself on building and maintaining strong relationships with all types of people from residents, business owners to Board members and Senior Councillors, and enjoys connecting with new people.

Catherine Harrington

Catherine is the former Chief Executive of the National CLT Network, having founded the organisation in 2010. During that time she helped grow the CLT movement from 30 CLTs to nearly 350 today. She was instrumental in securing the £300m Community Housing Fund, of which RUSS has benefitted, and, in the words of a senior Government official, has made a lasting difference to how the Government sees the role of community led housing. Previously Catherine worked at MHCLG, including for the Minister of Housing, Notting Hill Housing and the think tank IPPR. Catherine is currently working as a freelance consultant, supporting charities on advocacy and policy, and is a member of the Right to Build Task Force Expert Panel, advising local authorities on self and custom build. Catherine is a Brockley local and has been a passionate supporter of RUSS since its infancy.

Lewis Haines

Lewis is a Head of Practice at Collaborate, a social consultancy focused on helping the public and voluntary sectors tackle complex social issues. Lewis has a strong background in research and analytics, having previously worked at the homelessness charity Crisis and before that The Children’s Society. His academic background is in Theoretical Physics and he has recently completed Leadership and Management in Homelessness and Housing through London South Bank University and the London Housing Foundation. Lewis is also a volunteer Homelessness Advisor and delivers Advice Services across the Crisis at Christmas Project.

Becca Antink

Becca has broad experience in local and city government, most recently in her role delivering affordable housing at the Greater London Authority. She also worked for several years as a researcher, at the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures) and IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research). She has particular expertise around sustainable and inclusive models of local economic development, place identity and heritage. She holds an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the LSE, for which she conducted research with residents of Lambeth housing estates about their experiences of regeneration, gentrification and displacement. Becca lives in SE London and has previously volunteered on site with RUSS, as well as on an off-grid self-build in British Columbia.

Samanthi Theminimulle

Samanthi grew up in Lewisham and is currently a researcher at the RSA, leading work aimed at inserting community voices into decision-making about housing and neighbourhoods. She has experience in community engagement, network-building and amplifying community voices, with roles as a Community Engagement Advisor at Heard Storytelling and a Peer Researcher at Toynbee Hall. Her work at Toynbee Hall involved working with young private renters and the Renters Reform Coalition to lobby for safe, affordable and secure housing.

Katie Weatherall

Katie Weatherall is a Programme Manager at the UK’s international cultural relations organisation British Council working on Arts programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa and a global radio project. With over 10 years arts and public sector experience she has extensive communications and fundraising experience. She is local to the area and has lived in Lewisham for many years and is passionate about community.

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 info@theruss.org 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 info@theruss.org

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