Board of Trustees

Communities 1st is managed by a voluntary Board.
As a charitable company limited by guarantee, these Board members also serve as company directors. The Board take the lead on governance, strategy, personnel and sustainable development.


Trustee Role Profile
Communities 1st Memorandum of Association


Jason John, Trustee and Chair

Jason was a trustee of Community Hertsmere prior to becoming a trustee of Communities 1st, following the merger between Community Hertsmere and Community Central. He became Chair of the Trustee Board in September 2020. In his working life, Jason has been a management consultant for over 25 years and is currently a partner at Deloitte UK, focusing on digital transformation within the Financial Services industry. Jason was raised and has lived most of his life in Hertfordshire which is where he currently lives with his wife and children. In his spare time, when he is not shuttling his children between activities (!), he enjoys cycling, keeping fit and travelling.


Sarah Yexley, Trustee and Vice-Chair

Raised in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, Sarah has lived in St Albans since the early 1990s. She has been a trustee at Communities 1st since its inception having formerly been a trustee of Community Central, and is also a trustee for St Albans Citizens Advice, volunteering at the National Trust estate at Ashridge as well. Sarah’s working life was spent in a number of organisations, and then latterly, as an Interim specializing in HR – having had a number of ‘operational‘ roles in her early career. Outside of the work environment, Sarah lives with husband Mark and cocker spaniel Buster, enjoying many outdoor activities such as walking, skiing, and spending time on their narrow boat in Suffolk.

Sarah Yexley

Ross Gemmell, Trustee and Treasurer

Ross Gemmell, Trustee and Treasurer

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Ann Harrison, Trustee

Ann Harrison, Trustee

Ann Harrison

Ann Rogers, Trustee

Ann joined the Communities 1st Trustee Board in 2019. She has a background in IT and business process consultancy in Hospitality, Leisure and retail organisations. Following retirement in 2017, she wanted to support a local charity and was attracted to Communities 1st because it is such a practical organisation and aims to help the charity sector work together to create thriving communities. Ann lives in St Albans, is an active volunteer with Communities 1st, and enjoys opportunities to walk and cycle in the surrounding countryside.

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Joy Dobbs, Trustee

Before becoming a trustee of Communities 1st, Joy was Chair of Community Central St Albans (one of the predecessors of Communities 1st) from 2011-2018.  Now retired, Joy spent ten years as a consultant in research, statistics and impact, working mostly for national charities, particularly the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Prior to that, her main career was at the Office for National Statistics. In her senior roles at ONS, she learnt a lot about business strategy and planning, and project, financial and staff management. Joy enjoys applying her expertise to help local charities. Having lived in St Albans since 1984, she values the strong sense of community in the area and the role of Communities 1st in sustaining and strengthening that.

Joy Dobbs

Karl Wilding, Trustee

Karl Wilding is a UK-based analyst and advisor working with charities and non-profit organisations. A former CEO and director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, he now supports leadership teams on public policy, governance and strategy. He is an associate at MyCake and a director at Creating the Future, as well as being a trustee of Communities 1st.

Karl Wilding

Sue Pearlman, Trustee

Sue has worked in the charity sector for over 30 years. She is a former charity CEO and since 2004, has been a consultant to charities, advising boards of trustees and senior management of charities of all sizes. She is passionate about good governance and understands the challenges for both trustees and their staff. She mentors charity CEOs and is also a trustee of a new charity Wellspring. She is an associate with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Lloyds Bank Foundation and Hertfordshire Community Foundation where she is the Lead Trainer on Governance. She was formerly a Chair of the predecessor of Communities 1st, Community Action Hertsmere, and is delighted to be part of Communities 1st. She relaxes by singing in a choir, watching ballet, and being with her grandchildren in the UK and Spain. She is also a carer for her husband who has Parkinsons Disease.

Sue Pearlman

Chris Cloke, Trustee

Chris joined the Communities 1st Board of Trustees in autumn 2019.  He has a career in the charitable sector, having worked for the Runnymede Trust, London Voluntary Service Council, Task Force, and Age Concern England. He is a vice president of the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, a volunteer with the National Trust at Shaw’s Corner, and the independent chair of the Guildford Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel. Most recently and for over 20 years he worked for the NSPCC in several roles but focusing on influencing policy, public education, and developing awareness. As Head of Safeguarding in Communities, he became aware of the importance of building and supporting communities. It was this that attracted him to Communities 1st.

As well as being the lead trustee for safeguarding, Chris is also a volunteer with Communities 1st.  He enjoys his grandchildren, theatre, reading, and making ice-cream.

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Tom Slatter, Trustee

Tom Slatter has been a trustee of Communities 1st since 2021, following the merger with the Volunteer Centre Broxbourne and East Herts. He has a background in education, having started working life as a secondary music teacher before moving into charity work. He currently works with The Brokerage, a social mobility charity, focusing on impact-measurement.

Outside work, Tom is a keen musician and when time allows, he can often be found on stage at various rock venues around the country.

Tom Slatter