The Board of Directors of the team at ECL.
Keir Lynch - Chief Executive
Keir Lynch joined ECL in January 2016 from Essex County Council where he had been Executive Director for Strategy, Transformation, Commissioning Support and Traded Services
Prior to joining Essex County Council he spent six years with the Bank of Ireland Group, as the UK HR Director, where he contributed to the significant expansion of the Corporate Banking business into the UK market and the development of a retail franchise through a joint venture with the Post Office Ltd.
For the previous 10 years, Keir held a number of senior HR roles in GEC (latterly Marconi). He was the HR Director for GEC Capital Division and, following the £7bn demerger of the defence business in 1999, he was the Vice President of HR of the high growth Optical Networks Division of what had become a global telecoms company. Keir read Humanities BA (Hons) at Greenwich University and then completed his MBA through the Open Business School.
Keir is also a member of the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development.
Claire Shuter - Corporate Development Director
Claire Shuter joined ECL in January 2017 and became a Director in June 2019.
Prior to ECL, Claire worked in local government for 15 years at County and District Councils in Essex. With a BA (Hons) degree in Music from The University of York, the early part of her career was at Chelmsford Council working in Events and Arts Management. Her interest in business management led her to complete two postgraduate Management qualifications with the University of Essex.
In 2008 she joined Essex County Council’s Arts & Heritage team and progressed into the corporate centre of the authority leading teams in the Cabinet and Executive Office. In 2013 Claire was appointed Head of Business Support and led the Business Support transformation programme; delivering £5m savings through the implementation of a new service model for 600 administrative staff. The success of this project led to her appointment as the sponsor of the Support Services transformation programme and the authority’s Essex 2021 programme which included the strategy development for digital transformation in Essex where her passion for digital was ignited.
Claire joined ECL as Head of Strategy, Marketing and Digital and led the strategic development of the company, modernised the marketing offer and championed digital innovation including the introduction of StoriiCare.
Claire is recognised as a leading figure in digital transformation of health and social care in Essex and is the chairperson of the Digital Boomers steering group.
In her spare time Claire is a School Governor and enjoys spending time with her young family.
Wendy Thomas - Director for Quality and Governance
Wendy Thomas joined ECL in May 2014 as the Director for Quality and Governance.
Wendy’s career within the health sector spanned over 30 years, working in both acute and community care. After qualifying as a Registered Nurse in 1985, Wendy successfully moved through many roles, including; Assistant Director of Nursing at Basildon hospital, Director of Nursing at Essex & Herts Community Trust, and she was then appointed Director of Nursing at Newham PCT. Latterly, in this role she was a commissioner of services until she left the NHS in 2012.
Following on from her time at Newham, Wendy began her own business offering her knowledge and experience on a self-employed basis. During this time she has led many serious incident investigations, and has been the interim Director of Quality for a Clinical Commissioning Group at a large Commissioning Support Unit and then as the Director of Nursing at a private hospital.
Over the last 30 years Wendy has had the opportunity to work in many areas of the healthcare sector but knew very early on that the only way to make a real difference to people in the community and to enable as much independence as possible was for health and social care to come together for the benefit of the customer. Essex Cares was therefore an opportunity not to be missed. Wendy says “social care is quite different to health but the quality of care is what matters and that is the same in both sectors. The values people hold, the outstanding staff we employ and strong, sensitive leadership are what makes a difference to the quality of services and we are working hard to ensure we develop all of these areas”
Wendy moved to Chelmsford in 2011 with her partner Ray. When she’s not in and around Chelmsford with the family, Wendy enjoys relaxing on holiday.
Joe Coogan - Director of Operations
Joe Coogan joined ECL as Director of Operations in August 2016. Joe has 20 years’ experience working in social care in a variety of roles as a provider, commissioner and leading social work teams. Joe has held senior leadership roles in the public, private and voluntary sector and is committed to providing excellent outcomes for people with social care needs.
Joe joined ECL from PwC where he was the lead consultant for social care, supporting transformation, integration and efficiency projects for councils and the NHS. Prior to that he was the Director of Operations for a charity called Kisharon that operated supported living services, wellbeing hubs, social enterprises, special needs schools/colleges, supported employment and integrated early years provision and was able to improve financial stability, whilst ensuring all services were rated outstanding or good by both the CQC and Ofsted.
Joe fulfilled the role as Assistant Director Transformation (Commissioning) at the London Borough of Havering for five years from 2008-2013 driving significant performance improvements and achieving savings through investments in prevention. For two years prior to joining Havering, Joe held the Head of Adults role at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham leading all social work teams and commissioning budgets.
In his spare time Joe is a keen sports person, playing football in the Essex veterans league, tennis and golf. His family supports guide dogs for the blind and act as puppy walkers, taking the young dogs in for a year to give them basic training and socialisation before they go to the main training centre at Woodford Green. Joe says ‘It’s always hard waving the dogs off when they leave but it is so rewarding when they qualify as fully trained guide dogs and help visually impaired people maintain their independence’.
Michael McDonagh - Chairman
Michael joined ECL as Chairman of the Board in September 2019. He is a Fellow of Chartered Certified Accountants and has an extensive career with KPMG and more recently with Deloitte. At KPMG Michael held a number of senior positions including Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Committee. Following this he held the position of Managing Director of Anchor Trust; the UK’s largest not-for-profit care provider and is currently a Non-Executive Director of Housing 21; a leading, not-for-profit provider of Retirement Housing. Michael is also a Trustee of Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
Philip George - Vice Chairman (Non-Executive Director)
Philip is a solicitor and now a consultant to his old firm, Birkett Long, where he was Managing Partner.
He headed up the firm's Commercial and Corporate Finance team for many years, and successfully led the firm's applications for ISO 9001 and Lexcel accreditation.
His experience spans a wide variety of commercial issues and sectors (particularly healthcare), where he has offered advice on partnerships and joint ventures, sales and purchases of companies and businesses, Private Finance Initiatives and Private Public Partnership projects.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, a member of the Education Law Association, and the Non-Executive Chairman of Essex County Cricket Board, The Rob George Foundation and the Kent Blaxill and Healthcare Homes Groups of Companies. In his spare time he enjoys cricket, walking and the theatre.
Peter Martin - Non-Executive Director
Peter joined ECL in August 2013. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Peter worked for a leading stockbroker as an investment analyst in their research department.
He joined Martin the Newsagent PLC as Chief Accountant before becoming Retail and Marketing Director and then Managing Director. The Essex-based company operated 500 branches across England employing 7,000 people nationally including 1,000 in Essex. Following the acquisition of the company, Peter became a director of a number of small to medium sized companies in the South East of England as well as Board Member of the East of England Development Agency.
During his time at Essex County Council, Peter was responsible for a number of portfolios including Lead Member for Schools, Children and Families and he was Leader of the Council from 2010. As Leader he was also Chairman of the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board, Chairman of the Essex Partnership and a member of the South East Local Economic Partnership.
Peter is now a Trustee of a number of Essex Charities including the Essex Community Foundation and the Rural Community Council of Essex.
Geoff Benn - Non Executive Director
For over 40 years Geoff Benn has shaped a career within service businesses, working for over 30 of them at senior level in the health and social care system. Through experience including Strategic Planning, PMI, Elderly Care, Acute, Diagnostic and Community care, Geoff developed his specialism in creating innovative, viable, commercial solutions as well as operating several joint business ventures across the public and private sector.
Now semi-retired, Geoff uses his knowledge and experience to educate others and regularly talks at conferences on the sustainability and development of health care systems.
Also a talent in the kitchen, Geoff spent his early career in the hotel business where he created his own award-winning hospitality enterprise.
Married for over 40 years Geoff and Helen have two daughters, Melissa who is a Doctor and Samantha, a Vice-Principal of a school in Western Australia.
A keen traveller, Geoff enjoys exploring the world for new cuisines and has a particular love of the New World, discovering fine food and wine along his way.
Geoff is also an Accredited Humanist Celebrant leading wedding and funeral celebrations in this country and abroad.
Penny Channer - Essex County Council Director
Penny has lived in Essex for nearly 30 years having been brought up in Surrey.
She has experience in the public, private, voluntary and health sector.
Coming from a family with a police background, working life commenced with the Metropolitan Police Civil Staff, providing support including at the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory and Wimbledon Police Station.
Private sector experience was gained working for a successful entrepreneur businessman in Surrey and voluntary sector experience in Essex included serving on either committees or as a trustee for various bodies including Maldon (Essex) Mind, SWANS, SAIDSO and the Mid Essex Historic Building Trust. Currently she remains a trustee of the Henry Gilder Drake Almshouse Charity already having served a number of years.
For several years Penny sat as a non- executive director on the Maldon and South Chelmsford Primary Care Trust Board. Previously she had been the appointed Lay Member on the Maldon and South Chelmsford Primary Care Group Board.
In 1995 she was first elected on to Maldon District Council and is still a District Councillor. She has held various positions including Leader of the Council and Chairman of the Council and currently is Chairman of the Planning and Licensing Committee and is currently Vice Chairman of Maldon District Council.
Penny is an Essex County Councillor, being first elected in 2009. Since then she has held several Deputy to a Cabinet Member positions plus sat for several years on the Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee. Also, she is currently the Chairman of the Maldon Youth Strategy Group.
For both authorities she sits on various panels, groups and outside bodies.