We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of governance and comply with the principles outlined in the Code of Governance for Voluntary Organisations, which is approved by the Charity Commission.
The executive team prepares matters such as policy, strategy and budgets for consideration and approval by the trustees, who then monitor the implementation of these plans.
Edel Harris - Incoming chief executive
Edel Harris will join Mencap as Chief executive officer in early 2020.
Edel has previously worked as Chief Executive of Cornerstone, one of Scotland's leading charities, since May 2008 having previously been Deputy Chief Executive of Aberdeen Foyer. A former Metropolitan Police Officer, Edel's background is in health promotion. She spent 8 years working for NHS Grampian and has significant experience in setting up and leading successful social enterprises and in developing new social care services.
Edel was until very recently a Director of the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust and a Director of Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI). She currently sits on the Board of the Robertson Trust. Edel served as the first female President of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce. She was also one of the first Directors of Opportunity North East (ONE), former Chair of The Life Changes Trust and former Chair of the Scottish Government's Social Investment Fund.
Amongst Edel’s many achievements she was awarded the 2015 IOD North East Director of the Year accolade and in 2017 became the Scottish EY Entrepreneur of the Year. On International Women’s Day 2018 Edel was awarded an honorary doctorate from Robert Gordon University for her contribution to charity and business in Scotland and in October 2019 was awarded a Fellowship from North East College in Aberdeen.
Angela Buxton – People director
After graduating from the University of East Anglia, where she studied American and English literature, Angela went on to lead a varied career which has included managing a Havana cigar store and teaching English to Italian students.
Her managerial skills led her to becoming an Ofsted personnel advisor, before she joined Mencap in 2007. Angela describes her life at Mencap as very busy and that she’s very proud of the work the charity does.
John Cowman - Director of services
LinkedIn: John Cowman
John grew up in Dublin in Ireland and qualified as a Physiotherapist from Trinity College Dublin in 1995. He then went on to complete a Masters in Research Methodology and qualified as a Statistician; lecturing at the University for a year before moving to the UK in 1998. He initially worked in paediatrics and then as a lead researcher on a study examining the aetiology of Gulf War Syndrome.
He moved into the community in the NHS in 2001, where he began in earnest his work with people with learning disabilities. He continued to work through the management hierarchies and became a Director of Business Development and Performance in Havering Primary Care Trust, establishing the first Autonomous Provider Organisation in the UK and going on to affect a major merger of NHS Community Providers.
He moved into the Third Sector in 2011 as the Director of Health for Young Epilepsy, advancing to Director of Operations. After a short period of time in the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, he joined Mencap in May 2016. John has always had a significant drive to create equality for those with disabilities, specifically for people with a learning disability, and will utilise this in ensuring the Personal Support directorate of Mencap is focussed on personalisation, independence and quality of life.
Oonagh Smyth - Director of strategy and influence
Oonagh joined Mencap in 2012 as head of governance and planning, but her interest in learning disability issues started when she was 17 and volunteering at one of Mencap’s Gateway Clubs in Belfast while sitting her A Levels.
She joined Mencap from the National Council for Voluntary Action, where she was a senior consultant in governance and leadership. She has also held positions at the Equality Commission and Westminster Equality Partnership.
Jackie O'Sullivan - Director of communications
LinkedIn: Jackie O'Sullivan
Jackie grew up all over the North of England before the bright lights of London lured her down to study Classics at University College London (UCL). Since then she has worked in several Government Departments, done a stint at the European Commission in Brussels and worked in the food industry.
Jackie's last role before joining Mencap was as Director of National Lottery Good Causes. She joined Mencap in January 2018 and is really proud to part of the Mencap team.
Paul Stevenson - Chief financial officer
Paul joined Mencap at the start of 2019 as Chief financial officer. After graduating from King's College, Cambridge with a degree in Economics, he gained his professional accountancy qualification and then spent more than 2 decades working from Unilever, in a variety of senior financial positions across the UK, Latin America and Asia.
After returning to the UK, he joined the fashion company Burberry, where he worked as CFO Supply Chain for several years.
In 2017, Paul decided to transition to the not-for-profit sector and studied for a Master's degree from the Centre of Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School in London.
He is enjoying the challenge of supporting the charitable aims and ethos of Mencap with his long commercial experience.
Zac Taylor - Interim director of quality
Following the departure of Eileen Downey in October 2019, Zac Taylor will take on the role of Interim director of quality