Board Members & Board Co-optees

The Board is responsible for  ensuring we achieve our aims and objectives as an organisation, as set out in our 2016- 2020 Business Plan. We are governed by our Board, which is made up of three elected tenants/leaseholders, up to six independent members and one local authority nominee, plus up to two co-optees.    

The Board sets our strategic direction, while the Gateway Membership Team provides a representative voice for tenants and residents.

John Swinney John Swinney - Chair (2012)

John is CEO of Just Housing Group, with vast experience of working for a variety of public and private sector companies.  John was previously Chief Executive of Pinnacle PSG and has significant experience in housing management and the development of community improvement strategies. John is also chair of 3SC and a board member of Red Door Ventures.




Nigel BenjaminNigel Benjamin (2015)

Nigel is a business consultant and coach, working with organisations in the public, private and charity sectors, having had over 35 years experience in human resources and organisational development .He has been a member of a number of executive teams and boards as an executive director. These include The Alzheimer’s Society, an NHS Hospital plus four years as a director of ECHG, a large national housing association. Nigel is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a is Chartered Director.



dsaChris Cheshire (2016)

Chris is a chartered construction manager with 30 years experience. He has worked in the social housing sector for much of that time and has been Director of Asset Management for a large London RP, as well as owning and managing his own businesses for the last 20 years. Chris has also been an active board member for 20 years and currently sits on one other board, and has a background in development and asset management. 



Raz HussainRaz Hussain (2016)

Raz has over 8 years experience working within the target driven world of corporate business for large global companies, and has gained a wealth of experience both in banking and product development. She regularly undertakes voluntary jobs for charities and thrives on making a difference to people who need it the most. Raz aims to utilise both her skills and life experience in order to help Watford Community Housing meet its objectives of providing a customer-focused service and maintaining a strong financial position within the Housing sector.



Peter JeffreePeter Jeffree (2014)

Peter Jeffree is a Watford borough councillor, he served as a member of the Council representing Park Ward from 2011 to 2015 and after a two year break was re-elected in May 2017. He is currently the chair of Development Management Committee and represents Watford council as their nominated Board member for WCH. Peter is a retired architect who spent much of his professional life working on major developments firstly with the BBC and more recently as Head of Architecture & Design for the John Lewis department store group. In this role he was involved in steering the course of many successful retail-led urban regeneration projects around the country. He has lived in Watford for over 35 years and during that time has witnessed it's transformation into a vibrant, attractive and inclusive town, where people enjoy living, working and taking part in its rich and varied cultural offering.


Raj Kumar Raj Kumar  (2015)

Raj’s interest in social housing started in 1989 when he became a resident and secretary of a fully mutual cooperative. He has since been vice chair of the Board of a stock transfer organisation, an HC statutory appointee and chair of an ALMO shadow board. He has held the position of Head of Service for housing in an LA and HA. Since 2007, he has run One Enterprise Ltd, a consultancy specialising in VFM, governance, resident scrutiny and service improvement.




Bernadette LaVenture (2016)

Bernadette has over 20 years experience in the corporate sector, specialising in partnership working, customer services, performance and delivery. A 20 year resident of Watford, Bernadette has also held community based roles, including cabinet member at Watford Borough Council and a previous 6 years on the Watford Community Housing board as chair of audit and vice chair.



John Lavers John Lavers (2014)

John has had a long career in the private sector, specialising in Corporate Treasury and the financing of large projects. Before joining Watford Community Housing he had 17 years’ experience as a Board Member of other Housing Associations. He hopes to contribute to the organisation's ability to finance its growth while continuing to improve the quality of its services to its residents. He has a particular interest in Watford Community Housing's contribution to improving communities.



jamie ratcliff Jamie Ratcliff (2018)

Jamie is an Assistant Director at the Greater London Authority, tasked with tackling London’s housing crisis – Sadiq Khan’s first priority as Mayor of London. He is an Associate of Centre For London and also used to be a member representative on the Local Pension Board for the London Pension Fund Authority. Jamie has over ten years’ experience at a senior level in housing development, having worked at the Homes and Communities Agency, in local government and for a large UK bank. He has established and overseen housing investment programmes and the development, adoption and implementation of statutory strategies.



mMarsha Thompson (2016)

Marsha is a BA Hons Politics and Sociology graduate currently working as a careers advisor for young people. Marsha has co-ordinated and developed a Social Action Campaign targeting youth unemployment and she has independently organised and delivered educational events that encourage young people to engage in their local communities. One of Marsha’s greatest passions is helping people find solutions that meet their specific needs and goals.