Meet the Board

Rhys Thomas, Vice Chair

Rhys is a chartered construction manager working as a design manager for a construction and development company in south Wales, as well as the south west of England. He is responsible for ensuring new projects progress through the development stages and get on site. 

Rhys has been a Board member since 2016 and is enjoying all aspects of his board membership role ensuring Newydd remains a strong tenant focused organisation. 

Rhys is also a member of the Governance Committee and sits on the Living Quarters Wales Board.

Christopher Dawson-Morris

Chris is Deputy Director of Planning at the Aneurin Bevan Health Board.

Chris spent 10 years in Welsh Government, working directly with health ministers developing health policy and accountability frameworks. Whilst in Welsh Government, Chris worked on legislation to develop powers over housing. He was a member of the Welsh Government Board and UK civil service shadow board, helping to support the development of the civil service at a Welsh and UK level.

Chris has been a Board Member since 2017 and is the Anti Social Behaviour Board Champion as well as the Value for Money Champion. 

Chris also sits on the Governance Committee.

Claire Marshall, Chair

Claire qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2003 while at KPMG and completed her MBA at Warwick Business School in 2012. She has over ten years of experience working across audit, finance, corporate finance and risk roles. 

Claire has been a Board Member since 2015 and also sits on the Governance Committee.

Shani Payter

Shani has a degree in housing practice and policy and has worked in the Welsh housing sector for five years. She currently works for a local authority within the housing management team in community investment which involves assisting people to gain employment, health and wellbeing projects, digital inclusion, time banking and an open spaces project. 

Shani also does relief work in a Homeless Hostel which is something that Shani is passionate about as she believes that everyone deserves to have somewhere that they can call home, which is of a good standard and quality.

Shani is a Newydd tenant and she has been a Board member since 2017.

Shani is also the Asset Management Champion.

Rachel Jones 

Rachel brings to Newydd over 20 years of public service experience working at a national, regional and local level across a range of services including integrated health and social care; economic development; corporate policy and planning; early intervention; community safety; community development; and research and community engagement.

Rachel is currently the Associate Director for Marie Curie Wales with a responsibility for delivering end of life care across Wales and supporting everyone to have the best possible end of life experience, reflecting what’s most important to them. Previously Rachel has held a number of leadership roles in Welsh Government, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Cardiff Council.

Rachel joined the Board in February 2019 and is the Community Regeneration Champion.

Deb Austin

Deb is a qualified teacher and now works for Public Health Wales in Children and Young People’s mental health and wellbeing. Deb has been a member of the Board since 2016 and is also Chair of the Governance Committee.

Kris Ablett

Kris has held senior operational and HR management roles within retail and has also held a role within a Housing Association, Kris is now a Customer Experience Manager for a sustainable energy firm. Kris has been a member of the Board since 2017 and also sits on the Newydd Maintenance Board. 

Kris is the Customer Care and Equalities Champion.

Iorwen Brooks-Jones

Iorwen is a retired solicitor specialising in commercial property and landlord & tenant law. She has been a Board member since 2017 and also sits on the Group Audit & Risk Committee.

Matthew Dicks

Matthew is Director of the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru. He has been a Board member since 2013. He is a member of the Group Audit and Risk Committee, is Chair of the Living Quarters Wales Board and also sits on the Governance Committee.

Nick Lawley

Nick is a Director at Cooke & Arkwright Chartered Surveyors, based in Cardiff. He be brings to Newydd 18 years of experience in the Chartered Surveying industry. Nick has been a member of the Board since September 2020.

Nigel Irvine

Nigel is an independent board advisor, business consultant and Chartered Banker.  He brings to Newydd over 24 years of leadership, corporate finance and strategy experience gained in senior roles at Santander, RBS and Bank of Scotland.  Nigel joined the Board in January 2021 and is a member of the Group Audit and Risk Committee.

Matt Brooks

Matt is an experienced strategic board advisor working with technology businesses and venture capital funds in Wales, UK and North America. He brings to Newydd over 23 years of strategy, leadership and customer advocacy in high growth and global technology businesses having held executive roles at OpenText and ResonateKT as well as senior roles in a large law firm, non-departmental regulatory public body and financial services.  Matt joined the group board in January 2021.