A Community First Yorkshire event

Ordinary extraordinary leaders conference

Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders Conference
Leadership Conference Speakers
Composite graphic showing four panellists ay Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders Conference
Composite image showing panellists at Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders Conference

Bookings for this event are now closed.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader!”

A fantastic summary of what it means to be a leader from US President, John Quincy Adams, almost two centuries ago. But today, the potential contribution good leaders can make to the people around them and the causes we all care about is more important than ever.

So, what is an Ordinary Extraordinary Leader? In a nutshell, it’s you and the people around you.

This thought-provoking transformative leadership conference will explore leadership at all levels and from different perspectives. We’ll look at different styles of leadership and see how ordinary, every-day actions can deliver extraordinary results.

Together, we’ll share significant breakthrough moments with panels and solo speakers as they reveal what they’ve learned about themselves and leadership generally.


What will you learn?

Learn from within, across and beyond the VCSE sector

The focus throughout will be on sharing people’s individual stories and experiences, their achievements and routes into leadership. We’ll explore how people see and do things differently.

We want you go away feeling inspired, with some new personal goals – whether that’s ideas for developing yourself or others. We plan to help you focus on how to reach your full potential – how to better inspire and lead others to achieve extraordinary results both at work and personally.

The broad outline for the day will follow some of the themes of our Leadership podcast series:

  • What I’ve learned from bad leaders
  • How not to break people
  • Interpersonal relationships within the VCSE sector.

Speaker line-up

We are delighted to welcome a superb line-up of speakers and panellists for the conference, and would like to thank them for their generosity in agreeing to share their individual journeys and insights.

Please find the full line-up below:

Morning Session

Richard Flinton – Chief Executive, North Yorkshire Council

Johanna Hooper – Leadership and change management expert, Limitless Peak Performance

Valentina Hynes – Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of SVH Inc CIC

Panel Discussion 1 – Breakthrough Moments

Johanna Hooper, Facilitator


Afternoon Session

Major General Zac Stenning OBE – Commandant of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Director Leadership, British Army and Colonel of the Regiment, The Royal Yorkshire Regiment

Professor Stephen Eames CBE – Chief Executive of Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership

Debbie North – Cabinet Office Disability and Access Ambassador for the Countryside, Founder of Access the Dales

Panel Discussion 2 – Founding Moments

Johanna Hooper, Facilitator



Our speakers in depth

Our speaker biographies can be found below.

Please note that more are being added as they become available.

Keynote Speakers

Major General Zac Stenning OBE 
Commandant Royal Military Academy Sandhurst; Director Leadership, British Army; Colonel of the Regiment, The Royal Yorkshire Regiment
With a distinguished 29-year career in the British Army, during which he has served around the world from The Balkans and Africa to Iraq and Afghanistan, Major General Zac Stenning OBE is the Army’s current Director Leadership and Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). He is also the Royal Yorkshire Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief. As RMAS Commandant he has been widely recognised as leading culture change across the Army and Defence. His challenge is to ensure that the Army continues to provide a unique environment for future officers to learn and grow as leaders, ready to fight and win wars, with an emphasis on developing leadership skills and fostering teamwork and collaboration.

Richard Flinton 
Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council 
Richard Flinton became Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council following its establishment in 2023 after 12 years at the helm of North Yorkshire County Council. Richard first joined the County Council as a trainee trading standards officer, becoming Assistant Head of Trading Standards before using his background in economics to lead the Council’s Economic Development Team. In his current role Richard was closely involved in developing the Devolution Deal for North Yorkshire and York – with the new Combined Authority established in February this year. Richard is married with two children and lives in Ryedale.

Professor Stephen Eames CBE 
Chief Executive of Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (HNY HCP)
Stephen has been the Chief Executive of HNY HCP since April 2020. He has over 30 years of top-level leadership experience in the hospital and health care industry, having held a number of Chief Executive and system leadership roles. He also has a strong grounding in Executive Coaching and Development and is a Visiting Professorship in leadership and management at The University of Central Lancashire. Stephen was awarded a CBE for services to the NHS in 2019. He lives in North Yorkshire and is an avid follower of Leeds United FC.

Speaker and Panel Facilitator

Johanna Hooper
Leadership and Change Management Expert, Limitless Peak Performance
Johanna is a retired Royal Navy Commander who, after a career in management consultancy, now runs her own business working with small business leaders and executives in larger organisations. She provides strategic workforce planning, coaching and mentoring, teaching, facilitation and mediation services to help develop high performing teams and exemplary leaders. She specialises in organisational design, leadership and change management, employee engagement and resilience, tutoring on these topics on behalf of universities and on the national Help To Grow Management Programme. A TEDx speaker, Johanna is sought after to talk about the impact of stress and resilience on our leadership style.


Valentina Hynes 
Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of SVH Inc. CIC
Valentina Hynes is an award-winning entrepreneur and speaker renowned for delivering compelling talks to diverse global audiences for over 15 years. As the founder and CEO of SVH Inc. CIC, (an acronym for Strong Vibrant Happy & Incorporated), a workplace wellbeing solutions provider, she brings a unique perspective, emphasising success with purpose and social impact. Moving to the UK in 2017, she founded SVH Inc. with her husband in January 2019. Two years later, she led its transition to a Community Interest Company. Valentina was named Yorkshire Choice Awards Business Woman of the Year last year and is listed on the WISE100 Top 100.

Debbie North 
Cabinet Office Disability and Access Ambassador for the Countryside; Writer; Consultant and Founder of Access the Dales. After a serious health diagnosis resulted in Debbie having to rely on a wheelchair, she refused to give up on her love of the fells and has gone on to become a leading advocate for an inclusive countryside accessible to all. Establishing the charity, Access the Dales, to dismantle barriers preventing people with limited mobility from enjoying the outdoors, she has recently been appointed as the government’s Disability and Access Ambassador for the countryside. She is currently working on two books: a guide to stile-free walks in North Yorkshire and a chronical of her personal journey across the UK.


Nicki Watkinson 
Youth Voice and Creative Engagement Strategic Manager, North Yorkshire Council Children and Families Service 
Nicki is the Youth Voice and Creative Engagement Strategic Manager for North Yorkshire Council’s Children and Families Service. Her early career revealed a passion for the homelessness sector and led her to take on a variety of roles in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Keen to gain professional qualifications to develop her career, she returned to university to study for a Masters in Youth Work and Community Development. Gaining this qualification changed how she saw herself, she says, making her more confident to stretch herself and apply for jobs she would previously not have considered.

Charlee Bewsher 
Strategy Manager, Youth Work Unit Yorkshire and Humber
Charlee is a qualified youth worker and manager with over 25 years’ experience, having worked in both the statutory and voluntary sectors before joining Youth Work Unit Yorkshire and Humber. Working with a wide range of partners, she has broad knowledge of the region’s youth sector and thanks to her time with a dedicated participation organisation, has vast experience of engaging children, young people, their communities and organisation representatives in the decision-making process to improve services and meet need. She believes she has learned to lead without authority and sees leadership as supporting others to achieve their aspirations while addressing social inequalities and injustice.

Natasha Babar-Evans 
Chief Executive Officer, Better Connect Limited 
Natasha is CEO at Better Connect, a non-profit organisation that leads programmes aimed at empowering people to thrive in their life and work. Previously, she worked at Relate Bradford & Leeds. She has been an entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer of Wizu Workspace – a flexible workspace provider supporting the growth of businesses across Yorkshire. And, with both a banking and legal background, she was appointed Regional Entrepreneur Director for NatWest, supporting and helping to coach hundreds of entrepreneurs in accelerators across the North. Natasha is currently a non-executive director of 54North Homes and a trustee of Trust Leeds and Chain Lane Community Hub.

Paul McCay
Chief Executive Officer, Wilf Ward Family Trust
Paul has held various positions across social care, housing and local authority organisations, beginning with his first management role in 1997 where he was part of a team managing direct access hostels and rough sleeper services. He has since held roles working across statutory homeless provision, sheltered housing, forensic mental health registered services and developing and managing accessible housing whilst running a small 2,000 home registered social landlord. He has been the CEO of The Wilf Ward Family Trust since 2013. The Trust is a large regional charity providing registered care and supported accommodation services (across 73 different sites) to individuals living with a learning disability or profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Lindsay Oliver
Chief Executive, New Beginnings Peer Support
With over a decade of experience of working in peer organisations including gang-affiliated teens, adults with learning differences/disabilities and those recovering from substance misuse, Lindsay founded New Beginnings Peer Support – a charity supporting women and their children previously subjected to domestic abuse. It now has six staff and almost 50 volunteers, offering long-term support in various areas of North Yorkshire. She has since gone on to develop Visionary Actions, a social enterprise offering advice, guidance and training to implement domestic abuse awareness and support and has also been integral to the recent launch of Trauma-informed and Responsive North Yorkshire & Humber.

JK (Jennie-Kate) McQuinn 
Founder, Coach and Facilitator, Where the Mind Grows
JK (Jennie- Kate) McQuinn is the founder of Where the Mind Grows – a source of nature-collaborative coaching for individuals, teams and organisations. With a background in mental health, employability and leadership in the VCSE and private sectors, as well as working in public health, JK set up her regenerative coaching business driven by the belief that coaching in the wild helps people expand their horizons and create opportunities to enhance their life. She helps people find the calm, clarity and confidence to celebrate themselves, enhance their communities and manage the ebb and flow of ‘being human’ in a busy world.

Jill Quinn 
CEO, Dementia Forward 
Jill has worked in the voluntary sector for 23 years, founding the North Yorkshire charity, Dementia Forward, in 2012. Since then, the charity has grown from a team of seven, supporting 200 families in its first year, to a team of over 60 staff and 200 volunteers, currently supporting 4,500 families. Dementia Forward supports people from pre-diagnosis to end-of-life offering advice, information and education plus activity-based day services. A specific focus at the moment is the development of age-appropriate care for people living with young onset dementia. The charity received the Queen’s award for volunteering in 2021 and a King’s Fund Impact Award in 2022. Jill is a member of the Kings fund Voluntary Sector network for charity leaders.

Conference Swap Shop Facilitator

Chris Hailey Norris
Chief Executive, Up for Yorkshire
Chris has worked in the VCSE Sector for over 30 years – he loves it!  As well as being Chief Executive, he is a charity entrepreneur and trainer who has been pivotal in setting up vital partnerships and user support for charities and organisations in North Yorkshire and beyond. With Up For Yorkshire, his aim is to help organisations throughout the area to achieve their aspirations and potential as well as enable individuals to set up their own ventures.  In 2024 Up For Yorkshire was the joint 1st organisation to be awarded the Local Infrastructure Quality Accreditation. Partnerships he chairs include – Selby District Dementia Action Group, Selby District Equity and Advice Network, the Anti-Poverty Action Group, and the Independent Action Group for North Yorkshire Police. He is also a trainer for the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and the proud owner, finally, of all 4 autographs from Abba!


What will the day look like?

This will be a lively, interactive, in-person event with a mix of solo and panel speakers, along with networking opportunities.

Come along prepared to be stimulated and ask questions – maybe even some questions you didn’t know you wanted answering! The day will thrive on excellent debate and discussion, so bring your most enquiring self to join us.

Conference Programme

(May be subject to change)

10:00    Opening Address

Jane Colthup, Community First Yorkshire

10:10    In conversation with Richard Flinton, North Yorkshire Council

Richard will chat about his leadership journey and insights with Jane Colthup

10:30    Johanna Hooper, Limitless Peak Performance

Solo presentation – Transforming Accidental into Intentional

11:00    Panel Discussion 1 – Breakthrough Moments

Panel discussion plus Q and A session facilitated by Johanna Hooper

This panel will explore panellist experiences of what they consider to be their breakthrough moments and how that helped to define and inspire them as leaders.


  • Nicki Watkinson, North Yorkshire Council Children and Families Service
  • Charlee Bewsher, Youth Work Unit Yorkshire and Humber
  • Paul McCay, Wilf Ward Family Trust
  • Natasha Babar-Evans, Better Connect
11:50    Valentina Hynes, SVH Inc. Community Interest Company (CIC)

Solo presentation – Inspirational Leadership

12:30    Lunch, Swap Shop and Networking

Embracing the key theme of generosity, the conference ‘Swap Shop’ will provide a designated space for delegates to meet each other and exchange information, support and advice – from useful toolkits or donations of time and effort to introductions or tips for success. The Swap Shop will be facilitated by Chris Hailey Norris, Chief Executive of Up for Yorkshire and Carole Roberts, Community Support Delivery Manager with Community First Yorkshire.

13:30    Afternoon opening address and feedback

An introduction to the afternoon sessions and Swap Shop feedback with Johanna Hooper and Dena Dalton.

13:35    Panel Discussion 2 – Founder Moments

Panel discussion and Q and A session facilitated by Johanna Hooper.

This panel will consider the challenges of establishing new organisations or initiatives from scratch and the journey panellists have taken in achieving their current roles and positions.


  • JK McQuinn, Where the Mind Grows
  • Emma Pears, SELFA
  • Lindsay Oliver, New Beginnings Peer Support
  • Jill Quinn, Dementia Forward
14:20    Coffee break
14:35    In conversation with Professor Stephen Eames CBE, Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership

Stephen will chat about his leadership journey and insights with Jane Colthup

14:55    Debbie North, Access the Dales

Solo presentation – The journey towards a countryside for all

15:15    Keynote Address – Major General Zac Stenning OBE

Major General Stenning will give us a powerful insight into the challenge of driving culture change within the Army to ensure it continues to offer a unique environment for future officers to learn and grow as leaders. He will round off his presentation with a Q and A session.

16:00    Summation and close


Who should attend?

This inspiring, engaging and interactive event is for people currently in a leadership position, new leaders, people wanting to take on a leadership role and anyone interested in exploring their potential to take their career further.

It will be as relevant to someone leading a small team or project as it is to someone heading-up a department or organisation.

Please note this conference is aimed at voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and groups based in North Yorkshire or delivering services within North Yorkshire.

Be inspired

In keeping with the conference aim of sharing individual experiences and insights, we are delighted to share these personal reflections on leadership in the run-up to the event:
  • As facilitator and speaker at the Conference, Johanna Hooper – Leadership and Change Management Expert from Limitless Peak Performance – has been sharing her views on what makes a good leader. In her blog, she asks  whether, by putting the concept of good leadership on something of a pedestal, we make it harder for ourselves to feel like ‘good’ leaders, or recognise ‘good’ leaders around us. Click on the image to read more.

  • Don’t let self-doubt hold you back! That’s the key message in this blog from our Projects Manager, Victoria Russell. As a new mother, Victoria returned to work in 2021 and took on her first ‘senior manager’ position. She was filled with doubts about whether she was experienced enough, but decided to seize the opportunity and throw herself into the role. Looking back on the experience, Victoria’s blog gives a warm and inspiring insight into her journey and what she’s learnt along the way. Click on the image to read more.

  • Generosity transcends mere giving – it’s about building bridges, fostering understanding, and creating spaces where everyone feels valued and heard. So says conference speaker Valentina Hynes – Founder and CEO of SVH Inc. CIC – in a new blog exploring how generosity has been a consistent thread woven through the fabric of her personal and professional journey. With generosity as her compass – she argues that it is the cornerstone of true leadership and organisational success.  Click on the image to read more.

Valentina Hynes Leadership Blog

What's included?

Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Free parking is available at the venue; post event resources will be provided for people attending.

Booking details and cost


£39 (including VAT)

Concessionary places

Thanks to funding from North Yorkshire Council, we have free ‘first come, first served’ places if you meet either of the criteria below. You can self-select a free place during booking.


You are from a North Yorkshire VCSE organisation with an income of up to £5k
You are from a North Yorkshire VCSE organisation with an income of up to £25k that is experiencing financial hardship and would struggle to pay.

These spaces are limited so if a free place is not shown when you go to book, you can ask to be added to the waiting list.

No shows and concessions

Please note that if you don’t attend the conference without giving seven days notice, you will be required to make the full payment. This also applies to free places. This is to allow as many participants as possible access to our training. See our  Terms and Conditions  for more information.

Contact details

If you have any booking queries, please contact us by email or call 01904 704177.