Who we are Our leadership team Hertfordshire Mind Network employs around 80 members of staff and 100+ volunteers throughout the county. Leading this group is a qualified and experienced team who are responsible for looking after the day-to-day operation of the organisation. These are: CEO: Julie Nicholson MBE Julie originally trained as a mental health nurse before moving into the voluntary sector with Body Positive in the 1980's. She graduated in politics and literature in 1995, winning the University award for outstanding achievement in the field of social justice. Julie joined Mind in Dacorum in the same year, as one of the first paid workers to set up a new Befriending project aimed at resettled clients discharged from long stay hospitals. Over the past 20 years Julie has led the organisation to become the largest provider of mental health services in Hertfordshire, supporting more than 5,000 clients last year. As a qualified mediator Julie has been heavily involved in influencing mental health policy and was awarded an MBE in 2012 for her contribution to mental health services in Hertfordshire. Head of Growth, Quality & Marketing: Clare Rennett Clare joined Hertfordshire Mind Network in 2016. She has 20 years experience of working in health and social care settings, both in service delivery and service development roles. Clare also holds a BA (Hons) in Social Policy and Administration. Clare is experienced in developing effective, high quality and innovative business growth, through building and maintaining successful relationships with commissioners, partner organisations and local providers to identify and create service delivery solutions that work for individuals and local communities. Clare has a particular interest in the design and delivery of creative, person centred mental health outreach services and crisis provision. In her spare time she enjoys walking her two sighthounds and volunteering for a local greyhound rescue charity. Head of Training, Therapies and Young People: Alex Hunter Alex first joined Hertfordshire Mind Network in 2018 as a peer support worker. Despite previously having successful careers in both accountancy and teaching, because of her lived experience she had always wanted to move into a career in mental health and highlight the importance of using lived experience to create innovation and change in mental health services. Because of her experience of being a psychiatric patient she is driven towards breaking down the stigma towards people who have been diagnosed with a mental health illness, challenging the ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture in mental health services and working towards services that are developed with the full participation and collaboration of people that use them. Before working at HMN she took on voluntary positions at BEAT and as a Samaritan that enabled her to work towards these goals. Whilst working at HMN she has studied towards a MSc in Mental Health and Social Inclusion at the University of Hertfordshire and after gaining a distinction has decided to continue combining her working life with an academic life and study towards a PhD in Mental Health at Lancaster University. As a mum of three, her spare time is focused on spending time with her children and her 2 dogs, who her children would tell you she talks about more.