The board of directors oversees all our work, monitors our performance and helps us to set our yearly plans and budgets. There are seven directors at any one time. Directors commit to attend meetings every six weeks and may also chair an advisory group. Each member of the board has a duty and responsibility to protect the interests of Explore and ensure the organisation is well run. Members of the board are not to represent their own interests or that of any other organisation they have a role in.
James Henderson – Chair
James is chair of the board and his day job is Head of Private Clients & Strategy at Aviva. He lives in York with his wife and their son Rufus. He’s absolutely passionate about libraries – not just to provide access to information, but as essential, safe places where everyone is welcome meeting the objectives of both the organization and the community.
James believes there can be a bright future for libraries and archives in York, and in an era when libraries are more at risk than ever. James says, “I would encourage all current and future library and archive users to get involved with us and help shape our future direction by becoming community members of Explore. More than this however, whether it’s the fantastic new City Archive, first-class cafe and family spaces, or an ever-improving collection of digital and traditional literature, our aim is to make Explore the centre of each community.”
Fiona Williams – Chief Executive
Fiona says, “I am proud of our amazing staff who have worked so hard to set up a new organisation that will not only maintain the services currently available in the city, but also be able to improve and expand them. We now have the freedom to make our own decisions about our future. This is a real opportunity to secure the longer term future of the greatly valued libraries and archives in York.”
John Carlill – Non-executive Director
John brings extensive business and commercial experience. Now retired, he carries out a number of local volunteer roles including at St Leonard’s Hospice and the Yorkshire Regiment archives. With a keen interest in family and local history John is particularly interested to help broaden the interest and access to the York archives. The archive and local history collections hold some fantastic treasures that show how York has developed over the centuries. These records trace the history of our local communities, and provide some fascinating insights to our past and to the events which have created today’s York.
Natasha Guest – Community Director
Natasha is a local solicitor who has lived in York for over 17 years. When not at work she likes to spend time exploring the cultural highlights of this super city with her family. Over the past few years she has become increasingly aware of the fantastic job that Fiona and her team are doing in a time when libraries throughout the country are facing closure. She joined the board to help push York Explore further forward, creating a cultural hub whilst at the same time maintaining its all-important ‘space for all’ ethos.
Ian Money – Non-executive Director
Ian is a lecturer in Accounting and Finance at the University of York. He brings a unique mix of experience from senior roles in both business and education. Among his key skills are corporate governance, leadership and business acumen. He is passionate about people learning and believes that libraries should be the hub of any community and a safe environment for people to visit and socialise. The five things he can’t live without are family, football, golf, holidays and his iphone.
Robert Powell – Community Director
Robert is a well known figure on York’s cultural scene – a writer, curator, and cultural manager with over 40 years experience in the arts, built environment, education, and media in England, Canada and Scotland. From 1997-2015 he was Director of Beam an arts and education company based in Wakefield. In 2017 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). As a creative writer he has published four books of poetry and his latest collection Riverain (2018) will be featured in the York Literature Festival programme in March.
Joanne Shanks – Staff Director
Joanne works at York Explore and has been employed within the library service for about 15 years. She loves books and always knew she would make them her career and has spent all her working life in bookshops and then in the library service. She is passionate about libraries and feels they should be the cultural hub of all communities, a welcoming place, open to everyone and anyone, a safe haven for both young and old. In her spare time she can be found wandering the streets of York as a Health Walk leader and she loves going away for long weekends around the British Isles. She was elected by Explore staff in 2016.