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RCN Executive team

RCN Executive Team

The Executive Team is responsible for leading the RCN

The Chief Executive & General Secretary runs the organisation with the help of the Executive Team. They get their authority from RCN Council. You can find out more about the Executive Team on this page.

Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, RCN Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice

Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary

Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, has been acting as Chief Executive and General Secretary since August 2018.

Donna joined the RCN as Head of Nursing in 2015, providing leadership to the Nursing departments. Donna was then promoted and joined the RCN Executive Team to Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice in 2016, where her key role is to work with UK-wide RCN staff to drive and implement the future RCN professional nursing, policy and practice strategy.

Prior to joining the RCN Donna held various roles, including Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust; Executive Director of Nursing, Southeast London Cluster Board; Director of Commissioning, London Borough of Southwark & Southwark PCT. She was the Strategic Commissioner for Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority’s Children’s Services.

Donna advised the PM’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry. 

Chris Cox

Chris Cox, Director of Membership Relations

Chris Cox has been Director of Membership Relations at the Royal College of Nursing since December 2015. He provides leadership on employment relations, legal and member support services, equalities, complaints, and has responsibility for the RCND Contact Advice Centre.

From 2009 to 2015, he was Director of Legal Services, having joined the RCN in 1991 as a regional solicitor. Since qualifying as a solicitor in 1985 he has worked for law centres and trade unions, including in the late 80s as a legal adviser at the Immunity Legal Centre, representing people affected by HIV and AIDS.

Chris is independent legal adviser to the United Kingdom Advisory Panel (UKAP) on Healthcare Workers with Bloodborne Viruses, and a member of the National Data Guardian Panel.

David Cooper

David Cooper, Director of Organisational Capability and Change

David joined the RCN in September 2007 as Director of Human Resources.  As well as heading up the organization-wide HR, OD, Diversity, Estates and Health & Safety teams, David's role involves leading the RCN's organizational change and development agenda.

David previously spent his working life within the NHS but was on secondment to Unison immediately before joining the RCN.  He was Executive Director of Human Resources at East London and The City Mental Health Trust for seven years which included periods as acting deputy Chief Executive. 

Tim Golbourn

Tim Golbourn, Director of Finance and Business Enablement

Tim joined the RCN in 2007 and has overall responsibility for finance, governance, membership administration, marketing and events. This includes RCN commercial activity as well as planning and risk management.

Prior to joining the RCN, Tim was Director of Finance and IT at Waltham Forest Primary Care Trust. He worked in the NHS for 21 years and held board-level director positions in a number of different NHS bodies. Both through his roles and outside of them, he has held other Trustee and Director positions in health sector-based organisations. 

Tim is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
Tom Sandford, Director RCN England

Tom Sandford FRCN, Director, England

Tom joined the RCN in 1992 as a Policy Adviser. He then became a Regional Officer and London Regional Director before becoming Director of the RCN in England in 2004. Tom was previously general manager of mental health services in the London boroughs of Camden and Islington.

Tom trained as a general and mental health nurse and held a variety of posts in the fields of family therapy and acute and liaison psychiatry, and was a member of the ministerial task force co-ordinating the development of the mental health national service framework. He has served on several public untoward incident inquiries and has taught mental health programmes at universities in Germany, and case management programmes at the University of Barcelona. 

Tom writes on mental health and his most recent book Working in Mental Health was published by Routledge in 2012.
Theresa Fyffe

Theresa Fyffe, Director, Scotland

Theresa was appointed as Director of the RCN in Scotland in 2007. Theresa is a registered nurse who began her nursing career in Dublin. She later worked within critical care nursing, in the fields of intensive care and neuroscience.

Prior to her appointment as Director of the RCN in Scotland, Theresa was Director of Practice Development and Research within Tayside University Hospitals Trust and Head of Nursing Services. In 2000 Theresa joined the Scottish Executive Health Department as the Nursing Officer responsible for policy, practice development and research. Within a wide ranging role, Theresa had responsibility for research, quality, safe and effective care, clinical leadership, practice development, acute services and strategy development. She went on to become the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer (Interim).

In her current role Theresa is Co-Chair of the Scottish Partnership Forum and works with colleagues in Scotland and across the UK to influence public health strategy and policy.

Janice Smyth

Janice Smyth, Director, Northern Ireland

Janice joined the RCN in 2005 as Deputy Director and Head of Employment Relations and was appointed Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland in 2009.

In a career that has spanned the statutory and independent sectors, Janice spent several years as director of nursing in the independent sector, before moving to the Northern Health and Social Services Board as a Registration and Inspection Officer. Before joining the RCN, Janice was a Nursing Officer at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety where she had responsibility for education, professional regulation, workforce and leadership.

In 2009, Janice was appointed by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety as a Non-Executive Director on the board of the Northern Ireland Patient and Client Council.

Helen Whyley, Interim Director, Wales

Helen took up this post in November 2018, following the retirement  of long-standing RCN Wales Director, Tina Donnelly CBE. Helen will be Interim Director for a six month period while the RCN recruits a permanent Director into the role. Helen had previously been Associate Director (Employment Relations) at RCN Wales.