Board Members

Our Board of Governors is made up of a range of industry experts, Council Leaders, Education experts, Senior Management from the College, Student Representatives and College staff. 

Below you will find information on current members of our Board of Governors. 

ALEX LINKSTON, CBE - Chair of the Board of Governors

Alex Linkston, Former Chief Executive of West Lothian Council joined the Board in March 2005. Alex's successful career began when he joined the then West Lothian County Council as a Trainee Accountant. In October 1971, at the age of 21, he became the youngest student to qualify for membership of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accounting (CIPFA). 

Alex was appointed Chief Executive of West Lothian District Council in 1990 and West Lothian Council in 1995. He has been awarded various awards such as the Quality Scotland's Leadership Award in 2007, a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2008 and the Prince's Trust Scotland Volunteer of the Year in 2009. Alex still has several interests following his retirement.

Alex is Chair of Forth Valley Health Board, a member the Council of the Princes' Trust Scotland and a former President of the Linlithgow and Grange Rotary Club. A family man, he enjoys travelling, gardening, walking and cycling.

JACKIE GALBRAITH - Principal and CEO/Board Member

Jackie Galbraith has been a member of the Board since August 2018 when she was appointed Principal of West Lothian College.

Jackie started her career in manufacturing as a software developer. During that time, she developed an interest in learning which she took further when she became a lecturer at the University of Paisley. Initially, teaching computer networking, her interests extended to learning with technology and she was an early adopter of online learning. She developed this interest when she joined the Scottish Council for Educational Technology as director of learning. 

As assistant chief executive at Learning and Teaching Scotland, Jackie became interested in the broader policy drivers underpinning education and lifelong learning, and joined the Scottish Government in 2003 to develop policy and advise ministers. In her ten years in government, most of her roles related to skills, vocational education and employment.

After working collaboratively with the college sector for twenty years, Jackie took up the role of vice principal at Ayrshire College in 2013 where her responsibilities included strategic leadership of curriculum planning, quality enhancement and business improvement.

ELAINE COOK - Board Member

Dr. Elaine Cook was appointed as Depute Chief Executive in August 2015. From 2011 until 2015 she was Head of Education in West Lothian with responsibility for secondary, additional support needs, professional learning and infrastructure.

From 2005 until 2011, she was Head Teacher at two secondary schools in West Lothian – West Calder High School and Deans Community High School.

Elaine’s career in education began in 1991 in England where she taught for 6 years before moving to Scotland. Prior to that she worked in Actuarial Finance in both Glasgow and London.

ABEL ABOH - Board Member

 

Abel joined the Board in January 2022 and is a member of the Learning and Teaching Committee.

He is a respected data management leader with extensive experience in the private and public sectors. He has worked for BAE Systems, HSBC, EasyJet and Standard Life Aberdeen. 

Abel leads a key data management service across the Bank of England in the City of London. He is a passionate advocate of the data and technology profession in Scotland, the UK and across the world.  Abel was a finalist for the British Data Awards Data Leader of the Year Award in 2021. 

Abel is a graduate of Strathclyde Business School and the University of Lincoln where he studied Human Resource Management and he has unique cross-cultural and functional HR and data management experience. Abel was part of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that delivered the London 2012 summer games.

Abel is passionate about young people, social mobility, diversity, equity, inclusion, technology and data. He is the Chair of the West Lothian Community Race Forum which promotes race understanding, diversity, equality and inclusion in West Lothian.

When he is not working, Abel enjoys listening to music and podcasts, volunteering, travelling and meeting people to learn about cultures and architectures.

RICHARD LOCKHART -  Chair of Audit Committee

Richard joined the Board in August 2016 and has been appointed as Chair of the Audit Committee from March 2023. He was previously a member of the Finance & General Purposes Committee.

He is a commercial lawyer with breadth and depth of experience in programme and project origination and planning, co-ordinating, managing and delivering legal services on a wide range of contracts across various sectors, including education, energy, social infrastructure and transport. He is a partner at Burness Paull LLP.

He advises on PFI/PPP, commercial contracts, associated delivery models, financing and budgetary considerations, and related governance and regulatory matters. 

As well as being a qualified and practicing lawyer, Richard holds Executive Leadership Programme accreditations from Henley and Cranfield Business Schools. He previously worked for the Scottish Futures Trust, the centre of infrastructure expertise, as General Counsel and in its multi-disciplinary Low Carbon Team, where he was closely involved in developing and delivering infrastructure investment programmes to assist with meeting Scottish Government’s Low Carbon policy objectives, including Scotland’s Climate Change targets.

Richard was previously a public interest director on Taycare Health Limited, the healthcare SPV. He also previously sat on the Scotland Advisory Committee of Pilotlight, a capacity building charity offering free tailored strategic planning support to charities and social enterprises that are tackling disadvantage in the UK.   

Personal interests include property renovation/development, cycling, swimming, golf and tennis.

MOIRA NIVEN - Chair of Finance & General Purposes Committee

                                                                                 

Moira Niven joined the Board in 2016 and is Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

Moira was previously Depute Chief Executive at West Lothian Council with responsibility for Education, Planning and Area Services. She retired in September 2015 after twenty years of service to the West Lothian community.

Moira had over 38 years’ experience in education. She began her teaching career in 1977 at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh as a Business Studies teacher. Throughout her career, Moira was committed to lifelong learning and adult education. She had an interest in extra-curricular activities and was involved with outdoor education activities such as hill-walking, canoeing and hockey in the schools where she taught.

Moira was awarded an MBE for Services to Education in 2010. On her retirement, Moira was appointed Lord Lieutenant for West Lothian.

TOM BATES - Chair of Learning and Teaching Committee

Tom Bates joined the Board in August 2017 and has been appointed as Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee from March 2023.

Tom’s career began in the fire service in England until 1993, after which he moved to Livingston and joined NEC prior to its closure in 2002. He was Managing Director of Lareine Engineering Ltd after becoming involved with the engineering sector during 2002.

Tom is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and an active Board Member of the West Lothian Developing the Young Workforce group.

In his spare time, Tom enjoys spending time with family and going on holidays.

SUE STAHLY - Board Member

Sue Stahly joined the Board in November 2019 and is a member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee. She is the Senior Independent Person on the Board and represents the Board on Colleges Employers Scotland along with the Principal.

She is a senior HR Professional with extensive experience at strategic level gained within the Financial Services, Insurance and Drinks industries.  

Sue has expertise in Change Management and Business Transformation, having managed and sponsored major change programmes in her career with RBS. She has been a member of Executive Leadership teams working in complex environments and has broad HR technical expertise, including UK and International Employee Relations. 

Sue is a Director, Trustee and Vice Chair of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and Chair of their Risk Committee. She is a Trustee of the Frisson Foundation and a Lay Member of the Faculty of Advocates Complaints Committee and Disciplinary Tribunal. Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has a Diploma in Executive Coaching and an Advanced Employment Law Qualification.  

Sue is married and has two children. In in her spare time enjoys skiing, walking, cycling and holidays. She has climbed Kilimanjaro, walked the West Highland Way for charity, and has cycled in Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba.

SEONAID CROSBY - Board Member

Seonaid Crosby joined the Board in September 2021 and is a member of the Audit Committee. 

She grew up in Aberdeen, before moving to Durham University to study Combined Social Sciences, focusing on History, Economics and Politics. She then moved to Edinburgh to start her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant, with initial work based primarily around infrastructure clients. 

Seonaid currently works at Scottish Futures Trust where she is an Associate Director, leading on the financial, programme and risk aspects of the Scottish Government's Learning Estate Investment Programme. She has a passion for both Education and Infrastructure which is necessary in her current role and hopes will serve her well on the Board. 

She is also a Trustee of Link Education International, where she chairs the Finance and Risk Committee. 

Other interests include skiing, playing netball for a local Edinburgh team, walking her dog and spending time with family having recently had a baby boy. 

TONY SHARKEY - Vice Chair of the Board of Governors

Tony Sharkey joined the Board in March 2022. Tony is an experienced Business / Commercial Director, Consultant and HR professional with 40 years across both private, public and charity sectors. He has held senior positions in financial services with large corporate organisations, played a lead operational and strategic role with a top law firm in the UK which also incorporated asset management and offshore businesses. Tony recently completed a years consultancy with a large GP Practice which included reviewing their organisational structure, defining their strategic route map with supporting governance frameworks put in place.

Tony is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and also has extensive Board experience in the private and charity sectors. He played a key role in the South East of Scotland CIPD with two terms as Vice Chair and brought together senior HR and business leaders to discuss current and future HR and business challenges.

Tony has successfully led a range of business transformation projects in various sectors utilising his extensive experience from careers in senior Operational leadership and senior HR roles. These careers were supported by skills developed from a career in IT across business transformation, programme, resource and account management while taking a risk based approach. During this journey, Tony has looked at business effectiveness and investigated how this could be refined and enhanced at both people and process levels, supported by robust Governance and Policy approaches with appropriate leadership and management skills.

Tony recently gained a Distinction from Napier University on the Diploma in Leadership Governance course which provides a very useful foundation and oversight for governance related roles.

Tony has lived in West Lothian for almost all of his life and his personal interests include spending time with his family, keeping fit and playing golf.

REHELA HUSSAIN - Board Member

Rehela Hussain joined the Board in March 2022 and is a member of the Audit Committee, having previously been a member of the Learning and Teaching Committee.

After completing a Physics degree in 1987, Rehela started her career in manufacturing where she held positions in quality assurance, engineering, regulatory compliance and health and safety.

She has worked in healthcare industries for the last 20 years, moving from working with established manufacturers to smaller start-up medical device companies that develop and commercialise novel medical devices. This includes working with early stage spin-out Scottish companies – including Touch Bionics in Livingston who designed and developed a prosthetic hand with multi-articulating digits.

Rehela volunteers outside technical roles, and is interested in work-based skills development, mentoring and improving diversity. She is a STEM Ambassador and has been a mentor with Scottish Engineering since 2021, mentoring young people in life sciences and engineering. She has a particular interest in improving the gender balance in STEM by being a positive role model from a BAME community.

Rehela recently joined the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Engineering Policy Group Scotland to look at issues facing STEM education. This volunteer-led group  provides strategic advice to government, responds to consultations and develops relevant materials.

Rehela has lived in Livingston since 2003. She enjoys walking and cycling, arts and crafts and is a founding member of the Murieston Community garden.

Gavin Hamilton -  Board Member

Gavin joined the Board in March 2023 and is a member of the Learning & Teaching Committee. Gavin is Managing Director of Taylor Wimpey East Scotland.

Gavin started his career in manufacturing before moving into construction and housebuilding.

He has a BSc(Hons) from Aberdeen University and an MBA from Strathclyde University.

With extensive experience in construction and manufacturing, he has a deep appreciation of the important role colleges have in these industries and the contribution they make to local economies by preparing students for skilled and sustainable future employment.

Gavin has a particular interest in championing apprentices from diverse backgrounds. He has worked closely with a number of colleges in the UK to provide opportunities for apprentices in their chosen fields.

When not spending time with his family or walking his dog, Gavin is an occasional golfer, and bagpiper.

Michael Greenhalgh - Board Member

Michael joined the Board of Governors in March 2023 and is a member of the Learning and Teaching Committee.

Michael is currently Director of Strategy and Planning at Edinburgh Napier University and a highly skilled and experienced business leader with broad experience of the higher education and retail sectors. 

Michael has significant experience of developing and delivering strategy and business development initiatives within the higher education and commercial environments.

He has strategic leadership skills and is a keen developer of high performing teams. Michael is also passionate about developing individuals to utilize their talent for business and personal success. 

Michael holds a BSc in Managerial and Administrative Science. He lives in Edinburgh with his family and, in his spare time, continues to advise small, local firms on business development and growth.

Aruna Lopez - Board Member

Aruna Lopez joined the Board of Governors in March 2023 and is a member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

Aruna is an experienced leader in procurement and contracts management, currently working for PricewaterhouseCoopers. She has worked in the petrochemical, environmental and renewables sectors.

Aruna holds a Masters in International Financial Law, an LLB in Law and an MCIPS from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

Aruna has used her leadership and management experience to successfully coach staff to achieve more in their roles. She is passionate about education and skills development and committed to working with young people to help them navigate their education and career paths.

Diversity and inclusion is important to Aruna and she will use her professional and personal experience to supporting increased diversity across all aspects of college life.

Aruna is also experienced in partnership working and will bring problem solving and relationship management skills to her role as a Board Member.

Aruna is resident in West Lothian and is mum to her young family.

BLAIR STEWART - Student President 

Blair has been a student at West Lothian College for a year studying Access to Teaching and has now been elected as President of the Student Association. As Student Association President he has created new groups and events to help students get to know each other and to engage with the wider student population.

As a college student, Blair has felt respected, appreciated and supported by the college. His aim, as Student Association President, and as a Board member, is to ensure the student voice is promoted and all students feel the same way and understand what support is available to them while they are studying at college.

Before coming to college, Blair worked in various roles in Health and Social care and in schools. He came to college to learn new skills and gain the qualifications he wasn’t able to achieve at school. Blair has found the college environment very supportive and has now gained the qualifications and confidence he needs to progress his career aspirations.

His personal interests include travel, music and looking after his two cats.

SHELAGH FRASER - Support Staff Member 

Shelagh Fraser joined West Lothian College’s Open Learning team in 2004. In 2011, Shelagh moved to the Quality team and has developed the role of Quality Officer over the last 12 years. Shelagh provides quality assurance and improvement support across all college Faculties and works closely with staff and managers across a range of awarding body qualifications. In particular, Shelagh is the key contact and liaison for qualifications certified by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Shelagh graduated from Edinburgh Napier in 2010 with a BA in Business Management after a late diagnosis of dyscalculia gave her confidence for further study. Her personal circumstances have made her more aware of the difficulties faced by students while studying and she is keen to seek out further opportunities to support students in her role as a Board Member.

Shelagh has many interests including reading, walking, baking and painting and, in her early working life, trained as a horse-riding instructor and horse manager. Shelagh has a son and daughter and lives in Linlithgow.

LAURA MURRAY - Teaching Staff Member

Laura Murray joined West Lothian College as a Core Skills Lecturer in 2013 after spending three years teaching Core Skills in prisons, working with prisoners from HMP Addiewell, YOI Polmont, and HMP Cornton Vale. Laura has worked across a number of faculties and currently teaches Core Skills for the Engineering Department. Laura’s teaching experiences in the prison system helped develop a desire to work with people who have struggled with education previously and help create a positive learning experience for them.

Laura is also the Branch Secretary and Executive Member for EIS FELA and also serves on the EIS-FELA Salaries and Conditions of Service Sub-Committee.

Laura graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 with an MSc in Evolution of Language and Cognition as well as having an MA(Hons) in Linguistics, TQFE and an HNC in Engineering Systems. She has also served on the Young Leader sub-group for the 2050 Climate Group Young Leaders Development Programme.

In her spare time Laura enjoys spending time with her partner, dog, friends and family and loves travelling, especially visiting whisky distilleries.

CHRIS WOOD - EIS Trade Union Member 

Chris Wood joined West Lothian College in 2012 and is a lecturer in the Construction Faculty. Prior to teaching, Chris worked for 17 years for a small construction company, that specialised in speculative house building, eventually rising to Director level. 

Initially graduating from the University of Dundee, with an Honours Degree in Modern History, Chris spent some years working in the tourism industry before his career change to construction. He attended Edinburgh Napier University as a day-release student, gaining a BSc with distinction in Building Surveying. 

Since moving into a lecturing role, Chris has achieved a TQFE qualification. He teaches students across a range of courses, including construction, architecture and civil engineering. 

Chris is an active member of EIS FELA and has recently been elected to the position of Deputy Convenor for the local branch of EIS FELA. 

In his spare time, Chris is a keen cyclist, daily dog walker, an irregular baker of erratic breads, and is in search of the perfect pizza recipe, which is proving elusive and definitely won’t include pineapple.

BRIAN SMILLIE - UNISON Trade Union Member  

Brian Smillie is the Digital Infrastructure Manager for West Lothian College. He joined the information technology team at West Lothian College in 2004 and has held a variety of roles during that time, including IT Technician, IT Team Leader & Deputy Facilities Manager.

Brian works with Faculty staff across the college and with external partners to provide the infrastructure and equipment needed to keep college systems secure and up to date. He also works closely with the student body, using student feedback to continuously improve technology to ensure our students receive a high quality learning experience.

Brian has been a Unison rep at the college from 2007, participating in joint negotiating committees with college management and EIS colleagues on local matters.

Brian is a committed fitness enthusiast and a keen football coach. Brian has been Involved at Blackburn United Community Sports Club for over 25 years as a player and coach and firmly believes in the benefits of sport for good physical and mental health in young people.

Brian lives in Blackburn with his partner and son