Meet The ACL Leadership Team
Rich Kirchel, Marketing Lead – Prior to joining ACL, Rich has worked in communications, marketing and creative roles in the financial services, recruitment and web design industries. His teams’ responsibilities are to raise awareness and recognition of ACL, taking full advantage of the wide spectrum of marketing opportunities and translating them into an evidence-based bespoke strategy. “It is important we celebrate and showcase the inspirational people of ACL, tell our story and the learner’s story, ensuring high visibility, accessibility and relatable content shared with the communities of Essex.”
Katherine Burns, ACL Principal – I have worked in the ACL and FE sector since 1992. Before moving into management roles, I spent many years as a sessional tutor, assessor and IV. I am responsible for leading ACL in delivering a high quality, financially sustainable education provision for adults in Essex. My belief in the benefits of a thriving adult education service has never waned and I remain committed to our mission of changing lives through learning.
Christian Norman, Vice Principal, Curriculum and Learning – I am a highly experienced teacher, leader and manager in the education sector having had a long and successful career in education. I have a broad knowledge of the adult education sector and am passionate about the opportunities that it provides the residents of Essex. I have developed a large range of community and accredited courses up to postgraduate level. I formerly chaired the Colchester Aimhigher Partnership and am particularly keen that all learners are inspired and progress to achieve their goals.
Amanda Rawlings, Commercial Manager – I have worked within Post 16 education for the past 18 years. My roles have included Career & Training Coordinator, Business Development Manager and Youth Programmes Manager. I’ve been at ACL since March 2016 and am proud to be a part of this fantastic service. I have responsibility for ensuring that we raise the profile of ACL across the county and generate new opportunities and income streams for our service. We need to ensure that we are sustainable & financially fit for the future so that we can continue to support the learning needs of our residents and businesses.
Claire Maynard, Business Operations Manager – My role includes overseeing the customer service, premises, catering and pre-school / nursery teams across all of our centres. One of our main focuses is to ensure that the centres develop into welcoming, inspiring hubs of the community and utilised to the maximum. I have worked on and off for Essex County Council since 2005 and have used opportunities to develop my career by moving around the huge organisation. I love working with people, a good business process and a complex problem to get stuck into! You will see me all over as working across the service, I could be anywhere but occasionally I get to work at my base in Basildon which is a lovely 10 minute commute on a good day and does not involve the A12!
Teresa Ablewhite, Vice Principal, Quality and Compliance – I joined ACL in 2000 and since then have worked in a wide variety of roles including volunteer, tutor, curriculum manager, business development officer, staff development, IAG, and safeguarding. Working alongside colleagues to ensure a high-quality, and safe learning experience for our learners and helping them to achieve their goals. I am a proponent of lifelong learning and ensuring it is accessible to all.
Ceri Fishlock, MIS Lead – I started working in ACL in 2000 when my children were young so I worked evenings on reception in Clacton. Over the years I became involved in various different areas of ACL and eventually settled in the MIS team in 2013. What do the MIS Team do? We work across ACL ensuring our data is accurate, effective, timely and compliant. This means we can make best use of external funding, continually assess and evaluate key measurements and reports on ACL performance, as well as supporting the success of projects and initiatives.
Lorretta Wiltshire, Business Development Lead – I have worked in ACL for the last 9 years and Essex County Council since 1988. My previous roles have predominantly been around increasing apprenticeship participation and developing work-based learning opportunities. I am responsible for developing a service that is both commercial focuses and driven by sound market research and financially sustainable. I am committed to providing employers and learners with the right opportunities in the right areas to improve social mobility and access to learning/jobs for all.
Gill Witchell, Curriculum and Learning Manager (Personal Development Health and Wellbeing) – I have worked for ACL since 1996, initially teaching within the Creative sector.As with many in ACL I started as a learner and have stayed ever since finding the ethos and values matched mine perfectly. My passion is social justice, which ACL plays such a vital role in providing opportunities for anyone and everyone to gain personal fulfilment. My aim as a Curriculum and Learning Manager is to continue to develop the high quality learning opportunities for the next generation, and hopefully many yet to come.
Rob Lacey, Business Analyst – I have worked for ECC for the last 10 years, working at ACL Essex for the past 6. Previously working in the MIS team, producing reports for a range of staff members and audiences. Part of my current role will be helping to evaluate activities that ACL are involved in to determine if they are commercially viable. I will also be helping in driving a data driven approach to decision making. I believe ACL provides a real chance for people to improve their lives.
Jo Loss, Learning Technologies Manager – Jo Loss is the Learning Technologies Manager. She has worked for ACL since 2005 having been a volunteer, an English tutor and a Curriculum Coordinator. Jo has worked as a trainer for the ETF on using Digital Technologies in teaching and is passionate about ensuring ACL is sustainable for the future using technology to support our excellent teaching and learning.
Julie Stowers, Curriculum and Learning Manager for Working Lives – I transferred to ACL Essex in 2010 after working in ECC Learning and Development managing apprenticeships and vocational learning. The Working Lives curriculum includes accredited courses up to Level 5 and apprenticeships delivered in the classroom and the workplace. The Working Lives Curriculum offer is diverse including Hair and Beauty, Health and Social Care, Management, Business and Finance, Access to HE, Science, Digital Skills and Children and Education. We work collaboratively with our partners in the Youth Service to deliver the Plan B Traineeship. We are proud to deliver a curriculum that makes a difference to our learner’s lives, Essex businesses and the wider community of Essex.
Susan Adamson, Curriculum and Learning Manager for Social Mobility and Inclusion – I have been part of ACL for 25 years having been a learner, volunteer, tutor and, for the last 16 years, a manager. I hope over the years my involvement in ACL has contributed to the success of some of the many learners who pass through our doors and will continue to do so for some time.
Emma Thomson, Safeguarding and EDI Senior Officer – I have worked at ACL since September 2021 and my background has been in Health and Social Care, for almost 14 years. I have been in various roles including CQC compliance, Quality Assurance, management and I am also a qualified Health and Social Care Assessor, I started out as a HCA and spent many years caring for the elderly with varying levels of dementia and palliative care. I have a BA (Hons) degree in Health and Social Care and am currently studying for a MSc in Psychology of Mental Health and Wellbeing. My passion has always been in safeguarding and mental health, and I am enjoying working for ACL and extending my background into the education sector.