International Women's Day is on 8 March. At North Herts Council we're committed to supporting women as they develop their careers. We're proud to be led by Councillor Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg (Leader of the Council) and Councillor Ruth Brown (Deputy Leader of the Council), and that half of our Service Directors are women.
To mark International Women's Day, we asked them to tell us a little about who they are and what they do in the council:
Councillor Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg - Leader of the Council
I grew up in Doncaster before moving to London to study Ancient History & Egyptology (still read hieroglyphs for fun ) then Law, before moving to North Herts in 2013.
I am a competitive figure skater and have performed in ice shows nationally and internationally. The arts are a deep passion of mine and I have performed in theatre productions in the West End and continue to maintain my dance and musical theatre skills.
I was first elected to the Council in 2016, and became Leader in 2021, and am the second female leader of North Herts Council. I’m a Local Government Association Peer and work with councillors of all parties across the country on continuous improvement and skills development.
In my spare time, I sew clothes for myself and my two children and play football and videogames.
Councillor Ruth Brown - Deputy Leader of the Council
I have lived in Royston for 35 years. My three children attended the local schools and I was a parent governor for 7 years.
Following a career break, I returned to work in 2005 as a parenting trainer, then taught in an adult education college in London and was most recently a training manager for a local mental health charity, until becoming freelance in 2021.
I have taken part in many local clubs and community activities and am still an active member of Trinity Life Church Royston, where I was co-pastor for 15 years.
I was first elected to the District Council in 2018 and have since held the roles of Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, Chair of Planning Control Committee and am currently Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning & Transport.
Jo Dufficy - Service Director - Customers
My priorities are focused on making sure our wide range of services are available and accessible to all and that as a council we are easy to deal withsomething we have committed to do in our newly launched Customer Service Strategy, by putting our customers at the heart of everything we do.
I have just had my ten-year anniversary of working for North Herts Council and prior to that I worked at the City of London.
Although not originally from North Herts, I have lived in the district for many years. I love living here and enjoy the open spaces we have.
Sarah Kingsley - Service Director - Place
I am responsible for overseeing our waste and recycling services, leisure facilities, green spaces, our communications and emergency planning. I am passionate about delivering customer focused services and ensuring we engage effectively with residents.
My background is in communications and public affairs with previous roles in renewable energy and transport. I joined the council in 2010 as Communications Manager and was promoted to Service Director last year.
One of my favourite places in North Herts is Weston Hills nature reserve near Baldock – a great place to get away from it all with my dogs, as well as spotting the odd Longhorn cow!
Jeanette Thompson - Service Director - Legal and Community
The areas I oversee cover front facing services like community protection, licensing and community engagement, as well as the support areas such as democratic services (arranging Council meetings and elections), the legal section and policy. I am also the Monitoring Officer, trying to ensure that officers and councillors maintain the highest standards of conduct.
I have been with the council since 2015 –and having worked in other authorities I can say that North Herts is a great place to work, with colleagues and elected councillors striving to do their best for the district. In the changing landscape of local government, we hope that the council is now more adept at engaging with the community and trying to get it right.
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