Executive team & Board

Image: Paul Hackett (Chief Executive of Optivo) and Peter Dixon (Chair of the Board) smiling

We know our people are our most valuable asset and are critical to our success. It's crucial our people are effectively led in order to deliver our objectives, targets and vision.

Find out more about our Board and Executive Team below.

Board Members:

  • Peter Dixon (Chair - pictured on the right)
  • David Clifford
  • Florence Barras
  • Howard Cresswell
  • John Cox
  • Paul Crouch
  • Steve Douglas
  • Samantha Herelle
  • Peter Roscrow
  • Nick Stephenson
  • Andrew Wiseman
  • Vishal Dixit

The main responsibilities of our Board include:

  • Setting our overall strategy and business plan
  • Making sure our Executive Team is working effectively and has access to the resources it needs
  • Ensuring any risks to the organisation are identified and controlled
  • Monitoring our performance, service delivery and financial viability.


Executive Team:

The Board delegate day-to-day management of the organisation to the Executive Team. Find out more about our Executive Team below:

Paul Hackett - Chief Executive

Image: Chief Executive of Optivo, Paul Hackett
Paul is Chief Executive of Optivo. Prior to the launch of Optivo, Paul led AmicusHorizon as CEO since 2012.

Before that he spent four years as Chief Operating Officer and oversaw the transformation of service delivery.

Paul has worked in the housing association sector since 1989.  Before joining AmicusHorizon, Paul was Executive Director: Development and New Business with Moat.

He led Moat's new build and sales programmes and led the merger with Bourne Housing Society. He also oversaw a number of major regeneration projects, including Moat’s first PFI. 

Prior to that, Paul spent eight and a half years at L&Q, where he led a number of large and complex regeneration projects and stock transfers.  His last role at L&Q was to establish a key worker housing business.

Paul is Chair of g15 – the group of London’s 15 largest housing associations. g15 house 1 in 10 Londoners and build a quarter of all new homes in London each year.  Between them, g15 own and manage 550,000 homes, build 10,000 homes each year and have a 93,000 home development pipeline.

Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Building and the Chartered Institute of Housing. He is also a Board member of Gallions Housing Association.

Paul says: “I’m delighted to lead an organisation that’s committed to putting people at the heart of our business.”

Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulHackett10

Sarah Smith – Chief Financial Officer

Sarah Smith – Executive Director Finance and Resources
Sarah started her career as an external auditor with BDO Stoy Hayward. 

Having progressed to a managerial position and specialising in social housing she moved to KPMG (provider of audit, tax and advisory services).  At KPMG Sarah was responsible for the social housing helpdesk.

Sarah also worked at London and Quadrant Group as Head of Financial Services and then Director of Financial Services. 

She had full responsibility for key areas of finance including:
  • Financial and management accounts
  • Budget setting and review
  • Key performance indicator reporting
  • Processing payroll, pensions and insurance
  • Financial systems
  • Audit Committee
  • Governance
  • Data governance.
Sarah is a member of the National Housing Federation's SORP working party. She sits on the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) social housing sub-committee and is a board member of Lewisham Homes ALMO.

Sarah won a joint award in July 2016 for 'Finance Director of the Year' and 'Overall Winner' at the Housing Association National Accountancy (HANA) Awards.  

Neal Ackcral - Executive Director Property and Asset Management

Neal Ackcral - Executive Director Property and Asset ManagementNeal is a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and has over 25 years of senior management experience within the property sector.

Neal has extensive experience of setting up and establishing a number of successful property teams and direct labour organisations within the housing sector, enabling high quality, cost effective services to be delivered directly to our residents. 
Neal joined Viridian in 2006 and was instrumental in assisting the team to obtain the Best In-House Maintenance Provider award in 2014 from the National Housing Maintenance Forum.
Follow Neal on Twitter: @Nackcral

Jane Porter – Chief Operating Officer

Jane Porter – Executive Director OperationsJane is Optivo’s Chief Operating Officer. She has strategic responsibility for front line services including:
  • Housing Management 
  • Customer Services
  • Income Management
  • Home Ownership
  • Leasehold Management
  • Community Development
  • Social Impact
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Integration/transformation
  • IT
  • Care homes
  • Health & safety
Jane has worked in housing for over 30 years, starting her career as a housing officer with East Thames HA.

Jane joined AmicusHorizon in July 2008 as Interim Chief Executive of 1066 Housing Association and then also for Rother Homes.  Both companies were subsidiaries of AmicusHorizon Group Ltd.

She became Regional Director, Sussex, following the amalgamation of all the Group's subsidiaries in 2009.  In 2012 she took on the same role for London, becoming Regional Director, London and Surrey.

Jane was appointed as AmicusHorizon Executive Director of Operations in 2012.

She’s also on the National Housing Federation South East Standing Board.

Kate Dodsworth - Executive Director People and Communications

Kate Dodsworth - Executive Director People and Communications
Kate is Optivo’s Executive Director of People and Communications.

She has responsibility for organisational strategy and external relationships including:
  • HR and Organisational Development
  • Communications
  • Strategy, policy and performance
  • External affairs
Kate started her housing career in homelessness and mental health. After completing a Master’s Degree in Housing, Kate joined the National Housing Federation where she covered a variety of policy and lobbying roles over nine years.

She was Assistant Director for London, South East and East of England before joining AmicusHorizon as Executive Director - People and Strategy  in 2013.

Kate is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Housing (CIH). She's also an external examiner for the University of Westminster.

In June 2016, Kate was elected as Chair of the CIH London regional board.

Mark Miles-Lea - Executive Director Development and Sales

Mark Miles-Lea - Executive Director Development and Sales
Mark is Executive Director Development and Sales at Optivo. Mark has strategic responsibility for our development programme.

He’s hugely excited about how the partnership will help us to do so much to address the current housing crisis.

Previously, Mark had been Executive Commercial Director at AmicusHorizon since January 2013.

Mark trained as a Chartered Surveyor and his background is in development.

He started as a Development Officer for Swale Housing in 1993, and progressed to become Development Director for AmicusHorizon, before taking on new roles.

Jo Robinson - Executive Director Governance and Compliance

Jo Robinson - Executive Director Governance and Compliance
Jo is Optivo’s Executive Director of Governance and Compliance.

Prior to this Jo was Director of Co-regulation at AmicusHorizon, leading the implementation of a resident focused governance structure that was highly regarded by the sector.

Originally a chartered surveyor, Jo’s first job in the sector was as a Housing Officer.

She’s since held a wide range of roles in home ownership, development, sales, risk and as Company Secretary building up a wealth of experience that she brings to her new role in Optivo.