Meet The Team

Using our local knowledge and sector expertise we are uniquely placed to identify, broker and connect new and innovative ways of working that address local challenges. 

Colab Exeter is a project of Exeter CVS which has been running for more than 70 years. See here for a list of our current Board of Trustees.

Our Senior Leadership Team are available to discuss new initiatives and collaboration projects as well as provide consultancy, coaching and infrastructure support to organisations, individuals and social entrepreneurs who share our vision, mission and values. Contact Us for more information.

Simon Bowkett

CEO

Simon Bowkett joined Exeter CVS in 2010 as the Business Development Manager, and was appointed Chief Executive in 2013. Since then, Simon has overseen the transformation of CVS offices at Wat Tyler House into CoLab – a unique cross-sector and multi-agency co-working space in the heart of the city. CoLab brings together over 30 different projects, services, and organisations to work collaboratively to tackle some of Exeter’s most urgent social challenges.

Simon is passionate about social justice, and has over twenty years’ experience working in the public and civil society sectors across addiction services, housing and homelessness services, criminal justice services and community development and organising. A great believer in addressing the causes of social problems, not just the symptoms, Simon has an interest in influencing, in strategy and policy, and in working with commissioners and politicians to think in new ways, and to build collaborative and innovative partnerships for change.

Simon has yet to grow out of his youthful idealism, and so is also a Stonewall Role Model and active in Exeter Pride, a trade unionist, and (semi-retired!) political activist. He enjoys Exeter’s arts scene, shouting at the TV when the news is on, sporadic fitness drives, and being taken for walks by his overly- energetic spaniel, Byron.

Amanda Kilroy

Director of Social Innovation

Amanda joined Exeter CVS in 2012 as part of the Transforming Local Infrastructure Project team, and progressed to Business Development Manager in 2014 as the initiative developed. This complex and challenging project called for unprecedented levels of trust, belief and experimentation; conditions which drew on her resources and background in nursing, health research and education, and 15 years’ experience as a PAR evaluator and organisational development consultant around the country.

Inspired and motivated to see the work succeed, Amanda got to work co-writing and co-designing CoLab Exeter, our thriving multi-agency hub where people with complex lives can access support that helps and inspires them.

Amanda believes there are three key ingredients at the heart of her current work as CoLabs’ Director of Social Innovation; action-learning, conscious leadership and collaboration for collective impact. This year she has consolidated in these areas by undertaking a Clore Social Leader Fellowship – which included a secondment to Canada that has broadened her horizons, and taught her more about leading collaboration for social change than she could ever have hoped for. That said, she is already dreaming up new ways of applying this learning in service of the CoLab tribe, and using her “tell it like it is” Mancunian superpowers to share the love with all those who use the facility, so that they get what they need to flourish.

Fiona Carden

Director Learning & Innovation at CoLab Exeter

Fiona Carden has worked as an educationalist for over 20 years. Starting in education and research at Exeter University Fiona’s early career saw her work as an education consultant for BT, Fujitsu and ICL working in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. Fiona managed nationwide innovative projects researching the impact of cutting edge technology in improving educational attainment for socially disadvantaged communities.

Fiona completed a degree in adult and community learning with a focus on education as tool for social change and has worked across the region designing and delivering a range of adult and community learning provision. In the last 5 years Fiona has worked in management and strategic development of learning and innovation in the VCSE and is now Director of Learning and Innovation at CoLab.

Fiona is also a mum to 2 teenage boys and has put the hours in beside cold rugby pitches, being a one person Uber service and pretending to laugh at terrible you tube videos.

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