Meet our Board of Directors

The Welcoming is a charity and company limited by guarantee, this means we are run by a team of dedicated volunteer board members.

Our board members are Nick Croft (Chair), Graeme Gibson (Treasurer), Chrissie Hirst, Jan Williamson, Julia Albert-Recht, Keith Watson, Sam Hemmati, and Ruth Whitney.

Nick Croft
Nick Croft has been the Chair of The Welcoming Association since March 2019. He currently works as Board Secretary and Head of Communications, Policy and Research at Edinburgh College. Nick has a BSc Hons in Economics and Politics and an MA and Diploma in Social Work. He began his career as Research and Healthcare Advisor for West Berkshire NHS and has since managed projects in a range of community building roles, including disability services, assisted living projects and community development programmes. He previously worked with Edinburgh City council as Equality Manager and Corporate Policy and Strategy Manager. In 2016 he was seconded to the Scottish Government Equality, Rights and the Third Sector Unit. Nick lives in Edinburgh Southside with his wife and two children.
Graeme Gibson
Graeme is a Chartered Accountant and member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. He is currently the Finance Director for Edinburgh Airport with particular interest in strategic planning, financial control, treasury and risk. Graeme is also a Trustee for Scouts Scotland and National Museums Scotland. Since joining The Welcoming in July 2019, Graeme has been busy ensuring the charity is well placed to respond to changing circumstances and continue to support service users. Outside of work Graeme loves to travel, read, swim in the sea, walk his three dogs and explore Scotland’s hills and lochs.
Chrissie Hirst
Chrissie Hirst currently manages Corra Foundation’s international work and grantmaking. She has worked in the field of international development for a range of British and international third sector organisations, the UN and OSCE, with over 15 years based overseas, primarily in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Georgia. Her experience includes grassroots community programmes as well as policy work to strengthen national institutions, and has covered peacebuilding and post-conflict development, human and minority rights, democratic governance, and migration. A Cambridge University graduate, she has an MSC in International Relations from LSE and an MA in Conflict & Reconciliation Studies from Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. Chrissie grew up in the Middle East, attended high school in Edinburgh, and following work abroad moved back with her family around two years ago. She also volunteers with Refugee Sponsorship Edinburgh.
Jan Williamson
Jan is a highly experienced leader in social care, with an expertise in working with organisations who help people facing multiple and complex challenges. Jan is qualified in health and social care leadership, holds a Masters in Human Resources Management and is a member of the CIPD. In 2021, Jan moved into self-employment and now offers consultancy support to social care organisations including leadership development, coaching, strategic and operational HR projects, and employee and user participation initiatives. Committed to social justice, equality and embracing diversity and inclusion, Jan focuses on working with organisations whose missions are to make a positive difference for people and whose values align with her own.
Julia Albert-Recht
Julia Albert-Recht is a retired humanitarian aid worker who worked mostly in Africa and the Middle East with organisations such as Save the Children, the UN, and British Red Cross. She worked as Programme Manager working on delivering medical, non-food items and psychosocial services to refugees and internally displaced. She was Director of an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leonne and she also ran the UN volunteer programme in Kenya, the largest in Africa. She previously headed up the Scottish Refugee Council Asylum Services and also the Kosovan Emergency Evacuation Programme. Julia has an MA in International Development. Her areas of expertise include strategic planning, grant making and organisational and people development. Since moving back to Scotland she has established a small and successful ceramics business.
Keith Watson
Keith is a HR Consultant with over 25 years experience in employment law, training, HR policy, employee relations, diversity & inclusion, and coaching. Among his many accomplishments, Keith has LL.M, Chartered FCIPD, FCMI, FLPI, FITOL, Member of SHRM, Master Member EMCC, Member Employment Tribunal (Scotland) and Reinstatement Committee (Reserve Forces). Equality Act Assessor in the Sheriff Courts Accredited to use Magerison - McCann Team Management Profile and TMSDI Leadership Behaviours Profile. Keith's specialities are employment law, employee relations, resourcing, reward, policy, coaching, mentoring, change management, inclusion, and training.
Ruth Whitney
Ruth currently works for the Open University in Access, Participation and Success. She has worked in education for over 15 years and has lived and worked in more than 20 countries including New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Thailand and Rwanda. Ruth has an MA Education, an MA Online and Distance Education, a Diploma Inclusive Education, a Cambridge DELTA and a BA Applied Graphics Technology. She has submitted her doctoral thesis for examination and is hoping to defend her thesis very soon. In her free time, she enjoys going to the theatre, crocheting, baking and learning new things.
Dr Gordon Hill
Gordon is a nurse and is the Assistant Head for International in the School of Health and Life Sciences and is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Public Health Education at Glasgow Caledonian University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Gordon brings extensive experience in healthcare and higher education, including over 15 years of working with international partners in the university sector. He also has a background in research, starting his first clinical research nurse post in the 1990s. He has held posts in the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility in Edinburgh and at Edinburgh Napier University. Gordon also established the Scottish Research Nurse and Co-ordinators Network (SRNCN) in 2005 and remains an expert in the field. He is also a member of the Royal College of Nursing Research Society Steering committee and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Research in Nursing. In his spare time Gordon loves to spend time with his family, go on long walks with his dog and watch rugby and football. You can follow Gordon on Twitter.