Chair – Dr Rossana Espinoza (Virgin Media)

R EspinozaI am a Learning Experience Designer at Virgin Media specialized in Learning and Development, Learning Experience Design and User Experience . Before this, I devised outstanding online modules for Avado Learning, focused in Apprenticeship programmes (Business Analysts and Data Analysts) and Professional Qualifications for CIPD Learning and Development professionals. In the HE sector, at Westminster and Middlesex, I devised pioneering online courses: Academic Integrity, Working with the Prevent Duty. Implemented performance management systems and e-learning suites of compliance modules and blended learning modules.

As SDF Chair, I am leading the SDF to transition into new adventures! I led the organisation of the first virtual SDF’s Festival of Learning and Development during the pandemic. I added a horizontal structure with an invigorated Exec team working in specific themes aligned to our founding and strategic partner AdvanceHE. I am supporting the sustainability of regional networks. We are having fun!

Treasurer – Dorota Tworek-Uptas (London South Bank University)

Dorota Tworek-Uptas

I would describe myself as being passionate about Staff Learning and Development. My role at London South Bank University allows me the opportunity to seek new challenges and opportunities, enabling me to learn more about Learning and Development and Organisation Development that I am then able to put into practice.

My strong interpersonal skills help me easily develop rapport with those I come into contact with and to work effectively with colleagues on different levels and from different backgrounds.

I am familiar with challenges, opportunities and administrative processes, which will enable me to work effectively with the administrative element of the role, and my previous work in the accountancy and financial sector will assist in the complexities of the role, such as that required by Companies House.


Executive – Daniel Hannah (Sheffield Hallam University)

I have worked at Sheffield Hallam University for the last 10 years and had a couple of people development roles during that time. Since 2013 I have led on leadership and management development at the University, providing bespoke development, coaching and delivering cross-university leadership programmes. The best bit of the job is working with diverse groups from right across the University and helping leaders build connections, try new things and gain self-belief.

Outside of work I have two kids who take up most of my time and energy but do play a bit of squash once a week.


Executive – Michael Monaghan (Liverpool John Moores University)

m.monghanI am a proactive learning and development practitioner with an MA in Advanced Educational Practice: Teaching and Learning. I’ve worked at LJMU for over twelve years in various learning and development related roles and am currently a Leadership and Development Adviser for LJMU’s contemporary Leadership and Development Foundation.

On a day-to-day basis I design and deliver development activities, sessions and programmes for training, teaching, coaching, mentoring and action learning, and lead on a number of strategic level projects for LJMU, including OD projects to affect institutional change and enhance culture. My master’s research gave me the opportunity to further my interest in active learning and passion for making learning engaging. I have won AUA Member of the Year twice for combining their AUA CPD Framework with active learning in innovative and pragmatic ways: developing an AUA Accreditation Programme and three development resources which the AUA have launched nationally. I was featured in the THE Magazine last year after I became the first two-time winner of the AUA award: Leading the area of active learning for the SDF is a very exciting and welcomed challenge.

Outside of work, I am a Level 1 sushi chef, amatuer golfer, aspiring triathlete, enthusiastic writer, and father to two amazing children.


Executive – Carol Steed (University of Nottingham)

c.steedHaving worked in higher education for over 22 years in a range of academic and professional service roles, it’s safe to say I have a passion for learning and a curiosity about change and innovation. From leading national and international organisational and cultural change research projects; leading a faculty specialising in work-based learning; running a consultancy business; and launching an academy specialising in leadership development, I have a range of perspectives which help me to be open to the traditions of the past and be excited about the possibilities of the future.

As a life-long learner I have six post-graduate qualifications, and am currently studying for a Doctorate in Education, my focus being on complexity, leadership practice and higher education – you can’t get much more topical than that! I believe learning is for everyone at any stage in their career, with learning in work, at work and through work being the most powerful of the lessons we can engage with.

When I haven’t got my nose in a journal paper, I enjoy walking my dog on the beaches of the North Yorkshire coast and I’ve recently started doing cross-stitch embroidery again as a way of keeping busy whilst relaxing!


Executive – Janice Button (University of Exeter)

j,buttonI am Learning and Development Manager at the University of Exeter, working across People, Academic and Researcher Development teams, to look after our Exeter Academic Portfolio. My main focus currently is around academic leadership development and my research interests include organisational development, education, leadership and wellbeing. I have a background in digital education and staff development and was previously the Learning Technologist Manager at the University of Plymouth. I have worked in Higher Education for 15 years.

Outside of work I am very busy with my gorgeous family which includes my 2 and 5 year old boys who never seem to stop! Before children, my interests included travelling and anything creative. I am very excited to be supporting the SDF generally and, more specifically, around academic development, leadership and wellbeing.


Executive – Sophia Grainger (University of Sunderland)

s.graingerI’ve worked in L&D for over 9 years in a range of different sectors, both public and private. I describe myself as an L&D generalist, having been involved in lots of different project based roles. Although my current role specialises in Leadership and Management Development and Coaching.

Being part of the SDF Exec provides me with the opportunity to expand my L&D network and learn from colleagues across Higher Education. I’m an advocate of lifelong learning, and believe there are opportunities to learn everywhere.

My passion for personal development and growth has led me to volunteer my spare time to a local public speaking club in Sunderland, which I’ve been part of for over 5 years. I’ve also recently started a L&D blog, to give back to the L&D community. My out of work activities have prepared me well for the role of Communications Officer for the Staff Development Forum.