Organisational Management Team
The Organisational Management Team at CHILDREN 1ST have a wide range of skills and are well equipped by qualification and experience to lead the charity.
Anne Houston, Chief Executive
After qualifying in social work in 1980 Anne’s early career was spent in an area team in Southampton working generically, before specialising in work with children and families. She continued in the statutory and then voluntary sectors in England and Scotland, managing teams that worked with young offenders, children and families and those with mental health issues.
This made her well qualified to take up the role of counselling manager at ChildLine in 1990 where she progressed to become Director of ChildLine Scotland four years later. She led significant expansion of the ChildLine service and ensured the service ‘spoke with the voice of children and young people’ to influence wider development of public policy and practice. In 2006 Anne became Director of ChildLine UK within the NSPCC and in 2007 she was appointed Chief Executive of CHILDREN 1ST.
As well as leading the charity Anne continues to speak out on issues of importance to vulnerable children, young people and families.
Debbie Adams, Director of Organisational Development
After completing a MA in Social Policy and a postgraduate qualification in Community Education, Debbie was employed as a Community Worker for the Social Work department in Paisley. She then moved to Community Learning Scotland, where she was the Manager of the Scottish Youth Issues Unit, and developed innovative joined up solutions for young people. As well as training over 5,000 police officers in working with young people she also established a youth work project within Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
After a brief spell setting up a young adult learners and health project for the Scottish Adult Learning Partnership and completing her MBA, she became a consultant with Rocket Science. In this role she worked with a range of public, private and voluntary organisations to assist them to improve their performance and meet their objectives. As a Director of Rocket Science she was responsible for HR, learning and development and the Scotland market.
Alison Ferguson, Director of Finance and Corporate Services
After qualifying as a chartered accountant in Bristol, Alison worked for National Grid, the electricity distributor. Returning to Edinburgh, she took up the role of Finance Director at Ark Housing Association, a social housing provider specialising in the care and support of adults with a learning disability.
After taking a break to look after her children, Alison returned to work for the charity Age Scotland before joining CHILDREN 1ST in April 2011.
Kate Smith, Director of Fundraising and Communications
Kate started her fundraising career as Development Executive with Napier University before moving to UNICEF UK as Major Gift Manager. During her time at UNICEF she was part of a UK wide major gift fundraising team building fundraising partnerships with individuals, grant making trusts and companies. Kate moved to Winning Scotland Foundation in Edinburgh to lead their fundraising function.
In 2009 she took up the position of Head of Fundraising at The Prince's Trust, leading their Scotland fundraising team. Whilst at The Prince’s Trust Kate also lead the roll out of a new volunteer management programme and managed the volunteer development team. Kate joined CHILDREN 1ST in May 2011.
Alison Todd, Children & Family Service Director (Policy and Practice)
Alison began her career in Tayside working for the community Education service, managing a residential centre in Angus. After moving to Moray, Alison took up a post for Grampian social work department as a Residential Care Officer.
She started studying with the Open University whilst living in Cyprus for three years and successfully graduated with a BSC honours Social Sciences in 2000. After moving to Dundee, Alison was a Community Development Officer in Whitfield Dundee, and then a Manager with Rathbone, managing both a training centre for young people and an offsite provision for young people excluded from school.
Alison then moved to Glasgow to become ChildLine Services Manager Scotland for five years before moving to the north of England first as a ChildLine services manager then as Assistant Director Childline/ NSPCC for north of England. During this period Alison was seconded to become ChildLine workstream leader in the helpline development programme for the NSPCC.
Outside of work Alison has been a Children's Panel member in Scotland, Homestart volunteer and involved with Girl Guide movement.
May Martindale, Children & Family Service Director (Operational Development)
May's social work career began in the Strathclyde Region, where she worked in a diverse range of posts both generic and specialist. She moved to East Ayrshire Council as a divisional manager in March 1996 and was also principal officer community care for the last six months leaving in October 1999 to go to Sargent Cancer Care for Children (now ClicSargent) as operations manager for Scotland and later North East England.
In April 2003 May moved to Barnardos as assistant director for West of Scotland where she had lead responsibility for child protection.
May is an associate inspector with SWIA and has an MA degree and DipSW (CQSW) from Glasgow University.