Meet our Commissioners

The Social Mobility Commission exists to help create a country where the circumstances of someone’s birth do not determine their outcomes in life.

The SMC is a statutory, independent body comprising of publicly appointed commissioners and a small secretariat. The Commission comprises of the Chair and Deputy Chair, alongside seven Commissioners. Find out more about our recent Commissioner appointments here.

AllCommissioners
Katharine Birbalsingh
Chair

Katharine Birbalsingh CBE

Alun Francis
Deputy Chair

Alun Francis OBE

Dr Raghib Ali
Commissioner

Dr Raghib Ali

Matthew Goodwin
Commissioner

Matthew Goodwin

Rob Henderson
Commissioner

Rob Henderson

Ryan Henson
Commissioner

Ryan Henson

Parminder Kohli
Commissioner

Parminder Kohli

Resham Kotecha
Commissioner

Resham Kotecha

Rob Wilson
Commissioner

Rob Wilson

Chair

Katharine Birbalsingh CBE

Katharine Birbalsingh is the Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Headmistress and co-founder of Michaela Community School in Wembley, London. 

Michaela is known for its tough-love behaviour systems, knowledge curriculum and teaching of kindness and gratitude. In 2017, OFSTED graded the school as “Outstanding” in every category. In 2019, GCSE results showed 54% of graded papers getting a grade 7 or above with 90% 4to9 in Maths and 90% 4to9 in English. 

Katharine read Philosophy & Modern Languages at The University of Oxford and has always taught in inner London. She has made numerous appearances on television and radio and has written for several UK publications. Katharine has written two books and edited a third…. and a fourth called The Power of Culture which was published in June 2020. Whether you agree with Katharine or not, she will make you think.

Ms Birbalsingh was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours by The Queen.

Deputy Chair

Alun Francis OBE

Alun Francis is the Deputy Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Principal and Chief Executive of Oldham College since 2010.


During this time the college has been redeveloped with an investment of over £45m, with
new facilities to support technical education from entry to degree level.  The college has
developed a reputation for strong teaching and learning, and has won a number of prestigious awards for its Teaching for Distinction CPD programme and its provision for special needs learners. It was nominated Further Education (FE) College of the Year at the 2019 TES Awards and in 2020 for innovation around remote learning. 

Prior to joining the college Alun had a varied career in local government, regeneration, youth work and education, including primary, secondary and higher education.  

Alun has a strong interest in the economics of what is now referred to as “levelling up” and sees FE colleges in general and Oldham College in particular as having a critical role to play in addressing this challenge.  

He received an Order of the Order of the British Empire for service to education in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.

Commissioner

Dr Raghib Ali

Dr Raghib Ali has a number of roles, including Senior Clinical Research Associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

His main research interests are the aetiology and prevention of non-communicable diseases, and establishing prospective cohort studies in populations which have not previously been studied.

He co-authored a submission to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in the major causes of mortality and their risk factors in the UK.

Commissioner

Matthew Goodwin

Matthew Goodwin is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Kent and was previously Senior Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House, and Fellow at the Legatum Institute.

He is the author of many books, articles and research reports and has worked in the social sciences for more than twenty years.

He was previously seconded to the Department for Communities and Local Government and has advised more than 200 organizations around the world on issues relating to social mobility, social cohesion, and political volatility.

Commissioner

Rob Henderson

Rob Henderson is a PhD student and Gates Cambridge scholar at the University of Cambridge.

He received a BSc in psychology from Yale University and is a veteran of the US Air Force.

His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Quillette, among other outlets.

Rob’s main area of research is in moral psychology.

Commissioner

Ryan Henson

Ryan has been Chief Executive Officer at the Coalition for Global Prosperity, a think tank specialising in international development since April 2020.  

Prior to joining the Coalition, Ryan worked for CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, and on human rights policy at the Ministry of Justice.  

Ryan serves as a Reservist in the Royal Air Force and is a founding trustee of Diversity in Development, a social mobility charity working to widen access to the international development sector. Ryan was awarded an Aspen UK Rising Leaders Fellowship 2022 and was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Bedford at the 2019 General Election.

Commissioner

Parminder Kohli

Parminder has 26 years of senior leadership experience across 7 different industries, 3 continents and 4 organizations. The last 20 years of which are with Shell.

He is currently Senior Vice President Europe, Middle East & Africa for Shell Lubricants business accountable for delivering the bottom-line of the business in 100 plus countries within the region. 

In May 2022 he was named Involve Empower Top 100 Senior Executives for his work on Diversity & Inclusion.

He was a Non-Executive Director for Success For All Educational Trust which runs 3 secondary schools in London Borough of Havering between 2018-20.

Commissioner

Resham Kotecha

Resham Kotecha is the Head of Policy & Government Affairs, EMEA at Wise.

Resham has worked for over a decade on tackling social mobility, volunteering with the Prince’s Trust and the Shaw Trust, and giving talks around the UK. Resham worked for a think tank focused on social mobility and served on a Home Office Windrush Working Group.

Resham is the Head of Engagement for Women2Win, a Trustee of the Fawcett Society and a Board member at the John Smith Centre.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cambridge University and has been recognised as as a ‘Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum.

Commissioner

Rob Wilson

Rob Wilson is a former Member of Parliament for Reading East and Minister in the Cameron and May Governments. He spent 12 years as an MP and 10 years serving on the Conservative front bench with roles in higher education, health, DCMS, Treasury and Cabinet Office. He spent three years as Minister for Civil Society 2014-17.

Before politics, Rob was an entrepreneur and founded businesses in the health and technology sectors using innovative and disruptive technology to develop new markets. He continues to have a strong interest in new technology.

Since leaving Whitehall and Parliament, he has invested in new tech companies and taken a number of business roles that are in areas of interest, but particularly in new breakthrough technologies and products.

Rob is chairman of national wheelchair sports charity WheelPower, that supports people with spinal injuries and other disabilities into sport.

Rob writes for the Daily Telegraph and has published two books ‘5 Days to Power’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’.

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