Executive Team

  • Chief Executive

    David Hughes

    David Hughes became Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges in September 2016.
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    Before that he was CEO at Learning and Work Institute, a leading think tank, research and policy organisation which was formed in 2016 from a merger he led between NIACE and Inclusion.

    From 2000 to 2011, David worked in senior roles at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). At the LSC and SFA David led the funding and improvement relationships with colleges and providers and successfully took on trouble-shooting roles to rescue crises in capital funding and Educational Maintenance Allowances.

    Prior to that, David worked in the voluntary sector across a wide range of roles and organisations in the UK and Australia, in social housing, co-operatives, welfare, regeneration and community development.

    David has held many Board and Committee roles, including a few years as Vice-Chair of the East Midlands Regional Assembly in the 1990s. He played a leading role in establishing the new Education and Training Foundation in 2013 and has established and supported several third sector organisations.

  • Deputy Chief Executive (Policy, Curriculum, Funding)

    Julian Gravatt

    Julian is one of two Deputy Chief Executives at AoC 

    Julian Gravatt is one of two Deputy Chief Executives at AoC which is where he has worked for 17 years. He is AoC's specialist on funding, finance and regulation issues while also line managing AoC's policy team and international director. In his role at AoC he gives evidence to Select Committees, works with thinktanks, helps government officials implement policy and advises principals and governing bodies on college strategies. Before he joined AoC, he was City Lit's finance director, registrar at Lewisham College and, at the start of his career, an auditor with Price Waterhouse. He has a degree in history


  • Deputy Chief Executive (Member Services)

    Kirsti Lord

    Kirsti joined AoC in August 2017.

    Kirsti joined AoC as Deputy Chief Executive, Member Services in August 2017.  She has 17 years’ experience working in Further Education from Part-Time Lecturer to her most recent role as Acting Principal.  The focus of her work since 2008 has been around quality improvement and curriculum design, leading a large department from inadequate to outstanding between 2010 and 2012 and maintained outcomes and student experience at this level until she progressed in 2015.  In her most recent college role, Kirsti worked with colleagues to liaise with ESFA, the FE Commissioner’s team and Ofsted to secure removal of both financial and quality notices of concern and to successfully complete a merger in 2017.

  • Director of Finance & Chief Operating Officer

    Peter Brophy

    Peter has been with AoC since 1998.

    Having trained as a Chartered Accountant, Peter worked in the private sector for ten years, the final role being in a Group of ten companies, with a turnover in excess of £600 million. He was appointed to all Boards and specifically as Finance Director to a number of the subsidiaries. 

    As Finance Director and Board Member of AoC, AoC Services, AoC India and the AoC Charitable Trust, he oversees our finances, corporate services, regional offices and membership services.