Executive Team

Dr. Peter O’Brien

Executive Director

Peter leads the Yorkshire Universities’ (YU) Executive Team, and he is Company Secretary for the Limited Company and Charity. With over two decades’ experience, as both a senior practitioner and academic, Peter has driven YU’s increasing and influential policy engagement and activity in Yorkshire. He has worked extensively, at a senior level, across the north of England, and he has published widely on a range of matters relating to local and regional development. Peter is a Commissioner on the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, and he also represents YU and the higher education sector on many high-level regional groups and committees.

Monika Antal

Assistant Director

Monika leads on project management and programme planning for Yorkshire Universities, and she manages the internal operations of Yorkshire Universities. Monika currently leads on the UPP-funded Regional Sustainability Service-Learning Pilot project and Graduate Employment and Employability work strands, and related stakeholder engagement.

Building on her previous role as a Policy Analyst at the Joint Research Centre’s Policy Lab and Science Advice to Policy Unit at the European Commission, Monika supports Yorkshire Universities’ academic policy engagement activities, particularly through the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission’s (YHCC) Research & Evidence Panel and the Yorkshire & Humber Policy Engagement & Research Network (Y-PERN).

Marina Tapley

Policy & Research Officer

Marina leads on consultation responses and provides a range of briefings for YU’s standing groups and to support YU representatives on sub-regional committees and partnership boards, such as around culture and place-based funding. Marina supports the engagement of YU members in a range of areas producing in-depth reports and analysis on topics such as graduate talent. Marina also supports YU’s work around climate and sustainability, building on her dissertation research on UK climate policy completed as part of her degree in International Relations and French at the University of Leeds. Before joining YU, Marina has also gained experience from a research scholarship and roles in administration, monitoring and reporting, and project support.

Emma Norfolk

Communications & Projects Officer

Emma coordinates the communications operations and strategy in Yorkshire Universities; in addition to event organisation, she designs and produces content across our communications channels, amplifies messages from our member institutions, and organises the Yorkshire Universities Communications Network.

A graduate from the Open University, Emma brings experience in multi-sector stakeholder engagement and training from the civil service as well as project coordination in private and non-profit organisations.

Jennifer Gibbard

Executive Assistant

Jen joined the team in 2023 and supports a range of admin functions at YU including calendar management and committee servicing.

Jen’s career in admin, operations and project management spans more than 20 years. She cut her teeth working in fast-paced roles in the travel industry then transitioned into HE whilst living and working in New Zealand. She’s subsequently worked with universities and HE consultants across the UK on diverse and complex projects including admissions and recruitment, compliance, learning enhancement, student satisfaction and university governance.

Steph Morris

Associate Consultant

Steph has been an Associate Consultant to YU since March 2023. She is an independent innovation and regional development specialist with over 18 years’ experience in senior roles in national innovation funding organisations and higher education. Before joining YU, Steph worked as Director of Knowledge Exchange & Impact at the University of Leeds. From 2009-2019, Steph worked at Innovate UK in roles including Head of Markets & Insights, and Regional Manager for Yorkshire, the Humber and North East.

Mark Hill


Mark is YU’s long-standing in-house accountant. He provides financial administration and advice to YU management and committees. He runs an accounting practice with mainly commercial clients. He is a former City of York Councillor.