The board of directors oversees all our work, monitors our performance at quarterly meetings and helps us to set our long-term strategy and yearly plans and budgets. Each director has a duty and responsibility to protect the interests of Explore and ensure the organisation is well run. Directors may not represent their own interests or that of any other organisation they have a role in. Directors are volunteers and give their time for free.

Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards


Chris trained as a physics and mathematics teacher and was part of the education team that established the new City of York Council. He subsequently became Director of Learning and Leisure before moving to Leeds as Chief Executive of Education Leeds. Since leaving Leeds, Chris has continued to work on leadership and culture in organisations, curriculum development and school improvement.

Chris reads a lot, sings a little and is passionate about teaching and learning, culture and the arts and hopes we can further develop the libraries as community spaces and a vibrant, inclusive and exciting part of the rich artistic and cultural landscape in this great city of ours.

A dark-haired woman wearing a grey checked jacket, white top and necklace. She is smiling

Jenny Layfield

Chief Executive

Jenny is the Chief Executive for Explore. Her role is to provide strategic leadership to the Explore team; providing vision, leadership and future direction, ensures the culture of Explore reflects its vision, values and objectives.

Jenny has worked in a variety of roles within the cultural and heritage sector including Museum Director at the National Coal Mining Museum for England and General Manager for Nostell in Wakefield. Jenny is also a Chartered Member of the CIPD and has over 15-year experience working as a HR specialist.

Kate Nash

Staff Director

Kate began volunteering as a storyteller at York Explore in 2019 and soon after started work as a Reading and Learning Advisor there. With the variety of activities and visitors to the library, there is never a dull moment. As Staff Director, she represents all the staff, from Archives to Cafes and every Bookshelf in between, who are passionate about the services they deliver. She has previously worked as a teacher and a museum education and outreach officer in England and abroad. Wherever she goes, she always looks for the stories!

Helen Apsey - a blonde woman with glasses

Helen Apsey

Non-executive Director

Helen is Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York. She leads on the delivery of the York Culture Strategy alongside the city’s Culture Executive, working closely with City of York Council and the creative and culture sector. Her skills include strategy development and implementation, policy and public affairs, marketing and communications, engagement, and building relationships. Helen believes that culture can support people’s wellbeing throughout their lives, and as community hubs and places that draw people together, libraries have a vital role to play in this.

Ian Money

Non-executive Director

Ian is a lecturer in Accounting and Finance at the University of York. He brings a unique mix of experience from senior roles in both business and education. Among his key skills are corporate governance, leadership and business acumen. He is passionate about people learning and believes that libraries should be the hub of any community and a safe environment for people to visit and socialise. The five things he can’t live without are family, football, golf, holidays and his iPhone.

Sarah O'Brien a dark-haired woman wearing a black blouse with a red design

Sarah O’Brien

Non-executive Director

Sarah is an academic in theatre and Associate Head for Performance in the School of Arts at York St John University. Sarah has taught in Higher Education for nearly 20 years, specialising in theatre making, acting and participatory performance. She is very interested in how the arts can support communities, develop confidence, and enhance life skills, particularly for children and young people.

Rosemary has short dark hair and is wearing a black t-shirt and glasses

Rosemary Cook

Community Director

Rosemary has a background in healthcare and has been a not-for-profit sector CEO for 17 years. She also has experience on Boards as Trustee and Director. Rosemary is an award-winning author, writing books about historical true crime with nursing and medical connections. She researches and gives talks about local history and historical crimes.

Robert Powell

Community Director

Robert is a well known figure on York’s cultural scene – a writer, curator, and cultural manager with over 40 years experience in the arts, built environment, education, and media in England, Canada and Scotland. From 1997-2015 he was Director of Beam an arts and education company based in Wakefield. In 2017 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). As a creative writer he has published several books of poetry including Riverain (2018) and Lost & Found (2021).