Ruth Redfern

Assistant Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward, Ruth Redfern, studied a Dip HE in Organisational
and Professional Studies, followed by a BEd at Bradford College, graduating in 1980.

Ruth RedfernAs Assistant Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward, Ruth plays a key role in the running of the Regional Development Agency, which is responsible for driving the economic growth of Yorkshire and Humber. As well as supporting the agency’s Board, Ruth is also responsible for managing relationships with the region’s politicians – a role that suits her own political background.

Ruth was elected to Bradford Metropolitan Council in 1991 and as well as leading on key areas such as regeneration, transport and skills for 5 years, she was also elected Chief Whip. Despite her strong connection to Bradford, Ruth is not a native of the city, and her first encounter with the place that has been her home for over 20 years was as a student arriving at Bradford College.

“The first time I stepped foot in Bradford was when I arrived to register at the College. I remember getting off the train, walking up through the centre and looking at buildings like City Hall and thinking – yes, I like it here. I felt at home almost at once. During my first year I lived in Halls of Residence in the city and did all the things a first year does – going out a lot and enjoying myself. My daughter is in her first year of University now at Newcastle, and it always makes me smile when she tries to convince me that she is staying in to write an essay and not going out for ‘a quick drink’ – I remember those excuses!

People are often surprised to hear that I wasn’t actively involved in student politics when I was at Bradford College, but being there gave me the chance to explore my interests in everything from the Arts to disability rights campaigning. I always say that choosing the right university is about more than just the course, it is about finding a place that allows you to explore and develop all aspects of yourself – Bradford College gave me that experience.”

After graduating, Ruth went on to teach deaf students at the College and then to establish a nursery that integrated able-bodied and disabled children. She left to run DATA – a training project for disabled adults, and under her leadership, the initiative became a European Centre of Excellence. It was from here that Ruth entered Bradford Metropolitan Council – during which period she also lectured in local, national and European Government at Bradford University - and then, in 1999 joined the newly established Yorkshire Forward.

Photograph supplied by Yorkshire Forward