Meet our Board Members - Maureen Alderson
Like most children growing up, Maureen dreamed of being an Astronaut or an Actress but instead fell in love with Politics at a young age.
In fact Maureen remembers one of her first forays into being an activist at a young age: “When my school wanted to let a teacher go because of budgets cuts, I got all my friends together and we picketed outside the school. We didn’t actually win that battle but it taught me how important it was to get involved and I was only 8 years old!
“I went on to become Mayor of my high school, Student Welfare Commissioner at University and have spent all of my life as a public servant and now I teach Public Services to the next generation of public servants.”
Maureen graduated from Morgan Park High School on the south side of Chicago. Having been accepted to a number of Universities including Georgetown she decided to attend a small university in Bloomington Illinois as it gave her an opportunity to receive a great education and was taught by full Professors.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Upon graduating, Maureen was offered a campaign management training course sponsored by the Democratic National Committee which she accepted.
Following this, Maureen worked for Bella Abzug, aka ‘Battling Bella’ who was an American lawyer and leader of the Women’s Movement when she ran for Congress in New York. Sadly, Bella lost in the General Election so Maureen returned to Chicago for Thanksgiving.
Maureen moved permanently to the bright lights of New York – but arriving with no job she spent her first few weeks sleeping on a friend’s couch.
She found work for a telephone company as operations manager before securing a position with the Public Advocate of the City of New York: “Life in New York City is like nowhere else in the world and the work that I did was truly rewarding and gave me a sense of purpose.
“Working for the Public Advocate gave me the opportunity to work on behalf of those who really needed the basics in life – heat and hot water, a decent place to live, a better environment and good educational opportunities. It also helped me to gain expertise in public policy, legislation and corporate governance.”
Maureen met a Royal Fleet Auxillary Officer who was in New York City for Fleet Week – and after much communication via long hand letters and having visited each other a few times over two years decided to get married! He wasn’t a big fan of NYC so Maureen agreed to move to Plymouth. They have been married for 19 years this November.
Maureen first learned about the position as a Board Member with PCH all the way back in 2011 when her friend told her that the organisation was advertising: “I had recently been made redundant when the Government decided to close the Regional Development Agency where I had been working and I knew that I could put my skills to good use.
“I already knew a few people who had transferred over to PCH from Plymouth City Council and so I had been following the development of the organisation – somewhere that was really making a difference in Plymouth so I saw this as a great chance to get involved in my adopted home!”
So how does Maureen think she and PCH have changed over the course of her Board Membership?
“I think PCH has become a stronger organisation and having delivered on the promises set out at transfer we are embracing moving forward. It has moved from a Council – like feel to a vibrant organisation with a business head and a social heart.
“I think I’ve become much more aware of the complexities facing our tenants and us as an organisation. When I was Chair of the Customer Focus Committee we saw the development of the menu of involvement available to tenants which was something that made me immensely proud as I believe that resident involvement is at the heart of everything we do.
“I’m really proud of the implementation and development of strong resident scrutiny. The biggest challenge we have all faced is to see the negative impact of the Government on the lives of some of our residents.
“I see a really strong future for PCH – we will continue to offer outstanding services to residents and make a positive contribution to community development in Plymouth. As far as I am concerned, I have just been reappointed to the Board for my final three year term and I hope to make real contributions to the work of PCH as I love considering myself a ‘reverse pilgrim’ and feel a great responsibility to deliver the best for PCH and our residents.”