Our Team

Commonwealth Housing Trust consists of a team of competent, committed and experienced trustees. Allow us to introduce them to you on this page.

Professor Graham F. Chase FRICS FCIArb C.Arb FRSA FInstCPD



Graham has been a practitioner in the property industry for 42 years. He joined the BBC as a building and estates surveyor in 1976, moving on to Ladbrokes Racing Limited as a development surveyor in 1978 and joining Clive Lewis & Partners as a shop agent on 1st January 1980. He was appointed a Partner in 1985 and Chairman of the Retail Group, when Clive Lewis & Partners merged with Edward Erdman in 1993 to form Colliers Erdman Lewis. After seeing through the merger, he set up Chase & Partners on 1st June 1995 and has been trading under this brand ever since.


During his career, he has acquired and sold over £5 billion of retail & leisure property investments, advised on the development of 20 shopping centres and introduced and acquired the majority of Land Securities Retail Warehouse portfolio between 1984 and 1998 to the value of some £2 billion.


As an Arbitrator and Independent Expert for 15 years, he has given awards and determinations on over 200 disputes on a variety of issues from valuations, market rents, viability and planning conditions.  For over 30 years he has appeared as an expert witness in the High Court, Lands Tribunal and Public Planning Inquiries on a number of complex and high-profile cases.


He is a Past President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Arbitrator, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors, a current member of the Court of the Arbitrators Livery Company, a visiting Professor at Westminster University, an Honorary Fellow of London South Bank University, Past Chairman of the Covent Garden Area Trust, Chairman of the Saracens Multi Academy Trust, President of the Association of Town and City Management, Chairman of the Commonwealth Housing Trust and a Governor of King’s Ely School.


Michael Sander  B.Sc M.Phil FRICS MRTPI CMCIH FRSA

Acting Secretary


Michael Sander has been in public service and private practice for some 50 years, as a Chartered Surveyor, Chartered Town Planner, Local Authority Chief Executive, and as a Consultant. He served as Chief Housing Officer at Lewes District Council, Director of Housing at Lewisham Borough Council, and Chief Executive at Crawley Borough Council.


He has been also Vice Chairman of a major Housing Association, Board Member of the Mental Health Trust for Kent; worked in International Development (especially in Africa), and continues to take part as an International Observer on OSCE and EU.Election Monitoring Missions.


He joined the Board of CHT at its inception.


Philip Hillman

Vice Chair


As Chairman of our Living Capital Markets team, Philip brings his experience of being involved in the Student Housing sector in the UK since the early 1990’s to the evolving student sector across the EMEA region.


He is also involved in the emerging co-living sector and is excited to be working with some of the growing platforms in this nascent sector across EMEA.

He passionately believes in the concept of ‘Living’ as more than just a vibrant property sector, but about making better homes and communities – for those starting out at college or university through to those looking for a dynamic and engaging community in retirement.


Philip has been involved in many of the largest student housing transactions in the UK and Europe over the past decade and is now working alongside global investors, developers and operators active in the wider Living sector.


His professional journey started with JP Sturge as a graduate trainee in Bristol in 1986. Having Qualified as a chartered Surveyor, he then specialised in the emerging Student Housing sector, initially as a valuer but subsequently building a wider team acting in agency roles and working with Universities.


JP Sturge merged with King and Co in 1992 to form King Sturge where Philip became an equity partner. The firm was subsequently acquired by JLL in 2011.
He has been based in London since 2011 and now travels and works across the EMEA region.


Philip spent 2 years teaching in Kenya, where he developed a passion for East Africa and its people. He is still involved in project in Kenya.


Louise Archer BSc FRICS CIHCM

Vice Chair


Louise is Executive Property Director at Broadland Housing. A not-for-profit housing association based in Norfolk and North Suffolk, with approximately 5,000 homes.


Louise has been at Broadland Housing since November 2007 and was appointed as Executive Property Director in July 2011. She is responsible for Broadland Repairs Service, Broadland Facilities Services as well as ensuring Broadland homes meet the decent homes standard. Louise also manages IT, facilities and services within the Property Team. Louise is passionate about promoting sustainability both within the organisation and with Broadland’s tenants. Louise has been recognised by Sustainable Homes for her work around sustainability, receiving an award for Leadership.


Louise is the SME representative for RICS UK and Ireland World Regional Board and a member of RICS Governing Council. She is also an RICS Associate Assessor for Quantity Surveying and Construction and accredited expert for RICS Board recruitment.


In her spare time, Louise has a passion for performing. She featured in the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London and is chair of her local theatre company.


Louise joined the CHT board in 2016.


Ed Jenkins


Ed has spent most of his adult life in East Africa, working in tourism and conservation.


He is now transferring his skills and currently is on the JLL commercial graduate programme in London and studying at UCEM with the aim of sitting APC in Spring 2020.  


With family still living in Nanyuki, North Kenya, working with the CHT gives him an opportunity to be involved in projects related to Kenya.  


Valerie Kent BA MSc CPsychol AFBPsS


After leaving the LSE Valerie taught social psychology for twenty six years at Goldsmiths College, London, specialising in social influence and social development. Her 1974 survey report on attitudes of a wide sample of local residents to re-development plans for the Camberwell Green area successfully helped to modify those plans. It also reflected her interest in housing issues which currently continues through involvement with CHT. She was awarded a Commonwealth Fellowship at the University of the West Indies Trinidad campus to further her work on the development of prosocial behaviour. After leaving Goldsmiths she lived in Nairobi for seventeen years where she continued to write occasionally. Most of her time was taken up by extensive involvement in the musical world there, including chairing the Nairobi Music Society for fifteen years, also chairing Nairobi Orchestra and serving on the Council of the Kenya Conservatoire of Music. She also chaired the Commonwealth Housing Mutual Help Group (CHG) from its inception until she returned to the UK in 2016.


Aashna Puri


Aashna Puri is passionate about opportunities that empower people by connecting them with life-changing services and products. A commitment to this mission and her time living and working across Africa drive her involvement with the CHT.


Aashna is an experienced real estate professional. She has worked with JLL in New York on the iconic energy retrofit of the Empire State Building, then relocated to Johannesburg to lead their Africa Desk and is now based in London consulting large corporates on their portfolio strategy. 


Interested in social innovation, Aashna founded Sogather, a social dining venture that allows people to connect over a freshly-cooked meal in the comfort of a home.


Aashna holds a B.A. in Economics and Environmental Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Entrepreneurship at the University of Cambridge.


Kalra Ripin


Ripin has worked since 1992 on affordable green housing, education infrastructure, energy, urban risk reduction and resilience projects in 30+ countries in senior and leadership positions in global inter-disciplinary firms. He also teaches and supervises post-graduate planning and housing students.


He co-authored the National Climate Resilience Investment Plan for Belize (World Bank, 2013-14); led affordable green housing projects with World Bank/ IFC in Kenya and India; developed guidance for the World Bank on mainstreaming resilience within urban investment in East-Asia and the Pacific; worked as Disaster Prevention specialist on risk finance assignments in the Caribbean and the Sub-Saharan Africa, conceptualised integrated models for zero carbon zero waste new towns in the Middle-East, India, South-East Asia, Nigeria, Ghana and China.


He has worked with planning and resource efficiency projects in higher education for University of the Arts new campus at Kings Cross, University of Hertfordshire and Dublin Institute of Technology; He collaborates with the British Standards Institute on 'Smart Cities and Sustainable Communities'.


He is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. He is also a regular illustrator on environmental and sustainability issues such as the 'Urban Housing Manual' in 2004.  


Robin Witt


For the last 30 years I have been involved with a range of property development projects in the UK and Mallorca, Spain. In 2000 I set up a charity called the Rift Valley Tree Trust to try and help preserve the fast disappearing Mau Forest in Kenya, by getting commercial trees planted for felling, taking pressure off the forest. It became very clear that the greatest threat to the Mau forest came from the rapidly rising population of people, all requiring timber from the forest with which to cook on and build with. When I learnt that most women in the area had no access to family planning, and had more children than they wanted, it became clear that if we wanted to help save the forest we also had to give women the chance to choose how many children they wanted to have.  In 2012 we changed the name to CHASE Africa (Community Health and Sustainable Environment) and started to work with partners delivering primary healthcare and family planning in rural areas of Kenya. We keep planting trees and have planted one-acre plots at over 200 schools, which when mature, provide a source of income for the schools.
I  know Kenya well having been a regular visitor since 1976.


Max Crofts FRICS


Max Crofts’ career as a chartered surveyor has been with the same firm, originally J P Sturge & Sons and then King Sturge, which he joined in 1970 as its first graduate trainee. Although West Country-based, his professional work was for clients throughout the UK and occasionally overseas. 

His professional career has been complemented by an active involvement with other organisations including Bath Chamber of Commerce (President 1980), RICS Junior Organisation (National Chairman 1981), the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors (Liveryman since 1992), Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (President 1996) and RICS Committees responsible for Professional Standards, Public Affairs, Indemnity Insurance and Conduct.

He was RICS Global President in 2009-2010. In his ambassadorial role he represented RICS in meetings with Government Ministers, a wide range of national organisations and the property media. He led initiatives on dispute resolution and professional standards and consolidated governance structures in the UK and mainland Europe. Overseas, he led expansion activities in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.

His current pro bono activities include work for Dunkerton Parish Hall Charity (Chairman), St George Wharf Residents Association (Chairman), Wilts & Berks Canal Trust (Head of Land Team), the International Property Measurement Standards Coalition and the Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy.


Bernadette Gitari MBS, FRICS, CIArb


I am currently the Regional Manager East Africa for RICS International Limited. My responsibility which include promoting the RICS Agenda in the greater East African Region by promoting Thought Leadership international standards, membership and training. 

I hold a Bachelors Degree in Land Economics (1980) and a Masters Degree in Valuation and Property Management (2001) from the same University. 

I am an accredited Mediator (2017), a Fellow of RICS (2012), a Registered and Licensed Valuer (1987) a full member of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (1983)  

I have worked in various companies as a valuer and real estate consultant. My last one being with Knight Frank (2006-2019). I have carried out assignments in most of the African countries which include Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Southern Sudan, Eritrea, Mauritius, Seychelles and Ivory Coast.

Within the real estate profession in Kenya, I have held various positions which include Chairperson of a Taskforce Committee to develop valuation standards in Kenya, board member of Valuer Registration Board and a lecturer and examiner of professional examinations for membership to the Institution of surveyors of Kenya. I held the position of Chairperson of the Kenya Group of RICS between 2009 and 2015 when the group was wound up to give way to the current RICS office in Kenya.

I am passionate about real valuation and consultancy. In my career I have trained and mentored many young professionals who aspire to take up a career in real estate in Kenya. In this regard and in appreciation of my successful career, I was awarded Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) by the President of the Republic of Kenya in 2006.

I am a founder member of Mukuru Promotion Trust whose aim was to provide affordable schools within Mukuru slums in Nairobi. The trust also establishment Mukuru Kafoka Studville Centre which is a hostel that provides university students accommodation in Nairobi

I am a secular member of The Carmelite community, and I support Mary Rice Brothers who looks after Autistic children from Kibra slums. Am therefore excited to be part of CHT and what they intend to do for Mwamuko Group.

I am a single mother of one deceased son Raphael, whom I set up a foundation, The Rapho Foundation, to assist needy children obtain education.