A busy crowded street

Meet the Scotland Committee

What does the committee do?

The Scotland Committee is responsible for making sure our work meets the needs and priorities of people in Scotland.

Our committee members come from all walks of life. They bring with them a breadth of experience, which is essential for our work.

The committee sets our strategic direction and steers our work in Scotland. This includes:

  • developing our strategic and corporate plans, in particular in relation to Scotland
  • developing and approving our programme of work for Scotland
  • advising on how we use our powers, when they affect Scotland

See the Scotland Committee minutes.

Committee members

Dr Lesley Sawers OBE (Chair)

Lesley is currently a non-executive director of Crosswinds Developments Ltd and a Trustee of SmarkWorks Scotland. She is also a Director of GenAnalytics Ltd, a specialist analytical and market insights consultancy. Previously Lesley was Vice Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor for Business, Enterprise and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian University, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and Deputy Chair of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. She has also held senior executive positions at Scottish Power plc, Royal Mail, CACI Inc and VisitScotland. She is also a past Trustee and Chair of Action for Children (Scotland), a Trustee of Age Scotland, Chair of the Royal Mail Advisory Board Scotland and Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance. Lesley was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours in 2018 for services to Equality and Business.

As Scotland Commissioner, she also serves on the Equality and Human Rights Commission Board of Commissioners. On 29 September 2023 Lesley was appointed Interim Deputy Chair of the Board by the Minister for Women and Equalities. Find out more about our Commissioners. 

Mariam Ahmed

Mariam is the Chief Executive Officer for Amina MWRC, a leading grassroots women’s rights organisation in Scotland that supports and empowers Muslim and ethnic minority women. Marian’s expertise is on gender-based violence and she has been committed to working with all sectors to end violence against women. Mariam is a qualified Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate and her previous role was leading a domestic abuse service for over 11 years, where she was a specialist in supporting Asian, Black and ethnic minority women. Mariam has been committed to highlighting stories of women in destitution and she is a vocal advocate of the human rights issues affecting women with immigration control. Mariam is a training specialist on harmful traditional practices and coercive control within abusive relationships.

Rami Okasha

Rami is the Chief Executive of CHAS, Children’s Hospices Across Scotland. In this role, he leads work to support children with life-shortening conditions, and their families, in hospital, homes and hospices. Previously, he was the Director of Transformation and Innovation at CHAS.

Until 2018, he was Executive Director of Strategy and Improvement at the Care Inspectorate, Scotland’s largest scrutiny and improvement body. There, he was responsible for leading the Care Inspectorate’s improvement support activities across the care sector, and directed approaches to scrutiny methodology, intelligence, organisational development, corporate reporting, involving people who experience care in decisions, communications and policy development. He co-led the development of Scotland’s Health and Social Care Standards, working with people who use and provide care to ensure these are outcomes-focused, based on human rights and wellbeing, and person-led. Before joining the Care Inspectorate in 2013, he worked in public affairs, communications, policy development, and also as a trade union officer for the EIS, where he represented teachers in the workplace, including involving discrimination issues.

Adam Tomkins

Professor Adam Tomkins is the John Millar Chair of Public Law at the University of Glasgow and has significant experience of constitutional and human rights law. He was elected as a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Glasgow Region in 2016 and served in the Scottish Parliament until 2021. He was a member of the Smith Commission, which reviewed the devolution settlement following the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.

Lesley Thomson

Dr Lesley Thomson KC is currently Vice Chair and a non-executive Director of NHS Lanarkshire. Between 2011 and 2016 she served as Solicitor General for Scotland. She was a non-executive Director of the Scottish Rugby Union, where she chaired the SRU’s Committee on Equality, Inclusion and Diversity. Dr Thomson also carried out a review of victim care in the justice sector and served as a lay trade union representative in the private sector.

Mandy Rhodes 

Mandy Rhodes is the managing director of Holyrood Communications and the editor of Holyrood magazine, a role she has held since 2005. She has a wealth of experience of the Scottish political and policy landscape, having worked as a campaigning journalist and political commentator for over 35 years in both print and broadcast media. She has won numerous awards, including the Professional Publishers Association Magazine Editor of the Year, Feature Writer of the Year and Columnist of the Year.

Arlene Stokes

Arlene Stokes is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Aegon UK, an Edinburgh-based financial services company. She has extensive knowledge and experience of employment law and modern workplace people practices, having previously worked as Global Vice President HR for the Minerals Division of The Weir Group and People Director, Operational Excellence at Standard Life Aberdeen.

Register of Scotland Committee Members’ interests

The governance framework sets out rules and guidance for Scotland Committee Members on conflicts of interests, and we maintain a publicly available register of Committee Members' interests. Declarations of interests are available to download as Word documents, below.

Last updated: 02 Oct 2023