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Meet the Team

Joanne Parr

Chief Executive Officer

Joanne joined MSDP in January 2021 bringing more than 15 years of Local Authority and voluntary sector experience.  A passionate advocate for community empowerment, Joanne has worked with and for Deaf and hard of hearing communities since 2013, leading Business Development and nationally funded Health and Social Care programmes at The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth and the UK Council on Deafness.  Prior to joining the deaf voluntary sector various roles have included; Local Authority and Social Housing Neighbourhood Management, community involvement and public relations.  

Sarah-Jane Walker

Head of Service

Sarah-Jane joined MSDP in July 2023. Sarah-Jane is incredibly passionate about making a difference to the individuals who need it the most. Sarah-Jane has worked within, managed and led Learning Disability, Autism and Mental Health services for over 10 years. These roles include: Registered Manager, Commissioning and Relationship Manager and Compliance Manager.

Sarah Welch

Governance and Finance Lead

Sarah joined MSDP in 2001 and over the last 20 years has worked in every area of the charity. Today Sarah ensures our charity’s finance and governance functions run smoothly.  Sarah is hearing, she holds CIPD and AAT qualifications and is also qualified in BSL.  Outside of work, Sarah enjoys travelling.

Karen Devlin

Central Admin Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

Karen started her journey with MSDP volunteering as a playworker. Joining the staff team in 2003 Karen has enjoyed several roles as Receptionist, Support Worker and PA to the Board.  Today, Karen plays a pivotal role in the charity by recruiting and leading our team of volunteers as well as coordinating our central admin team. Karen is hearing and undertook her BSL qualifications here at MSDP.  Karen is particularly passionate about Deaf-Blind services having also worked as a full-time Communicator Guide with Deaf-blind people. Her communication skills include Deaf-Blind Manual and Deaf-Blinds Hands On Communication.  Outside of work Karen enjoys arts and crafts, sewing and walking.

Janice Connolly

Community Engagement Manager

Janice has managed all aspects of MSDP’s community engagement and development since 2016. Prior to this Janice led Department of Health funded programmes Deaf Health Champions and Tablets 4 Health in Merseyside.  As well as working strategically with our statutory and voluntary sector partners Janice also focuses on capacity building our local community groups and increasing our user engagement.  Janice is a well-known member of the Deaf Community and has appeared in BSL films such as ‘Found at the Deaf Club’ which you can see here: Found at the Deaf Club :: BSL Zone.  Outside of work Janice supports Liverpool Deaf Club working behind the community bar and organising events.  She is also a keen photographer.


Ian Cockburn

Training Project Lead

A graduate of the ground-breaking deaf-led BSL Tutor Training Course (known as Durham University BSL Teacher Training Course [DUBSLTTC) Ian has been a highly regarded Tutor at MSDP since 2001.  We calculate he has trained more than 10,000 MSDP students in the past two decades!  As Training Project Lead, Ian is responsible for our training materials and leading on the development of our in-person and digital course offers.  Ian is a member of the Deaf Community and his first language is BSL. Outside of work Ian enjoys walks in the countryside and taking part in various local running and cycling events including Park Run, Liverpool half marathon and Liverpool to Chester cycling event. He also loves spending time with his family and attends various social events within the Deaf Community.