Our Directors

Meet our Directors

Diana Noel Paton

Diana has worked with Thistle since 1995.

Before that, she worked for a number of statutory and voluntary organisations in the field of supported housing and mental health.

For the first number of years here she was the Operations Director and was very involved in the move from residential and housing services to that of our current individualised Supported Living service.

Diana became Chief Executive in January 2005. She believes the biggest challenge for Thistle in the coming years is to manage the difficult task of continuing to grow and further develop our work, as well as ensuring that we remain committed to responding individually and flexibly to every person we  support.  

Mark Hoolahan

Mark has over 20 years’ experience working across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

During his career, Mark has provided support and leadership to teams of learning and organisational development practitioners both within the NHS and Local Government. He has contributed to the development and delivery of effective learning programmes and resources to support the delivery of high quality support for people. During his time working in the local government and voluntary sectors Mark has made important contributions to leading and facilitating large scale change such the move towards implementing Self-Directed Support (SDS).

Mark joined Thistle in February 2014 and as Deputy Chief Executive has been working to grow and develop the organisation as a high quality Health and Wellbeing charity. During his time in the organisation Mark has continued to work with colleagues and support Thistle to continue its journey towards becoming a self-directed organisation, where staff are empowered to continue developing their skills and deliver the shared values of the Thistle community in practice.

A consistent theme through Mark’s career has been his commitment to ensure that supported people are involved and have choice and control over how their support is designed and delivered.

Mark says, ‘I am inspired by the stories of people who come to Thistle and who have experienced and overcome significant challenges in their lives. It is a privilege to work alongside them and to play a part in supporting them to live the life they want.”

Nicola Park

Nicola oversees Thistle’s finance, ICT (Information and CommunicationTechnology) and facilities teams which are accountable for ensuring our stakeholders are informed about financial performance, can access a robust and secure IT system and are safe and comfortable when using our buildings and amenities such as the gym.

Passionate about continuous improvement, Nicola is a supporter of introducing the principles of self-directed work into organisations and is a strong advocate of Thistle’s person-centred approach – finding out what matters to people in order to support them to achieve their aspirations.

Nicola joined Thistle as Head of Finance and Company Secretary in December 2016, bringing extensive financial experience from working for commercial organisations such as Motorola, Teledyne and latterly Shell.

Nicola is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and she is also a qualified Yoga teacher, reflecting her keen interest in wellbeing and supporting people to relax and enjoy life.

Mildred Zimunya

Mildred is responsible for the operational leadership of Thistle’s services and ensuring compliance with statutory regulations.  Over time, this role will evolve into one which helps lead the organisation in ways that promote self-management, collaboration, creativity and innovation.

Mildred holds an MBA from Strathclyde Business School, and is passionate about supporting organisations that help those most in need to grow and succeed - especially when that involves unlocking the potential of employees. 

Before joining Thistle in June 2018, Mildred was a senior manager at Waverley Care, a charity providing information, care and support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C.  She has 20 years’ experience working in the health sector and since 2006 has been involved in the development of an African Health Project that engages with communities, services and other stakeholders to ensure a safe, quality service for African migrants in difficult and desperate health situations. In 2013, Mildred was a nominee for the Unsung Hero Award in the Scottish Health Awards.

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