Meet the team

Skyblue’s Team comprises a small core of full time permanent research staff and  a network of long-established associates with specialist subject matter or research methods expertise.

Alan Graver, MMRS, Managing Director Skyblue Research Ltd

Alan has been a senior director of three research companies since his career started in 1991. He is a professional researcher and evaluator with a focus on contributing evidence, thought leadership and strategic support for some of society’s largest challenges. Alan spent the first 20 years of his career learning about, and developing research that has contributed towards improved education, employment, enterprise, skills, training and career policy and programmes. This focus was about helping people improve their labour market position, and planning their futures with greater confidence.

Since 2007, Alan has invested greater energy in seeking to understand and learn about people and society to help reduce inequalities and improve physical and mental wellbeing. His consultancy seeks to encourage investments and / or protect evidence-based programmes that support individuals to have greater control over the world around them.

Current work ranges from helping to devise approaches to tackle loneliness and social isolation, to encouraging more youth work and mentoring to helping multiple charities improve their impact practice in order to more confidently tackle poverty through their work. The common thread is to play a part in encouraging more preventative measures in society. A skilled facilitator, presenter and strategist, Alan works hard to convert ideas and evidence into actionable recommendations and plans that can create a distinct difference over time.

Married to Donna and with their two children Adam and Amber, Alan is a dedicated family man. He lives in York and enjoys nothing more than rambling in North Yorkshire. Determined to give back to this wider community he takes immense pride in being Chair of North Yorkshire Sport, a charity determined to help people become more physically and mentally active and healthy. In this role he has helped launch initiatives and sourced funding to create more equal opportunities for people with impairments or who find themselves in challenging situations.

Amber Graver, Research Executive

Amber has consciously developed her social research career with Skyblue since 2016 building on her innate curiosity about people’s behaviours, attitudes and minds. As well as supporting the delivery of social research projects through appropriate quantitative and qualitative research methods, Amber is renowned for her organisational capability and desire to support others.

These qualities have been noted in North Yorkshire, where she was recruited to provide a dedicated monitoring and co-ordination role for a significant Department for Education funded social mobility programme on the East Coast (NYCOA), and more recently she provides co-ordination support for the county’s Suicide Prevention Programme funded by partners including the NHS, North Yorkshire County Council and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

She is a phenomenal young woman. Her mental health voluntary, fund-raising and advocacy work is impressive to say the least. She has helped shape BEAT UK’s Developing Dolphins B-ED’ a programme aimed at parents / carers / siblings of those living with Binge-Eating Disorder, the third most prevalent eating disorder after Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. MIND invited Amber to develop and deliver an ‘Eating Disorders: Spotting the Signs’ training programme for their Advocacy and Activities team and in 2019 Amber was recently selected (1 of only 8 in the country) as a young Steering Group member for ‘Our Minds Our Future’ a National, Youth-Led Campaign that aims to tackle the disparity between young people’s needs and access to mental health support by taking a rights based approach to mental health. She will soon be helping co-ordinate a mental health training hub and is increasingly an important, young voice that can influence policy, programmes and the way in which people can help themselves and be supported where and when it is most needed.

Donna Graver, Skyblue Research Financial Director

Donna is responsible for Skyblue’s financial, HR, employment law and contract administration processes. As Director and Company Secretary Donna has a range of valuable support skills routinely provided to all our clients and contracts.

An integral part of this family-run business, Donna has key interests in physical activity (most recently kick-boxing) and health and wellbeing. She is involved in supporting our proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace and ensures that there are well organised social events to balance the hard work that everyone at Skyblue undertakes.

Our associates

Paul Rhodes

Paul has spent over 20 years developing expertise in research and evaluation. His focus as Director of Research & Policy at Skyblue has been working with charities, trusts and foundations to tell their stories with increasing confidence. 

Research and evaluation to support disabled people is an area of especial interest. He has a particular passion for qualitative research, participatory techniques and observation to programmes and initiatives to life through the words of those involved. An engaging presenter, Paul enjoys communicating change and supporting teams to develop new evaluation capabilities.

When not spending time with his young family, Paul works with Accessible Arts & Media, a York charity that uses the Arts to support disabled people to become involved in their communities, and lends his hands and photographic eye to support York Cemetery’s conservation and fundraising work.

Consultant Associates

Skyblue is collaborating with colleagues from The Ideas Mine on a long-term evaluation of the North Yorkshire County Council Stronger Communities Programme. Seen here are (left to right) Alan, Judith Courts, Sue Vasey, Paul Rhodes (independent consultant), John Sargent and Amber.

Oliver Kempton, Senior Partner, Envoy Partnership (Social Return On Investment)

Oliver is an economist and is Skyblue's specialist in terms of SROI. He is an assessor for the SROI Network, and is a visiting tutor in SROI at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Oliver has worked on several projects with the Skyblue team since 2011. These include evaluations of Dame Kelly Holmes Trusts’ Get on Track project, and Creative and Cultural Skills EIF Funded Apprenticeships. Oliver is also working with Imperial War Museum North and Manchester Museum to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of a volunteering programme aimed at getting 16-24 year olds, over 50s, and ex-service personnel into museum volunteering roles.Oliver shares the same values as Skyblue in helping organisations maximise the value of social impact evaluation and for embedding best practice within organisations. He is training staff at the Children’s Society to embed social impact evaluation within their project management and continues to be a major contributor to our social, economic research.