Helen Stephenson CBE has been appointed as the next chief executive of the Charity Commission.
Stephenson, who has been Director of Early Years and Childcare at the Department for Education since 2014, will join the commission on 18 July. She succeeds Paula Sussex.
Stephenson has extensive experience of senior leadership across the public and voluntary sectors, having previously served as director and deputy director of the Office for Civil Society. She has filled senior roles at the Big Lottery Fund and the Shaftesbury Society.
Until recently Stephenson was chair and trustee of the National Childbirth Trust, and was part of the advisory council of NCVO.
Stephenson said the sector plays a huge role in national life, and that she is delighted to be joining the regulator.
“It is an honour to be leading the dedicated and talented team at the commission and Paula is handing over an organisation that is in excellent shape, well equipped to meet the challenges of the future. I look forward to working with the commission’s staff to continue the ambitious plans we have set.”
Charity Commission chair William Shawcross welcomed the appointment.
“The board and I are confident that she will be an outstanding leader and will build on the progress we have made in recent years. I know our excellent staff will give Helen a warm welcome and I look forward to working with her.”
Charity leaders' network Acevo said the significant voluntary sector experience Stephenson brings to the role is what it and others have been calling for.
Acevo chief executive Vicky Browning said the appointment shows the regulator is listening to the concerns of the sector.
“We hope this appointment marks the start of a more constructive relationship between the Charity Commission and the sector,” Browning said. “Faced with unprecedented demand on their services and stagnant income, charities need a regulator which supports them to operate to the best of their ability. We look forward to working with Helen to fulfil this vision of a stronger sector.”