The Howard League for Penal Reform is looking for a new CEO following the announcement that Frances Crook is to retire, after leading the charity for more than 30 years.
Crook is to leave the charity in July after being appointed chief executive in 1986.
During her time at the prison reform charity, Crook was awarded an OBE for services to youth justice in 2010 and honorary doctorates in law from Liverpool and Leeds Beckett universities. She was previously campaigns coordinator at Amnesty International and is a former teacher.
The closing date for applications to replace her at the 150-year-old charity is 10 May.
Among those to praise Crook ahead of her retirement is shadow secretary of state for justice David Lammy who said she “leaves a vital legacy”.
.@francescrook has been the single most influential campaigner for prison reform of our times and leaves a vital legacy. Relentless, determined and driven by conviction, she has had a remarkable career. https://t.co/AyJUzHWk0b— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 13, 2021
Meanwhile, cabinet office minister and former secretary of state for justice Michael Gove said her commitment to improving lives was “exemplary”.
Crook said: “I want to pay tribute to the many people who have worked and volunteered with me at the Howard League. They are the most talented, hard-working and joyful people I have ever met.
“The Howard League is a special organisation; it has always held a central place in the political and justice landscape of the country. We contribute to the public discourse on the most important issues facing a government – how to keep people safe and how to respond to challenges to public order.”
She added that when she took over the charity it “was well respected” but “almost bankrupt”.
“I am grateful to the trusts and individuals who allow me to celebrate the fact that the Howard League is financially stable, owns a headquarters building and has a range of funding streams that means we are not beholden to one source of funding,” she said.
“People sometimes say that fundraising is problematic, but I have not found it so, as I have enjoyed working with donors who have been supportive and creative.
“I have taken an organisation that was on the brink of being wound up, to one that is vibrant, benefits from an amazing staff team and is facing the future with energy and vision.
“I am proud of what I have achieved and thankful to the many people who I have worked with. It has been an honour and a joy.”