Praise for charity leaders in Queen's Birthday Honours List

Charity chief executives and former voluntary sector leaders are among those honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which was expanded this year to take into account the “unsung heroes” supporting communities during the Covid-19 health crisis.

Among those to be honoured is Geoff Mulgan, the former chief executive of innovation charity Nesta from 2011 and 2019. He has received a knighthood for services to the creative economy.

“He managed Nesta's transformation from a quango into an independent charity, and greatly expanded its work across the UK and globally,” said the Cabinet Office, which has announced the awards list.

“Under his leadership it contributed to growing many fields,including social investment and crowdfunding, computing in the curriculum and new models of volunteering in health, and uses of evidence in public policy and innovative approaches to regulation.”

Money Advice Trust chief executive Joanna Elson has been awarded a CBE for services to people in financial difficulty.

Money Advice Trust chair Adam Sharples, said: “We are thrilled that Joanna has received this honour in recognition of her work to promote financial inclusion. She has been an outstanding chief executive for the Money Advice Trust for more than 10 years and has worked tirelessly to help people and small businesses to deal with problem debts.

“The honour is also a tribute to the achievements of the wider team of staff she leads at the Trust, who have risen to the extraordinary challenges posed by Covid-19 and continue to deliver our services at time when they are needed more than ever.”

Also receiving a CBE is Tessy Ojo, the chief executive of children and young people’s charity The Diana Award.

“I am humbled by this honour and it feels momentous because it was driven by young people,” said Ojo.

“It’s an immense privilege to work with children and young people. For the past twenty years at The Diana Award I have seen time and time again the life-changing impact we can have on young people by investing in them and empowering them to be a voice to create change.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, has also been awarded a CBE in the honours list.

“I am deeply touched that the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust has been recognised in this way,” said Pollock.

“This is a tribute to the Holocaust survivors I have the privilege to work with whose strength, determination and zest for life, inspire me every day. It is also thanks to the dedication of a brilliant team who work to ensure young people not only learn about the Holocaust but stand up to antisemitism, racism and hatred today. Our mission has never been more important and I am delighted that our combined efforts have been recognised.”

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman is another to be recognised. She has received an OBE in the honours list.

“Olivia is hugely deserving of the recognition of an OBE. She is a shining example of dedication, creativity and diligence and I'm thrilled that she has received this very special honour from the Queen,” said HMDT chair Laura Marks.
Another recipient of an OBE is Ndidi Okezie, the chief executive of UK Youth.

This year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List saw 1,495 people honoured, including 414 for those who have made “exceptional contributions” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Honours criticism

In August a number of charity leaders called on the government to reform the honours system to remove the term British Empire’.

The group instead wanted the honour to include the term ‘British Excellence’, “acknowledging the damage done and atrocities committed by Empire historically”, they said.

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