2023: Charity leaders to watch in the year ahead

After a challenging year, 2022 is finally drawing to a close. As 2023 creeps in, Charity Times takes a look at the leaders to keep an eye on in the upcoming year

2023 will be an uncertain time for charities. The cost-of-living crisis shows no signs of abating; culture wars are increasing and the sector is facing more demand than ever before. At the forefront of this are the leaders who are in charge of finding solutions that can help to create lasting change.

Below, we take a look at some of the leaders who have fallen on our radar – for multiple reasons – and will be worth keeping an eye on as they attempt to navigate this period of uncertainty.

Lucy Caldicott, Founder, ChangeOut
Although she is stepping away from charity and into politics, Caldicott is worth keeping a note of in the upcoming year. The former charity CEO led a strong career in the third sector before moving into politics in 2018, now standing to be the Labour candidate in Birmingham Northfield at a time when politics and charities are becoming more intertwined. Her experiences in both her personal and professional life have shaped the leader she is. “Lucy is the epitome of excellent leadership: she learns and develops, she shares and teaches,” a charity peer said.

Jane Ide, CEO, ACEVO
Appointed to the top role at the chief executive’s membership organisation, Ide took on the role in May. Not even a year in, she has hit the ground running, dealing with multiple challenges early on, such as the cost of living crisis, the Queen’s death and the climate crisis. Active on social media, Ide champions other voices and is carving out an even bigger space for the membership organisation at a time when it’s clear chief executives will need somewhere to turn during a time of extreme economic and political turbulence.

Celia Richardson, Director of Communications and Marketing, National Trust
Heading up the comms at National Trust surely hasn’t been an easy task this year. The charity has faced challenges from both the public and MPs, something that doesn’t look like it’s set to ease off in the upcoming year. The trust has stood strong under Richardson’s leadership, though and pivoted itself to a younger and more diverse audience. Richardson’s role in 2023 will continue to be crucial as she attempts to continue to demonstrate change and compassion at one of the UK’s most well-loved charities.

Stuart Andrew, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Civil Society and Minister for Equalities
Andrew is the third civil society minister to have been appointed in 2022, and the seventh since 2010 in a role that’s now been diluted further than ever before. Alongside his civil society post, he is responsible for several other policy areas spanning two departments, including both staging the Eurovision Song Content and the coronation of King Charles. Will charities get the attention they need and deserve as he attempts to juggle such a wide-ranging portfolio?

David Burgess, Director, Apollo Fundraising
A fundraiser challenging charity sector norms on Twitter, Burgess, who now works as a consultant, is the mind behind @NonGradsWelcome, a group that campaigns for charities to remove degree-level education as a job requirement. Already research is suggesting this campaign is having a significant impact, encouraging more working class and a more inclusive working environment across charities’. So, thanks to Burgess’ influence, 2023 is already looking like a promising nudge towards a more inclusive sector.

Carol Akiwumi MBE, CEO, Money4U
Akiwumi is the founder and CEO of Money4U, an organisation delivering financial education, entrepreneurship and capacity building training across the world. A part of the charity is the AVOCADO+ Accelerator Programme for BAME-led charities, who receive monthly training, capacity building and support. A force for good, she also hosts the four minutes in fundraising podcast and uses her platforms to help entice lasting change across the charity sector and communities around the world.

Leah Black, Chief executive, WHALE Arts
Currently on secondment with EVOC (Edinburgh voluntary organisations’ council) from her CEO role at community arts org WHALE in Edinburgh, Black is working on the ambitious Regenerative Futures Fund, which aims to bring ‘new money’ into the charity and social sector in Edinburgh to support individuals long-term. Described in her nomination as someone who is “prepared to ask ‘why not?’ when it comes to doing things differently,” she is one we’ll have our eye on as her secondment project takes off.

Orlando Fraser, Chair, Charity Commission
The former commercial barrister and Conservative candidate was appointed to the chair of the Charity Commission in April 2022 despite concerns raised by both the sector and MPs. Fraser comes into the role in an increasingly challenging environment for charities, with the cost of living crisis at the fore, alongside scrutiny over ‘wokeness’ and culture wars. Fraser has also denied that the government will have any influence over the regulator – so it’s certainly a name we expect to see making headlines in the year ahead.

Ruth Owen, CEO, Leonard Cheshire
Owen became CEO for Leonard Cheshire in 2021 after 17 years as CEO of WhizzKidz. A wheelchair user from the age of seven, she believes in the importance of independent mobility and in removing the barriers disabled people face. She’s been busy advocating for this in her work, which has been shown with her previous role as a member of the Mayor of London’s equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group. It will be interesting to see how Owen’s role develops as the sector works to become a more accessible place to work.

Asha Curran, CEO, Giving Tuesday
The CEO of a movement that has only grown in recent years, Curran is a name the whole sector should know. A worldwide event, Giving Tuesday encourages people to volunteer your time; donate money; share skills; campaign for something; donate goods, food, or clothes; arrange a community event. Since 2019, it’s flourished under Curran’s leadership and has helped to raise millions of pounds for charities. We’re keen to see how the event evolves over the coming year as fundraising is set to take a huge hit.

Katie Docherty, CEO, Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF)
Docherty, who is the current head of CIoF, is still facing an uphill battle for the year ahead. The repercussions of a sexual harassment scandal in fundraising are still being felt at the organisation, with high-profile organisations such as Refuge pulling memberships over concerns around women’s safety. Other issues the body has faced in 2022 include links to gun lobby linked firms and ‘taking advantage’ of virtual events platform in an effort to improve access. Will the tides turn for Docherty and CIoF in 2023?

Lucy Straker, Head of Communications, British Tinnitus Association, co-founder, Charity So Straight
Lucy Straker is a charity communications expert. Through her work with Charity So Straight and Queer Trustees, she has been tirelessly working to increase diversity for LGBTQI+ people in the sector. She played a key role in communications across the sector during the pandemic and was praised for her ‘empathetic and compassionate’ nature. As Charity So Straight continues to demonstrate meaningful impact for the theLGBTQI+ community, 2023 could prove to be an exciting time for Straker.

Ben Lindsay, CEO and founder, Power the Fight
Hailed Charity Times’ Rising Leader of the Year in 2022, Lindsay has made a big impact in a short amount of time. Setting up Power the Fight in 2019, Lindsay is paving the way to making the world a safer place. His focus on a community-centred approach, engagement in activism and determination has made him an inspiration to not only to local communities, but to people from across the sector, too.

Sophia Moreau, Trainer, Getting on Board, head of advocacy and communications, Little Village
Moreau is a force to be reckoned with in the sector, fighting for diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility across charities. She was a part of the 2022 Charity Times Annual Conference, where she provided valuable insight on trustee diversity, and for Trustee Week 2022, she wrote a new and hugely successful guide for Getting on Board on diversifying boards, full of advice a lot of charity boards will benefit from in 2023 and beyond.

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