As Director, I work with my team, our Board and key stakeholders to deliver our aim to advance the wellbeing of people, society and the natural world by focusing on the arts, social action and the environment. We do this primarily through our grant making to UK-registered charities of national significance and the management of our underlying endowment. I am proud of my professional and voluntary experience, which has included working for charitable grant makers, public institutions and civil society organisations. I was awarded an MBE for charitable services in 2020, and fellowships with the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
I was elected Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017 and was re-elected for a second term in May 2021. Prior to being Mayor, I was MP for Leigh, where I live now, from 2001. In Government, I have held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008 I became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009. In opposition, I have served as Shadow Education Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary.
Civic Square is a Birmingham-based community centre/hub working to regenerate world-class social and civic infrastructure. Throughout my career, I have focused on convening and building community, the role of citizens in radical systemic change, and how we together create more democratic, distributed, open source social and civic infrastructure. Through this work I have discovered much about economic justice and broader injustices, the pivotal role of land and social/civic infrastructure in neighbourhoods, and the value extracted from communities through our broken investment models. It’s an ongoing journey of discovery, emergence and learning together.
I co-founded Urban Splash in 1993, which has since received 460 awards to date for architecture, design and business success. The company has collaborated with world-class architects and designers to restore old buildings and create new, sustainable communities across the country. We have invested in over 60 regeneration projects in places such as Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Morecombe, and Plymouth. I am also Chairman of Manchester International Festival, and trustee of Tate, the Manchester United Foundation and The Bloxham Charitable Trust.
I am the Secretary General of Assifero, the Italian national membership of grant-making associations. I am also a human rights lawyer and have worked extensively with Italian rights-based NGOs. In 2002, I established a Human Rights Coordination Office for Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo and in 2011 became the first woman elected as its President. I have served as a member of the Executive Board of the worldwide network of the Salesian of Don Bosco development NGOs, and as spokesperson of a network of 88 Italian human rights NGOs leading international and national advocacy.
I am a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester. I joined Forever Manchester, then named, the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester in 1998, and have been its CEO for the past 24 years. Forever Manchester has attracted more than £39 million worth of community funding across Greater Manchester over the last 30 years, benefiting 1.1 million people. Prior to Forever Manchester, I ran my own Marketing and Business Consultancy, and was Head of Corporate Marketing at the Co-operative Bank plc. There, I won a Marketing SWOT Award for the launch of Business Direct, the UK’s first telephone banking service for businesses.
Before my current role, I was Chief Executive of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation (an endowment which grew in worth to around £450m) between 2011 and the end of 2019. Between 1997 and 2004 I worked for the UK Government as Director of the Government’s Strategy Unit and the Performance and Innovation Unit, and Head of Policy in the Prime Minister’s office. I am a board member of Reimagine Europa and the Culture Trust. I have pioneered many ideas used by governments, civil society and business – including joined-up government, anticipatory regulation, experimentalism, social investment and social impact bonds, open innovation and creative economy strategies, collective intelligence and data.
I am Director of the University of Kent’s Centre for Philanthropy, which I co-founded in 2008, and Reader in Social Policy. I have worked in the field of philanthropy for 25 years. I began my career as a fundraiser for a youth homelessness charity and spent a decade working in a variety of fundraising, research and charity management roles, including as Deputy Director at the Institute for Philanthropy. I have written and edited five books. My most recent book In Defence of Philanthropy (2021) offers a robust response, based on both theory and extensive evidence, to the dominant critiques against big giving.
I joined Shelter in May 2018 from Fairtrade, where I was Chief Operating Officer. I have worked in the charity sector for more than 20 years, holding senior management positions at organisations such as National Aids Trust and Stonewall. Homelessness has become one of society’s most persistent problems. I’m proud to be part of a charity that continually challenges the status quo and driven to ensure we’re able to provide the resources for our staff and supporters to tackle this problem.
I am passionate about community foundations and all that they do. Before taking up my current role in 2020, I was CEO of Wiltshire Community Foundation for 12 years, working with amazing people, projects and partners across the county. I had the privilege of getting to know all corners of Wiltshire and Swindon, serving my community and working with others to work out the best ways to help level the playing field. I worked in law firms before joining the charity sector, as a Marketing Director and also as an Operations Director.