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Charity Commission announces Helen Stephenson as next chief executive

Charity Commission announces Helen Stephenson as next chief executive

The has appointed Helen Stephenson CBE, director of early years and childcare at the Department for Education since 2014, as its next chief executive.

Stephenson will join the Charity Commission on 18th July, and succeeds Paula Sussex, whose three-year term ends in June. She 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, and filling senior roles at the Big Lottery Fund and the Shaftesbury Society.

She has also, until recently, been chair and trustee of the National Childbirth Trust, and was part of the Advisory Council of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In her current role, Stephenson leads a large team in delivering and implementing a multi-million pound childcare programme, and was responsible for taking the Childcare Act through Parliament. At the Cabinet Office, her responsibilities included delivering government policy on charities, social action and volunteering, social investment and the National Citizens Service.

Helen Stephenson said:

“The charitable sector plays a crucial role in our national life and I am delighted to be joining the Charity Commission at this important time. 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.”

Commenting on the announcement, ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning said;

“This appointment shows that the Charity Commission is listening to the concerns of the sector. Helen Stephenson has extensive experience of the third sector, first working for the Big Lottery Fund then at the Office for Civil Society, as well as sitting on various trustee boards. This significant experience is precisely what ACEVO and others have been calling for over recent years.

“We hope this appointment marks the start of a more constructive relationship between the Charity Commission and the sector. 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.”

NCVO and the IoF have also welcomed the appointment.

Sir Stuart Etherington, NCVO chief executive said:

“This is an outstanding appointment, and one I know many in the charity sector will welcome wholeheartedly. Helen has excellent understanding of the modern charity sector, as well as intimate knowledge of the inside workings of government. She also brings leadership and policy capability to the Commission at a critical time for the regulator and the sector. I look forward to working closely with Helen in her new role.”

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF commented:

“I am delighted that Helen Stephenson has been appointed as the next chief executive of the Charity Commission. Helen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of the charity sector and government, and comes into the role with the full support of the Institute of Fundraising. I look forward working together to grow, strengthen and promote excellent charity fundraising in the years to come.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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