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New CEO announced for RNLI, plus other sector movers

Melanie May | 26 January 2024 | News

A handshake. By Adam Radosavljevic from Pixabay

A round up of recent recruitment and mover news from the sector, including CEO appointments at RNLI and TCV, a new Head of Volunteering for Bookmark Reading Charity, and changes at THINK.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Peter Sparkes to become RNLI CEO

Peter Sparkes will take up the CEO role at RNLI on 26 June. He is currently the Chief Executive of the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO). He brings with him significant operational and leadership experience.

Joining the Royal Navy in 1990, he served in a wide variety of appointments, both at sea on operational duty and ashore. Notably, he commanded the frigate HMS Cumberland on counter-piracy patrol off Somalia, and the 46 units of the Portsmouth Flotilla. In late 2019, he served in Washington DC as the UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Liaison Officer to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. Sparkes became the Acting Chief Executive of the UKHO in July 2020 and was then appointed Chief Executive in April 2021, leaving the Royal Navy to take up the permanent role.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

Rebecca Kennelly takes CEO role at TCV

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) has appointed Rebecca Kennelly MBE as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Kennelly joins TCV from The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), where she served as the Executive Director of UK Operations since July 2021. Prior to that, she was the Director of Volunteering for the Royal Voluntary Service. She was awarded an MBE for her service during the COVID-19 response as she was responsible for delivery of the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme that mobilised over 600,000 volunteers to support vulnerable people and the NHS.

L-R: Chambers, Smith, Bradley, & Kernahan

Changes at THINK announced

After 22 years of stewardship by the Elischer family and the other Directors of THINK over the years, THINK is now owned by a new Board of four Executive Directors, all of whom take on new roles and responsibilities in the business.

Michelle Chambers, who has led THINK over the last eight years, becomes its first ever Chief Executive. Matt Smith, who has been at THINK for four years, will be stepping into the role of Managing Director and successor to ensure the business’s long-term future. Gary Kernahan and Juliette Bradley have both been promoted and become Executive Directors.

Catherine Hart named ZSL Director of Development

ZSL has announced the appointment of Catherine Hart as its new Director of Development. Hart takes over from interim Director of Development, Meredith Hunter and brings years of fundraising expertise and experience to the role. She will help steer the organisation through its 200th anniversary. 

Hart has worked for charities including UCL, Cancer Research UK, and most recently as Director of Fundraising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ where she led on the development and delivery of the first dedicated fundraising strategy for the three charities of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and the launch of a four-year, £70 million fundraising strategy.  

Bookmark Reading Charity appoints Anna Croghan as Head of Volunteering

Anna Croghan will be joining Bookmark in February as Head of Volunteering following six-years at Age UK where she has led and delivered strategic change in their national and local volunteering initiatives. Her role will see her lead the volunteering team in growing the charity’s volunteer base, building its corporate offering and strengthening its community provision.  

In her previous role she served as an active member in several cross-sector volunteering initiatives, including Shaping the Future with Volunteering, The Richmond Group and Volunteer Scotland’s National Inclusion in Volunteering Group. She has managed and directed services involving both staff and volunteer teams in the United States and England, delivering education and campaigning for children with epilepsy, support for people with disabilities and transportation and nutrition operations for older people in need. She has led lone-working volunteering programmes, launched new corporate volunteering initiatives, and delivered bespoke volunteering projects in university and dementia care settings.  

First ever Co-Chairs for Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel 

Morna Black and Stephen Shirres have been elected to lead the Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel as Co-Chairs for the first time in the Panel’s history. Effective from 1 January 2024, Black and Shirres took over the position from Zoë Barbour who stepped down after five years; serving as treasurer for three years, Vice Chair for a year and Chair for the latter year of her membership. 

Black joined the Panel in May 2022 and was appointed to the position of Vice Chair in January 2023. She has worked in development research for over 20 years with a diverse background in philanthropic projects such as capital campaigns, major gifts, research analytics and in strategic research management. She is currently Research Manager in the University of Glasgow’s Development & Alumni office. Shirres has been a member of the Panel since August 2022 and was appointed to treasurer in February 2023. He has over 15 years of experience in Scottish fundraising, with charities including the British Red Cross, Poppyscotland, St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, and tide (Together in Dementia Everyday). He is currently Fundraising Governance and Compliance Manager at Cats Protection.

The Elischer Foundation announces Luke Mallett as new Chair

The Elischer Foundation has announced its next Chair, with Richard Taylor, the outgoing Chair of the Board, passing the baton to Luke Mallett. A volunteer Mentor with the foundation since the first cohort, Mallett has two decades of strategic leadership experience in the charity sector including roles at Save the Children, British Heart Foundation and Young Lives vs Cancer, leading income generation and marketing, communications and brand teams.

Outgoing Chair Taylor was a friend of Tony Elischer and, at times, a beneficiary of Tony’s mentorship. He joined the charity as a Mentor before joining the trustee board in April 2019, taking on the role of Chair after the passing of Nicky Elischer in October 2022. He has over 20 years of leadership in fundraising, marketing, and communication, which has included pivotal roles at Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support and as Chair of the Institute of Fundraising.

Ciaran Thapar joins the Youth Endowment Fund

The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) has welcomed Ciaran Thapar as its new Director of Public Affairs and Communications. Thapar is an experienced youth worker, educator and writer. His time spent mentoring and working with young people in youth centres, schools and prisons over the last decade inspired his book ‘Cut Short, and he has also collaborated with grassroots and national organisations, from Nurture UK to Centre for Education and Youth, to support young people to express themselves through storytelling workshops.

Thapar is a regular contributor to the Guardian, British GQ and others, for whom he has written extensively about London music culture, social justice and city life. He writes a Substack newsletter called All City with regular updates about his work, interviews and research. He also teaches the Writing for Social Impact monthly course at City University.

Young Lives vs Cancer appoints new Director of Income Generation

Dominique Davis has been appointed as the new Director of Income Generation at Young Lives vs Cancer. Davis has an extensive background in the charity sector, joining the charity from Teach First where she was Director of Fundraising. She was also UK National Director for Right to Play and Spent 10 years at Save the Children where she led their Humanitarian Fundraising Team.

She will take up her new role at the end of January.