Julia Unwin to leave Joseph Rowntree Foundation after 10 years

Julia Unwin
Julia Unwin

Julia Unwin CBE, the chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT), is stepping down from her role at the end of 2016 after leading the organisations for the past 10 years.

Working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice, JRF has become a leading independent voice on the major social challenges facing the UK today.

Through its independent, evidenced-based research, commentary and analysis, JRF has consistently highlighted the impact of social and economic policy on people and places in poverty. Under Julia’s leadership, the organisation has helped to kick start a national debate on issues such as in-work poverty, living standards and the lack of affordable housing.

Julia has overseen the development of JRF’s anti-poverty strategy, JRF’s largest programme to date, which will be launched in September. The strategy will be the first to provide an all-age approach to tackling poverty in the UK’s four nations.

Julia has also led the organisation to adopt a four nation outlook by establishing a strong presence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Locally, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) has developed the award-winning Derwenthorpe, a new community which will provide 500 homes in York built to high design and environmental standards. Plans are underway to develop a community for all ages in New Earswick, the original Joseph Rowntree village built for factory workers in the 1900s. JRF has also increased its focus on responsible investments using its endowment, and begun social investments in line with its mission.

Julia will remain in post until the end of the year, following the launch of JRF’s anti-poverty strategy. Recruitment for her successor will begin over the summer, with a new chief executive expected to be appointed in Autumn, to start in 2017.

Julia will go onto pursue a number of new opportunities following her departure, including chairing a two-year inquiry into the future of civil society.

Julia Unwin said: “I have been privileged, and proud, to lead this unique organisation for the last ten years. In that role I have tried to protect and enhance the great assets that the organisation has: its financial strength, its committed staff, and its great name. At a time of great global, political and economic volatility, we have together worked to ensure that the needs and the aspirations of people and places in poverty are not overlooked, and that bold, practical and well evidenced solutions are found. Nothing that has been achieved could have been done without the active engagement of trustees and staff, and I am grateful to all of them for the support and encouragement I have received.”

Tony Stoller, chair of Trustees, said: “Julia has been an outstanding leader of JRF and JRHT during her ten years as chief executive. She has overseen major changes in our research, policy, housing and care work, and has established herself as a foremost authority in all these fields, contributing to improved awareness and better policies across the four UK nations. Her intellectual and practical contribution to our work to understand and overcome poverty in the UK has been second to none, and she has laid the groundwork also for the future development of JRF and JRHT in the changing circumstances of the coming years.”

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