Fawcett Society appoints new Chief Executive

Sam Smethers photo

The UK’s leading gender equality and women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society, has appointed voluntary sector specialist Sam Smethers as its new Chief Executive.

Welcoming Sam’s appointment, Fawcett’s Chair Belinda Phipps said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sam has accepted our offer to come and work for Fawcett.

“Sam is a dynamic and successful voluntary sector chief executive who also offers 14 years parliamentary, public affairs and communications experience and a track record of success. That really fits the bill for Fawcett, we are lucky to have her.”

Sam Smethers will join the Fawcett Society in August from Grandparents Plus where she has been Chief Executive since 2008.  Sam is no stranger to equalities work and issues having worked for both the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Under her leadership Grandparents Plus has championed the role that grandparents and the wider family play in children’s lives, driving this issue up the agenda. Sam has ensured that the charity has taken a gendered approach, evidencing the way in which older women in particular provide intensive care and support for their grandchildren and families.  In 2009 the charity achieved a major policy change to National Insurance credit to protect grandparent carers’ Basic State Pension. More recently it won an exemption for grandparents and family carers from Universal Credit conditionality requirements, and recently the Labour Party policy announcement of transferable unpaid parental leave for grandparents.

Sam is also no stranger to gender equality and membership organisations, having served as a Fawcett trustee between 2007 and 2010. She says:

“The Fawcett Society has a long and proud history and I regard it as a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with the board, our membership and partners in the wider feminist and equalities sectors and beyond to take the charity to its next phase.

“Fawcett wants to see a society where women and girls are safe, valued and respected and where women and men can fulfil their potential at home, at work and in public life.  I look forward to playing my part in progressing this agenda.”

Belinda Phipps added: “Although progress has been made towards greater equality between women and men, there is still so much to do.  The Fawcett Society will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016 so Sam is joining us at a really exciting time for the organisation and for the campaign for gender equality.  Her experience will take the organisation to a new and exciting level.”

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