23 January 2014

Ben Summerskill to step down as Chief Executive

Stonewall today announced that Ben Summerskill is to step down as Chief Executive of the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity after eleven years at the helm.

His time as Chief Executive saw a dramatic change in the legal landscape for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain. During his tenure he led successful campaigns to secure legal equality for gay people in Britain, including the repeal of Section 28, goods and services protections, civil partnerships and marriage equality.

Ben’s tenure also saw a transformation of the charity itself, taking it from one with just 20 staff, an annual income of £1.3 million, to an effective campaigning organisation of 75 full time staff with annual income of excess of £4.2 million, with improved governance and financial integrity including substantially augmented reserves in line with charity best practice.

Paying tribute to his time as Chief Executive, Stonewall Chair Jacqueline Davies said: ‘In the last decade, under Ben’s direction, Stonewall has become a hugely influential campaigning body that has played a key role in achieving legal equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain – from the repeal of Section 28 to the recent same-sex marriage bill.

‘Britain is now a beacon of equality around the world and we are incredibly proud of Stonewall’s contribution to this. Ben’s own commitment has been extraordinary. He has worked tirelessly to achieve equality at home, at school and at work – and we are enormously grateful to him.

‘We remain all too aware that Stonewall’s work is by no means complete. The whole organisation remains more determined than ever to fight for full equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in all areas of life – both in the UK and internationally.’

Ben Summerskill said: ‘I’ve had a wonderful 11 years at Stonewall. As a charity, it comprises a constellation of staff and volunteers who, working together, have achieved remarkable things. The fact that Stonewall’s Workplace Programme now engages the employers of ten million people and one in three local authorities in Britain now works with us to tackle homophobic bullying in schools is testament to some of the fantastic teamwork I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.’

The Stonewall Board today also announces that current Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt will be appointed as Acting Chief Executive while the Board recruits into the role. In recent months, Ben has worked with Ruth to ensure the organisation transitions smoothly and remains focused on its key priorities.

Ruth Hunt said: ‘The Stonewall team is working hard to achieve equality for gay people in education, the media and in the workplace.’

‘As a leadership team, our priority will be to maintain the momentum Ben has built up over the last 11 years so that we continue to see significant progress in these areas. I’ve worked side-by-side with Ben over the last eight years, and will be delighted and honoured to step into the role of Acting Chief Executive.’

Enquiries: Ruth Hunt, Acting Chief Executive, on 07813 905477

Further information

  • Before joining Stonewall, Ben was Assistant Editor of The Observer. In 2008 he was awarded an OBE, in 2010 he was an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and he was shortlisted as Britain’s Most Admired Charity Chief Executive in the 2012 Third Sector Awards.

  • Ruth Hunt has been Deputy Chief Executive of Stonewall since April 2013. She joined the organisation in 2005 and has played an instrumental role in setting the strategic direction of Stonewall, developing and delivering Stonewall’s policy, research and campaigns functions in Great Britain, Scotland and Wales, and developing the new international work programme. Number five in the 2013 Independent on Sunday Pink List of most influential LGBT people, Ruth is a campaigner with extensive experience and will ensure that Stonewall continues to be the leading lesbian, gay and bisexual charity in Great Britain.

  • The new Chief Executive will be recruited via an open recruitment process.


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