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David Johnston to stand down as Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation

The SMF today announces that, after 10 years as its CEO, David Johnston OBE will stand down later this year. The Board of Trustees expressed their thanks to David as an outstanding leader of the organisation.

During his time as CEO, SMF has gone from being a small organisation of 3 people to a national charity with 7 offices around the UK. Having supported around 200 young people with work placements in the summer before he became CEO, SMF now supports between 6,000 and 7,000 young people through its flagship Aspiring Professionals Programme.

Amongst other notable changes during his tenure, SMF’s income was transformed from being largely government funding to 85% coming from employers involved in our work, against the backdrop of a 6 fold increase in annual income. A series of innovative residential programmes that support young people from the Isle of Wight to the Western Isles were developed and are now run on an annual basis with leading employers such as J.P. Morgan, KPMG and Linklaters.

In 2017 SMF also created the world’s first Social Mobility Employer Index, which ranks the country’s top employers annually on how open they are to talent from all social backgrounds. Employers representing 1.5 million employees have so far participated in the Index, which is driving change in the practices and processes of UK employers.

In 2018 David received an OBE for services to social mobility and education.

The Chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, Rt Hon Alan Milburn, commented:

“David has been a truly outstanding leader of the SMF. David has made the SMF a world-leader in making social mobility happen in very practical ways. He has helped provide thousands of low income young people in our country with opportunities to fulfil their aspirations. David has also played a major role in putting social mobility at the top of the societal and political agenda. We are sorry he is leaving us but he goes with all of our best wishes for the future.”

David Johnston OBE commented:

“It has been a privilege to run the Social Mobility Foundation for the past 10 years. Improving social mobility is one of the greatest challenges the country faces and one of the issues I am most passionate about. With the support of over 200 employer partners, thousands of volunteers and our dedicated team of staff, SMF now helps thousands of young people to get the opportunities they deserve and to fulfil their potential. Although it was always going to be a wrench to leave, it is time for a new challenge for me and time for a new person to take SMF to the next stage.”

David has agreed to remain in position up until Christmas to support the transition to his successor before departing, and will maintain an informal role with the SMF to ensure continuity after he leaves.

Trustees have today begun the search for David’s successor and full details about the position and how to apply can be found here:

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