CEO to join ActionAid from the Runnymede Trust

14 Apr 2023 News

Dr Halima Begum

Halima Begum, chief executive of race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, is to join ActionAid UK as its CEO in July. 

Begum previously worked for ActionAid, having joined the organisation as a recent graduate in 1999 and helping it to set up the Global Campaign for Education.

ActionAid UK has been without a permanent leader since the first female chief executive in its 50-year history stepped down after one year last June.

Former CEO Frances Longley said when she resigned that it was important for leaders to “recognise their limitations” and that the international development charity needed “different skills” to hers.

Earlier last year, it was revealed that an internal review found some Black and ethnic minority staff at ActionAid UK had suffered “systemic racism” and felt “less valued [and] less supported” than their white colleagues. The report was commissioned and focused on events before Longley took up her post.

Begum: ‘A pivitol moment’

Begum was born in Bangladesh and raised in London.

Prior to her work with the Runnymede Trust, Begum held senior positions in the Department for International Development, the British Council, and LEGO Foundation.  

Begum said: “It is a great privilege to be re-joining the wonderful team at ActionAid, an organisation that works on exceptionally important causes and that has always remained close to my heart. 

“Right now, there is such enormous complexity in the world, and an overwhelming number of crises affecting some of the most vulnerable members of our global community.

“While the challenges across the sector are numerous, significant and immediate, not least in terms of charitable funding during the cost-of-living crisis, this is a pivotal moment for me to be returning to ActionAid.” 

Kendi Guantai, the charity’s chair, said: “We are thrilled that Halima has chosen to return to ActionAid and lead us forward. 

“Her vast experience in challenging and overcoming inequality, combined with her strong grounding in and passion for humanitarian response, human rights and gender equality, will be invaluable in helping ActionAid realise its vision of creating a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.”

In the 2021 calendar year, ActionAid’s total income was close to £50m.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that the charity's internal review focused on events before Frances Longley became CEO.

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