Charity founded by JK Rowling names new chief executive

12 Mar 2021 News

Peter McDermott


Lumos, the charity founded by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, has announced a new chief executive.

Peter McDermott is joining Lumos from the consultancy firm Fajara Associates, and will take up the role in June.

He replaces Sir Roger Singleton, who took interim charge in 2019 after the charity identified “management and culture challenges” at the organisation. Georgette Mulheir, who had been chief executive since 2011, became a global strategic adviser at the charity until she left in late 2020. 

Lumos works all over the world to help children live with their families instead of in institutions. Rowling left the trustee board in 2013 but remains life president of the charity.

Development experience

McDermott has worked in international development for more than two decades, including as a consultant working with the United Nations and as chief executive of the Martin James Foundation.

He has also held senior roles at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the US Agency for Aid Development.

In 2019, the trustee board said it had “identified some management and culture challenges facing Lumos that require immediate action”.

Announcing Mulheir’s departure at that time, trustees said: “As the charity has grown at pace following a period of important progress in its global mission, the nature and complexity of the chief executive role has also scaled.”

A 'pivotal time'

Neil Blair, the chair of trustees at Lumos, said: “The trustees and I are thrilled to have Peter take the helm at Lumos as chief executive at this pivotal time of transformation for the organisation. 

“Lumos has embarked on a new strategy and appointing Peter, with his world-leading child development and international relations expertise to drive our mission forwards is hugely exciting.

“We would like to thank Sir Roger for providing exceptional interim leadership during this critical period of transition and for his outstanding contribution to Lumos for many years.”

Peter McDermott said: “Having led global and country-level initiatives to support children and their families for many years, I have long admired the progress Lumos has made to influence care reform, strengthen families and communities, and protect children from the harm of institutions. 

“At this point in the charity’s life, with a new strategy to take forward, I am delighted to join an expert team to advance our mission to keep families together and give children the love and care they need to thrive.”

Editor's note - 15 March

This article originally said that Georgette Mulheir departed in 2019. She stood down as chief executive but was a global strategic adviser until late 2020. 

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