Mark Gifford, currently director for shop and trade at Waitrose & Partners, will become the National Citizen Service Trust’s second chief executive later this year.
He will join on 2 March, taking over from Michael Lynas who was the founding chief executive of the royal charter body and has been involved with the youth social action programme from its early days a decade ago.
Lynas, who announced his decision to stand down last September, will now become a patron of the NCS Trust.
Gifford has worked at Waitrose for eight years and is the chair of governors at a school.
Brett Wigdort, chair of NCS Trust, said: “This is an exciting time for NCS and I’m looking forward to welcoming Mark to our team on behalf of the young people of England and Northern Ireland. Over the last 10 years under Michael’s leadership, NCS has reached almost 600,000 young people with its life-changing programme and over 14 million hours of volunteering have taken place.
“As we look to the next decade, embedding our new network of partners and continuing to transform the lives of young people across England and Northern Ireland I’m confident that Mark is the best person to take us forward.”
‘Delighted to join’
Gifford added: "What NCS has achieved in its short history is deeply impressive. I am delighted to join and lead the next phase of the journey which will see it embedded as a key national institution. Its mission of inspiring a generation of citizens through a shared experience that develops character and bridges social divides is something I am passionate about.
“Making a difference to the lives of young people so they can be the best they can be inspires me and I am excited that my skills in the private sector combined with interests in my private life come together in a truly unique role. Our mission isn’t to leave a better world for our young people, it is to leave better young people for the world.”
The NCS programme has been at the centre of the Conservative government’s approach to youth policy. It established the NCS Trust as a royal charter body, and not a charity, meaning it is accountable directly to Parliament and overseen by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “I am confident that under his leadership, Mark will bring a fresh approach to how we support our young people through the organisation and help have a real, positive impact on their lives.”
A number of politicians and charity leaders have previously expressed concerns about the programme, which has struggled in previous years to attract the targeted number of participants.
Last year Vicky Foxcroft, the Labour shadow minister for civil society, criticised DCMS for withholding data on the body's funding.
Its annual report and accounts for the 2019 financial year have not yet been published. In response to a written question in Parliament last year, Morgan said that DCMS intents to publish them by the end of March. This would be 12 months after the organisation's financial year end.