Refuge appoints second interim CEO as previous leader moves charities

20 Feb 2024 News

Abigail Ampofo, interim chief executive of Refuge


Refuge has appointed a second interim chief executive after a fellow domestic abuse charity recruited its first temporary leader as its permanent CEO.

Ellen Miller became Refuge’s interim CEO after its last permanent boss Ruth Davison left in September last year.

At the time, the charity said Miller’s appointment was “for an extended period, and will ensure there is stability and experienced leadership for the charity as we continue our transformation journey”.

However, it announced today that Miller will move back to her former employer SafeLives as its permanent CEO.

Refuge’s director of service delivery Abigail Ampofo will step up to the vacant interim CEO role on 4 March while the charity begins to recruit a permanent leader.

Cultural change

Davison left Refuge last year after two years at the helm and following reports of a “toxic” working environment under her leadership.

Miller, who took over from Davison, said it had been “an honour to see from the inside how Refuge has changed hugely in recent years, both culturally and broadening our impact”.

“I will definitely be leaving with mixed feelings – but I am going back to a permanent role in an organisation I loved,” she said.

“I will still be a big fan, advocate and friend of Refuge as this is a great and important charity.” 

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, chair of Refuge, thanked Miller for her contribution as interim CEO.

“She has led the organisation with skill during a period of significant challenge and change for Refuge and the sector as a whole,” she said.

“However, we recognise that the opportunity to lead SafeLives is fantastic for her and for SafeLives, building on her successful time there as interim CEO.

“On behalf of the board I would like to thank Ellen for her leadership during this time and the valuable perspective she has been able to bring to our work.

“SafeLives is an important organisation in our sector and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her in her new role.” 

Ampofo said she was “delighted and honoured” to lead the charity.

“I am committed to continue leading the organisation with integrity and working with fantastic colleagues as Refuge continues to be a feminist force for good,” she said. 

SafeLives welcomes Miller back

Miller will take over at SafeLives from Suzanne Jacob, who had led the charity for six years.

Isabel Boyer, chair of SafeLives, which recorded an income of £8.82m in the year to June 2023, said the charity was delighted Miller was returning.

“She brings a wealth of experience of working in the public and charity sector at a leadership level, and we are all very much looking forward to working with her,” she said.

“On behalf of the board and everyone at SafeLives, I would also like to thank Suzanne for her commitment to our goals and her continued passion for our work.

“SafeLives has grown significantly since 2017 under Suzanne’s leadership, almost doubling in size and income, but most importantly, working in partnership with a huge range of organisations, increasing our reach to deliver profound impact on the way we think about domestic abuse.

“She’s taken us forwards, making real and systemic change in how survivors receive support, how perpetrators are challenged and how we can get ahead of the curve, through early intervention and prevention – stopping domestic abuse before it starts.

“We are hugely grateful for her nine years with us, the last six as CEO, and we wish her the very best in her future career.”

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