The Youth Hostels Association England and Wales has announced the appointment of James Blake as its new chief executive.
The YHA announced that Blake had joined the organisation from St Albans City and District Council, where he had held the role of chief executive since 2012.
According to the charity, Blake will take up his new role in the summer, replacing Caroline White, who announced she would be stepping down from the YHA late last year. White joined the YHA as chief executive in 2008, and leaves after nine years at the helm.
Before joining St Albans City and District Council, Blake was a senior civil servant in the Department for Communities and Local Government.
While this is his first salaried role with the organisation, Blake previously spent 12 years on the YHA board of trustees and was a recent external advisor on the charity’s £30m, 800-bed super hostel project in Stratford, London.
In a statement, Blake said he was “delighted” at his appointment and said that the completion of the London Stratford Youth Hostel would be an “early priority” of his.
“I have watched the organisation develop under Caroline during the last nine years and she leaves the charity in a very strong position. I am delighted to be joining at such an exciting time in its history.
“I’ve been involved with YHA throughout my life as a customer, member and trustee, so I’ve seen at first hand the dedication of all who work for YHA, and the inspiring work it does for young people across England and Wales.
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“My initial priority as chief executive is to deliver the new business plan and lock in the success that has been achieved in recent years. Looking ahead, I believe there is a huge opportunity for YHA to become one of the leading young people’s charities in the UK.”
Peter Gaines, chair of YHA, said that Blake’s “passion” for the charity made him a “worthy successor” to Caroline White.
“His passion for YHA and our mission to enhance the lives of young people, especially those with challenging lives, is genuine and inspiring. He is an outstanding leader, and will be a worthy successor to Caroline White in delivering our vision for YHA.”