Most Admired Chief Executive: Kevin Curley, third place

The chief executive of Navca has won friends with his open and personable style.

Kevin Curley at the BMAC awards
Kevin Curley at the BMAC awards

When the Government announced its £130m Grassroots Grants programme for small, local voluntary organisations last year, it was taken by many as proof that Kevin Curley had got the attention of policy-makers in a way that few others in the sector have done.

"Kevin had a lot to do with making that happen," says Richard Gutch, the former chief executive of Futurebuilders England and now a board member of Navca, the umbrella body for local voluntary sector infrastructure organisations. "He has turned Navca into the kind of organisation that everybody wants to partner with."

It wasn't always like this. When Curley joined the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service in 2003, he joined a marginal, demoralised organisation riven by internal conflict and almost entirely dependent on funding from the Home Office. Since then, funding has been diversified and a name change heralded the abandonment of the CVSs-only membership policy.

During his 22 years in the sector, Curley has worked for York, Derby, Hull and Leicestershire councils for voluntary service. Mike Martin, chair of Navca, says Curley's personal skills really mark him out. "He has an open and personable style of communication," he says. "He has acute political antennae, a strong grasp of social policy and a strategic brain. Many leaders will have some of these qualities, but to find them all in one person is exceptional."

Paul Jump

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