The Big Hire: Allison Ogden-Newton of Keep Britain Tidy

The new chief executive has been tasked with growing the charity and increasing its supporter base, writes Annette Rawstrone

Allison Ogden-Newton
Allison Ogden-Newton

Allison Ogden-Newton, the next chief executive of the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, never forgot the lesson she learned as a schoolgirl when her teacher would take the class outside to challenge people who dropped litter in the street.

"My teacher turned us into a generation of campaigners on the issue," she says. "A personal campaign of mine is to get more people to understand that their quality of life is dictated by their relationship with the environment."

Ogden-Newton describes herself as a keen gardener and a "serious allotment-holder" – she was named Richmond, Barnes and Mortlake Allotment Holder of the Year in 2009. She has a background in leading social enterprises and in 2011 founded the social-value think tank the Transition Institute.

KBT, which she will join in August, has recently changed its status from a grant-funded body to independent campaigning charity; Ogden-Newton is tasked with growing its business and strengthening the partnership and supporter base. She admits its recent fall in income from £10m in the year to the end of March 2012 to £5.5m two years later is a challenge, but says there is a real demand for its services. "I will help KBT in encouraging the government to show leadership on the environment, give people the tools to improve the areas in which they live and leave the planet in a better condition than they received it," she says.

Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the charity leaders group Acevo, describes Ogden-Newton as a "sector star". He worked with her for four years when she was the organisation's vice-chair and says she is an excellent appointment for KBT. "She will wake it up and put it back on the map," he says. "I love her combination of dynamism, warmth and humour. It's very difficult to say no to Allison. She is a brilliant ambassador for the causes that she represents and a superb networker – she is shameless when she works a room, which is a key attribute for a chief executive who is the public face of an organisation."

Ogden-Newton, who will be paid £85,000 a year, has worked across a range of causes from health to economic empowerment, but she says they are all united by the rights of people. "I feel strongly about helping vulnerable people," she says. "I can use my skills in campaigning to get a message across and provide front-line services to people to make a difference. I understand how important it is to be passionate about the cause, get people to subscribe to it and work together to bring about change."

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