Arvinda Gohil has been appointed chief executive of Central YMCA.
She will succeed Rosi Prescott, who is leaving after 20 years with the charity, including 16 as chief executive.
She previously spent five years at Emmaus UK after four years as a consultant. Before that, she was director of membership and regions at the social housing umbrella body the National Housing Federation.
She was appointed OBE this year.
Central YMCA, a health, education and wellbeing charity, was established in 1844 as the world’s first YMCA and has 11 centres in the UK, including London, Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich.
The charity, which has 643 people, including staff, freelancers and volunteers, has recorded significant financial deficits in recent years, its accounts show, including a deficit of £2.1m in the year to the end of July 2018 and £4.4m in the previous year.
Its accounts for 2017/18 say the charity is working on a two-year strategy to return the charity to a surplus by 2019.
Gohil said in a statement: "I’m excited and delighted to be joining Central YMCA and look forward to contributing to its ongoing success and impact."
Mark Andrews, chair of Central YMCA, said: "Arvinda is a highly respected voice commentating on the third sector, its role in civil society and the contribution it makes to people’s lives. She will bring a wealth of social enterprise experience to Central YMCA and we all look forward to working with her."