The appointment of Anna Fowlie as chief executive heralds a new dawn at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. She begins in April, replacing Martin Sime, who had been at the helm for 26 years.
Her arrival, shortly after former Labour councillor Andrew Burns was named the SCVO’s new convenor – chair, in effect – and the appointment of four new board members, means it is all change at the top.
Fowlie comes from a solid statutory sector background. She is chief executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, which regulates social service staff in Scotland. Before that she worked for the Scottish government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which is the national body for Scottish councils. She will join the SCVO at a time when it is in rude financial health: income rose by about £600,000 in the year ending 31 March 2017 to £13.7m, which compares favourably with the latest income figures for other national umbrella bodies: £8.2m at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, for example.
The SCVO, which has 98 staff and 4,500 members, received £7.8m – more than half of its income – for delivering the Scottish government’s Community Jobs Scotland programme, which provides third sector job training for 16 to 29-year-olds. Under Sime it was fiercely pro-European.
In a recent interview, Fowlie said an assessment of her leadership style described her as collaborative, empathetic, passionate and strategic. She said she’d like to consider the extent to which the SCVO could be both a voice for its members and an organisation that provided services. "Can it be both?" she asked. "Probably – it’s doing both just now.
"I think there are challenges. The SCVO must find coherence as an organisation and work out what its mission is."
Burns said Fowlie had the "vision and track record to bring about transformational change for SCVO and Scotland’s third sector".