Dame Stephanie Shirley appointed as philanthropy ambassador

Founder of the Shirley Foundation and Autism Speaks to take up new government role

Entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley has been appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to be the Government's ambassador for giving and philanthropy.

In the new position, which was announced in the Government's report Real Help for Communities in February, Dame Stephanie will advise the Government on how to encourage and facilitate giving.

In 1996, Dame Stephanie set up the Shirley Foundation, which supports autism charities and IT in the voluntary sector. The body is one of the 50 largest grant-giving foundations in the UK.

She also founded Autism Speaks, part of a global campaign to establish the causes of the condition, in 2004. Over the past eight years, she has awarded more than £50m to charitable causes through the foundation.

Dame Stephanie also founded the FI Group, developing working practices for women, in 1962, and became the first female president of the British Computer Society in 1989. She has been awarded an OBE and a DBE for her services to industry.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "The Government is committed to building a culture of giving across British society. Dame Stephanie will work over the coming year to act as the voice of philanthropy as well as championing innovative and effective forms of giving."

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