Unicef UK appoints interim chair and joint stand-in executive directors in wake of departures

Shatish Dasani, who joined the charity's board at the start of September, has been named interim chair

Shatish Dasani
Shatish Dasani

Unicef UK has appointed Shatish Dasani as interim chair after the departure of Douglas Alexander, who stepped down after allegations of bullying were made against him. 

Third Sector revealed yesterday that Alexander, who denies the claims, had resigned in the wake of the departure of Sacha Deshmukh, the charity’s executive director, who was one of about 10 staff who had made allegations of aggressive behaviour by Alexander, sources said. 

Alexander said the allegations were a complete surprise to him and were untrue. 

But he said that, despite receiving the support of the board, he felt it would be inappropriate to continue as chair while an inquiry into the events took place. 

Caroline Underwood, one of two vice-chairs at the charity, also announced yesterday that she had stepped down from the board. 

The charity’s trustees said in a statement yesterday evening that Sophie Gallois, its deputy executive director for communication, advocacy and programmes, and Steven Waugh, its chief financial officer, had been appointed interim joint executive directors in addition to their other responsibilities. 

The trustees said they regretted Alexander’s resignation and would immediately begin a search for his successor. 

They said Dasani, an experienced senior leader who was chief financial officer at the manufacturing company Forterra, and who joined the charity’s board as treasurer earlier this month, had been appointed interim chair. 

He is a non-executive director and chair of the audit committee at the engineering services company Renew Holdings and has been a non-executive director of the lottery operator Camelot. 

Dasani said: “Unicef UK’s purpose is to make the world a better place for children.

"The board is looking to ensure that the organisation changes and the implementation of actions arising from the review make us stronger in fulfilling this purpose.”

The charity has commissioned an external adviser from the law firm Bates Wells to lead the inquiry into the events, supported by two Unicef board members. 

The charity said the review was intended to be “swift and thorough”. 

The identity of the individual who will lead the review has not yet been confirmed.

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