Young Women's Trust chief steps down after a year to take up role she 'could not refuse'

Sophie Walker, who joined the charity in September last year, will become chief strategy officer at the feminist law firm McAllister Olivarius

Sophie Walker
Sophie Walker

Sophie Walker, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, will step down before the end of the month after just over a year in the role, the charity has announced. 

Walker said in a statement that she was leaving to take up an offer she could not refuse: chief strategy officer at the feminist law firm McAllister Olivarius. 

Walker, former leader of the Women’s Equality Party, has led YWT since September 2019 and overseen an organisational redesign and strategy refresh which the charity said had “brought an energetic new focus on economic justice and support for the most marginalised young women”. 

Abi Shapiro, the charity’s chief operating officer, will step in as interim chief executive for the next six months, according to the charity, which was unable to give further details about the timeline for recruiting a permanent successor for Walker. 

In a statement, Walker said: “I’m leaving because I was made an offer I could not refuse from a hero of mine. 

“Ann Olivarius, who coined the phrase ‘date rape’, has been at the forefront of defining and prosecuting revenge porn and is a leading legal expert in sex discrimination and violence against women, has asked me to join her US-UK law firm as chief strategy officer as the law squares up to be a central battleground for social justice in these difficult times.”

Walker paid tribute to the work carried out by the charity’s staff and volunteers. 

“Staff and young women together worked really hard to create and rally around a clear mission, vision and flagship projects to grow Young Women's Trust into a force for the future,” she said. 

“It’s been a privilege to do this with them. I’ve been hugely impressed by their unrelenting drive every day to support young women, including through the challenges of coronavirus.

“I am proud that Young Women’s Trust now campaigns for recognition of the unpaid and unvalued work of women; that we smashed our fundraising targets and our emergency fund is providing direct financial support to migrant women and other most marginalised women during the pandemic. 

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to work with so many women and men determined to make the world a better place. I wish my friends at YWT all the best.”  

Jo-ann Robertson, chair of the YWT, in a statement: “Over the past year Sophie has renewed Young Women’s Trust’s focus to be a leading feminist organisation championing the lives and experiences of young women up and down the country. 

“Sophie has worked tirelessly to help young women when they needed it most and we are very grateful for the contribution she has made to the organisation. We wish her all the best in her important new role.”

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