Charity Commission announces next Chief Executive

David Holdsworth has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

David, who has been CEO of the Animal and Plant Health Agency since 2022, will take up the role on 1 July 2024, replacing Helen Stephenson, whose term comes to an end this summer after seven years in the role.

David was previously Deputy Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office, and prior to that served at the Charity Commission as Deputy Chief Executive and Registrar. In that role David led a transformation of the Commission’s data handling, digital capability and risk assessment. He also oversaw the regulator’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire and was instrumental in setting up the National Emergencies Trust, which has since raised and distributed £100m for charities in subsequent UK disasters. Prior to joining the Commission, David held senior roles in the Home Office and the private sector .

His appointment follows a rigorous recruitment process which saw record numbers of applications for the role. It was overseen by a recruitment panel chaired by a Civil Service Commissioner.

Orlando Fraser, Chair of the Charity Commission, said:

“I am delighted to announce David’s appointment as CEO, and his return to the Commission. He was the outstanding candidate for the Panel, among a diverse and talented group of applicants.  

“David brings the experience, talent and character required to lead the Commission into the next leg of our historic journey as the world’s most experienced charity regulator. In doing so, we will build on Helen Stephenson’s successful legacy.  

“David takes over an organisation on a strong footing, with a committed Board, experienced senior team and dedicated staff. He joins at a time when the charity sector has never been more important and visible in our national life, requiring an expert regulator, that is fair, balanced and independent, to underpin public trust and help the sector to thrive.”

David Holdsworth said:

“I am delighted to be returning to the Charity Commission and its vital work at such a crucial time. It will be a privilege to once again work with the Commission’s dedicated and talented experts.  

“Charities have always played a vital role in our national life, our communities and our ability to move forward together as a society. Never has this been more needed than now. I look forward to working with the sector as they work today to achieve a better, brighter tomorrow for us all. 

“I would also like to pay tribute to my incredible colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency. The UK is lucky to have such an amazing group of people protecting our economy, animal, plant and bee health for the benefit of us all.”

David Holdsworth biography

David was appointed as Chief Executive of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an executive agency of the UK Government which works to safeguard animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy, on 24 April 2022.

Prior to joining APHA, David was the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the UK Intellectual Property Office, an executive agency of UK Government responsible for intellectual property rights in the UK.

Immediately prior to his role at the Intellectual Property Office David was Deputy CEO and Registrar of Charities for England and Wales at the Charity Commission.

David has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors at an executive leadership level. David spent over a decade at the Home Office in various roles including senior operational roles in the Immigration Service where he led several large UK wide transformation projects. He also held different policy roles in the Home Office and was Deputy Chief Caseworker.

David has also spent 5 years in the private sector in senior executive positions of Managing Director and Partnership Director at 2 different FTSE 100 companies.

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