Green Park was appointed to work with the WEA on the appointment of their chair, having already assisted this national membership charity with the appointments of their deputy general secretary and director for marketing, membership and income growth.

The WEA has a board that consists of both elected and co-opted members. At a time of great political and financial challenge, it sought a new chair to drive change at the most strategic level. The individual needed to have a strong internal and external profile, which would enable them to represent the WEA with key internal and external stakeholders. 

They would also need the commercial and political nous to help the charity navigate the complex phase of transformation through which it is going. Given the WEA’s beneficiary base, the charity was keen to think more closely about diverse appointments.

Through regular dialogue, Green Park was able to “stress test” ideas regarding the suitability of individuals, considering each through technical, cultural and values-based lenses. As timeframes were considered particularly tight, we agreed to move straight to shortlist, meaning Green Park met interested parties as the research phase progressed.

We were then able to present six strong candidates, including former local authority, FE college and charity chief executives, as well as two experienced and extant chairs (one in education, one in the private sector). Four were taken forward – one woman and three men – and Trevor Phillips, president of the John Lewis Partnership, was appointed.

WEA chief executive Ruth Spellman stated: “The appointment of Trevor … demonstrate(s) the values of the WEA in action. Trevor is the first member of the BAME community to be appointed Chair. This leadership team {the WEA also separately appointed their first female President} means we can reflect our diverse student population.” She thanked Green Park for our “excellent guidance and support”.