Joseph Rowntree Foundation creates new leadership team

1st Apr 2021

Joseph Rowntree Foundation announced today that it has appointed three directors to form its new leadership team. Alongside CEO Paul Kissack they will drive forward the next stage of JRF’s development.

The directors are:

Graeme Cooke – who will lead the evidence, economics, and policy teams to achieve a deeper understanding of the causes and nature of poverty across the four nations of the UK and develop bold, creative, and credible policy solutions.

Sophia Parker – who will lead a major new programme of work, to imagine and grow radical new approaches to tackling poverty, in collaboration with JRF’s partners and people with lived experience of poverty.

Frank Soodeen – who will lead JRF’s public engagement, grassroots advocacy and campaigning work, and act as JRF-JRHT’s senior communications professional, ensuring high quality support to all areas of the group: from housing tenant engagement to national policy campaigns.

Paul Kissack, Group Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust group, commented:

“In the years ahead, we must turn the rising tide of poverty and destitution in the UK. As we continue to shape the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s role in that work, I am delighted the organisation will be led by a team which combines such a wealth of talent and experience. Graeme, Sophia and Frank all share values deeply aligned to our founding purpose of addressing ‘social evil’, and I’m excited to be working alongside them – and with our Trustees and partners – in writing the next chapter of the JRF’s proud history”.

The three will also join the JRF-JRHT group leadership team alongside existing members Paul Kissack, Tracey Preece (Director of Finance), Chris Simpson (Executive Director, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust) and Claire Townson (Director of Corporate Services).

Graeme Cooke

Graeme is currently Director of Inclusive Growth at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, where he has responsibility for regeneration, housing, planning, economic development, employment, energy, and environment. His previous roles have included Head of Strategy at the London Borough of Islington, Director of Research at the Institute for Public Policy Research and Expert Adviser to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Graeme will be based in JRF’s London office, but with a regular presence in York. He is expected to start with JRF on 21 June.

Sophia Parker

Sophia has just stepped down as CEO of Little Village, the London-based charity she founded in 2016 that works to tackle child poverty. Previously she has held senior roles at thinktanks including the Resolution Foundation and Demos. As well as roles in central government, Sophia has been a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School, and set up Kent's pioneering Innovation Lab. Sophia brings a track record in policy, research, and designing community-based solutions to social challenges. Sophia will be based in York and will start with JRF in September.

Frank Soodeen

Frank has been promoted from his role as JRF’s Deputy Director for External Affairs, where he was responsible for developing and leading a strategy, in partnership with others, to build more political will to solve poverty. He previously held a series of campaigning, policy and influencing roles at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, The Nuffield Trust, The Royal College of Physicians, and Alcohol Concern. Frank will start his new role in April and will relocate to York, having previously been based in JRF’s London office.