Best of 2019 according to the ACEVO team

We are a small team here at ACEVO, which means everyone gets involved with events, content, day to day errands and member support. But as 2019 comes to a close, some of the staff and board members look back and choose their highlights of the year.

Do you think we left something out that you’d like to highlight? Leave a comment below or tag us on Twitter!

Jenny Berry, director of leadership and governance

“Most of my work is calls with members talking through their challenges, and it’s always great to get out and meet members at our regional forums. One of this year’s highlights was the South West forum in March: members were there to catch up with plus the great and inspiring Debra Allcock Tyler speaking! As ever, she spoke from the heart, with passion and inspired us all with her experiences – the ups and downs and how she has built her resilience. And, of course, I loved her straightforward answers to the governance questions around working with her chair and board.

Our governance work is an area that excites me (yes, I know what that makes me…!) and I enjoy our practical work on this, working with the Association of Chairs in our Dynamic Duo workshops for charity CEOs and chairs working together. We have delivered these for a few years now, I work with Ros Oakley (AoC CEO) to develop and deliver these, and we always strive to make changes to improve the sessions after member feedback. The most recent one in November was a highlight for us, a great mix of CEOs and chairs from a very wide range of charities and experiences, who all engaged with us and each other – such a buzz in the room!”

Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy

“The project I am most proud of this year is the In Plain Sight report on bullying in the sector which was written in partnership with the Centre for Mental Health.

The report centred the voices of people impacted by bullying because we wanted to recognise their experiences, something which had been previously denied to many. This made it a hard read but a necessary one.

The report was well supported by members and there is encouragement for us to continue with this work to create change so that incidents like this are less likely to happen in the future.”

Jodie Winston, admin assistant

“One of my highlights this year was our women’s SIG in June on ‘Leading Through Change.’ From the welcoming atmosphere to the candour of women in sharing their personal stories, to the networking over a glass of wine afterwards. It was a safe and open space to share experience both good and bad, to learn from others and a great example of women supporting women.”

Menai Owen-Jones, trustee

“My highlight for the year has been ACEVO’s joint research with the Centre for Mental Health into bullying in the charity sector; the subsequent report ‘In Plain Sight’ and the published recommendations. To me, this work shows ACEVO taking the lead on tackling bullying in the sector and driving forward the change agenda to create more inclusive and well workplaces, which is so important if we are to build a stronger civil society.”

Rosie Ferguson, chair

“There have been lots of ACEVO highlights this year, but a personal favourite has been seeing the eight women on the Jane Slowey Programme grow and shine as active and influential sector leaders. We set out to recruit younger female CEOs with a focus on those from BME backgrounds and with disabilities. And the passion and achievement of the women on the programme have shown that investment was absolutely worth it. They have all achieved in this year, including Precious Sithole, who has launched her own programme to support young BME women into board positions, already giving back to the sector. This time next year we will be recruiting a new cohort of participants and the current eight will be stepping up as mentors.”

Vicky Browning, chief executive

“As an infrastructure body, ACEVO is a ‘second-tier’ organisation: we help the people who lead the organisations that deliver change. There’s an element of the 1920s song: ‘I’ve danced with a man, who’s danced with a girl, who’s danced with the Prince of Wales.’

But we’re very much a charity, and as such I get my kicks from hearing about the impact we deliver for our members as people, as much as leaders. The best bits of my days/weeks/year are when we get feedback which articulates the difference we’ve made. Quotes like these keep me getting out of bed in the morning:

  • Thank you ACEVO for chats and support that make me feel less alone.
  • When challenged with an issue that was outside of my experience, the ACEVO team provided clear direction and thought leadership.
  • It was wonderful to meet like-minded professional women and to realise that my struggles and doubt were not unusual.
  • I felt able to talk about tricky stuff knowing I was going to get back some useful strategies to make things really work for me.
  • Although we represent a wide range of organisations, there is a common bond of sharing and support within a confidential environment, which I find invaluable.
  • You create space for people to share trials and difficulties, both personal and professional, in a safe and open way.
  • I’ve gone from feeling isolated to feeling supported.
  • I always leave ACEVO events a little bit more smiley!
  • Chief exec-ing is hard graft. I love it but it’s definitely not easy. ACEVO is one of the very important things that means I now have a network of people I respect hugely that I can lean on when it’s hard.”

Tom Andrews, head of member support

Comforting. That’s not a word that you hear too often linked to a conference or an association. At the end of my debut ACEVO conference, I said goodbye to delegates and asked them for a word that summed up the day for them. The one that really struck me was ‘comforting’. Since I joined the ACEVO team two months ago, it has been our role in providing a sense of community, a feeling you are not alone, which has most impressed and inspired me. It might not hit the headlines but this quiet, sense of solidarity and understanding is like gold dust.”

Melanie Jeanton, membership administrator

“I love the fact that we started a podcast series, with really insightful first-hand experiences from leaders within the sector. We also revolutionised the AGM and brought it into the 21st century by making use of digital communications.”

Heloisa Righetto, communications officer

“I am really proud of the amount and quality of content that we published on the blog. The “12 habits of successful change-makers” series by Sue Tibballs is one of the highlights, with one blog every month bringing insights from the campaigning world. And I am also proud to have written a blog about periods in the workplace, to help break the taboo around something so normal.

The #WeImagineBetter campaign was also one of my highlights. Its positive, forward-looking approach brought a much-needed optimistic view of the future of civil society. Although it was created with the general election in mind, I think both the manifesto and the video are atemporal and should permeate the way we think about politics, leadership and social justice.”

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

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