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Best of 2021 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 2021 comes to a close, some of the staff look back and choose their highlights of the year.

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page

Melanie Jeanton, membership administrator

I have just loved working with the ACEVO team this year, a lot of resilience has been in effect. Like other organisations, key team members have left to seek new adventures or go where they feel they are destined to be. Who hasn’t had a post lockdown epiphany about some aspect of their life? I’m just proud of the way we have navigated obstacles together and continuously managed to keep momentum. I also loved gathering testimonials from our members, such kind words from so many of them. You’re all my favourite member, thank you.

Maisie Hulbert, policy officer

My highlight of 2021 has been working with ACEVO’s climate crisis member and staff working groups. I am really passionate about climate action and it can be hard to stay optimistic when time is running out, but I have found working with these groups really uplifting. Seeing that people across the sector want to find solutions and support each other to take action, designing tools and resources to make that happen, has really renewed my hope. I would really love to see more charity leaders engaging with this in 2022 and feeling encouraged and supported by a community of charity leaders seeking to work in a greener way.

Heloisa Righetto, communications officer

Last year some of the ACEVO staff formed a small group to discuss what we could do as a team to embed the fight against the climate crisis into our work. It was an informal start: we had lots of ideas but hardly knew how to put them into practice. So I’m really proud that in 2021 we managed to create a climate & environmental hub on our website, which includes our action plan, access to a myriad of resources and, most importantly, our collective pledge. We have also produced a special episode of our podcast in which three of our members talked about what they have been doing at their organisations to prioritise this topic.

Ruth Marks, trustee

There are loads of good things that come from being an ACEVO trustee – here’s my top 3.  Number 1 – great icebreakers by our fab chair Rosie when she welcomes everyone to the board meeting with a mindful few minutes to settle us in for the main event. Number 2 – well-prepared papers leading to thoughtful discussion and debate, inclusive in style and ambitious in action.  Number 3 – supporting an amazing staff team who know their jobs, are passionate about the voluntary sector, have huge drive and energy and are held in high regard by members and partners alike. 

David Smith, trustee

I imagine it’s rare that anybody would say a board meeting was their highlight of the year but after so long working remotely, getting to spend time face to face with the trustees and team in October was an absolute joy. Meeting new folk in person for the first time, whilst being able to sign off on an exciting new strategy, all in the majestic shadow of St Pauls cathedral (thanks to our fab partner Sarasin!) brought together some of the best parts of civil society – connection, ambition, impact and of course…..a tasty lunch!

Natalie Westerman, membership & marketing manager

My highlight of 2021 was building the Hidden Leaders report and Pay & Equalities Survey as webpages. We know that screen readers aren’t always compatible with pdf files and so worked with our website developer Ben to come up with a solution on how best to present the information in these files, so they were more accessible. Moving forward our reports and publications will now be available to read as a webpage or pdf. This is part of the work we are doing at ACEVO to take down the barriers to our content and membership. If you can suggest other ways to help us be more accessible please contact me at

Vicky Browning, chief executive

It’s always sad when great colleagues leave a well-honed, smoothly functioning team. You know you’ll miss them as team-mates – their knowledge, connections and skills. But chances are you’ll also miss them as friends – their humour, support and comradery.

But welcoming new colleagues in their place is exciting. At ACEVO, we said goodbye to three much-loved teammates this year – Catherine Macrae, head of finance and ops, Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy, and Jenny Sowerby, our digital and data lead. And we’ve been really happy to welcome three new colleagues into the fold – Yetunde Ogundele, Alan Lally-Francis and Commeletia Allison. One of my highlights of the year has been the opportunity to get to know new faces, see things from new angles, and appreciate different approaches. The best teams aren’t set in stone but change and develop around a shared purpose, core set of values and a positive culture. The ACEVO staff may not be the same set of people we were at the start of the year, but we remain a cracking team.

Kate Allen, trustee

I cannot believe the speed at which this year seems to have passed! Reflecting on the year is such a valuable thing to do as each year of our lives, professionally and personally, is precious and we should try to take time to appreciate what we have had.  

I have really valued the networking opportunities that being a member and trustee of ACEVO offers. Through the Next Steps Programme, I have built lasting relationships with other voluntary sector chief executives. I have been reassured that ‘I’m not the only one’, encouraged ‘to be brave & bold’ and thanked ‘for sharing experience & expertise’.  The Community Hub, #ACEVOFest21, webinars, weekly updates from Vicky (that are a manageable size to read!) – they have all kept me connected and in touch with others. I might be remote working but I don’t feel remote. Bring on 2022…. I’m ready!

Tom Andrews, head of member support

I think I have written roughly the same thing for the last two years…but my highlight continues to be the one to one conversations with CEOs and senior leaders. It feels a privilege to offer space and support; a chance for leaders to pause and to talk about what is going on for them. These conversations are often characterised by refreshing honesty: ‘this is what is going on for me, I don’t know what to do, help’. 

Other highlights have been the creative connections with the rest of the talented ACEVO team and my one to one conversations with my colleague Jenny. These conversations have been open, collaborative and caring; supporting one another through another challenging year.

Marlene Cursoux, corporate partnership executive

Having been working from home since March 2020, my personal highlight was being able to work in an office environment for a few days this year. My second highlight was the second edition of #ACEVOFest, where the content delivered by speakers and sponsors offered great food for thought. Finally, growing existing relationships and creating new ones with corporate partners went really well this year too!

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