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John Low & James Strachan resign from RNID

John Low (CEO) and James Strachan (Chair) are both leaving the RNID.

Press Release relating to Low here.

John Low is off to CAF in August, and James Strachan stands down in October.

Update: Can anyone find something in Private Eye, relating to conflict of interest over hearing aids and privatisation? Is this getting reported in a forthcoming issue?

Update 2: Here's John Low's bit:

I will be leaving RNID at the end of July to become the Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) where I hope to improve the impact that many more charities can have.

Although this is an exciting new opportunity for me, it has been a hard decision to make. The last eight years, five as Chief Executive, have been both challenging and very rewarding. Most of all I have enjoyed working with such a talented and committed group of people, and have made many friends – I am greatly indebted to those who worked hard with me and have been so supportive and loyal through good times and hard.

Nevertheless, I genuinely feel that the time is right for the organisation to move forward under fresh new leadership to achieve even more for deaf and hard of hearing people. I am also convinced that RNID is well placed to do so with a strong team of Executive Directors, excellent leaders among the wider management group and high calibre, committed staff. Finances are stable and improving, fundraising is being increasingly successful and the organisation is more robust then ever with sustainable services and great plans for the future. These strengths will stand us in good stead to carry on our good work and have an ever-increasing impact.

I recognise that 2007 will be a period of change for the organisation because coincidentally James Strachan, after 13 years of involvement with either the governance or management of RNID, will stand down as Chairman at the end of his two statutory terms on the Board, at the end of October. However, the Board is confident that there will be an orderly transition. James and I will keep everyone informed of progress over the coming months.

With my very best wishes,

John Low
Chief Executive

Update 3: The Third Sector picks up on Low's departure plus new appointment.

Update 4: The RNID website quote James Strachan's biography as "a non-executive director of .... Care UK. Care UK has him down as a shareholder.

The grapevine is hot with information on an allegeded potential conflict of interest in respect of privatisation of hearing aids: private financial interest in hearing aids against being Chair of the largest charity in the UK for deaf and hard of hearing people. Can anyone verify this? Private Eye in its last edition carried this relevant article on Care UK. James Strachan is mentioned at the bottom of the middle column, but focuses on the fact he's married to Baroness Blackstone, a former government minister and a life peer. (Click on image below to make it bigger).

Private Eye Page 29

However, for years we've been pulling on this. Doug Alker had a go with Really Not Interested in the Deaf, and endless articles in publications such as the Voice. What does the Charity Commission have to say about it all?

Low takes the helm at Charities Aid Foundation By Paul Jump, Third Sector Online, 16 April 2007

RNID chief executive John Low said that he "can't wait" to take over as head of sector support group the Charities Aid Foundation, whose loss of six directors last year culminated in the resignation of its former chief executive in October.

Low will take up the £150,000-a-year position at the beginning of August. The RNID board will now begin a search for his successor.

Low, who has been in his current post for five years, said he was not intimidated by CAF's recent troubles.

"I'm after a challenge," he said, in his first interview following his appointment. "I've had a lot of success with challenges at RNID. The situation at CAF would have put a lot of people off but it attracted me."

Low said he was attracted by the chance to help the whole of the charity sector after developing a "passion for voluntary endeavour" during his time at RNID and as chair of Acevo - a position he will keep if time permits.

He denied that what he described as CAF's "difficult time with staff turnover" amounted to a crisis. "It is not losing money," he said. "All organisations go through cycles, but CAF is getting itself sorted out and it is a great time to join them and move things forward. It is an organisation with a huge potential."

However, he admitted CAF could be doing "so much more" in terms of working closely with charities and responding to their needs. Of the charity's payroll giving service, he said: "It needs to be enabled to grow and find its place."

Low praised the work of former finance director Tony Rogers, who took over on a temporary basis after the resignation of Stephen Ainger. Rogers will now take up the role of chief operating officer.

"He has done a fabulous job both on the finance and people sides," Low said. "He has been a great, cathartic leader."

A strategic review of the organisation started by Ainger would continue to press ahead, Low said. "The organisation is going through a period of change and it will continue," he said. "The results of the strategic review will have to be implemented. But I am pleased to have the opportunity to work in an organisation with such good people in it."

He added that he would not be "going in with a meat cleaver".

A CAF spokesman said there had been a "strong field of candidates" for the job. Chair Simon Cairns said: "John comes to CAF with a strong background and track record of delivery. My colleagues and I have every confidence he will lead CAF in achieving further milestones in the contribution that the foundation has made and continues to make to donors and charities across the UK and internationally."

The search for a new chief executive at RNID will begin immediately. Low stressed that despite recent achievements such as the RNID's success in improving the quality of NHS hearing aids, there was still a lot for his successor to do. "Nine million people have hearing difficulties in the UK, yet there is still a stigma about wearing a hearing aid," he said.

"I'm leaving RNID because it's a good opportunity for me. I feel RNID is robust and will prosper under fresh leadership."

He said there were several "credible" internal candidates for the RNID job, but that the vacancy would be open for external applications.

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Comments (7)

As someone who once campaigned a lot against rnid for various reasons, including asking the above two people to resign (also for various reasons), I am rather surprised r.e. how little I care about this. Once, I would have been delighted. Today, I am simply like "oh good."

Does this show how deaf organisations are indeed a thing of the past? Or am I just getting old? Whatever - it just doesn't seem as important as it used to be.

However I am very interested in this Private Eye revelation! Does this mean we were right all along?!

Probably.

I wanna be a CEO of RNID! And then it means I can get all those secret deals that make me rich and I'll propose that cochlear implant become a brain control device instead and amass an army to invade...erm...Greenland. Only don't tell anyone about that one please.

Gone, and completely forgotten...

Strange about James Strachan joining Care UK r.e. private eye. Whilst trying to find out James's middle name on the net, I came across this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4550984.stm which contradicts the article. The reason why I'm looking for his middle name is cos I bought a pair of trouser from a charity shop in Wembley back in 1997 and the name tag was "James.H.Strachan". So I wonder if I can claim that I was in Stratchy's trousers? :-)

It's finding deaf people to fill his shoes is the issue....

MM - not an issue, I've already said I'll do it dammit, I already offered.

Sheesh...

I wonder if it will be Guido Gybels who will take over as CEO. I think Guido has something similar to Low's old job.

(Low was Director of Technology, Guido is Director of New Technologies - I'm not sure if I have this quite right, as I'm no RNID insider)

Jeff? Not sure if Jeff has had enough time to 'absorb' the rnid 'ways'.

Like J-girl, I'm suprised how little I care about this. I think it says something about the lack of viable alternatives. Possibly also something to do with it becoming easier to construct a life as a deafie without any contact or involvement with the rnid.

Or maybe we're all becoming older.

I just put my baby to bed, and now I'm tucking into organic chocolate cake with Green & Black chocolate drink powder spooned over it and the whole thing drowned in Baileys - yum!

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