Chief Executive Officer, Charity Commission and Board member

Helen Stephenson CBE


Helen Stephenson joined the Charity Commission as CEO in July 2017. Helen has extensive experience of senior leadership across the public and voluntary sectors, having previously served as Director of Early Years and Childcare at the Department of Education and Director of the Office for Civil Society.

Helen has filled senior roles at the Big Lottery Fund and the Shaftesbury Society and was, chair of the National Childbirth Trust and a member of the Advisory Council of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Helen also became a Charity Commission board member in September 2018.


  • Director of Early Years and Childcare, Department for Education, 2014-2017
  • Director, Office for Civil Society and Government innovation Group, 2011-2014
  • Deputy Director, Office for Civil Society, Cabinet Office, 2007-2011
  • Head of Strategic Policy and Partnerships, the Big Lottery Fund, 2004-2007
  • Senior Policy Advisor, New Opportunities Fund/ Big Lottery Fund, 2001-2004

Voluntary experience

  • NCVO Advisory Council, 2014-2017
  • Trustee and Chair, National Childbirth Trust, 2015-2017
  • Board Member, Big Society Trust, 2013-2017


  • CBE for services to Civil Society in the Birthday Honours list, 2014

Chief Executive Officer, Charity Commission

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Charity Commission is responsible for its day-to-day management. This includes leading the commission’s senior management team.

The CEO also has delegated responsibility for making sure the commission:

  • carries out its statutory duties and responsibilities and exercises its legal powers appropriately
  • develops plans, programmes and policies for the board to approve
  • carries out the board’s strategies and plans for the future, including its contribution to legislative reform
  • carries out the commission’s services in line with targets and performance indicators agreed by the board

The CEO is accountable for the commission’s use of public funds, and reports on this to the Public Accounts Committee.

The Charity Commission

Board member

Charity Commission Board members are ultimately responsible for all that the commission does. They set the commission’s values, business direction and strategy and make sure it acts fairly, responsibly, transparently, proportionately and ethically. Board members see that the Commission maintains its integrity and independence. They identify and manage risks and listen and respond to stakeholders.

The Commission’s Board members also:

  • monitor how the Commission meets its statutory objectives and uses its legal powers
  • consider the Commission’s management team’s performance, governance standards and delivery against plans
  • focus on maximising the Commission’s impact and effectiveness
  • make sure the Commission uses public funds prudently

The Charity Commission