The WEA has announced Simon Parkinson as its next chief executive and general secretary.
He will join the adult education charity from the Co-operative College, and previously worked for 19 years at Mencap, including as director of education, learning and work.
Mr Parkinson will take up the role in December, replacing Ruth Spellman. He said: “I am excited by the prospect of leading the WEA, an organisation with a tremendous history and an exciting future. Many of our communities are divided and our work is as vital and more needed than ever. I strongly believe that bringing people together to expand their knowledge, skills and understanding of each other is central to rebuilding communities.”
'Passion' for adult education
John Widdowson, chair of trustees at the WEA, said Mr Parkinson would "bring with him much-valued experience and skills as well as his passion for education and its ability to empower and inspire".
"He joins at an exciting time for the organisation as the announcement comes after the launch of this year’s business plan and budget, which is the first step to delivering the ambitious targets set out in the WEA 2025 strategy," he added. "Growing our sustainability will ensure we are here for generations to come and will enable us to maximise our share of voice on behalf of the most disadvantaged in society.”
Mr Widdowson continued: “We thank Ruth for all her achievements, passion and dedication to the WEA and the adult education sector for the past seven years and for driving the organisation forward through a major programme of change. Over the past year alone, we have secured substantial funding including from the Mayoral Combined Authorities and launched our new 2025 strategy thanks to her drive and determination."