Richards, a CEO with an exceptional track record of delivering meaningful results for international organisations, will lead Aspen’s development in the UK.
LONDON, United Kingdom. 1 February 2019 – The Aspen Initiative UK, an independent, not for profit organisation which inspires and supports leaders to transform themselves and their society, today announced the appointment of its first Managing Director Penny Richards.
Penny, formerly a BBC journalist and Head of Communications and Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India, will lead Aspen UK’s development and programming, and will also build the infrastructure and profile for the organisation, while engaging a diverse range of people and organisations, in politics, business, the arts and civil society.
Aspen UK was established in 2017 by a Board of Trustees with the support of the Aspen Institute US. It is mandated to play an active role in bridging UK’s political, social and cultural divides, and does so by using the unique Aspen method of text-based and professionally guided conversations.
The global Aspen network, founded in 1949 in Aspen, Colorado as the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. It has 11 partners operating in 14 countries around the world. The Institute’s network of partners are dedicated to promoting dialogue on the values and ideas that inspire people, communities, and institutions. Each partner is independently financed and operated, with their own staff operating on the ground in their countries. The Institute encourages collaboration between programs in the US and international partners, who provide a global network of young leaders, experts, and fellows in countries around the world and the ability to convene leaders across sectors rather than nationality.
Penny has significant international experience, having lived and run organisations or large-scale projects in countries as diverse as India, Singapore, South Africa, Australia, Israel and the UK. She served as COO of the Elders, an organisation of former Heads of State working for peace and human rights. As the BMGF’s Communications and Advocacy lead in India, she developed and implemented the foundation’s communications and advocacy strategy. And at the BBC, her final role was as the Asia-Pacific Bureau Editor, setting editorial standards and managing budgets in a region comprising half the world’s population.
Most recently, Penny served as the Executive Director of the Institute of Master of Wine, the wine industry’s only prestigious global education and membership organisation, with an unparalled reputation internationally. She is a trustee of Medical Action Myanmar and a former trustee of War Child UK.
Aspen UK Trustee Jan Rostowski said “At a time when trust in the UK’s leadership is at an all-time low, Aspen UK’s mission is to bridge the profound divides in UK society and Penny Richards, who has diverse experience running big projects and budgets in challenging environments, is perfectly suited to the job at hand. The Board is delighted to have found the right candidate at the end of an exhaustive process and we are all very much looking forward to working together to establish Aspen in the UK’’.
Richards said: “The Aspen Institute has been building better leaders around the world for decades and with the UK growing more divided, the need for organisations which seek to bring people together is greater than ever. I am delighted to be joining an organisation with the mandate and skillset to make a difference.’’