Introducing Voice 21's new trustees

 In January 2021, we appointed a new trustee board to support, challenge and guide us as we embark on our next five-year strategy. With a breadth of experience spanning education, law, finance, investment, marketing and HR, we are positive that their contributions will prove invaluable to our work as an organisation, our impact and reaching those that most need our support. Below, Voice 21’s new Chair, Sarah David, has written up her reflections on taking on the role and recruiting the wider board. 

I am one of those people who accepts “life isn’t fair” and yet is still utterly furious about the unfairness of life. This has driven my volunteering and activism over the past 15 years. When I lost my darling Mum suddenly at the start of lockdown, I felt the loneliness of losing her lifelong friendship. At the same time, an ever increasing number of stories were surfacing on the impact of lockdown on young people and the increased education attainment gaps. I resolved in the early summer to become a young people charity Chair: this would enable me to use my skills and experience, give me a level of connection I was missing, while addressing inequality.

I almost immediately connected with the opportunity at Voice 21 to join an already highly successful organisation with ambitious impact and growth plans. The mission to transform children’s learning and life chances through talk, at a time when talking – video – is in the ascendant, spoke to me. Especially when considering the rising impact of younger influencers and activists like Marcus Rashford and Greta Thunberg and my experience of youth organisations such as Reclaim and Making the Leap.

After being grilled at my interview and being fortunate enough to be appointed, Beccy – Voice 21’s CEO – and I dived into the challenge and opportunity of building a brand new board from scratch. We both wanted to work with people who would speak up and speak out but also be great listeners: the oracy nirvana. We knew values were going to be the key to a great board that is ambitiously diverse – if many of us come from different sectors and backgrounds and perspectives, sharing core values was going to be the way through conversations. We do not want or expect to always agree, but we want to share a wholeheartedness for serving young people, for changing life trajectories and influencing the education system…..I said we had ambition!

It is early days in our board journey together but already we are supporting the development of a new strategy, developing the governance and expanding and extending fundraising. This is vital so that we can continue to reach the most disadvantaged schools across the UK. Each one of us at the table has complementary expertise and experience – from banking, accountancy, law and agency marketing to teaching, leading NGOs, founding charities and diversity and inclusion expertise. We live in different parts of the UK, with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. But we do share a wholehearted commitment to Voice 21, evidenced in the way we work together and with Voice 21 both at our board meetings but as importantly outside of them.

We still have plenty to learn from our community of 681 Voice 21 Oracy Schools and our wider school network. I welcome the chance to meet headteachers in these schools and other supporters who are part of this journey. 

Sarah’s business, Thrive Consulting Collaborative, works with people organisations to clarify strategy and purpose, build and enhance leadership skills, and nurture and shape positive culture. She started her working life as a lawyer in a Magic Circle firm. Following her MBA, she held international executive level roles in businesses including Linklaters and Korn Ferry, before becoming CEO of an autism school in Colorado.

Sarah is an Ambassador for Queen Bee Coaching and a member of the UK Social Mobility Awards judging panel. As a widow and adoptive parent, social justice causes are particularly close to her heart.

Sarah’s standout oracy moment: “Time and again, standout oracy moments in my life come from the unique, fearless and curious perspectives of young people.”

Discover the rest of our board, their experiences and standout oracy moments here.

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© 2020 Voice 21. Voice 21 is a registered charity in England and Wales. Charity number 1152672 | Company no. 08165798