The Young Foundation appoints Simon Willis as new CEO

Date: 30 May 2013

The Young Foundation is pleased to announce that it has appointed Simon Willis as its new CEO. He will take up post on 18 June 2013.

Simon Willis said: “I am very excited by the opportunity to build on the approach to research, creativity and activism that made Michael Young such a pioneer.

“The type of disruptive social innovation which The Young Foundation promotes and encourages has the potential to unleash the power and creativity of all people. The kind of innovation we need is open and social in both execution and in impact.

“I am honoured to be working with the committed and talented team at The Young Foundation as we meet the challenge of finding new ways to combine the power and impact of big institutions with the ingenuity and energy of connected and collaborative entrepreneurs to create more sustainable human development.”

Tim Allan, Chair of the Trustees of The Young Foundation said:

“Simon Willis has the energy, drive and vision to take The Young Foundation forward. The Foundation has a strong history of successful social innovation. Simon will provide the leadership the Foundation needs and ensure that its best days lie ahead.”


Notes to editors:

1. Contact: Alison Harvie on 07909 912 444 or

2. About Simon Willis

Simon Willis has spent a third of his career in the public sector – mainly at the Department of Work and Pensions and HM Treasury, a third in the voluntary sector where among other things he was Director of a large disability charity and a third in the private sector where for much of the last decade he built and led a global public purpose open innovation team at Cisco Systems. He has co-founded a number of social enterprises and has spent the last year setting up the European operations for the social movement incubator Simon has published on urban design, connected commons problems, financial crime and radical transparency. He has been an advisor to many governments and cities on their large-scale innovation strategies.

3. About the Young Foundation

The Young Foundation has been instrumental in driving thinking, action and change in social innovation in the UK and abroad.

It was forged from a merger between the Institute of Community Studies and the Mutual Aid Centre, both creations of the late Michael Young, the leading social entrepreneur, who helped to create over 60 organisations, including the Open University and the Consumers’ Association.

Recent successful ventures from The Young Foundation have included UpRising, which opens pathways to leadership for talented young adults from diverse backgrounds in the UK, and Studio Schools, which pioneers a bold new approach to learning including teaching through enterprise projects and real work.