Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Jon Sparkes OBE named as new CEO of Mencap

Royal Mencap Society has announced the appointment of Jon Sparkes OBE as its new Chief Executive, to take effect in June this year.

Jon joins Mencap from his current role as Chief Executive of UNICEF UK, having previously worked as Chief Executive at Crisis UK and Scope.

The charity said that Jon brings a unique mix of leadership experience across both service delivery and policy influence at the highest level, alongside a deep commitment to leading values-led organisations.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Chair of Royal Mencap Society added: “I and my fellow trustees are thrilled that Jon will be joining Mencap as our new CEO. Jon’s personal passion for improving the lives of people with a learning disability will be invaluable as we continue on our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to live for people with a learning disability. We look forward to working with him and the rest of the outstanding Mencap team to make this a reality.

“I would also like to take this chance to thank Jackie O’Sullivan who has led Mencap with such skill and dedication as our Acting CEO over the past 5 months. Jackie will continue in this role until Jon joins us later this year.”

Mencap delivers high quality and empowering support services

Jon also has notable experience in non-executive positions for charities and social enterprises, including SeeAbility, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) and the Centre for Homelessness Impact.

Jon Sparkes OBE said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the Mencap team, and to lead the organisation working to make the UK the very best place for people with a learning disability to live happy and healthy lives.

“It is unacceptable that people with a learning disability continue to face inequalities and discrimination. Mencap’s work to deliver high quality and empowering support services at the same time as working alongside people with a learning disability to campaign for equal rights and opportunities is an inspiring mission that we should all get behind. It will be an absolute honour for me to play a part in this movement and to work with the incredible team that delivers Mencap’s work day-in-day-out.”

Jon also has a background in leading Human Resources and Organisational Development in both the public and commercial sectors, including as Director of Organisational Development at NHS Cornwall and as Group Human Resources Director for the international technology and investment firm, the Generics Group, where he was a member of the operating board of the company when it listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2000.

In addition, he has wide-ranging non-executive experience in charities and social enterprises and has led and participated in several projects on behalf of governments, including, during his time at Crisis, as Chair of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Advisory Group, Chair of the Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group, and as a member of the UK Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel.

Mencap’s Acting Chief Executive Jackie O’Sullivan will continue in her role until Jon joins in early summer.

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