New chapter for St John’s Foundation as retiring Chief Executive ushers in a charity stalwart as Interim CEO

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During the 850 years that St John’s Foundation has served its community, time has never stood still, and change has unfolded from without and within our organisation to propel us ever forwards in our mission to change lives for good.

So it is, that in our milestone year we close a chapter and open a new one by announcing the retirement of CEO David Hobdey and sharing the exciting news that St John’s Trustee Catharine Brown will take up the Interim CEO position later this month.

Having joined St John’s Foundation in 2016 as Finance Director, David became the charity’s Chief Executive two years later. During his tenure, he was instrumental in developing and launching our current 10-year strategy in 2020, alongside our Board of Trustees.

This extended our work to help under-served children in the region with the ambitious goal of narrowing the academic attainment gap at Key Stage 2 and it has already proven to be making an important difference.

Indeed, early data indicates encouraging progress in literacy levels in primary school age children and improving speech and language development in pre-school age children through our Language for Life programme.

Meanwhile, David has also overseen and built on the charity’s core work to support people at a point of crisis and our community’s older adults, including through our almshouse accommodation, Good Living Service and wider initiatives to foster an age-inclusive community, in collaboration with other local organisations.

The culmination of David’s six years at the helm came earlier this year, in welcoming Queen Camilla in her capacity as Patron of St John’s Foundation in a special service held at a packed Bath Abbey in February. Catharine Brown has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO, and she is no stranger to St John’s Foundation.

She joined the charity as a trustee in 2023 and has extensive experience within the sector spanning more than 20 years. These include long-term interim Director roles at five national charities such as Young Lives vs Cancer and Bath-based charities Ripple Effect (previously Send a Cow), and Designability, where she was permanent CEO for more than four years, delivering transformational change for disabled people across the UK.

In addition to holding several interim Director roles, Catharine has also established a consultancy business working with Trustee Boards and leaders to help them achieve greater impact, making her a perfect fit to take up the interim reins. She has been living in Bath for over 20 years and is well versed with the city’s challenges, opportunities and networks.

David says:

“It is humbling to have played a part in the history of this vitally important local institution. My decision to retire at this juncture has been long in planning and with the extraordinary senior sector experience in my interim successor, Catharine, the transition of leadership couldn’t be smoother.”

Catharine says:

“I am delighted to step into the Interim CEO role at St John’s Foundation and play my part in guiding this important charity as we move into the second half of our strategy. My time as a Trustee to date has allowed me to build up a detailed knowledge of St John’s work and the many stakeholders involved.”

This is an important and equally exciting time for everyone here at St John’s Foundation. Our commitment has and will always be centred on improving the lives of the communities we serve. As we start the next stage of our 10-year plan, we are extremely grateful for David’s significant contribution leading to this point and very much look forward to working with Catharine in this new chapter.