From Sam Smethers, The Fawcett Society <[email protected]>
Subject The one about me
Date July 17, 2020 11:29 AM
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This is a bit more personal than my usual columns, and also the most difficult for me to write, but after five fantastic years at Fawcett I’ve decided the time has come for me to step down as CEO. I plan to leave in December. Let me explain why, but for that I need to go back a bit.
When I was 21 I had my first baby and I became a mum of two by 26. I then went on to divorce and remarry, having two more children, now aged 12 and 8. I have been juggling work and family life for 29 years (I feel knackered just saying it), and each job I have done has got bigger along the way. Running Fawcett is a privilege, and undoubtedly the best job I have ever had but it is also all-consuming, partly because I care so much about the organisation and the work we do. I find it hard to switch off, to let go, and the agenda just keeps on coming. This recent period of working from home and home-schooling two children has undoubtedly had an impact on me and my family and affected the timing of this decision. But the truth is I have been wrestling with the demands of the job for a while. So that is why stepping back feels like the right thing for me to do. I am not sure yet what I will do next but want to remain working on equality and social justice one way or another.
"Running Fawcett is a privilege, and undoubtedly the best job I have ever had."

We know that the coronavirus crisis is having a huge impact on women’s lives and a disproportionate impact on women of colour, disabled women, mothers, carers and older women too. Our #MakeWomenVisible campaign ([link removed][UNIQID]) has mobilised the women’s sector, our research (developed in partnership with Women’s Budget Group, LSE and Queen Mary) and our corona diaries have provided much-needed evidence of the impact on women. Our corona conversation events have provided vital opportunities for our members and supporters from all over the country, and around the world, to come together to discuss the crisis. When the lockdown began we budgeted for reduced donations and membership income, but so far donations have stayed strong and membership has gone up not down. Existing funders have also provided additional funding. I have no doubt that this is because we have remained relevant and we are doing important work. The Fawcett team have
produced some of our best work yet, despite facing their own challenges. I feel very proud of them all.
When I arrived five years ago I wanted to ensure we were respected, credible and influential. As well as running our own impactful campaigns I wanted us to be like a big sister to others in the sector, backing others’ campaigns, building alliances, working in collaboration, and most importantly, that we should do this in an intersectional way. I wanted us to provide thought-leadership while making the radical sound reasonable. I like to think that we have achieved those things. But all organisations need to refresh themselves to be relevant for the next stage of the fight, whatever that may be. So now it is time for me to hand over to someone else. I am looking forward to seeing who follows and my priority is to leave them as strong a foundation to build on as I possibly can.

"I want to say a massive thank you to you, our members, for supporting us over the years."
I want to say a massive thank you to you, our members, for supporting us over the years, to my wonderful trustees and all the staff team, past and present, who always work so hard and so professionally and to all our local groups, partners, allies, supporters and of course, our funders.

There will be a time for saying a proper goodbye but for now we will remain firmly focussed on our coronavirus response work and other campaigning activity as there’s lots more work to do.

Sam Smethers
Chief Executive, The Fawcett Society
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If you have any questions or comments for Sam, please reply to this letter or write to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . She will do her best to include her response in our next edition of Courage Everywhere.

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