Centre for Local Economic Strategies appoints Sarah Longlands as new CEO

In June 2021, Sarah Longlands will become the new Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) – the national organisation for local economies.

Sarah is currently Director of IPPR North and has been an outspoken advocate for regional development in the North of England. She brings to CLES a wealth of experience in developing and delivering policy to address the human consequences of economic inequality. Her appointment comes in CLES’s 35th anniversary year, as the organisation expands its reach into new national and international locations, and opens a new chapter in its mission to realise local economic, social and ecological justice.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Sarah holds a PhD on the influence of economic growth policy on spatial planning in England. Prior to this, from 2005 to 2011, Sarah worked at CLES, initially as a Senior Consultant before becoming Director of Policy. Prior to her time at CLES, she held economic development roles within North Yorkshire and Durham Councils.

Sarah Longlands commented:

“I am very excited to be joining CLES as its new Chief Executive at what is a critical time for the UK’s future. The work of CLES to strengthen local economies across the UK provides an important and hopeful agenda for local communities and leaders at a time when we are dealing with the crisis of the pandemic alongside Brexit and the climate emergency.”

“For 35 years, CLES has worked with local communities to build a better future through creative and innovative ideas for economic development. As CLES’s new Chief Executive,  I am committed to working with local people, businesses, councils and elected leaders to support a fair and just recovery which works for people across the UK.”

Gill Steward, Chair of the Board said:

“We are thrilled that Sarah will be joining us as our new Chief Executive. Throughout the recruitment process Sarah demonstrated that she has exactly the right skills, experience, track record and commitment to CLES to build on the strong foundations put in place over the last 20 years by Neil McInroy.  Sarah will be joining CLES at a critical time. As we strengthen our work at scale and depth across the UK and use our unique think-do model to develop alternative progressive economic models so desperately needed by communities up and down the UK.”

Neil McInroy, current CEO of CLES, concluded:

“Sarah is a fellow traveller in the movement for economic, social and ecological justice and a former CLES colleague. She returns to an organisation that has established itself as the driving force behind progressive local economics, positioned at the cutting edge of community wealth building in the UK. Sarah is enthusiastic and smart, and I am looking forward to supporting and working with her before I step down in July.”

Following an extended transition period, Neil will officially step down in July 2021, and will become a strategic advisor to the organisation and a member of its Board of Trustees. Sarah starts at CLES in early June.

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