Neil McInroy is stepping down

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From July 2021, Neil McInroy will be stepping down as Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) after 18 years at the helm.

Having joined CLES in 2000 and becoming Chief Executive in 2003, Neil has been a loyal and committed advocate of the organisation and its progressive aims for two decades. Now, at 54 he is seeking new challenges for the next phase of his professional life.

Commenting on his decision, Neil McInroy said:

“In these times of crises, I have come to a decision that it is the moment to make a change: professionally and in life. During my time at CLES, I have worked with thousands of individuals and communities, hundreds of local and national governments and a range of organisations, in a myriad of contexts.  I have worked the length and breadth of UK, and been to places all around the globe. CLES has enabled these opportunities and as a result I have grown and matured professionally and as a person.

“During this time, CLES has also grown and matured, establishing itself as the driving force behind for community wealth building in the UK and a key delivery vehicle for economic reform at the local and national government level. “

“From day one, and every day since, I have been massively proud and humbled by being the CEO of CLES. Now, it is time for me to build on this experience and start a new chapter.”

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.

Neil has no confirmed plans to announce at this stage but remains committed to pursuing CLES’s agenda for economic, social and ecological justice.

CLES is the UK’s leading independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. Founded in 1986, it is committed to achieving social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.

Manchester City Council, a founding member of CLES is represented on the board by Cllr Suzanne Richards, who commented:

“Neil has demonstrated unwavering commitment, hard work and zeal since he joined the organisation two decades ago. For this we offer our sincere thanks and wish him nothing but goodwill for his future endeavours, including in his new capacity as strategic advisor and board member to CLES.”

Gill Steward, Chair of the Board said:

“CLES is a family, and while on a personal note we are saddened that Neil is stepping down after 20 years, the Board of Trustees past and present are immensely grateful for his committed leadership and his role in amplifying the impact, reach and reputation of the organisation.

During these turbulent times, the work of CLES is as important as ever. CLES will begin the recruitment of our new Chief Executive during November, so there is an opportunity for a long handover. Our new Chief Executive will join an organisation with a long and celebrated history, extremely strong foundations, experienced and passionate staff, and a skilled and experienced board committed to economic, social and ecological justice.  We are delighted that Neil will be joining the Board and will remain part of the CLES family.”

Stuart MacDonald, Director of Operations, commented:

“Having worked with Neil since 2004, I have seen how he has led the organisation through significant change. By remaining true to our values we have developed a strong organisation, one that is well-positioned to contribute to and shape our collective futures. Personally and professionally, I owe Neil a huge debt of gratitude, for his advice and guidance over the last 16 years and the opportunities it has provided me. CLES enters this exciting new period with a lot to say about how we build a greener and fair society as we move through this pandemic and we are excited to welcome new leadership on this, while continuing to benefit from Neil’s ongoing strategic advice”

Tom Stannard, Corporate Director – Regeneration & Economic Growth at Wakefield Council and CLES Board Member said:

“Neil will leave an indelible legacy on the work of CLES and our mission to secure better, more just and sustainable local economic development across the UK.  His work for CLES over decades has pushed the boundaries of the art of the possible in translating strategy into action, and of turning growth into real wealth for local communities.  We will miss him as a leader, a friend, and a firebrand advocate for CLES’s values which I am delighted we will continue to pursue with his support in future. He will be a hard act to follow and he will forever be associated with CLES’s ongoing success.”

Neil McInroy concluded:

“I would like to thank the board in 2003 who took a gamble on me, and the present board for all their support over the last few years and in recent months and weeks. CLES is in assured hands.  I am privileged to have worked with fabulous colleagues, past and present.  There has been joy and pain, and in comradeship, collaboration and in solidarity we achieved some amazing things.  All I can now say is thanks, it has been a helluva ride! 

“The new CEO will come into an organisation that is solid and secure, and I have a few months to work with the incoming CEO. I will always remain an ardent advocate for the CLES agenda in advancing local economic, social and ecological justice and will now pursue differing ways and contexts to achieve this.  However, I will be honoured to join the CLES Board, as well as play an ongoing role as a Strategic Adviser to CLES and continuing to work on some ongoing and new projects.”

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