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Staff Profile

Julia Unwin DBE

Chair of the Board of Governors

Governor Julia Unwin

Dame Julia Unwin is an experienced non-executive, speaker, consultant and mentor.

She was the Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation from 2007 until the end of 2016. Previously, she ran a consultancy business for 15 years and has served at various times as a Charity Commissioner, member of the Board of the Housing Corporation, Chair of the Refugee Council and Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency. She was a member of the Council of the University of York and pro Chancellor until 2017.

In 2017 she launched and chaired the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in England, which reported in November 2018 and held a fellowship with Carnegie UK Trust 2017/18 considering the role of kindness in public policy.

She has written and spoken extensively on issues relating to philanthropy, governance, the voluntary sector and its relationship with government. Her publications include ‘Why Fight Poverty?’, ‘Kindness, Emotions and Relationships’, the ‘Blind Spot in Public Policy Making’ and ‘The Grant Making Tango’.

She is currently a non-executive director of the Mears Group PLC, of Yorkshire Water and is the Inaugural Chair of the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence based at Edinburgh University.

In 2010 Dame Julia was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award in the Charity Awards and has received honorary doctorates from three universities (including from York St John). In the 2020 New Year Honours list she received a DBE. For more information about Julia please visit her website:

Charitable Trusteeships


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