A new chapter for Forward Action

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By Alex Lloyd Hunter & Joe Escalante Coney

June marked seven years since we founded Forward Action. In that time, our brilliant team and equally brilliant partners have delivered impact that we scarcely could have imagined in the summer of 2015, back when Forward Action was little more than the pair of us hunched over laptops at a too-small table in the Barbican Centre cafe.

We’ve helped Refuge raise millions of pounds to fund domestic abuse shelters. We’ve worked with Dignity in Dying to significantly shift the dial on political support for assisted dying, with a legalisation vote now scheduled in Scotland. We’ve helped Reprieve and Freedom From Torture build outstanding mobilisation programmes that give the public an avenue to push back on torture, the death penalty and mistreatment of refugees. Helping fund Greenpeace’s fight against climate change; recruiting 500,000 people for ONE’s campaigner list; the list goes on. We are so proud of everything our colleagues and partners have achieved to date, and feel hugely grateful to have been able to work with such kind, smart and talented people.

Forward Action has always had three goals. First, to deliver progressive impact that helps make the world a better place. Second, to be an inclusive, enriching and enjoyable place to work for our staff. And third, to sustain the organisation so we can continue creating impact for years to come. Sustainable leadership is crucial to that third goal, and over the last couple of years we have worked to create the conditions that will allow Forward Action to thrive without the two of us staying at the helm forever.

From the start, we have followed the principle that building a successful organisation means creating a strong culture, filling it with excellent people, and empowering them with the skills, resources and freedom to do their jobs brilliantly. We are confident that this is exactly what we have put in place at Forward Action, alongside an outstanding leadership team that is firing on all cylinders. So we believe now is the right time to hand over Forward Action’s future to our team.

Over the next few months, we will be hiring a CEO to take over the day-to-day running of the organisation, after which we will move into governance and support roles at Forward Action (the CEO job ad is currently live – you can find the application information here). In line with the progressive values that are so central to Forward Action’s identity and way of operating, we will also be transitioning the company to an Employee Ownership Trust model. This will enable our team to own the company – and the benefits of their work – themselves. It’s a prospect we’re truly excited by, and just recognition of the dedication, skill and compassion each member of our team brings to work every day. We also believe it’s the best way to empower our team to keep delivering the highest quality and most impactful work possible for our partners long term.

For our part, the focus of the next nine months will be leaving Forward Action in the strongest possible position for our team and new CEO to build on. Beyond that, we’re planning to explore a range of exciting options for what we do next – everything from developing a technology platform to setting up a non-profit. If you have any ideas or opportunities you’d like to chat to us about we’d love to hear from you.

Building this organisation has been an extraordinary journey, filled with moments of satisfaction, frustration, exhilaration and exhaustion. It’s been one of the most fulfilling experiences of our lives, and one we wouldn’t change for the world. We’ve had the privilege of shaping Forward Action’s first chapter; we can’t wait to see what our team and partners will do with the next.

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Written by Alex Lloyd Hunter & Joe Escalante Coney

Founders & Co-Executive Directors