Life appoints new Chair, creating its first all-women leadership team

The International Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne has appointed Fiona Cruickshank as Chair of its Board. The announcement follows a Board of Trustees meeting held last Friday [26 June], where the appointment was ratified.

Fiona joins Life’s Chief Executive, Linda Conlon, and its five Directors to form the organisation’s first all-women leadership team. This is a testament to Life’s belief in gender equality to appoint the right person for a job – to break the ‘glass ceiling’ that can often hold women back in achieving senior roles.

Fiona, a North East native, is an angel investor and a founder of pharmaceutical manufacturing businesses, drawing on her business acumen, passion for entrepreneurialism and her degree and training in pharmacy. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2010 for services to business in the North East.

She has previously contributed to many charitable boards, including serving as the current Chair of the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland – the largest charitable organisation in the UK for community-based activities – and helping to ensure that Life fulfils its mission as a Trustee for the past seven years.

Fiona said: “It is an enormous privilege to help steer Life for the years to come. Life is a fascinating mix of a mission-driven charity, which aims to inspire curiosity in science and engage everyone in contemporary science issues, and a commercial trading arm, delivering income that enables complete autonomy and to respond quickly to changing times – an asset in these difficult times.

“Whilst I relish a challenge, I could never have envisaged the scale of the task ahead that the global pandemic has created. But I am more energised than ever to support the team to keep on making a difference to the region.”

Linda Conlon said: “I’m thrilled Fiona accepted the Board’s invitation to become the new Chair. As an entrepreneur who has built a formidable reputation in the pharmaceutical industry, she has a wealth of valuable experience and skills to bring to the table.”

Alastair Balls, Life’s immediate past Chair – who was a major driving force behind the founding of Life and served as its Chief Executive for the organisation’s first seven years, and then as Chair for the past 13 years – has been given the new role of Honorary President.