Monday 19 January 2009

Annual Meetings and Change!

They were queuing round the block to get into the ACEVO Annual general Meeting ! Over 200 members all trying to get into Portcullis House and through the one security entrance . So we were 20 minutes late starting . But a good meeting . The one opportunity in the year when members get together to talk about the direction of ACEVO and reflect back on the year .

And this AGM was special as it marked the end of my current Chair's 4 year term of office , and the election of a new Chair ; Lesley-Anne Alexander , the CEO of the RNIB. John Low , my departing Chair has been a tower of strength to me ; wise counsel and strong support . He has been a guiding hand in the development of ACEVO to become the force it is today . Lesley-Anne will also be a strong Chair ; a different style and approach and so the CEO will need to adapt to that . But as I say at our AGM , it is the strength of the Chair and CEO relationship that makes the organisation drive forward . Lesley Anne's first outing as Chair is at the Parliamentary reception which follows . She makes a powerful speech stressing that in troubled times Chief Executives need the support of colleagues; and that is the point of ACEVO , the CEO network .

After all these years I have got used to speech making and do not usually need time to prepare , let alone over worry about what to say , but somehow an AGM , standing in front of the massed ranks of my Chief executive members is different. I have spent the weekend thinking about the right approach and then spend a troubled night working out how to deliver the key messages. I think it works OK. I speak about the ACEVO dual role in supporting the sector chief executive and our role in acting as a sector leader , articulating the chief executive voice to Government and nationally.

There are a range of questions ; I admit that the one on our depreciation policy was not one I was expecting , and thank goodness the treasurer knew the answer! But generally a very supportive response , and a great thank you from one member ( to a general rumble of approval ) for the work ACEVO has been doing on the recession . And our Parliamentary Reception proved the usual splendid draw for MPs and Peers. I was relaxed by now but did not fall into the trap of thinking that people who come to receptions are gagging to stand around for ages listening to me and others witter , as opposed to drinking and networking!

So after the trial of an AGM it was a relief to go to my first meeting of the Public Sector Chairs Forum , wearing my Futurebuilders hat . We have a talk form Ray Shostak , the head of the PM's Delivery Unit. A good guy; and he takes my points about how the third sector is crucial to a more citizen focused public service . There is to be a new White Paper on Public Service reform ; I see Liam Byrne MP to talk about this soon. I want this to be a clarion call for more diversification of delivery , with more outsourced to the sector . To achieve this we need a third sector that is better capitalised; and that is the key job of Futurebuilders. And will be of the Social Investment bank when it is established.

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