The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) appoints Jon Sparkes as Chief Executive

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) appoints Jon Sparkes as Chief Executive

25 August 2021 – The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) is pleased to announce the appointment of Jon Sparkes as Executive Director (Chief Executive) of the charity, to take effect in early 2022. Steven Waugh, Chief Financial Officer, will continue as Interim Executive Director until then.

Jon brings considerable experience at an executive level across the sector and joins UNICEF UK from Crisis UK, the national charity for people facing homelessness, where he has been Chief Executive since 2014. Prior to that, Jon was Chief Operating Officer at UNICEF UK and Chief Executive at SCOPE, the national disability charity.

Earlier in his career, Jon led Human Resources and organisational development in both the public and private sectors, including as Director of Organisational Development at NHS Cornwall and as Group Human Resources Director for the international technology and investment firm, the Generics Group.

Jon also has wide-ranging non-executive experience in charities and social enterprises, and has led and participated in several projects on behalf of governments, including as Chair of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Advisory Group, Chair of the Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group, and as a member of the UK Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel.

Shatish Dasani, Chair of UNICEF UK said: “Following an extensive and thorough selection process which included receiving input from our Youth Advisory Board, members of staff, the senior leadership team and UNICEF, the Board is pleased to be appointing someone of Jon’s calibre.

“Jon brings an incredibly impressive record of leading large national charities where he has delivered sustained income growth, national partnerships and policy change. His leadership, together with his passion for children’s rights, means that the Board and I are excited to work together with Jon in this next chapter for UNICEF UK as it continues to deliver impactful change for children all over the world.”

Jon Sparkes said: “I am delighted to be returning to UNICEF UK to take up the role of Chief Executive. It is an immense privilege to lead the organisation in its mission to deliver lifesaving work for children and promote and defend their rights both around the world and here in the UK. Right now, children are facing the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and coming under attack in conflicts across the world, threatening their survival and ability to reach their full potential. The work of UNICEF UK to advocate for and create change for children has never been so vital.

“I am excited to get to work alongside and support such a talented group of colleagues help achieve UNICEF UK’s vision of a world fit for every child.”


Notes to editors

Image of Jon Sparkes to accompany the press release can be downloaded at


UNICEF UK media team, / 0207 375 3060


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.

United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland).