Our executive team
Our executive team are responsible for the day to day running of our charity.
Dr Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive
Ruth became CEO for Leonard Cheshire in 2021. A wheelchair user from the age of seven, Ruth believes passionately in the importance of independent mobility in a disabled person’s life and in removing the barriers disabled people face.
Prior to Leonard Cheshire, Ruth spent 17 years as CEO of Whizz-Kidz, a national children’s disability charity providing mobility equipment. Under Ruth’s leadership, the charity became the biggest provider of powered and lightweight manual wheelchairs for disabled children and young people outside of the NHS and a leading campaigning organisation.
Highlights of her work include:
• Trustee of children’s charity Barnardo’s for several years.
• Appointed as a non-Executive Director of Motability Operations Group in 2018.
• Selected as a member of The Mayor of London’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group in 2019.
• Appointed as Regional Chair for London by the DWP in 2020.
• Chosen by the Disability Unit of the Cabinet Office to become a DPO Forum Member (Disabled Persons’ Organisation), a representative body whose primary aim is the empowerment and the growth of self-advocacy of persons with disabilities.
Before moving to Whizz-Kidz, Ruth forged a successful career in the private sector, in technologies, eventually setting up and running her own IT company for ten years. In 2012 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to disabled children and young people. In the same year she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Hull University for her services to disabled children.
Ruth is passionate about travel, is an avid reader of biographies and is a committed football and boxing fan.
Hugh Fenn, MD UK Community Services
Hugh joined us in November 2016 from a senior role in social housing. He took on the strategic and operational leadership for UK services.
Hugh has held a number of senior roles in the aviation and hospitality sectors. He has always focused on multi-site management and delivery of exceptional customer service.
Tiziana Oliva, MD Global Influencing and Programmes
Tiziana oversees our international work. She holds an MA in human rights and has enjoyed a successful career in international development. She has worked all over the world including Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
She joined the charity from VSO’s executive team. Her position as director gave her responsibility for operations in over 20 countries and several regional hubs.
She has also worked in senior leadership roles in Merlin and CARE International. Tiziana has worked on humanitarian interventions, long term recovery and development programmes in the field.
Andy James, Chief Financial Officer
Andy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He spent the first half of his career in finance roles in IT, Telecoms and Manufacturing. His financial experience ranges from a start-up to US-based global telecoms company, Avaya.
In 2004 he moved to the not-for-profit sector, joining the health and social care charity Turning Point, which works across substance misuse, mental health and learning disability.
He worked for a year as Interim Finance Director at Alzheimer’s Society. Andy joined us in December 2017.
Jon Petty, Executive Director Technology
Jon joined us in January 2017 and is responsible for our technology operations and promoting the use of cutting-edge assistive technology for people with disabilities.
Jon previously held senior operational and commercial roles in the retail, gaming and telecoms industries for more than twenty years. Jon is passionate about the potential digital technology offers to improve lives.
David Jessop, Executive Director People
David joined us in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he held a number of senior roles within third sector and commercial organisations, including The Royal British Legion Industries, Rathbone UK and Harrods Limited.
David has a special interest in tackling social disadvantage and is a former board member of ERSA, the Employment Related Services Association.
Leslie Davey, Interim Executive Director Marketing and Fundraising
Leslie joined Leonard Cheshire in March 2020, from the consumer goods sector, where she worked for over 20 years with global and local brand leaders, delivering marketing and communication programmes to strengthen performance.
Leslie’s passion is driving organisational development with customer-centric strategies, aiming at long term loyalty and value, and to realise growth creatively, through and with people.