We are delighted to announce the appointment of Michelle Cooper as our new Chief Executive.

Michelle joins from Northstar Ventures where she is an Investment Director working across a wide range of investment funds delivering social impact and capital return. She is currently responsible for sourcing, evaluating and investing in high impact charities through her work with the North East Social Invest Fund. At Northstar, Michelle has also worked with the Northern Rock Foundation and more latterly Northstar’s own Foundation to deliver the Fresh Ideas grant programme. Fresh Ideas has enabled voluntary, community and social enterprises in the North East to explore new income-generating opportunities and improve their long-term sustainability and social impact.

With almost 20 years’ experience in assessing business opportunities and raising finance, Michelle has previously worked in the technology transfer unit at the University of Manchester, before joining Codeworks in the North East as Corporate Finance Manager. This followed a number of commercial roles in the UK and Europe. Michelle holds a PhD from the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh.

In addition to her investment activity, Michelle works closely with the Northstar Foundation, to support charities and social enterprises across the North East and Cumbria. She also volunteers with local schools in the region, as part of the Business Ambassadors programme. The scheme encourages people in business to go into primary and secondary schools to deliver workshops and help students develop employability skills.

Reflecting on her appointment, Michelle said: “I am delighted to be joining County Durham Community Foundation and look forward to working with the organisation’s stakeholders to ensure we make an even bigger positive impact on communities across our region”.

James Fenwick, Chair said, “We are delighted to have been able to recruit somebody of the calibre of Michelle Cooper as our new CEO, and I am confident that her experience of raising funds and seeking opportunities to support organisations to develop and increase their impact will bring continued growth for the County Durham Community Foundation and the communities that we serve”.

We look forward to welcoming Michelle to the Community Foundation team in February 2018 and wish her every success in her new role.