Stonewall appoints new chair who wants UK ‘back on track’ as world leader in LGBTQ+ equality

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall has appointed a new chair who wants to “get the UK back on track as the world leader for LGBTQ+ equality”. 

On Tuesday (17 October), the charity announced that Cat Dixon – Stonewall’s longest serving trustee and formerly vice chair – had been unanimously elected as chair by the board of trustees. 

The charity said in a press release that Dixon’s appointment “ensures Stonewall can continue its vital work across the political spectrum in the best interests of LGBTQ+ communities”.  

Alongside the new chair’s appointment, Stonewall also stated Ayla Holdom and Jean Vianney Cordeiro will jointly work together in the vice chair role and Ben Whur has started as managing director. 

Dixon’s appointment as chair comes three months after the resignation of CEO Nancy Kelley, who stepped down from the charity in July

“I am incredibly proud to be appointed as chair of Stonewall’s board of trustees and committed to working hard to secure the freedom, equity and release of potential for all LGBTQ+ people,” she said in a statement.

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“As an army officer who served when it was a crime to be LGBTQ+ in the armed forces, I have experienced discrimination and hate, and I am forever grateful to Stonewall for the role it played in getting the ban to lifted. 

“It is tackling the ongoing injustices, discrimination, and violence against LGBTQ+ people that drives me to serve our communities through Stonewall, and I will do my best to provide inspirational and supportive leadership to Stonewall as it continues, with its partners, to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and to win hearts and minds to get the UK back on track as the world leader for LGBTQ+ equality.” 

In her statement, Dixon also thanked previous chair Iain Anderson for his leadership during the past year and for “his longstanding and ongoing support of Stonewall and the wider LGBTQ+ community”. 

In response to her appointment, Anderson said: “I am proud to have served as Stonewall’s Chair over the last year and will continue to support as a Stonewall Ambassador for the charity which has made such a huge difference in my life. 

“I am confident Cat will continue to provide Stonewall with excellent organisational leadership. I am proud to stand for and with all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and will continue to champion our communities’ rights and potential in everything I do.” 

Dixon comes to the chair position having lead a number of major organisations, and is  currently serving as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. 

Prior to this, Dixon was chief executive of the Law Society, NHS Resolution and a University College and has been a senior executive in BUPA, General Counsel for the NSPCC and served as an officer in the British Army. 

Alongside her career achievements, she also holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world on a tandem – which she set in 2020.  

Kelley, who was CEO of Stonewall from May 2020 to July 2023, said it was a “privilege” to run the organisation. 

“I’m sad to share that I’ll be leaving Stonewall at the end of this month. Sad, but so SO proud of what we’ve achieved in the last three years,” Kelly announced on social media at the time. 

“I leave this job as the anti-gender / anti-rights movement is running rampant around the globe, and the transphobic moral panic created here in the UK is being exported everywhere.

“The time for us all to stand up is long past. We need your help,” she added. 

“I can’t say its always been a pleasure, but it has surely been a privilege leading Stonewall. And whatever comes next for me, in every way I can, I will continue to stand with our community, and continue to fight for a world where we are ALL free.”

Amid Kelley’s departure, then-chair Anderson told PinkNews Kelley had been at “the heart of advancing and protecting LGBTQ+ people’s rights, not just across the UK but across the world” 

“Under Nancy’s leadership Stonewall has achieved tangible, life-changing impacts for LGBTQ+ people, and the entire board and staff are grateful for her leadership,” he said.