The Key welcomes Austin as our new Interim CEO

As our CEO, Hannah Underwood, is on maternity leave, we're super excited to introduce Austin McNamara, our brilliant new Interim who will be taking the reins over the next 11 months. Austin has already hit the ground running in his first week in post and his passion for The Key and our young people has shone bright throughout. We're excited for the year to come and would like to handover to him to introduce himself and say a few words...

"It is a great privilege for me to be appointed as the Interim CEO of The Key, although Hannah is a difficult act to follow! Over the years I have witnessed at first hand how The Key Framework can inspire belief in young people and change their lives for the better. So I am very excited about taking on the challenge of leading this great organisation at such a crucial stage in its development. As I come to the end of my first week in post, I am really impressed by the strength of our team. They all share a passion for the important work they do, and they have been incredibly helpful to me so far. Our members, funders, volunteers and young people can be assured that The Key is in good hands and will continue to go from strength to strength.

For those of you who do not know much about me, I am a teacher by profession and my background is in education and services for young people. After 12 years as a secondary headteacher in County Durham (in two different schools), I was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Learning & Skills Council in County Durham before moving to Northumberland as Chief Executive of Connexions – a major highlight of my career. That was where I first became aware of The Key (or Keyfund, as it was known then), as many of our voluntary sector partners were using the framework to enhance their provision for young people. For the past 11 years I have undertaken a variety of interim leadership roles in organisations ranging from large local authorities to a UK-wide sector skills council and a small multi-academy trust in Cornwall. During this period I also had the pleasure of serving on the then Keyfund Board of Directors for nearly 3 years. The “golden thread” that runs through my varied career is a strong passion for empowering young people to achieve their potential, to live their dreams and to overcome any barriers that are preventing them from doing so.

Much of my first week has been spent getting to know my new colleagues, finding my way around the IT system, understanding our current performance, familiarising myself with the business plan and longer-term growth strategy and starting a programme of meetings with our Board members. All this has helped me gain a good insight into how The Key currently operates and its ambitious plans for the future. Now I am keen to get out and about to meet some of our funders (and potential funders), member organisations, facilitators, community panel members and especially young people who are engaged, or have been engaged, in The Key Framework. Please get in touch if you would welcome a visit and let me know if there are any forthcoming events that you would like me to attend.

Over the coming weeks I am looking forward to meeting as many people as possible from The Key Network, and I hope that I will see some of you at our Awards night on 27th June."