Having joined the Plunkett board in April 2008, Mr Cleasby became Vice-Chair in February last year.
Until 2006, he was a deputy director of rural policy at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), championing social enterprise approaches across the Department’s business.
Mr Cleasby is a director of a small consultancy business. He said: “It is difficult to imagine a more exciting time than now to become Chair of the Plunkett Foundation. Our belief in rural communities using co-operation and enterprise-based approaches to take control of their own affairs places us firmly in the mainstream of the new public policy.
“The Government has committed to return power to communities, but many will need advice and support from Plunkett and others on how to develop effective and viable co-operative and community-run institutions locally. I look forward to supporting the talented team at Plunkett as we rise to meet this challenge.”