Changes at the top for the Co-op College

Jacqui Thomasen and Ali Longden step up as CEO and principal, as Neil Calvert announces his plan to leave in June

Neil Calvert, CEO and principal of the UK’s Co-operative College, has announced he will be leaving the organisation at the end of June, with two of the existing leadership team stepping up to head the organisation on an interim basis.

“We’re grateful to Neil for his passionate and dedicated leadership over the past three years,” said Jon Nott, chair of the College’s board of trustees. “He will leave with our thanks for his significant contribution in stewarding the College into the forward-thinking, dynamic organisation we have today. We wish him the very best for the future.”

Calvert joined the organisation in 2021, following a career spanning the education and charitable sectors, including leading roles at the University of Derby. The College added his departure was “a personal decision … to enable him to focus on his evolving portfolio of non-executive board, committee and panel roles”. 

Following the announcement, two of College’s existing leadership team have been chosen to jointly lead the organisation on an interim basis going forward. Jacqui Thomasen, current director of operations and business development, has been appointed to the role of CEO, and Ali Longden, current director of learning, will become principal of the College. 

“These appointments, for an initial period of 18 months, will ensure continuity and stability for staff, members and partners through to the end of the College’s 2022-2025 strategy,” said Nott. 

“As existing members of our leadership team, both Jacqui and Ali are already instrumental in driving the strategic vision of the College, and their appointments will ensure a seamless continuation of the College’s strategic initiatives, fortifying our path to success. The board of trustees is looking forward to the growth and opportunities that 2024 and this new chapter for the College will bring.”

Thomasen said: “I’m very excited about my new role and the opportunities ahead for the College. Co-leadership is a powerful model that we believe will help support us in driving the College forward while also reflecting our commitment to a co-operative, innovative and dynamic approach to leadership. Our complementary skillsets will ensure our team, clients and partners are supported in line with our strategy and values, so that we can continue to build our reputation as a global leader in co-operative education.”

Longden added: “I’m really looking forward to starting my new role at the College, which will allow me to ensure that co-operative values and principles remain at the heart of our co-operative learning approach. It’s an exciting time for us all as we continue to innovate in all aspects of co-operation education, including our new qualification with the University of Dundee, the growth of our study visit programme and our redeveloped youth offering.”