Bath graduate Sonya Chowdhury will be the next Chief Executive of Action for M.E., the UK’s leading charity for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and their carers.
She will take over from Sir Peter Spencer, who is standing down as CEO after five years, in early September.
During her time studying at Bath, Sonya gained a BSc Hons in Sociology and Social Work. She has since worked in senior management roles within the voluntary sector.
Sonya, 37, is currently working for leading children’s charity Barnardo’s where she is Head of Business Support for two days a week and National Lead on Family Strategic Partnership for the remaining three.
Born and bred in Bath, Somerset, where she lives with her husband and two sons aged nine and 14, Sonya was previously Assistant Director for Barnardo’s in the South West.
She said that while applying for a chief executive role was a logical next step in her career, her own personal experience of chronic illness had been a major factor in her applying for the role with Action for M.E.
Sonya said, “I suffer from Fibromyalgia which, while different from M.E., has given me an insight into the effects of a long term illness on people’s lives. While I am lucky enough to be able to manage my condition and work, I have experience of its debilitating effects and impact on day-to-day living.
“When I saw the advert’ for this role, it touched something on a personal level.
“I see it as an ideal opportunity to bring together my experience both at work, where I have been heavily involved in policy, politics, fundraising and strategy, and my personal life.”
Of the challenges ahead for the charity, Sonya said, “During a period of austerity, there is understandably a sharper focus on what will and will not be funded. We need to look at new opportunities and accept that things will not stay the same.
“There is something exciting about working creatively with people who have passion about what they do. I look forward to working with what is clearly an enthusiastic team.”
Action for M.E. Chairman, Alan Cook, said, “We are very fortunate to be able to appoint somebody of Sonya’s high calibre. She has had an impressive career to date, where she has developed knowledge and skills that will drive the charity forward.
“Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious and will serve her well in this demanding appointment.”
In an announcement to staff about Sonya’s departure, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Anne Marie Carrie, said, “This role represents a wonderful opportunity for Sonya to build upon the skills and experience she has developed here at Barnardo’s and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her excellent work.
“Under her leadership the Family Strategic Partnership has taken great strides to improve the work of the voluntary sector in supporting the lives of vulnerable families across England.”
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