New Board members join Youth Futures to support marginalised young people into employment

Dec 8, 2023

Youth Futures Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of five new Board members.  The new Directors bring a wide spread of expertise and skills to support Youth Futures in its role as the What Works Centre for youth employment.

The new members, appointed through an open and competitive recruitment process bring experience from government, business, research and evaluation and grant making. They join nine existing Board members, including two young Directors, who together will help to lead Youth Futures in 2024 and beyond, including supporting the development of our future 2025-2028 strategy.

Youth Futures Chairman, Seyi Obakin, said:

“All of us at Youth Futures are delighted to welcome Bernadette, Guy, Melanie, Neil and Veda onto the Board. They are each inspirational leaders with a real passion to turbo boost employment chances for young people who suffer deep disadvantage and are being left behind all too often. I know they will strengthen our collective determination and capacity to lead this organisation in delivering the systemic change that is so badly needed.”

Youth Futures CEO, Barry Fletcher said:

“We are excited to have such an inspiring group of new members join our Board and support our mission to reduce employment gaps for marginalised young people. Melanie, Veda, Guy, Neil and Dame Bernadette are leaders in their fields and we know they will bring a huge amount of expertise and passion to our team.”

Joining the Board as of the 1 December 2023 are:


Dame Bernadette Kelly

Bernadette Kelly became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport in 2017 after serving as Director General in both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and DfT. She has spent most of her career working on public policy in relation to business and the economy in a number of government departments. Bernadette was awarded a Damehood (DCB) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022.

“This is an exciting time to be joining the Youth Futures Foundation Board to work with a cause that is so important to me. Building understanding of how best to extend employment opportunities to young people from marginalised backgrounds is a critical mission, and I feel privileged to play a part in Youth Futures Foundation’s work.”


Melanie Montanari

Melanie Montanari has nearly 20 years’ experience as a civil servant, currently as Director for Housing Strategy and Markets at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Melanie brings a wealth of policy expertise relevant to ending in youth employment, including leading on both labour market policy and personal tax at HM Treasury.

“I’m delighted to be joining the Youth Futures Foundation Board. I am passionate about tackling disadvantage and the vital role that access to good jobs plays within that. Youth Futures Foundation has a huge opportunity to change the lives of young people, with its clear strategy of identifying what works, investing in potential and igniting change and I’m looking forward to supporting Youth Futures to maximise its impact at this crucial stage in its development.”


Guy Goodwin

Guy Goodwin is the Chief Executive of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), and has over 25 years’ experience in leadership roles in the public and charity sectors including in several government departments and at the ONS. Guy has worked closely with policy makers throughout his career and brings to Youth Futures a wealth of experience in research, data and the use of evidence in decision making.

“Youth Futures Foundation has an exciting and crucial role to play in improving the opportunities and outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our society, ensuring long lasting, systemic change. It’s a great privilege to join its Board to help drive this change and to make sure what we do at Youth Futures is underpinned by high quality, sound evidence of what works so we can generate real impact for young people.”


Veda Harrison, FRSA

Veda Harrison is Director of Creative Confident Communities at the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. She has worked extensively in the cultural, community and corporate sector, including with the Money and Pension Service on vulnerability, gender and racialised communities’ economic equality and financial wellbeing; at NatWest Group in Sustainability and Corporate Affairs; and with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, NESTA, UK Youth, Southbank Centre and Royal Borough of Greenwich leading programmes on young people’s creative and cultural development across the UK.

“I’m looking forward to joining the the Board at Youth Futures Foundation and helping them make the systemic change that secures a better future for young people and their future employment.”


Neil Morrison FCIPD, FRSA

Neil is the Director of HR and Communications for Severn Trent with responsibility for the HR, communications, press and marketing teams.  Prior to joining Severn Trent his career has taken him across multiple industries and sectors, including media, retail, B2B and the public sector. Neil sits on the Board of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education; was one of the inaugural members of the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign; and sits on the Social Mobility Commission’s Employer Panel.

“Having seen the great work Youth Futures Foundation have undertaken over the last four years, developing a strong evidence base of the things that help drive greater opportunity for young people to get into good quality work, it is a real honour to be able to contribute to the next stage of this important mission that is critical to creating a fairer society and a stronger economy.”

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