It is with great pride that we look back on the last eight years Simon has spent as Director of Involve.  Simon has built a significant reputation, portfolio of projects and intellectual assets at Involve, as well as an energetic, committed and expert team of staff and trustees.  Anyone who has met Simon during that time will, I’m sure, have been left in no doubt of his deep commitment, great knowledge and well practised skills in opening up decision-making to citizens.

Simon’s achievements at Involve have been numerous. There is room here for a only a few of those that made the greatest impression on me. Amongst those is very clearly Simon’s leadership and innovation on open government. Under his leadership Involve has positioned itself as a world leading organisation in the open government movement. He has overseen the development of the UK Open Government Network, and ensured the UK’s Open Government Partnership process was established as a widely recognised model of good practice.

Simon’s tenure has also seen Involve lead the push for deliberative public engagement on complex and controversial science and technology innovations. Involve has strengthened the government’s Sciencewise programme, and pioneered new open models of policy making on government data sharing.

Finally, Simon has played a critical role in the thought leadership provided by Involve. He has made the case for deliberation and engagement across a raft of policy areas, developed Involve’s theory on deliberative systems, and innovated new models of citizen engagement on public services.

I am delighted that Simon will continue to work with Involve as Senior Associate, leading and expanding Involve’s portfolio of projects on public engagement around science, technology and data.

Whilst Simon’s departure as Involve’s Director marks the end of one chapter in Involve’s story, as with all endings it also marks a beginning. I, along with my fellow trustees, have great pleasure in appointing Tim Hughes as Involve’s new Director. Tim’s vision, expertise and dedication to Involve’s cause make his the strongest possible pair of hands to guide Involve into its next phase.

As Tim writes today, “If Involve didn’t exist, now would be the time to invent it”. Overcoming the triple threat of disillusionment, polarisation and disconnection will be one of the defining challenges of the decade to come. With our skills and expertise in citizen participation, open government, deliberation and facilitation, we believe that Involve is uniquely placed to take a leading role in facing that challenge.

I know I speak for my colleagues when I say that we look forward to working with Tim and his team as they set out a bold new strategy for Involve’s next steps.

Image credit: thank you, jen collins (Creative Commons)