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Lauren Stoner has been appointed permanent CEO of Mermaids on a two-year fixed term basis. 

An experienced charity professional with a background in health and social care, Lauren (she/her) joined the charity as Interim CEO in December 2022 and has successfully steered the organisation through challenging times. Her leadership will see us into our 30th anniversary year in 2025. 

On Lauren’s appointment, incoming Chair of Trustees Kathryn Downs (she/her) said: “Lauren has demonstrated impressive leadership, implemented new working practices and, in particular, begun the crucial process of improving the culture at Mermaids.

“Her leadership on EDI matters has been strong and the new strategy for 2024-2027, co-created with our community and all of our people, lays out a path for the future.”

“It’s a pivotal moment for Mermaids,” Kathryn adds. “As the organisation looks to transform itself, I’m honoured to be able to support Lauren and the wider team to deliver some exciting changes.”

Here, Lauren answers questions from Mermaids’ Youth Advisory Panel about Mermaids’ mission, vision and values, our priorities for the year ahead, and our journey towards becoming a trans-led organisation. 

What’s the best thing about being CEO of Mermaids? 

Honestly, I think I have the best job in the world, so it’s hard to pick the single “best” thing. Over the last year the opportunities to meet young people and families and understand the impact of our work has been a real highlight. I also really value the opportunities we have to work in partnership with other organisations who share our values to respond to transphobic policy and practice and build a more inclusive society for trans children and young people to grow up in.

What’s been the most challenging? 

I’ve never worked in an organisation experiencing this level of hostility and external scrutiny, and that is phenomenally taxing for everyone who works and volunteers at Mermaids. I’ve been blown away by the strength and resilience of our people, and the support from our community and allies, which enables us to support children, young people and their families and campaign for better education and healthcare, in the face of this hostility.

What are you most proud of in 2023?

Firstly, the work that we’ve done to support staff wellbeing, including piloting the four-day week, recognising a union and improving the leave we offer to all staff. We will always have more to do in this area, and I’m excited about what we’ve got in the pipeline for 2024.

Secondly, that we went to our community first in developing our strategy, and have developed a strategy for the next three years which will enable us to respond to the changing external environment while setting ourselves up for long term success.

And I’m also really proud that we took the brave step to be one of the first charities in our sector to leave X/Twitter, and that we continue to grow our reach on social media despite this. 

What are you most looking forward to in 2024? 

Working with young people, our staff, volunteers and other stakeholders, supported by external facilitators, to develop our approach to trans leadership at Mermaids. I’m delighted that we’ve appointed a new chair designate who is herself trans, and that we’ve continued to improve trans representation over the last year, but we have more to do to establish how best we can identify, retain and nurture trans leaders for today and the future at Mermaids.

Can you tell us more about Mermaids’ new mission, vision and values?

I’m really excited that these were co-created across the team, and that they put youth voice at the centre of everything that we do. Our mission sets out the change we want to achieve, and feels relatable and relevant to the work we do. Our vision is how we’re going to get there, and our values are the principles that we will apply to all of our work internally and externally. 

What are your priorities going forward?

Fundamentally, to put our strategy into action, establishing us as a resilient, collaborative organisation and getting us ready to celebrate our 30th birthday in 2025. This includes the work I’m most looking forward to around developing our principles for trans leadership, continuing to improve our systems and processes, and to developing new services which best meet the needs of trans children and young people, their families and the professionals who support them today and for the future.