Thames21 appoints Chris Coode as new CEO, as Debbie Leach steps down after 18 years

Environmental charity Thames21 has announced the appointment of Chris Coode as its new Chief Executive Officer, as Debbie Leach, the current CEO, steps down after 18 years at the helm.

Chris Coode, who currently serves as Deputy CEO and Head of Engagement and Learning, will take on the role of CEO on 21st July.

Coode joined Thames21 in 2001 as its Education Coordinator and he was later promoted to Senior Programmes Manager and then Deputy CEO. In his long career before joining Thames21, he worked at the London Aquarium and marine wildlife reserves along the coast of Dorset and Cornwall.

Thames21 Chairman Michael Hamilton said:

“We are delighted to welcome Chris as our new CEO. Chris has made innumerable contributions to Thames21 during his years with the charity and has a proven track record of success in helping to develop the charity. Chris brings with him a wealth of experience and natural leadership skills, which will be invaluable as Thames21 continues to grow. As Thames21 delivers its ambitious Five Year Plan, the Board looks forward to the achievements and satisfactions that lie ahead.”

“I would also like to underline the Board’s thanks and gratitude to Debbie for the growth and transformation of Thames21 under her leadership and wish her every success in the future.”

Following the announcement, Coode said:

“Thames21 is undeniably a remarkable organisation, full of talented and passionate people who share a common goal. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to build on Thames21’s already formidable achievements, working successfully with communities to improve the River Thames and its tributaries.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our fantastic team, communities, volunteers, partners, funders and external stakeholders to take the charity to the next level. This is a key time for rivers as they face the impact of twin emergencies – nature loss and climate change. It has never been more crucial to work in cooperation with our volunteers and partners to help enable our charity to play its full part in tackling the climate emergency on the ground by promoting healthy rivers.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Debbie for her leadership of Thames21. The changes she has made to the charity’s strategy, structure and organisation leave Thames21 far better positioned for success. I wish her every success for the future.”

Debbie Leach, has decided to relocate from London to Devon and become involved in pressing environmental and natural heritage issues around Dartmoor, including becoming the new CEO at the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust.

Leach, who joined Thames21 in May 2005, said:

“When I first joined Thames21, it was a different organisation – a small team delivering practical river projects with local communities. The last 18 years have been at times challenging, always absorbing and hugely rewarding as Thames21 has grown to become a substantial and highly effective environmental charity.

“Although I am of course sad to be leaving Thames21, I am looking forward to the future and my departure is made much easier with the knowledge that Chris will be steering the organisation to the next level. I wish Thames21 and Chris all the best for the future.”




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