Our executive team

Our executive team are responsible for the day to day running of our charity.

Dr Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive

Ruth Owen OBE

Ruth became CEO for Leonard Cheshire in 2021. A wheelchair user from the age of seven, Ruth believes passionately in the importance of independent mobility in a disabled person’s life and in removing the barriers disabled people face.

Prior to Leonard Cheshire, Ruth spent 17 years as CEO of Whizz-Kidz, a national children’s disability charity providing mobility equipment. Under Ruth’s leadership, the charity became the biggest provider of powered and lightweight manual wheelchairs for disabled children and young people outside of the NHS and a leading campaigning organisation.

Highlights of her work include: 

•    Trustee of children’s charity Barnardo’s for several years.

•    Appointed as a non-Executive Director of Motability Operations Group in 2018.

•    Selected as a member of The Mayor of London’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group in 2019.   

•    Appointed as Regional Chair for London by the DWP in 2020.

•    Chosen by the Disability Unit of the Cabinet Office to become a DPO Forum Member (Disabled Persons’ Organisation), a representative body whose primary aim is the empowerment and the growth of self-advocacy of persons with disabilities.

Before moving to Whizz-Kidz, Ruth forged a successful career in the private sector, in technologies, eventually setting up and running her own IT company for ten years.  In 2012 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to disabled children and young people. In the same year she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Hull University for her services to disabled children.

Ruth is passionate about travel, is an avid reader of biographies and is a committed football and boxing fan.

Stuart Dean, Chief Financial Officer

Stuart Dean

Stuart, who previously led market oversight at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), joined Leonard Cheshire as Chief Financial Officer in September 2023.

A chartered accountant, he designed and implemented a new market failure regime for England's health and social care regulator.

He led market insight and policy discussions across Government, including with Treasury, Cabinet Office and Department of Health officials and ministers.

Stuart has a successful track record that includes health and social care, corporate finance, structured finance and private equity (PE), corporate restructuring, performance improvement, strategic growth and portfolio management.

Outside of work Stuart likes to spend time with his family, keeping active and enjoying the outdoors as well as continuing to progress his passion for travelling.

Vanessa Davies, Executive Director Quality and Clinical Care

Vanessa Davies

Vanessa joined Leonard Cheshire in May 2023 and is passionate about good quality care. She has extensive experience of social care and healthcare provision – having devoted her professional life to these areas. 

The Executive Director Quality and Clinical Care was a new executive level position at Leonard Cheshire. Vanessa’s strengthened teams has oversight of safeguarding, auditing and compliance processes across all our services.

Vanessa has worked in senior quality, compliance and safeguarding roles for several large health and social care providers. Her experience includes contract, consultancy and permanent roles with Barchester Healthcare, Care UK, and Morris Care. 

Earlier in her career, Vanessa spent five years working as an inspector for the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) before running a Bupa service. 

She has an MA in Safeguarding Adults, Law, Policy and Practice from Keele University. 

Jon Forde, Executive Director People

Jon Forde

Jon joined us in June 2022, having been working as a senior HR Interim for the past nine years, mainly within the charity sector. Jon’s interim assignments included working with the RSPCA, Diabetes UK, Wokingham Borough Council and most recently Mountbatten Hospice Group based on the Isle of Wight. The majority of Jon’s assignments included pieces of change management and transformation within the organisation and the leadership of the HR teams.

Prior to working as an Interim, Jon had a lengthy commercial career which included 13 years working for US corporate Pitney Bowes in both UK and European HR leadership roles and during a time which saw the business transform itself from a mailing to a technology company.

Outside of work Jon divides his time between his love of watching sports particularly rugby, spending time in court as a Sussex Magistrate, and trying to keep fit. Family wise, Jon is married and rapidly joining the ‘empty nesters’ with a daughter at university and a son in his final year of A levels.

Peter James, Executive Director of Operations

Peter James

Peter leads the running of our social care operations day-to-day. He has extensive experience in health and social care, having worked in both community and residential delivery.

Having joined Leonard Cheshire 2018 as regional manager for Southwest England, he subsequently became Operations Director before joining the CEO’s top team as Executive Director in 2022.

His previous senior and consultancy roles have been at organisations such as Allied Healthcare, SAGA healthcare and the Shaw Group.

Peter has a strong track record in care management, senor leadership, and commercially driving organisational finance performance.

He cares deeply about the power of good quality care and support to create opportunities for disabled people to have greater independence and choice.

Peter Is a dad of three boys and is a keen cook who enjoys spending his free time hiking up a mountain if he’s not in the kitchen. He’s an avid follower of Manchester United for all his faults, enjoying watching them win or lose most weekends.

Marcus Missen, Executive Director of Advocacy, Partnership and Impact

Marcus Missen

Marcus joined us in June 2021 from WaterAid, where he was Director of Communications and Fundraising. 

During his nine years at WaterAid, Marcus is credited with leading the charity’s brand and fundraising transformation. He has been Chair of their Global Communications and Fundraising Executive since 2012.

Marcus is currently Vice Chair of Bond UK’s Trustee Board and chairs the People Committee. He also chairs the advisory panel for The Resource Alliance and has been a trustee of the International Broadcasting Trust since 2018.

Before WaterAid, he worked at NSPCC, first as Development Director, then as Head of Strategy, and before that was Director of Fundraising and Marketing at EveryChild. He has also worked in fundraising roles at British Heart Foundation, Romanian Orphanage Trust and Fight For Sight.  His commercial experience includes being part of reengineering Encyclopaedia Britannica into a digital business.