18 January 2021
I CAN, the children’s communication charity, is delighted to announce the appointment of Jane Harris as its new Chief Executive from the 1st of April 2021.
Jane joins the charity from the National Autistic Society where she is Director of External Affairs and Social Change. As an experienced charity leader, Jane has spent her career raising the profile of issues that impact on people’s lives through influencing public policy, building new audiences and increasing income generation.
In the role as Chief Executive of I CAN, Jane will build on the charity’s Three-Year Plan which highlights the impact that speech, language and communication skills has on children’s development and their life chances.
Speaking of her appointment, Jane Harris said:
“I’m really excited to be joining I CAN as its next Chief Executive. I am extremely impressed by the organisation’s history, impact and expertise. At the same time, it is clear that support for children with communication problems is totally inadequate. I hope I can use my previous experience to secure more support and understanding to improve education and social mobility and reduce the inequalities faced by children with communication problems.”
Roy Blatchford CBE, I CAN’s Chair of the Board of Trustees said:
“We look forward to welcoming Jane as our new Chief Executive to help ensure I CAN remains at the forefront of advocating for the needs of children, young people and their families whilst overseeing the delivery of training and engagement with speech and language professionals. Jane’s appointment is a clear indication of our intention to ensure the voices of some of the most marginalised are heard in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which has had such a significant impact on their daily lives.”
Jane will succeed Bob Reitemeier CBE who will leave the organisation on 31 March 2021 after announcing last October his retirement from full time employment.
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of I CAN, said:
"I am delighted to welcome Jane to I CAN. Her experience in leading major campaigns and raising the profile of autism and mental health will be incredibly useful for the promotion of children’s language development at I CAN. It has been a privilege to lead this wonderful charity over the past five years, and I am confident our impact will increase under Jane’s leadership.”
Jane joins the charity from the National Autistic Society where she is currently Director of External Affairs and Social Change. She is an experienced and energetic charity sector leader, with 15 years’ experience of influencing public policy, building new audiences and increasing income and support for third sector organisations including Leonard Cheshire Disability and Rethink Mental Illness. She helped achieve changes to the Spending Review (2010) on psychological therapies and the 2010 Equality Act, described as the biggest change to disability legislation in a decade.
I CAN is the children's communication charity. The charity specialises in helping children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to thrive in a 21st- century world. Children and young people can fail to reach their potential because communication difficulties are not visible, often mistaken for something else or not noticed at all. I CAN's mission is that no child should be left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
In 2019-20, I CAN directly supported an incredible 84,435 children and young people and over 6,300 professionals who work with children, of which 56% worked in the early years sector and 37% worked with children in primary schools. In addition to local community projects, almost 6,000 schools and early years settings nationwide benefited from I CAN’s intervention programmes which support children’s language development.
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