The Secretary of Imperial College London, John Neilson, has been appointed as the next Chair of Trustees of the Anglican mission agency USPG, it was announced today. He will succeed Canon Chris Chivers, the Principal of Westcott House Cambridge, whose six year term will finish in July. He said that he was “excited to be asked to lead the USPG Trustees” and described USPG’s work of tackling poverty and injustice, and transforming lives as “inspirational.” He said: “there is a big challenge to communicate the vision and purpose of a twenty-first century mission agency more widely, particularly in parishes.”
Chivers said that he was looking forward to working closely with recently appointed chief executive Duncan Dormor, and the trustees, Council members and staff. “I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding service which Chris Chivers has given to USPG over many years,” he said.
Commenting on the appointment, Duncan Dormor said: “I am absolutely delighted that John will be joining USPG as our Chair of Trustees. He brings an immense wealth of expertise and knowledge to the role which will prove invaluable as USPG looks to the future and builds on its distinguished history to serve the world-wide church through a deeper participation in God’s mission.”
Neilson studied mathematics at Corpus Christi College Cambridge before spending 30 years working for the British government at Whitehall in the City of Westminster. He began in the Department of Energy, before moving to the Economic Secretariat of the Cabinet Office. He served as the senior civil servant advising the Energy Secretary, John Wakeham and worked at the Department of Trade and Industry, leading teams advising on telecommunications, aerospace and defence.
He has considerable board-level experience, having served on the executive board of Britain’s gas and electricity regulator, the official UK weather service the Met Office, and the Royal Albert Hall. He has been a board member of five Research Councils and led the team advising government ministers on the £6 billion GBP annual budget for university research. Six years ago he moved to become Secretary of Imperial College London, one of the world’s leading science, engineering, medicine and business universities.
He has been a St Mary’s Church in Wimbledon, south London, for a number of years, where he served as church warden. He has been involved annual reviews and mentoring of clergy in the Diocese of Southwark, and has just completed a ten-year term on the Audit Committee of the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council.
As Chair-designate, John has been co-opted as a trustee of USPG. His appointment will need to be ratified by the mission agency’s Council when it meets in July.