Ruth Davison

Ruth joined Refuge on 12th April 2021 from Comic Relief – one of the largest funders of work to tackle violence against women and girls in the UK – where she has been Interim Chief Executive since November 2019.

As CEO, Ruth led Comic Relief through the global pandemic, significantly growing their income and brand awareness by delivering two TV telethons in three months, raising over £100m combined. This, plus a significant realignment of the organisation’s cost base, enabled Comic Relief to accelerate their grant making, increasing the funds it had available for frontline organisations through the pandemic.

Ruth also successfully modernised Comic Relief, helping it move from being a beloved ‘nostalgia’ brand by updating the charity with exciting new developments from introducing a plastic-free Red Nose to making a public commitment to inclusive communications, based on a holistic Diversity and Inclusion strategy she co-developed with staff.

Prior to her internal promotion, Ruth had served as Comic Relief’s Executive Director of Impact & Investment for three years. Here she held responsibility for the organisation’s social change strategy, global philanthropic portfolio and policy and advocacy work. Ruth established Gender Justice as one of the four pillars of Comic Relief’s funding strategy and focused on shifting power in grant-making; under Ruth’s leadership Comic Relief introduced participatory grant-making, prioritised funding to organisations whose strategies and approach were informed by lived experience and introduced an overt focus on addressing inequality in all funding. During 2020, this led to Comic Relief delivering its first racial inequality funding programme to address the disproportionate impact Covid-19 had on Black, Asian and minority people, and the historic under-funding of organisations working with these communities.

Prior to Comic Relief, Ruth has worked in a range of senior roles in the voluntary sector, leading strategic and cultural change at some of the UK’s best-known charities, including Prince’s Trust International Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and Crisis. Ruth also helped launch the Canal & River Trust, the UK’s largest ever start up charity.

A life-long activist, Ruth is proud to be both a Board Member and activist for Greenpeace UK. She is also a judge of both the UK Charity Awards and the GSK Impact Awards. When she is not working, Ruth loves yoga and is learning Mandarin Chinese. She lives in North London with her cat, Pumpkin.