Catherine Johnstone CBE

Vice Chair
The Richmond Group of Charities

Catherine has been leading Royal Voluntary service as Chief Executive since August 2017. Starting her career as a trained nurse in the NHS , she has extensive experience across all sectors building innovative and sustainable services and inspiring and enabling voluntary action. Her key passions are frontline service delivery and enabling the gift of voluntary service which recently saw her leading the development of a number of large-scale initiatives to support the NHS and our communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before joining Royal Voluntary Service, Catherine was Chief Executive of Samaritans, which provides confidential support to anyone experiencing a tough time in their life. Whilst at the helm for almost 7 years, Catherine was responsible for developing a long-term strategy that saw the organisation become the thought leader of suicide prevention and innovator of postvention services in the UK. This resulted in her being awarded a CBE in 2016 for services to suicide prevention. Catherine was fortunate enough to also spend some time working in the Asylum and Refugee support sector which in her own words was exceptionally humbling and tough.

In her career Catherine is also well known for her leadership roles across the world of volunteer infrastructure having held CEO roles in CVS/Volunteer Bureau and Community Action organisations. As Chair of Directory of Social Change for many years she understands the key role that small charities make to their local communities. With a keen appetite for collaboration, Catherine has recently led the development of Shaping the Future With Volunteering coalition that she now Co Chairs with Matt Hyde. She was recently appointed as Vice Chair of the Richmond Group.

Her time as CEO of NDPB national funding agency, Capacitybuilders placed her at the heart of government and VCS funding decisions. The breadth of experience that Catherine has been able to secure also included a period of time working in the Asylum and Refugee support sector. Catherine is particularly proud of her five children and five grandchildren who keep her grounded and eternally entertained and busy.