Meet our Development Director

Meet our Development Director

July 2024

2 Min Read

We spoke to our newly promoted Development Director Kelly Cunningham about her new role, her previous roles, and what she's hoping to achieve going forward.

How long have you worked at Changing Lives, and what roles have you had in your time? Tell us a bit more about your roles.

I started at Changing Lives during a rather complex merger of services and was subject to TUPE from Arc Light, a small housing charity in York. I was Service Manager at the time having started at Arc Light in 2011 as a Support Worker and then Senior. 

I then progressed to Area Manager within Changing Lives. I had become a little frustrated with many of the things that still frustrate me today - commissioners holding too much power, lack of understanding and options for those with multiple complex unmet needs and decision making happening to far away from those who know best. So I carved out an opportunity with Lankelly Chase who were supporting MEAM in York to look at what could be done differently using a system thinking approach to tackle social injustice and went on secondment for a couple of years. 

The Head of Housing role then became available at CL and it was too good an opportunity to not apply for and It’s been a real privilege to be Head of for the past 2 years.

What does your new role entail?

As Director of Development I am part of the executive team and my remit covers responsibility for 

  1. Growth and our business development functions
  2. Communications, fundraising and policy
  3. Operational management of our development areas 
  4. Quality and safeguarding 
  5. Innovation and development 


How do you feel you had to develop professionally (and personally) in order to secure your new role? 

Oh this answer could be endless but a few key things would be:

  1. Getting things wrong and learning from it
  2. Respecting decisions made even if I disagree, then finding a way to influence and change them
  3. Ensuring I do it all not just picking and choosing- the good, the bad and the ugly often all at the same time 
  4. Ensuring I always do what I expect from others - show up, answer emails etc the small stuff that makes the big stuff happen 
  5. Remember work won’t remember the emails I send on a weekend in years to come but my kids might so I’ve had to find a balance.


 What do you hope to achieve?

  1. What do I hope to achieve? A lot. I like a list and the current top 3 on that list would be…
  2. To foster a culture where we always start from a place of how we can, rather than how we can’t.
  3. Ensure we have a relentless focus on purpose, when we focus on this the good stuff happens. 
  4. Do Alex proud.