'Inspired by my mother', Kate Markey CEO London Community Foundation
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Kate Markey joined Purposely to share her career journey, becoming one of the most talented and respected leaders in the UK charity sector.
As CEO of the London Community Foundation (LCF) she has led the philanthropic response to two major disasters. Kate led the foundation in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire and through COVID-19, playing a key role in raising and deploying millions of pounds of vital funds, ‘I am so proud of our response and our ability to get donated money to the right causes and people’.
We explore Kates career path and her motivation for swapping journalism for leadership roles, those in the ‘for purpose’ sector. Kate cites her parents as an inspiration, in particular her late mother as a reason why she dedicated her professional life to purpose.
‘I was brought up with a real sense that how I choose to live life will have a positive impact on society’
Kate’s mother had experienced kidney failure as a teenager, but despite the health challenges, she went on to be a parent and have a successful teaching career, eventually becoming a deputy head teacher.
‘The example my mother set made it very clear that we are put on this earth to make a difference’
Kate developed a love for storytelling and the power it has to motivate people to act. A love she developed during her early career as a journalist. As editor of her university newspaper and then as editor of The Big Issue she realised the power it had to influence people to do good.
Born in Liverpool Kate went to her home university so that she would be close to her home and her mother. Studying a Bachelor of Arts in communication Kate went on to mainstream journalism and then a career as a social entrepreneur and nonprofit leader. Kate travelled, spending a year living in Venezuela and then developed a love for London. This would see her eventually taking on the role of CEO of the Cities Community Foundation. Kate was first choice for the role based on her unique skills and experience.
‘What excited me about the foundation is the unique role it plays. We are not like traditional foundations, we have an entrepreneurial and ‘fleet of foot’ approach to making a difference’
As we look to the future Kate is keen to understand more about giving in the capital. Specifically how much is donated by Londoners but ends up leaving the city, either by individuals or businesses versus how much stays in the capital to do good. Kate pays tribute to her team and points to their brilliance as the main reason for her success as a leader. ‘I really believe in my team, they have dealt extremely well with every challenge thrown their way in a professional way and with empathy’.
LCF is one of 47 community foundations in the UK. Combined they have an endowment of £500 million, they perform the role of fundraiser and grant maker. Originally a North American phenomenon Community Foundations are connectors between local philanthropy and community needs and opportunities. Many convene impactful projects and all are building long-term, reliable funding streams for their local communities by investing and growing the gifts they receive.