Six Incredible Months as CEO!
Yesterday marked an incredible milestone – six months since Ridwana Wallace-Laher was appointed CEO of Penny Appeal, six months of leading the Penny Appeal team to new heights! Ridwana's dedication, passion, and innovative spirit have set a remarkable path for everyone here at Penny Appeal, and we are so very proud of what she has achieved so far. As the first woman to be appointed CEO of a major British Muslim charity, Ridwana had already inspired so many by taking on this role, six months on, and the list of astounding achievements just keeps growing.
Thrown straight into the deep end, Ridwana took on the CEO position just as disaster struck in Turkey and Syria when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the two nations. Since then, a large area of our Emergency Response fundraising has been centred around providing life-saving aid to those who lost their families, homes, and livelihoods in the affected areas. Ridwana has overseen Penny Appeal’s emergency response with the help of volunteers, partners on the ground and our generous donors.
As a dedicated humanitarian worker with years of experience in the industry, Ridwana is no stranger to getting involved in all the action. For this year’s Qurbani campaign, Ridwana took a field trip to India to visit the home of her ancestors, meet the local farmers, and personally distribute food parcels to our very grateful beneficiaries. More recently, Ridwana made a trip to Lebanon to visit the scene of the devastating Beirut explosion marking three years since this tragic incident. Ridwana found herself immersed in an atmosphere brimming with hope as the ‘Right 2 Run’ idea came to life. This initiative aimed to foster a running culture, particularly in underprivileged regions, reinforcing the belief that everyone has the right to run, regardless of their circumstances, and it certainly did! Hundreds of runners joined the race for a better future, not to mention the number of children who got involved.
During Ramadan, Ridwana attended a multitude of charity Iftars, events, and of course a whole lot of Eid celebrations. During this month, she was officially invited to 10 Downing Street for a roundtable discussion on faith, community, and all things Ramadan, and we are so proud to have her represent the Penny Appeal team in this way.
Being an avid sports enthusiast, Ridwana has wholeheartedly supported #TeamOrange. A particular moment which stood out was her unwavering commitment to assisting with Penny Appeal’s efforts at the London Marathon. As the runners faced some of the most severe weather conditions the marathon has ever seen, Ridwana manned the sidelines offering words of encouragement and lots of orange support. Penny Appeal also recently partnered with Bradford City A.F.C and became their official charity partner, a collaboration made possible by Ridwana who also happens to be a long-standing Bradford City A.F.C supporter. Ridwana further displayed her love for the beautiful game by hosting a screening of the England v Spain Women’s World Cup final at our home in Thornes Park, bringing together colleagues, friends and neighbours in celebration of female empowerment and to remind us all that with equality, opportunity, hard work and the right platform, amazing things can happen!
Ridwana’s leadership is second to none, and it has been evident in every meeting and conference she has hosted. During her first six months as CEO, Ridwana lead Penny Appeal’s first ever global conference, bringing the Penny Appeal family together from the US, Canada, Dubai, South Africa and Australia – a true sentiment to teamwork making the dream work!
These remarkable achievements are just the tip of the iceberg for Ridwana. She has also contributed a lot of time into the Penny Appeal community and culture. Recruitment, retention and investing in the wider team have been the blueprints for success.
From the hustle and bustle of big meetings in the capital city, to serving hot meals to the homeless on a Thursday night in Bradford, Ridwana’s dedication to Penny Appeal is unmatched. She has broken barriers, fostered partnerships, and inspired many. As six incredible months have passed, we look forward to the next six, and to Ridwana’s bright orange future here at Penny Appeal!
Check out some of Ridwana’s highlights below!
MONDAY 21 AUG 2023