The Charity CEO Podcast


Ruth Marvel

CEO The Duke of Edinburgh's Award: A vision for young people

“Deceptively simple, but devastatingly effective”

Ruth Marvel is the CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) in the UK. The DofE exists to help young people build a life-long belief in themselves, supporting them to take on their own challenges, follow their passions, and discover talents they never knew they had.

Ruth is passionate about social justice and she has a particular interest in advancing opportunities for young people, social innovation and the power of collaboration and design thinking to solve social problems. Since joining DofE in 2019, Ruth has led the development of a new organisational strategy which aims to give a million young people, especially the most marginalised, a life-changing DofE experience by 2026.

Before joining DofE, Ruth was Acting CEO at Girlguiding, which is the largest organisation of girls and young women in the UK and supports 400,000 young members to build their skills and confidence, have fun and be heard on the issues they care about. Prior to that, Ruth was Director of Strategy and Innovation at the disability charity Scope, where she led on organisational strategy, innovation and co-designing services with disabled people and their families. Ruth started her career as a campaigns officer at Scope, working to strengthen Disability Rights legislation.

Ruth is a Trustee of GoodGym, and a Fellow of the Clore Social Leadership Programme. 

Ep 44. Ruth Marvel, CEO The Duke of Edinburgh's Award:

A vision for young people

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was started by His Royal Highness the late Prince Philip in 1956 to provide young men with development opportunities to acquire self-confidence, gain a sense of purpose and help them become well-rounded citizens.

Today, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the UK or DofE provides an experiential learning framework that is open to all young people age 14 to 24, supporting them to learn new skills, overcome obstacles, and build confidence and resilience.

Ruth shares how the organisation has changed over the years, and we explore their current strategy to enable one million young people to participate in the life-changing programmes, with particular focus on providing access to those who experience marginalisation.

With a third of young people in the UK leaving school feeling like they are failing, we talk about the current context for young people, and what skills, outside of formal education, they need to really thrive in today’s world.

Ruth also shares reflections on the discipline of leadership in the voluntary sector and how as leaders, we constantly need to question whether we are delivering our missions in the most effective way.

Recorded June 2023.

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Chartable 2021, 2022 and 2023: Reached #1 in Non-profit Podcast Charts GB, Ireland, Belgium & NZ. Top 5 in Denmark, Australia, India. US & Canada Top 20.

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