John Hitchin

I’m Renaisi’s Chief Executive. My focus is on our central mission of understanding how to improve places, our business development, and the leadership and governance of the organisation.

I work with partners and clients on questions of leadership, collaboration, place, impact, and systems change. This currently includes a network of social action place programmes, an anchor collaborative in Hackney, a social investment partnership in Southwark, and an innovative partnership of six major foundations through Local Motion.

My experience and skills

I have worked at Renaisi since 2007 and been Chief Executive since 2017.  In that time, I have delivered and developed a wide range of projects, programmes and services, evolving my approach with the organisation and the broader policy and social context of our partners and communities.

My first significant role was on the EC1 New Deal for Communities neighbourhood regeneration programme, where I worked across research, performance management, evaluation and governance. I learnt about place-based change, the role of government money in relation to community activity, and the challenges of understanding impact and value in complex systems.

Since then, I established our research, evaluation and learning team, which has evolved into a sustainable and successful social sector consultancy unit. I supported the development of our work within schools with families that don’t speak English, and most recently developed new place-based collaborative partnership in London boroughs to further our mission and impact.

I have worked with organisations large and small, from the very local to the national. They include funders such as the National Lottery Community Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Power to Change, several Central Government departments, large charities such as the Prince’s Trust, Carers Trust, Barnardo’s and Crisis, several local and public authorities, particularly but not exclusively in London, and lots of smaller charities, such as the Cares Family, Grapevine Coventry and West Midlands, the Peel Centre. I have created measurement frameworks for services, evaluated programmes, designed services and advised management teams and boards in a range of organisations.

I hold a BA from Warwick University, an MA from King’s College, London (both in history) and an MSc in Behavioural Science from the London School of Economics.

My interests

My significant interested is in understanding how the concept of ‘place’ can practically be used to further social change for people and communities. I believe in the power of place to unite people around shared endeavours and to spark inclusive change. I would like to encourage others to work with Renaisi on furthering how we use the concept of place to build tools, approaches and forms of practice, which benefit the individuals and communities that most need a different approach to tackling social challenges. To me, it is a concept that can help to encourage collaboration, move away from organisational silos, consider true inclusivity and diversity, and embed longer-term thinking.

Through that, I have a keen interest in making services work for people and communities, and for me that includes the use of: efficient processes and high-quality implementation, the experiences and knowledge of staff, the involvement and experiences of users, and the use of high-quality research and evidence.

That means I’m interested in what people actually think and do, rather than what services want them to do! I’m motivated by using great research for the right task: that could be a randomised controlled trial or a series of qualitative interviews. What matters is the challenge and the people who are working on it.

I am a Trustee of Young Women’s Trust and a non-executive director of OurParklife CIC. I have previously been a voluntary director of London Capital Credit Union, a fast-growing financial co-operative for six years. I was also a school governor in north London for five years, helping to found a co-operative trust in that time.

I live in North London, am a father to two young girls, an Evertonian, a slow runner, and a reader of poetry.