Nicola Sharp-Jeffs steps away from day-to-day running of Surviving Economic Abuse as Sam Smethers joins as interim CEO

As Surviving Economic Abuse’s (SEA) founder Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs steps down after seven successful years as CEO to focus on her role as Founder, we are delighted to introduce incoming interim CEO Sam Smethers.

Sam will take up the role of interim CEO on 23 May 2024 and will remain in post until a permanent CEO is in place. As the former CEO of The Fawcett Society, she brings a wealth of experience in leading charities and championing women’s rights to the role. 

Nicola will be stepping down as CEO and from the day-to-day running of the charity to focus on her role as Founder at SEA. In this role, she will continue to play an important role in championing the charity’s work and supporting its income generation activity as it continues to grow its reach and impact.

We are delighted that Nicola will continue to lend her passion, expertise and drive to SEA in her role as Founder. We want to mark this moment by paying tribute to the remarkable legacy she has built and welcome Sam whose track record and commitment to both the cause and SEA will help take the charity forward into its exciting next chapter. 

Introducing Sam Smethers  

Sam has spent her career championing gender equality and women’s rights and comes armed with connections to the UK’s most prominent feminist charities.  

Sam spent five years as CEO of Fawcett, the UK’s leading gender equality charity. She is currently Chair of trustees for Pregnant Then Screwed, the UK charity dedicated to ending pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and Deputy Chair of the British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS). She is also a former trustee for Gingerbread, the UK’s leading single-parent charity, an organisation that SEA works alongside, particularly in relation to post-separation abuse and child maintenance.  

Prior to her role at Fawcett, Sam spent six years as CEO of Grandparent Plus. She was also a founding Director of the Good Law Project. Having previously worked for the Equal Opportunities Commission as their Director of Public Affairs, she also has nine years’ experience working in parliament. With such a wealth of experience in leading and supporting charities that promote equality, justice and the right to thrive, Sam is a great match for SEA.  

Continuing to make waves 

Impressed by SEA’s tiny team but mighty impact, Sam is a strong believer that a small team run efficiently can achieve big things. A fan of SEA’s focus, determination and world-leading expertise in the field, Sam is excited to move SEA forward into its next iteration, driving SEA’s strategy for growth and setting up its award-winning team and partnerships to achieve even more. Sam’s vast experience across a range of women-focused charities will mean SEA can move forward in the coming months with total confidence.  

Sam is aware she is arriving at SEA during a significant moment for victim-survivors with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and upcoming General Election both having a very real impact on the lives of victim-survivors. Yet while she acknowledges the challenges ahead, she also sees this moment as an opportunity to continue SEA’s mission of raising awareness of economic abuse with politicians across all political parties and a fresh chance to impress upon an in-coming government the needs of victim-survivors.  

Reflecting on her appointment, Sam says:It’s a real privilege to join a charity as impactful and important as SEA. As the founding CEO, Nicola has done an amazing job. I look forward to working with the team to take the organisation forward to a new chapter. There is clearly a big job to do to continue to raise awareness of economic abuse and to deliver the systemic change victim-survivors need.” 

Committed to stay with the team until a permanent CEO is in place, Sam is thrilled to be joining SEA and leading the charity as it continues to make waves at this crucial time.