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Mencap CEO, Edel Harris OBE - Listening Leader

Edel Harris OBE is now CEO of the UK's largest charity for people with learning disabilities, but her career journey and achievements to date share a deeper story of who Edel is as a leader and a person.


Guest Profile: Edel Harris OBE, CEO at Mencap

Gender: Female

Industry: Charity

No. of employees: 5,500

Edel Harris joined Mencap, the UK’s largest charity for people with learning disabilities, in January 2020. Prior to this, Edel has experience working as CEO of Cornerstone, one of Scotland’s leading charities, as well as experience working for NHS Grampian and as a Metropolitan Police officer.

Edel was also, until very recently, a Director of the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust and describes herself as an avid fan of football.


My ideal organization is one where there aren't too many levels and layers, and I believe that brings out
the best in people. 

-----  Edel Harris OBE, CEO at Mencap  -----

Under Edel’s guidance and leadership, the Scottish charity Cornerstone recorded a business growth of over £10 million through expanding from predominantly adult learning disability services into services catering to issues with dementia, mental health, helping to reintegrate prisoners into society, and more.



Some of the highlights among Edel’s many achievements include being awarded the 2015 IOD North East Director of the Year accolade, becoming the Scottish EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017, before being awarded an honorary doctorate from Robert Gordon University on International Women’s Day 2018 for her contribution to charity and business in Scotland. 


I never make a decision without listening to the views of others. Especially those who I might disagree with.

-----  Edel Harris OBE, CEO at Mencap  -----

In 2021, Edel was appointed by the Queen as an honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Even in her acceptance, Edel graciously acknowledged everyone who had supported her over many years in her efforts to improve the lives of those with a disability, accepting the award on everyone’s behalf.

Edel draws from her wealth of experience to develop an open, authentic approach to leadership wherein she takes time to listen to any and every opinion that comes her way, whether she agrees with it or not.

Her impressive career journey to date emphasizes Edel’s aptitude for leadership and her deep understanding of how people work, a skill which she continues to use as CEO of Mencap daily.

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