Chair of the Historic Environment Forum


The Heritage Alliance

The Historic Environment Forum is looking for an experienced chair to promote collaboration across the historic environment sector and to lead on the transition to a new governance model.

Closing date for applications

Who we are

The Heritage Alliance is the largest coalition of heritage interests in England. Together its members own, manage and care for the vast majority of England’s historic environment. The Alliance represents over 140 Members - major national and regional non-Government organisations, from larger bodies such as the National Trust, English Heritage, and universities, to many smaller and more specialist bodies representing visitors, owners, volunteers, professional practitioners, funders and educationalists – which are in turn supported by well over 7 million members, Friends, staff and Trustees.

The Alliance is responsible for the secretariat of the Historic Environment Forum (HEF) and for the project that is supporting the transition of HEF to a new governance structure.

This fulfilling role will appeal to an experienced individual with a proven track record in facilitating consensus across a diverse sector to achieve the forum’s goals. 


Time commitment: the Chair is expected to participate in HEF meetings (three 2-hours long meetings + up to 8 1.5 hour long meetings normally on-line), HEF Steering Group meetings (approximately 6 per year), and an all-day annual sector event. The total amount of work should be equal to c.7 working days.

Location: HEF meetings are held in London or on-line.

Start date and length of term: the Chair’s term is limited to 3 years and can be extended for a second term. The formal appointment is expected by October 2020. The Chair is expected to participate in the HEF meeting on 15th October 1-3pm.

Deadline for applications: 4th September 2020.

Date of the interviews: 21st-22nd September, 29th September-1st October 2020.

Remuneration: the Chair will be remunerated with a small honorarium of £1,500 (gross amount) for the year 2020-21. Travel expenses can be reimbursed up to £600 (year 2020-21).


About the Historic Environment Forum

The Historic Environment Forum (HEF), brings together chief executives and policy officers from public and non-government heritage bodies operating in England. HEF members carry out a range of activities to encourage and support research, conservation, presentation and enjoyment of the historic environment in England. HEF is primarily a forum that encourages and facilitates collaboration and coordination between member organisations. It is not incorporated and is therefore not registered as a charity, but it has charitable functions.

Since 2000, HEF has met at least three times a year, to perform different functions, including: to oversee the annual production of ‘Heritage Counts’; to keep the sector updated in relation to political developments; to be a historic environment sector sounding board on issues affecting the work of the sector.

HEF has also provided the basis for developing effective working relationships through the programme Heritage 2020, which has run from 2014 to September 2020. Heritage 2020 worked on five strategic areas: discovery, identification and understanding; constructive conservation and sustainable management; public engagement; capacity building; and advocacy.

In 2019, HEF members agreed to improve the collaboration and capability of HEF to deliver outcomes through a new governance model. In the new model, collaboration is based on an agreed ‘Strategic Framework for Collaborative Action, 2020-25’ (to be developed by October 2020), and the  governance structure includes an elected Steering Group and time-limited HEF Task Groups that are responsible for delivering defined outputs and outcomes. Until April 2021 two pilot Task Groups are running, both related to the sector’s post-Covid recovery (one on short-term recovery, the other one on medium- to long-term recovery). The transition to this new model and the operation of the first to pilot Task Groups is funded by Historic England through a National Capacity Building project for the financial year 2020-21.

As a result of the transition to this new model, the historic environment sector in England will be strategically connected and better able to deliver public value through heritage. It will be:  

  • Joined-up, with established working relationships between organisations.
  • Efficient, reducing duplication and making the best use of the commitment of HEF members through the Task Groups.
  • More effective, thanks to a prioritisation of Task Group activities based on an agreed Strategic Framework.
  • Better engaged, increasing the impact of the sector also thanks to new partnerships relevant to the Task Groups’ outcome delivery.
  • More visible, with a renewed communication strategy aimed to increase the impact of HEF.
  • More transparent and accessible, to ensure a wide involvement of HEF members, other historic-environment-related organisations, as well as other organisations beyond HEF whose scopes intersect with HEF’s goals set in the Strategic Framework.

HEF secretariat is based at The Heritage Alliance, which is also responsible for the project funded by Historic England. The continuation of HEF is subject to a successful bid for the next financial year and beyond, which will also cover the Chair honorarium for the rest of the term.


Main duties and responsibilities of the role

The responsibilities of the Chair include:

  1. Chairing in-person and virtual HEF meetings and HEF Steering Group meetings. The Chair has to ensure that meetings are scheduled in advance, and that the agenda runs regularly. The Chair will be supported by HEF secretariat.
  2. Facilitating and mediating the debate between members, supporting HEF decisions regardless of personal views. The Chair is also expected to help HEF members identify areas of fruitful collaboration within HEF and to encourage HEF members to progress actions and deliver outcomes.
  3. Monitoring HEF members’ commitment and holding members to account on compliance with a protocol for engagement with HEF and the delivery of the actions assigned to them during HEF meetings.
  4. Approving the meetings’ agenda and ensuring that the minutes reflect the consensus decisions made by members.
  5. Ensuring that all members are equally represented in HEF meetings, and their views are reflected in the decisions taken. HEF seeks to take decisions by consensus. The Chair is responsible for facilitating the consensus between HEF members.
  6. Providing supervision on HEF governance. The Chair will have to ensure that HEF governance respects the agreed Terms of Reference.
  7. Signing off key materials and messages to be used in external communications (e.g. to be used in HEF website).
  8. Liaising with the project executive and to ensure coordination between HEF and the organisation which provides secretariat and support. The Chair is also expected to oversee HEF bidding for future funding. Support for the bidding process is provided by the Steering Group and by the ‘HEF team’.
  9. Chairing and participating in an annual HEF sector event.


Person specification

The Chair will have demonstrated ability in chairing meetings, getting the best of conflicting and complementary viewpoints, and of improving the effectiveness of committees. Detailed understanding of the historic environment sector is not essential, as it is provided by HEF members.

Competence and understanding: 

  • Significant demonstrated ability in chairing successful meetings and events.
  • Good track record of facilitating decision-making through consensus with multiple stakeholders.
  • Good track record of overseeing compliance with governance.
  • Interest in historic environment policy, Government and political affairs.
  • Desirable: awareness of and support for the English historic environment sector. 

Interpersonal skills: 

  • Good negotiation and mediation skills and behaviour.
  • Transparent and clear communication.
  • Confidence and credibility to liaise and to monitor the commitment of senior colleagues and external stakeholders.
  • Confidence to speak in public. 


Equal Opportunities:

We encourage applications from all backgrounds, communities and industries. We are committed to ensuring equality and diversity and we actively encourage BAME and disabled applicants and value the positive impact that difference has on our forum.


How to apply:

Interested candidates are kindly requested to send an email to Francesca Benetti ([email protected]) with the subject ‘Application: HEF Chair’. The email should include:

  • A brief cv.
  • A cover letter highlighting your reasons for applying together with details of any previous relevant experience and how you meet the requirement of the post (job description and personal specification).

If you would like to have an informal conversation about any aspect of the role, please contact Francesca Benetti ([email protected]).


Supporting documents

  • HEF-Chair-Job-Description-1.pdf - Download
Closing date for applications

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