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The recently appointed CEO at Leeds Community Foundation has joined the judging panel of this year’s Business Masters Awards; as announces LCF as the supported charity at the event.

Kate Hainsworth will join the panel to judge entries across 12 categories in the Business Masters Awards; around 200 entries have been submitted in total. Other judges include Master Cutler Ken Cooke, LeedsBID non-executive Diane Cheesebrough and Professor George Lodorfos of Leeds Beckett University.

Judging will take place in the coming weeks, after which the shortlisted firms in each category will be informed. Tickets for the prestigious awards dinner on April 26 are available online.

Hainsworth was announced as the new CEO in December and took to the helm at LCF in January after becoming deputy CEO last May. She joined LCF in 2015 as development director and is from Leeds. Hainsworth studied at Oxford, after taking an exam in Greek – a language she had never learnt.

“Then I went into engineering without an engineering background at all. I think the firm had seen a determination in me to learn and develop,” added Hainsworth.

She undertook a chemistry course and moved back to Yorkshire to begin working on an oil refinery. Alongside this, she was very interested in the arts and theatre; at first she thought this would be the sector she would pursue throughout her career.

Hainsworth’s time at the refinery led her to complete a marketing diploma ; after which she become the CEO of Axis for seven years before later moving into arts roles. She was the head of development at Wakefield Theatre Royal and development director at Opera North before moving across to Leeds Community Foundation.

LCF has around 18 team members and the support of around 30 volunteers, including the board members. LCF has a mission to create positive change in the communities of Leeds that need it most. Since 2004, LCF has raised over £50m in donations and distributed over £33m in grants to local community groups.

Hainsworth said working in Yorkshire always led to a collaborative approach, something that has continued during her time at LCF.  She said: “At LCF, we are always looking for new and relevant collaborations for the next chapter and our ambition is to grow as a charity. The direction of travel for the last few years has been very positive; the foundation needs to be around for the long term to support the communities who need the funding the most.

“We are here to provide funds for the city and raising awareness of what we do and why is important. We cover so many issues and that can be confusing for some people but our breadth is also the biggest charm, we have amazing support and a clear call to action with projects that have urgency.”

Mental health is key area of the charity’s agenda and supporters “have been extremely generous” with LCF’s recent Holiday Hunger campaign too. Hainsworth said her plan is to continue strengthening the charity’s strategic position and said there was always a through due diligence process involved in allocating funds to the right groups.

She added: “We work here because we want to make a difference The partnership approach is the one we can most capitalise on and we are really well placed to do that as we have great support from private and public bodies, as well as civic understanding.

“I have a lot of passion and expertise to bring to this role. I have the determination and desire to build upon the success we have already achieved and it’s very much a collective effort.”

Hainsworth lives near Hull and in here spare time likes to enjoy the arts and culture scene across the region, as well  as walking throughout Yorkshire.

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