Welcome to our new Chair

Hugo Drayton, Chair of Citizens Online

Citizens Online appoints former Telegraph boss Hugo Drayton as the new Chair of Trustees

Citizens Online, the charity focused on promoting the interests of the digitally excluded in society, has appointed Hugo Drayton as its new Chair of Trustees.  Hugo built and led the brand advertising business, Inskin Media, before it was sold last year; as well as a decade at The Telegraph, where he was Managing Director, Hugo also led Advertising.com in Europe.  He is the Senior Independent Director on the board of Future plc, the FSE250 media company, and is on the board of Gfinity plc, the AIM-listed games & esports-focused publisher.  Hugo previously served as a Chairman of Trustees, and currently sits on two charitable boards.

Citizens Online has 22 years of service to the digitally excluded. The Charity was established by Mark Adams and has been led for the past ten years by Charles Lowe, who will remain as a Trustee.  The pandemic further underlined the digital divide for many in society.  Services are increasingly delivered online, so the inclusion of the 2.7million UK adults[1] potentially left behind – who are more likely to be; older, living on low income, disabled or lack formal qualifications – is ever more critical for a fair society.

The board has re-defined the purpose and strategy of the organisation, and will focus on:

  • Ensuring citizens are not left behind, as services and society increasingly move online: we will influence digital transformation and champion a digitally inclusive society
  • Embedding digital inclusion into organisations and communities: making digital support sustainable; driving relevant research and continuing to build our expertise and UK networks
  • Future-proofing the charity: diversifying funding models, to increase our reach and effectiveness

The reset of the charity’s purpose and strategy will be led by Managing Director, Helen Dobson, supported by Hugo and the board of Trustees.  The existing Trustees – Charles Lowe, Richard Coleman, Tuli Faas, Lucy Willis, Janak Gunatilleke – are now joined by two new appointees: Jonathan Spry, CEO of Envelop Analytics, who brings huge experience in technology, capital management, and insurance services – and a long commitment to digital inclusion; and Javier Diez-Aguirre, a recognised international marketing leader and educationalist.

Hugo Drayton, Chair of the Board at Citizens Online commented: “I am delighted to be invited to chair this critical service for society and to welcome Jonathan and Javier to the team.  I have witnessed enormous changes over the past 30 years; it is so important that we include all citizens in digital communication and services.  We intend to build on the fantastic work that Citizens Online has delivered to date.”

Helen Dobson added: “The Citizens Online team are excited to welcome Hugo and our new Trustees who bring vast experience to build on the broad skillset of our board. The demand for our work has never been greater: organisations transforming digitally look to us for strategic consultation when they recognise that 1 in 5 adults cannot transact online[2]; and people who struggle with technology phone our helpline to seek support from our skilled and endlessly patient digital champions. Our redefined strategy, and the refreshed board will support our mission to ensure that we don’t exclude people, especially the most vulnerable, as society becomes more digital.”

[1] Office for National Statistics 2020

[2] Lloyds Consumer Digital Index 2021