I’m writing to announce that I’ve resigned from my role as CEA’s Executive Director, and will be transitioning to an advisory role.
Basically, my mental health has been bad for the last 3 months. Starting in November, my role changed from one that I love - building a team and a product, building close working relationships with people, executing - to one that I find really stressful: dealing with media attention, stakeholders, and lawyers at long unpredictable hours and wrestling with strategic uncertainty. I think I’m also not so good at the latter sort of work, relative to the former.
I've been getting lots of advice, therapy, and support, but recently I've been close to a crisis – struggling to get out of bed, feeling terror at the idea of sitting at my desk. I really wish that I were strong enough to keep doing this job, especially right now – I care so much about CEA’s work to help more people tackle the important problems we face, and I care deeply about the team we’ve built.
But I’m just not able to keep going in my current role, and I don't think that pretending to be stronger or struggling on will be good for CEA or for me, because I’m not able to perform as well as I would like and there’s a risk that I’ll burn out with no handover. So I think it’s best to move into an advisory role and allow someone else to direct CEA.
The boards of Effective Ventures UK and Effective Ventures US, which govern CEA, will appoint an interim Executive Director soon. Once they’re appointed I plan to continue advising and working with them and the CEA team to ensure a smooth transition and help find a new permanent ED. I hope that moving from an executive to advisory role will help alleviate some of the pressure and allow me to contribute more productively to our shared work going forward.
For a while now I've been trying to build up the leadership team as the body running CEA, with me as one member. I think that the leadership team is very strong: people disagree with each other directly but with care, have complementary strengths, and show strong leadership for their own programs. I think that they will be able to do a great job leading CEA together with the interim ED and the new permanent ED.
Of course, FTX and subsequent events have highlighted some important issues in EA. I’ve been working with the team to reflect on how this might impact our work and necessitate changes, and I hope that they’ll be able to share more on these conversations and plans in the future. Although I’m very sad not to be able to see through that work in my current role with CEA, I think that the work we’ve done so far will set the new leadership team up well. I also plan to continue to reflect, will discuss my thinking with new leadership, and may publish some of my personal reflections.
Despite the setbacks of these last few months, I'm very proud of what we've achieved together over the last four years. Compared to 2019, the number of new connections we’re making at events is 5x higher, and people are spending 10x time engaging with the Forum (which also has a lot more interesting content). Overall, I think that we’ve helped hundreds of people to reflect on how they can best contribute to making the world a better place, and begin to work on these critical problems.
I’m also incredibly grateful to have been a part of this team: CEA staff are incredibly talented, caring, and dedicated. I’ve loved to be a part of a culture where staff are valued and empowered to do things.
I look forward to seeing the impact which they continue to have over the coming months and years under new leadership.
This has been true for many people, especially EV board members and some staff who have jumped in to help. I’ve got a lot of admiration and gratitude for the work they’ve done, and I regret that I don’t have their stamina on this particular type of work right now.