News November 2021

Trust appoints first Head of Programmes and Practice

We are pleased to announce Russell Gunson’s appointment as Head of Programmes and Practice.

Russell will join the Trust’s leadership team in mid-January from his role as Director of IPPR Scotland, leading our Scholarship and Social Impact teams.

Speaking about the appointment, our CEO, Jim McCormick, said: “I am delighted Russell will be joining the Trust in early 2022 as we embark upon the second year of our ambitious 2020-30 strategy.

“As founding Director of IPPR Scotland, Russell’s expertise across policy, research, communicating and influencing change has helped to grow the organisation from scratch into one of the most impactful policy organisations in Scotland. He also a brings a wealth of experience around our key thematic priorities, particularly in-work poverty, skills and progression, financial security and widening access to higher education.

“Following the announcement earlier this week of Zoe Ferguson as our new Head of Insight and Impact, this is another very significant appointment for the Trust and one that ensures we are strongly equipped to fulfil the potential of our strategy. As a team, we are all very excited to welcome Russell in January.”  

Russell added: “I’m delighted to have been appointed as the very first Head of Programmes and Practice for The Robertson Trust. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining and a time when the work of the Trust is all the more urgent.

“The next few years will be so important for whether Scotland makes the progress we want to see on reducing rates of poverty and the effects of trauma. We know Covid-19 has affected everyone and continues to do so, but it hasn’t done so equally. In many ways, it’s exposed and exacerbated the serious inequalities that predated the pandemic. As we look to how we recover from Covid-19, as a country, as communities, and as families across Scotland, progress over the next few years will be absolutely crucial. 

“I can’t wait to get started in my new role, working with the Trust’s staff team and partners to help shape the huge work ahead in tackling poverty and trauma in Scotland. "


Russell has many years of experience working in leadership roles across politics, the voluntary sector and the private sector in Scotland.  

Russell was the founding Director of IPPR Scotland and has worked over the last six years to grow the organisation from scratch into being one of the most impactful policy organisations in Scotland, working across policy areas such as financial wellbeing, social security, tax, the economy and poverty and inequalities.

Prior to this Russell worked in leadership roles in the voluntary sector, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, and co-founded Safe Deposits Scotland, Scotland’s only non-profit tenancy deposit scheme. 

Russell has also taken part in a number of policy reviews, working groups and commissions in Scotland, including the Commission on Widening Access and in August was appointed Co-chair, alongside the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, of the Minimum Income Guarantee Working Group.