Wednesday 15 May 2024: The Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John and St John Ambulance are delighted to announce the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer, Shona Dunn CB. With an exceptional background in the public sector and a proven track record in leading transformational change across multiple public services, Shona will join the first aid charity in September.

As the Second Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Shona has played a pivotal role in supporting the government's response to the pandemic, working closely with the NHS on service delivery and leading work to reshape departmental readiness for future challenges.

She became the Second Permanent Secretary for DHSC in April 2021 and has extensive experience in service delivery, change management and organisational leadership. Having joined the Civil Service in 1995 in the Department for the Environment, Shona has worked across a wide range of issues directly affecting local communities, including housing, regeneration and civil contingencies, later moving to the Department for Education and the Home Office. Her understanding of healthcare systems and her commitment to improving health outcomes, will be invaluable in ensuring St John Ambulance continues to have an impact in society, by putting first aid at the heart of every community. 

On accepting the appointment, Shona said:

“I could not be more thrilled to be joining St John Ambulance at a crucial time in its long history. Through nearly 30 years of public service, I have seen the importance of supporting communities to stay safe and healthy, and the impact it can have when that comes under strain. The role that St John people play, day in day out, in supporting communities up and down the country, has never been more important.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with every one of our dedicated volunteers and employees to ensure that this cherished and valuable institution is able to serve and support communities for generations to come.” 

Stuart Shilson LVO GCStJ DL, Prior of the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John, and Chair of St John Ambulance, said:

“We feel extraordinarily fortunate to have Shona joining us at this important time.  She has genuine commitment to the things we care about at St John, and the skills and temperament to lead us into the future.” 

Born in Yorkshire, Shona now lives in London with her husband and three children. She has a background in science, with a degree in Biology and a masters in Ecology, and retains a keen interest in the environment, enjoying hiking and camping in her spare time.