One of the most prominent and respected women in sport, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale is Chief Executive Officer of Everton Football Club.
She is the first female Director ever to be appointed to Everton’s Board, and a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) having been recognised for her ‘Services to the Community of Merseyside’.
Previously Everton’s Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO, Denise immediately prioritised restructuring the Club’s top-level operations on becoming Chief Executive in June 2018, a process that led to the appointments of Marcel Brands and Marco Silva as Director of Football and Manager respectively, the creation of the Club’s first Executive Leadership Team and a move to new headquarters at the iconic Royal Liver Buildings on Liverpool waterfront.
Having obtained a doctorate in education from Liverpool John Moores University and worked in the industry for 16 years, Denise initially arrived at the Football Club in January 2010 to develop and lead a transformation strategy for Everton in the Community.
Her early successes in that venture, which included the organisation receiving a ‘Big Society Award’ from then-Prime Minister David Cameron and Everton becoming the first Premier League football club to receive government approval for and then open a Free School, led to Denise taking on a greater role within the Football Club itself and she still serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for Everton in the Community.
She oversaw projects that led to an increase in attendances at Goodison Park and an enhancement in the Club’s reputation both nationally and abroad, while Everton’s Safety and Stewarding Operation was voted the best in the Premier League for an eighth successive year.
It was within this time, in October 2014, that she attended Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, having been named on that year’s Birthday Honours List.
Recognition for her contribution to Everton and the wider game of football has also led to Denise obtaining a Fellowship from Liverpool Hope University’s Business School and, in 2015, an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ prize at the prestigious Stadium Business Awards, a board whose judging panel she joined the following year.
She has appeared on the Top 50 Northern Power List, a rundown of the most powerful women in business in north England, while in October 2016, she was invited to present at a global conference for faith and sport held at the Vatican, the first Papal congress of its kind.
Internationally, Denise’s influence was further acknowledged when she became only the second ever recipient of the ‘Lifetime Role Model Award’ at the Football Is More Conference in Switzerland, while under her stewardship Everton in the Community received Liverpool’s highest civic honour, the Freedom of the City as part of the charity’s 30th anniversary celebrations in January 2018.
Away from Everton, she serves as Chair for the Liverpool City Council Special Olympics GB Summer Games 2021 as well as served as Deputy Chair to the Liverpool Commonwealth Games Advisory Board, acted as a Non-Executive Director and Vice Chairperson of British Canoeing (the body responsible for the UK Olympic and Paralympic rowing teams), joined Liverpool Hope University’s Executive Advisory Team, and become a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). A keen volunteer, she is also a patron of St Vincent’s School for the Blind, and sits on a Creative Commission of the Lord Major of Liverpool and the Children’s Commissioner Advisory Board, a role in which she launched the venerated ‘Growing Up North’ project.
Further to the aforementioned successes, the life-changing, life-saving work of Everton in the Community has seen it advance under Denise’s stewardship to become a globally-recognised leader among football club community programmes.
Highlights of her tenure include the procurement of a £7.5million commission contract to deliver a National Citizenship Programme, a £1.2million Big National Lottery Fund contract for youth engagement initiative ‘Safe Hands’, and a further £850,000 grant for a flagship ‘community hub’ close to the grounds of Goodison Park – accomplishments that have contributed towards the charity being bestowed with over 100 local, national and international awards.
Away from football, Denise enjoys walking, reading and theatre.