Dame Stephanie Shirley

Please be aware that the Shirley Foundation charity closed at end October 2018 and is now "spent out". All remaining monies have been transferred to the Autistica charity.

The IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley was appointed one of the 65 worldwide Companions of Honour in 2017. 

Having arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939, she started what became Xansa plc on her dining room table with all of £6 in 1962. In 25 years as its Chief Executive she developed it into a leading business technology group, pioneering new work practices and changing the position of professional women (especially in hi-tech) along the way.

Xansa was acquired by Steria in 2007, later to become part of SopraSteria. She served on Steria’s CSR Advisory Board in 2008/9.

Since retiring in 1993, Dame Stephanie Shirley has become an ardent philanthropist, especially in the fields of autism and IT.

Her charitable Shirley Foundation was one of the top 50 grant-giving foundations in the UK with well over £50m grants given. It funded 100 projects that were pioneering by nature, strategic in impact and significant in money terms. This included three autism charities: Autism at Kingwood (support); Prior’s Court (education); and Autistica (research) which together employ over 1000 staff.

In 2016 the trustees decided to spend the foundation out at a date later determined as October 2018. Its records will go into the University of Kent’s Philanthropy Archive which the foundation is funding.

Dame Stephanie was the first woman Master of the IT livery company; the first woman President of the chartered British Computer Society; and the UK’s Ambassador for Philanthropy in 2009/10.

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The speaking schedule of philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley CH

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Articles about Dame Stephanie Shirley CH and her support for autism charities

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Dame Stephanie
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An inspiring biography of Dame Stephanie Shirley CH