Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission Awarded a CBE

Penny Egan, the Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List in recognition of her contribution to international education.

In the six years that she has been in the post, the number of Fulbright Awards has increased from 40 transatlantic scholarships in 2007-08 to 112 in the current academic year. Running the most competitive Fulbright programme in the world, this increase is enabling more of the brightest and the best American and British Fulbrighters to study in each other’s country, thereby reinventing the special relationship for future generations. In addition, a number of new programmes have been introduced including summer schools for American undergraduates in the UK, and working with the Sutton Trust, a new scheme to encourage state-educated young people to apply to the best American universities.

Penny also chairs the board of the Geffrye, the Museum of the Home.

In the late 1990s, Penny was the first woman to head up the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in its 250 year history, increasing its Fellowships; securing its endowment and initiating some of its most innovative projects including Opening Minds and the RSA Academy, the Coffee House Challenge and Focus on Food.

Prior to the RSA, she worked at the Crafts Council and as a press officer at 10 Downing Street and started her career at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Simon Lewis, Chairman of the US-UK Fulbright Commission said:

“I am delighted that Penny’s outstanding contribution to the Fulbright Commission has been recognised with the award of a CBE. On behalf of all the Commissioners, I would like to congratulate her and thank her for all she has done to transform the work of the Commission over the last six years.”

Contact Details:

Lauren Welch

Director, Advising & Marketing



Notes for Editors:

Penny Egan’s Biography:

Executive Director, US-UK Fulbright Commission February 2007-Present

Appointed Executive Director at the RSA in 1998, prior to which she was Programme Development Director and RSA Lecture Secretary. Her early career included the posts of Press and Publicity Officer at the Crafts Council (1978-86), Press Officer to the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street (1975-78) and Press Officer at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1972-75).

Penny was educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School and Leicester University.

Penny is currently Chair of the Geffrye Museum; a Trustee of DEMOS and Sing London and has recently stepped down as a Member of the Council of the University of Warwick. She previously served nine years on the Design Council. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art and the RSA.

About the US-UK Fulbright Commission:

The US-UK Fulbright Commission was created by treaty on 22 September 1948. The Fulbright Commission offers grants at postgraduate and postdoctoral level for study in the US and UK, as well as a number of special exchanges programmes for shorter projects.  During the last six decades, approximately 15,000 UK nationals have studied in the US and 12,000 US nationals in the UK as part of the Fulbright Programme. Prominent alumni of the Fulbright Programme include poet Sylvia Plath, Liam Byrne MP, journalist and author Toby Young and the economist and noble prize winner Milton Friedman. 

The US-UK Fulbright Commission also supports US-UK exchange through its advisory service, providing information and hosting events for those interested in US study. The service is the UK’s official source of information on educational opportunities in the US and is part of the EducationUSA network of advising centres.

About the Fulbright Programme Worldwide:

Created in the aftermath of the Second World War through the vision of US Senator J William Fulbright, the Fulbright Programme promotes the twin goals of academic excellence and cultural understanding. It operates in more than 150 countries, providing students, scholars and professionals with the opportunity to observe each other’s’ political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants.