Prior to taking on the top job at the RSA in 1998, Penny was Programme Development Director and RSA Lecture Secretary. Her early career included the posts of Press and Publicity Officer at the Crafts Council, Press Officer to the Prime Minister at No.10 Downing Street and Press Officer at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Penny is a trustee of the RSA Academies Board. She stepped down as Chair of the Museum of the Home in 2014 and finished her term as a lay member of Warwick University Council in 2015. She served as a member of the Design Council for 9 years; a trustee of the DEMOS think-tank and was a non-executive director on the board of Wardour Publishing. She was made a CBE for ‘services to international education’ in the 2013 New Year’s Honours. Penny is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art and the RSA.