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3i partner takes chair at Level 20

Founding member Jennifer Dunstan will take over from Hanneke Smits on 1 January.

Level 20, the group established to promote the role of women in private equity, has appointed Jennifer Dunstan as chair, effective 1 January 2017.

Dunstan, a partner and head of fund investor relations at UK private equity firm 3i Group and one of the 12 founders of Level 20, will take over from Hanneke Smits, who has chaired the group since its launch in September 2015.

The London-based group's goal is to ensure women account for 20 percent of senior professionals across the European private equity industry by 2020. In 2015 women held only 5 percent of senior industry roles. Fewer women than men enter private equity, and only a small proportion progress to leadership roles, according to Level 20.

In October, the group appointed private equity veteran Jeryl Andrew as its first chief executive. Andrew has worked in the industry for 30 years, in GP, LP and advisor roles, beginning her career at venture capital investor Abingworth Management before holding senior roles at fund of funds investment group Vencap International and Advent Venture Partners, an early and growth-stage investor.

Andrew spent the past six years as a consultant to private equity and venture capital firms, advising on fundraising and investor relations. She also previously serves as a council member of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.

Level 20 has attracted around 700 members since its launch. Following on from a successful pilot mentoring programme with more than 45 participants last year, the group has recently launched its second mentoring programme, which involves around 90 people, it said.

The mentoring programme works with mid-career women to provide them with access to guidance from more senior men and women that they may otherwise not receive, Smits told Private Equity International's sister publication pfm at the time of the organisation’s launch last September.

Level 20 has secured significant financial backing from 35 private equity firms, including industry heavyweights such as Advent International, Warburg Pincus, TPG and KKR, as reported by PEI.