Howard Catton

Chief Executive Officer

Howard was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in February 2019. He is committed to ensure that ICN effectively represents nursing worldwide, advances the nursing profession, promotes the wellbeing of nurses and advocates for health in all policies. He firmly believes that nurses should be at the heart of health policy decision making and leading healthcare systems and delivery.

Throughout his career Howard has worked and written extensively on issues relating to the nursing and healthcare workforce and he co-chaired the first ever State of the World’s Nursing Report. He has led ICN’s work to respond to and support nurses globally during the pandemic and has been at the forefront of advocating for the protection of and investment in the nursing profession.

Howard joined ICN in April 2016 as the Director, Nursing, Policy and Programmes. His team led the development of ICN policy and position statements, working closely with WHO and other International Organisations to provide nursing advice on global health challenges and input into formal WHO and UN decision making meetings and processes. He also co-ordinated ICN Programmes and projects including Leadership development and worked closely with other Non-Government Health Organisations, civil society and private sector organisations. Howard also oversaw the development of scientific programmes for ICN events including its world congresses, held every two years.

In December 2019 the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland appointed Howard as Fellow of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery. This Fellowship without examination is granted in exceptional circumstances to nurses who have rendered outstanding service to the profession.


Howard qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1988 and held a variety of nursing posts in England and the United States and worked for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. He studied Social Policy at Cardiff University (BSc Econ Hons) and Industrial Relations at Warwick University (MA) and then worked as a Personnel and Organisational Change Manager in the National Health Service in the UK. For 10 years Howard was Head of Policy & International Affairs at the Royal College of Nursing in the UK. His department worked with a wide range of stakeholders on the development and implementation of nursing and health policy both in the UK and overseas. He worked closely with a variety of Government departments and Westminster Parliamentarians on many policy and legislative issues. He has also led and supported many national campaigns and was frequently the RCN spokesperson in range of media. In 2015 he was named in the Health Service Journal top 100 Clinical Leaders list. Howard has also served as an elected Local Government Councillor in England and for 5 years was a Cabinet member with lead responsibility for corporate and customer services. During this time, he also worked on several Public Health, Community development, safety and wellbeing initiatives.