LONDON—Kate James is departing the Gates Foundation to become chief corporate affairs officer at Pearson.

James succeeds Luke Swanson, Pearson’s director of communications since 2003, who is currently leading the company's programme to reorganise its businesses around its global education strategy.

James, who has been the Gates Foundation's chief communications officer since 2010, joins Pearson at the start of next year. The UK native will divide her time between London and New York.

“Kate is an accomplished corporate affairs leader with a strong track record operating at the highest levels of global public companies and development organisations," said Pearson chief executive John Fallon.

"She has a unique background and set of skills to lead our communications agenda as we set out to build our reputation for a significant and measurable impact on global education.“

A former researcher at the UK’s House of Commons, James started her PR career at GlaxoSmithKline, before moving to senior roles at Standard Chartered (in London), and Citibank (in New York).