Atkins joins the NHF next week as director of strategy and communications, reporting to chief executive Jim Coulter.
As part of her role in boosting awareness of housing associations among policy makers, Atkins will lead the organisation’s ‘In Business for Neighbourhoods’ initiative.
According to an NHF spokesman, this aims to combat negative images in the media about affordable housing and housing associations and show there is ‘innovation in the sector’.
Atkins replaces James Tickell, who has left to start his own consultancy. Atkins joined the NSPCC seven years ago, prior to which she held policy roles at the Labour Party, Co-Op Union and the Post Office
The NHF represents 1,400 English housing associations, which provide homes for more than four million people.
The NSPCC has split Atkins’s responsibilities on an interim basis before a replacement is found. Natalie Cronin takes on the role of acting head of policy while Vince Muspratt becomes acting head of public affairs.
Atkins’s eventual replacement will report to director of public policy Philip Noyes.