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Chief Executive


Patron, President and Vice-Presidents

The Conservation Volunteers Group Chief Executive - Julie Hopes

Julie HopesPrior to joining The Conservation Volunteers Julie's career was spent in the private sector.  She started work at the Nationwide Building Society and went on to work for RSA Insurance and Tesco Bank; where she was the Managing Director of General Insurance.  Julie also sits on the Board of a Housing Association which is focused on community and urban regeneration.

Julie made the decision to join The Conservation Volunteers because she feels passionately about the work the organisation does to help transform people's prospects, health and communities through managing green spaces together.

She is a keen runner and generally loves being outdoors; particularly in her garden.

Our Trustees

The Conservation Volunteers is governed by a Board of Trustees elected by our members. The Board meets around six times a year. It is responsible for setting overall policy for The Conservation Volunteers and monitoring progress towards achieving our goals.

We are always on the lookout for new trustees - especially those with a financial or management background - and would particularly welcome interest from people from ethnic minority communities and other under-represented groups.

The Trustees are elected by the members of the trust:

Rita Clifton, Chair

Rita has been the chair of the TCV trustees for the past three years. Clearly, these have been challenging times for the third sector generally as well as for TCV. Rita has successfully piloted the charity through a re-staging to become The Conservation Volunteers, and has overseen necessary changes in structure and governance so as to make the organisation fit to face current and future economic and social challenges. Rita is committed to continuing to lead TCV in its efforts to offer people from all walks of life opportunities to work together for better health, prospects and local green spaces.

Rita's career has taken her from a Cambridge degree to leadership roles in strategic consulting, marketing and communications, as well as on many boards and committees dedicated to sustainability and the environment. She has been Vice Chairman at Saatchi & Saatchi, CEO then Chair of Interbrand, the world's leading brand consultancy, and has been a Trustee, now Fellow, of WWF-UK as well as a Commissioner on the Government's Sustainable Development Commission. Rita now has a portfolio of directorships, including Bupa and Nationwide, and is chair and founder of BrandCap as well as chairing Populus, the opinion pollster to the Financial Times.

Rita was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours List in 2014.

Last, but certainly not least, Rita has two daughters.

Roger Clarke

Roger Clarke has a lifetime's interest in the relationship between people and the environment, and in the search for sustainable patterns of living. He was CEO at the Youth Hostels Association from 2000-2008. He was Policy Director at the Countryside Agency from 1984-1999. He began his career as a community worker in the west of Scotland and from 1976-1984 was a Director at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. He has served as a non-executive Board member at Natural England, the government's natural environment conservation agency, and before that, as a Council member at English Nature. He was a Board member of the European Federation of Youth Hostel Associations from 2001-2008. He is chair of DEA [Development Education Association] which promotes learning for a just and sustainable world, working mainly with schools and youth organisations. He is a Board member of the Woodland Trust, The Conservation Volunteers [British Trust for Conservation Volunteers] and Woodbrooke, the national Quaker study centre. He is Alternate Chair of the People and Rural Environment Forum, which advises the Rural Economy and Land Use research programme. He is a member of the Expert Panel at the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Roger has a first class honours degree in geography from Oxford University and a PhD from McGill University, Montreal. He is married with two sons and lives in Derbyshire. His interests include climbing mountains, vegetable growing, marathon running, making music, and travel. 

Sir Hugh Sykes

A chartered accountant and law graduate, Hugh Sykes has had a wide and varied business career spanning large public companies as well as small private ones. This includes the chairmanship of Yorkshire Bank and service on the National Australia Bank Board. He also has substantial experience in the public and voluntary sectors and holds a number of chairmanships and non-executive directorships.

He is currently non-executive director and consultant to A4e, a rapidly growing private company employing over 3500 staff in 8 countries specialising in unemployment to work services to governments. 

He was Chairman of Sheffield Development Corporation through its 9 year existence and more recently has sat on the boards of several regional urban regeneration companies. He is former Chairman of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust as well as Museums Sheffield. In 1990/91 he served as Master Cutler of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, the livery company representing the interests of Sheffield's manufacturing industry. He was also Treasurer and a member of various committees of the University of Sheffield from 1998 to 2002. 

He was recognised in Her Majesty's Birthday Honours in 1997 with a knighthood for his services to urban regeneration and charity.

Paulette Cohen

Paulette is currently Associate Director, Global Community Investment, at Barclays where she is responsible for leading the development and delivery of Barclays global partnerships with international development charities. She joined Barclays in September 2010, having previously spent six years as Deputy Chief Executive of the Windsor Leadership Trust working with senior leaders across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

From 1999 to 2005, Paulette led the communications function at Save the Children and before that at VSO. She began her career at The Conservation Volunteers in marketing and publicity roles and is delighted to be reconnected to the organisation having been appointed to the Board in 2009.

Paulette has been a trustee of the Bristol/Burkina Faso-based charity Tree Aid since 2003, and is also an Ambassador for Think Global - the Development Education Association. She is a Geography graduate with a certificate in Marketing and is an alumnus of the Windsor Leadership Trust's Newly Appointed Strategic Leaders Programme.

Philip Mulligan

Philip Mulligan has been Chief Executive of Environmental Protection UK since 2006. Before that Philip was Country Director for VSO in Indonesia and earlier in his career he was an academic researcher and tutor and an active supporter of several environmental causes. For several years he served The Conservation Volunteers as a conservation project leader. Among Philip's current appointments are Vice-Chair of Defra's Third Sector Advisory Group and International Board member on the International Union of Air Pollution and Prevention Associations.

Philip brings to The Conservation Volunteers and its Board of trustees extensive environmental qualifications both academic and practical, together with a keen enthusiasm to pursue The Conservation Volunteers's objectives to change lives through environmental volunteering and to lead in charity governance.

Mike Kirk

Mike graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and then undertook a Masters Degree in Nuclear Fuels Technology at Imperial College whilst working for British Nuclear Fuels at their Head Office in Risley.

In 1989 Mike completed a Finance MBA at the Cass Business School and from there started his career in the City, with Cazenove & Co, the UK's leading corporate broking/investment banking advisory firm. Mike was a Partner in corporate finance and worked with a wide range of clients in the oil and gas, utility, infrastructure, technology and support services sectors. This included work with a number of clients on sustainable technology including fuel cells, wind, and tidal generation. After 14 years, Mike left Cazenove to run the financial PR practice of Weber Shandwick, where he was involved in assisting a number of companies to improve their CSR actions and reporting.

Mike is a non-executive director of a small environmental consultancy and of the world's leading provider of consultancy and software to the downstream oil and gas industry. Mike is also a trustee and Vice Chairman of the Thackray Museum, a leading medical museum based in Leeds. Mike was delighted to be made a Trustee of The Conservation Volunteers in January 2012 and looks forward to working with the team to deliver on the huge potential that there is within The Conservation Volunteers.

Mike lives in Kingston upon Thames with his partner and has two daughters.

Julie Royce

For over 20 years Julie has been actively volunteering in her local community of Thames Ditton.  She looks after a stretch of the River Thames for the National Trails Office as a conservation monitor, helps to run the local theatre and has organised many street parties to celebrate big national events.  Julie was also a 'Games Maker' and 'London Ambassador' during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

Employed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, known as NICE, which provides guidance for the UK health and social care sector, Julie leads a team who help users put NICE guidance into practice.   Prior to this Julie held various senior management positions in the NHS, a small marketing agency and Unilever.

Julie first came into contact with TCV when joining a tree planting event to mark the success of the volunteering effort for London 2012.  Becoming a TCV trustee seemed the perfect opportunity to develop her keen interest in conservation and enthusiasm for volunteering, and to draw from her long career in health.

Neil Kerfoot

Neil is CEO & founder of the international development charity, Village by Village, and brings a strong passion for volunteering to the Board.  Previously, he was Head of Volunteering for the 34,000 volunteers at the British Heart Foundation, Head of Volunteering for Henshaws Society for Blind People and managed teams of hard to reach young people for the Prince’s Trust Volunteers. He was an elected Trustee of Volunteering England in 2003. He also completed the Stanford University Graduate School of Business "Non-Profit Leadership Program" in 2005. In January 2013 he graduated from CASS Business School, London with an MSc in "Voluntary Sector Management".

He co-founded English-To-Go a New Zealand based online educational start-up company with £100 and within 3 years showed enough growth to entice a venture capital company to invest over £1.1 million allowing him to return to the UK and work in the third sector. In his youth he led two overseas expeditions to South & Central America and Africa. As part of his work with Village by Village he now runs "Gapmonth" a volunteering engagement project to encourage people to volunteer for international development charities in Ghana, West Africa.

He lives in a National Trust cottage with his Irish/Greek wife in South Manchester where he volunteers for both TCV and the National Trust and tries his hardest to grow vegetables.

Maria Adebowale

Maria is the Director of Living Space Project (formerly Capacity Global). She specialises in community led environmental projects, urban place shaping and environmental justice. She started her career as a researcher specialising in environment and human rights before becoming the Director of the Environmental Law Foundation and then establishing Living Space Project – the urban place and green space shaping social enterprise.

Maria has an LLM from SOAS, University of London and is also the author of numerous publications in her specialist areas. She is listed in The Independent on Sunday’s Top 100 most influential environmentalists and received a London Leaders Award for developing the London Greener Jobs & Skills Academy project.

In addition Maria is a former commissioner for English Heritage and the UK Sustainable Development Commission. Currently she is a member of a number of advisory groups and boards of organisations, including Artists Project Earth, and Shared Asset.  She is also Matron of the Women's Environment Network, a Patron of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Associations (UKELA), an Ambassador for the Social Enterprise Mark and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Our Patron

The Conservation Volunteers' Patron is HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT

President and Vice-Presidents

The Conservation Volunteers is also supported by our President and Vice Presidents who help to champion our interests and raise public awareness of the organisation.

President of The Conservation Volunteers - Sir Jonathon Porritt CBE

Sir Jonathon Porritt, the leading sustainability expert, has taken over the Presidency in April 2014 from The Lord Norrie.  

Jonathon was a Vice President of TCV, and has supported the organisation in many capacities over time. He is the co-founder of Forum for the Future, and is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, partnering some of the world’s leading companies.

He has previously spent nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission. In February 2012 he was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012.

Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.

The Conservation Volunteers Vice Presidents

  • Sir David Attenborough
  • Prof David Bellamy
  • Dr William Bird
  • Robert E Boote
  • Andrew Brown
  • Prof Michael Dower
  • Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava
  • Dr Rupert Evenett
  • Roger de Freitas
  • Tom Flood CBE
  • Baroness Miller
  • Rob Morley
  • Bill Oddie