The Conservation Volunteers Interim Chief Executive – Debbie Adams
Debbie has been the Director for Scotland and Northern Ireland at The Conservation Volunteers since August 2015. As well as leading on all operational issues across both Scotland and Northern Ireland, she also had senior level responsibility for safeguarding in TCV across the UK. Her previous working life includes being Deputy CEO for prominent children’s organisation, Director of a private consultancy company and manager in a non departmental public body for youth issues. She started life as a youth and community worker and remains a lifelong volunteer and is currently on the Board of SCVO.
The Conservation Volunteers is governed by a Board of Trustees, supported by two sub-committees: Audit and Risk Committee (ARC); and Governance and Remuneration Committee (GRC). The Board and its sub-committees each meet four times per year.
The Board is responsible for setting overall policy for The Conservation Volunteers and monitoring progress towards achieving our strategy.
The Trustees are:
- Jon Towler – Chair
- Neal Ransome
- Andrew Walker KC
- Uilani Dines
- Emma Aspinall
- Emily Evans
- Katie Bowyer
- Joanne Gilbert
- Shipra Gupta
- Keith Connal
- Dermot Toberty
We always welcome interest from prospective Trustees, particularly from people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and other under-represented groups.
The purpose of ARC is to assist the Board of Trustees in discharging its oversight responsibilities by:
- Considering and reviewing matters relating to the control environment and risk management in The Conservation Volunteers
- Considering and reviewing matters raised by and relating to external audit
- Considering the key areas of risk by assessing reasonable levels of management control and frequency of review.
ARC comprises some Trustees and some independent members.
The purpose of GRC is to advise the Trustee Board on all matters related to governance (including the appointment of Trustees) and employee pay and other reward. GRC comprises some Trustees and some independent members.
Jon Towler – Chair
Jon graduated in 1991 from Reims Business School with a double degree in International Business Administration and then spent the early part of his career in international sales management. He moved into general management roles in the late 1990s, spending 8 years as a Director of the UK’s leading wholesaler of office products. He was part of the management team which led a management buyout, successfully re-selling the business three years later. This private sector career incorporated functional responsibility for sales, marketing, operations and logistics, HR and organisational development.
Subsequently, Jon has been supporting the public sector for almost fifteen years, chairing both NHS Nottinghamshire County and the East Midlands Ambulance Service. He is currently Vice Chair of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board, a statutory NHS organisation with an annual budget in excess of £2billion. For a number of years, Jon has been a strong advocate of the need for public bodies and third sector organisations to work together in an integrated manner and he is therefore passionate, in particular, about TCV’s work with people and communities.
Jon is married with two sons, lives in Nottinghamshire and spends much of his time in and around Sherwood Forest.
Neal qualified as a chartered accountant and corporate financier with PwC and as a partner led their Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Corporate Finance business. He was also Chief Operating Officer of PwC’s Advisory Services division, and a member of the firm’s Corporate Sustainability Governance Board. He left PwC in 2013 and is now a non-executive chairman and director of three investment trusts focused on healthcare and early stage companies.
With a keen interest in environmental conservation, Neal is a former Trustee and Council Member of the RSPB. Neal has worked as a volunteer for the RSPB, the London Wildlife Trust and, more recently, TCV. He lives in London and is a fellow of the RSA.
Andrew Walker KC
Andrew is a practising barrister and arbitrator. He was appointed as King’s (Queen’s) Counsel in 2011. He was an elected member of the Bar Council of England and Wales for many years, eventually serving as its Vice-Chair (2017) and Chair (2018), following several years as Chair of its Ethics Committee. His areas of legal expertise include property and company law, and he continues to advise and act for a very wide range of clients across the country.
In 2009, he was awarded the Bar Pro Bono Award for some of his free professional work with the homelessness charity, Shelter. He has been involved in the governance of a number of organisations, both charitable and non-charitable, and has had lifelong passion for conservation and the environment.
Lani Dines is a Fundraising Manager for Action for Conservation, a UK youth-focused conservation charity. Lani is passionate about conservation and protecting UK nature. She has a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Birmingham and has worked in the environmental field for most of her career at WWF, Vegware, IKEA and the John Muir Trust. She is an alumnus of the Climate 2050 – Young Leadership Programme and is passionate about equality and diversity in the environmental sector. Lani brings experience in trusts and grants fundraising, corporate partnerships and project management.
Lani is inspired to work with TCV to broaden her knowledge and experience and is interested in how young people are engaging with environmental organisations, especially when it comes to young trustees and decision-making roles. Lani is also a trustee for a small environmental charity – Forest of Hearts.
Emma Aspinall is a registered Social Worker with Social Work England with a motivation to ensure safe and quality services that are accessible for all those requiring care and support. Underpinning her work is the focus to develop partnerships and links across organisations, ensuring supportive services are offered to children, young people and vulnerable adults. As an experienced Executive Director, Emma has over 30 years’ experience working in health and social care, with the majority of that in the charity sector with Barnardo’s and Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Emma Aspinall is now an Independent Health and Social Care Advisor and is delighted to be joining the Board and meeting new likeminded people committed to the environment and well-being of their local community. Emma believes living through the pandemic has been a truly life changing experience for everyone and reinforced the value of outdoor spaces and the importance of connection with other people and supporting those around us. Emma hopes to support the work of TCV with her experience of Governance Frameworks at an Executive Director level and her knowledge and skills of working with people as a social worker.
Emily has worked within third-sector healthcare for more than 15 years. At Nuffield Health she held various operational leadership roles including supporting teams through periods of significant organisational change. She also headed up the growth of their mental health services through acquisition and proposition development.
In her current role as Chief Commercial Officer for Everyturn Mental Health, Emily sits on the Executive Management Team and leads a commercial function of marketing, business development, relationship management and service development teams, along with a project management office to deliver commercial sustainability and social return on investment.
Emily is passionate about the positive impact nature can have on wellbeing and was inspired to join TCV by the work it does to connect people to green spaces, creating healthy and happy communities.
Katie is an experienced senior leader in the charity sector, currently Director of Fundraising Strategy at the British Red Cross where she is responsible for developing an ambitious transformation programme for fundraising and supporter engagement. In the past she has held senior fundraising roles at Diabetes UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity and has worked in a range of other UK charities including NSPCC and Bliss. She is a member of the advisory panel for Missing People.
Her interest in conservation grew throughout the pandemic as she realised what a lifeline our green spaces are, and she sees the positive impact of volunteering every day in her current role.
Dr Joanne Gilbert
Jo has worked in nature conservation for 28 years in both the charity and education sectors with experience in UK and international conservation. She has held the post of Conservation Programmes Director at the RSPB since 2017, overseeing the strategic direction of nature reserves acquisition and management, landscape restoration and species recovery. Prior to this she was Head of Reserves Ecology for the RSPB. Jo is a board member of the Saving Asian Vultures from Extinction partnership, a committee member for the Key Biodiversity Areas partnership, and was formerly a volunteer leader at TCV. She is passionate about taking practical action from local to global scale to restore nature and stop the climate crisis.
Shipra currently works in Responsible Investment with a large institutional investor leading on the Stewardship strategy, plan and initiatives. Her role encompasses engaging with the investment industry and public-listed companies on their environment, social and governance policies and practices, and advocating for the right public policy in this space.
She brings with her over 22 years of experience working in Management Consulting, Financial Services, Healthcare and also a social entrepreneurial venture across a range of geographies and functions. Of these, the last 12 years or so has been specifically spent in embedding sustainability in business-as-usual and developing new propositions in sustainable finance. In addition, Shipra chairs her local community primary school and contributes to an external Investment Committee as an impact specialist.
As someone equally passionate both about people and biodiversity, she believes TCV is an organisation that is right at the heart of the sustainability agenda and what the world needs more of. She hopes to contribute to the organisation’s growth and development with the aim of establishing TCV as best practice for other entities to emulate while herself learning and growing from the experience.
Keith’s career in the Civil Service included operational delivery and international engagement for the Ministry of Defence in London and Washington DC, policy development and advice in the Scottish Government and business management in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Keith is a geographer and cartographer by background, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Keith has considerable experience in natural heritage policy, including biodiversity, and he led an award-winning programme which completed the devolution of forestry.
Since retiring, Keith has undertaken some management consultancy and is keen to help and support organisations delivering practical benefit for the environment and people’s wellbeing, including through access to quality greenspaces. Keith is also a Trustee at Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust.
Dermot trained as an accountant and qualified whilst living up in the North East.
He moved to Chesterfield with his wife and two daughters in 1988 to work for Royal Mail.
Following a wide variety of finance roles across the UK he moved to HR in 2003 to set up and run the largest HR Shared Service Centre in Europe. He remained there up to his retirement in 2017.
Outside of his Royal Mail career, Dermot has also worked with a wide variety of local organisations such as Surestart, Parkside Community School, Pathways of Chesterfield, Business in the Community, East Midlands Ambulance Service, Bluebell Wood, Ashgate Allotment Society and Ashgate Hospice.
Dermot now has a wide variety of interests usually involving outdoor activities. He is a keen walker in the Peak District, allotmenteer and football supporter.
Dermot is married with two daughters and two grandchildren and can often be found somewhere in transit between Chesterfield and Newcastle.
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.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT Prince Philip was our Patron for many years and we much valued the occasions when he visited our projects and when he was able to join us for our annual staff awards ceremonies. We valued too the opportunities he gave us to brief him personally on our progress, including during meetings at the Palace.
We shall always be grateful for his personal commitment to conservation both here in the UK and
worldwide, something where he was ahead of his time. That he supported our work gave us a real sense of the importance he attached to charities such as ours where we enable people from all walks of life to get ‘stuck in’ to undertake practical conservation work in their local communities.
He gave great service to our country and his practical commitment to so many important causes, including ours, will be his enduring legacy.
President of The Conservation Volunteers – Sir Jonathon Porritt CBE
Sir Jonathon Porritt, the leading sustainability expert, took 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 provided 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.
Vice President – Sir David Attenborough OM, CH,CBE, FRS
Sir David Attenborough is naturalist and natural history broadcaster with an honours degree in Natural Sciences from Clare College, Cambridge. He has had nearly a 70-year career helping the nation understand the lifestyles and behaviours of the living world and was knighted for his services to broadcasting in 1985.
Sir David has visited every continent on the globe throughout his career, starting with BBC’s Zoo Quest in search of animals from different countries, to his most recent work with Netflix ‘David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet’ and his advocacy work to halt climate change.
Sir David is an ambassador for many fellow environmental charities and has achieved a huge amount in raising awareness of the sector and our causes. He has supported TCV since 1970 and in 2016, TCV helped to celebrate his 90th birthday with a celebration event in Camden park, where Sir David planted an Elm tree.
Vice President – Dr William Bird MBE
With more than three decades of experience in practising medicine and first-hand knowledge of the need to develop preventative measures to stop people developing diabetes and COPD, William is one of the UK’s leading experts on physical activity and building active communities.
William has helped transform the health of millions of people across the UK through innovative initiatives he has developed. As a family GP, he began to get his patients more active by setting up the first Health Walk scheme in April 1996. This led to him creating TCV’s Green Gym one year later as he realised that companionship and contact with nature were major driving forces in keeping people active.
As CEO and Founder of Intelligent Health, William developed the hugely successful Beat the Street programme which has encouraged more than 500,000 people across the world to get moving and improve their health. In 2010, he was appointed MBE for services for health and physical activity.