TEAM

Overview

Whitley Fund for Nature is run by a small administrative team in London, steered by a Board of Trustees and with the support of our inspirational Patron and Ambassadors. WFN’s judging panel kindly offer their expertise voluntarily to determine our annual Whitley Award and Continuation Funding winners. Meet everyone below.

Patron

HRH, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

WFN Patron HRH The Princess RoyalThe Princess Royal became Patron of the Whitley Fund for Nature in 1999. Her Royal Highness attends and speaks at many of our events, including our annual Whitley Awards ceremony. The Princess Royal has also visited our winners in their home countries, to see their work first-hand. Most recently Her Royal Highness visited Associate Whitley Award winner, Dr Xianfeng Zhang in China, visiting the Institute of Hydrobiology to see conservation efforts for the protection of the endangered finless porpoise.

Ambassadors

ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL

WFN Ambassador Alastair FothergillAlastair is a director of Silverback Films Ltd and series producer of Netflix’s Our Planet. He is the executive producer of BBC One series Perfect Planet, Disneynature film Penguin, and is behind 5 of the top 10 grossing natural history cinema films ever. Alastair joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1983 and was appointed Head of the Unit in November 1992, aged 32. His collaborations with Sir David Attenborough include The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, The Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth and its companion feature film Earth. In November 2012, Alastair left the BBC to set up his own production company, Silverback Films. He is a fellow of the Royal Television Society and of the Royal Geographic Society, who awarded him their gold medal in 2012, and has honorary doctorates from the University of Durham, Bristol, Hull and York St. John.

TOM HEAP

WFN Ambassador Tom HeapTom is a television and radio presenter. He is best known as an investigative journalist on BBC1’s Countryfile, is the principal voice of Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4 (on which he interviewed WFN Gold Award winner, Hotlin Ompusunggu), and is a regular Panorama reporter covering food, farming, energy and wildlife. His most recent BBC Radio 4 series explores 39 innovations that address the current climate crises. Tom has appeared on Celebrity Mastermind and Pointless, raising money for WFN.

KATE HUMBLE

WFN Ambassador Kate HumbleKate is a television presenter and author. She has presented programmes including Springwatch, Lambing Live, Countryfile, Curious Creatures and Animal Park, and was named on the Woman’s Hour Power List 2020 for inspiring multiple generations of viewers. She also runs Humble by Nature, a rural skills school on a working farm in the Wye Valley.

LORD ROBIN RUSSELL

Robin is an international environmentalist and businessman. Robin was one of the founders of Elephant Family. He has worked extensively on conservation issues in general and has been a leader in the nexus between corporate conservation philanthropy in the U.K. and environmental organisations. Robin has been coming to the Whitley Awards for several years and has become a great Ambassador for the charity.

Trustees

EDWARD WHITLEY, OBE

  WFN Trustee Edward Whitley

WFN founder Edward has long held an interest in the environment and is dedicated to supporting grassroots conservationists around the world. Through his family’s charity, the Whitley Animal Protection Trust, Edward initiated the Whitley Awards in 1994 to provide young conservationists with the opportunity to launch their careers and develop long-lasting conservation projects. Edward is Chair of the Trustees of The Whitley Fund for Nature.

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, OM, CH, CVO, CBE

WFN Trustee Sir David Attenborough

Britain’s best-known natural history film-maker, Sir David’s distinguished career in broadcasting spans over 50 years. Originally a zoologist and geologist by training, David has travelled to some of the world’s remotest regions, and is an enthusiastic advocate of international action to save wildlife and their habitat from destruction by human activities. Sir David was knighted in 1985. In January 2005, WFN were honoured to welcome him as a Trustee.

CATHERINE FAULKS

WFN Trustee Catherine FaulksLady Faulks has supported and worked with WFN for many years and was instrumental in developing the Friends of the WFN, of which she is Chair. She has a longstanding fascination and love of wildlife and has been a Fellow of ZSL for over 30 years. Catherine is a Partner in Vivien Thompson Property search, and ran her own business, The Special Photographers Company, for 16 years. She has been an RBKC Councillor since 2011, and is currently the cabinet member for the Economy and Employment. She is Governor of Fox Primary school and Federation.  Catherine became a Trustee of WFN in January 2005.

IAN LAZARUS

WFN Trustee Ian LazarusIan is a partner in an executive search firm in London, Sainty, Hird & Partners. Previously he worked in the specialty insurance industry in London and New York. He has a BA from the University of York and an MBA from INSEAD. Ian has always been passionate about animals and birds and he has been involved in conservation for the last 17 years. Ian is a former Senior Independent Director of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and chairman of the Governance Committee. He is also the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Durrell UK. He was a trustee of Westminster School Society for 12 years. Ian has been a long term supporter of WFN and became a trustee in September 2016.

FRANCIS SULLIVAN

WFN Trustee Francis SullivanFrancis joined WFN as a Trustee in July 2012. He is a Senior Adviser in Sustainability at HSBC, and also Chair of the Board of the Sustainable Biomass Program, and Deputy Chair of ResponsibleSteel. Prior to his time at HSBC, he worked for 20 years at WWF where he held a variety of leadership roles, including Director of Conservation for WWF-UK. Francis directed a successful forest conservation campaign for WWF-International and helped establish the Forest Stewardship Council and was a member of its international board for three years. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University.

DINO J. MARTINS, PHD

WFN Trustee Dino Martins

Dino is an entomologist and evolutionary biologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Turkana Basin Institute, founded by Dr Richard Leakey. At the Turkana Basin Institute, he leads research at the intersection of climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.  Dr Martins served as Executive Director of the Mpala Research Centre, an international field research station located in Laikipia, Kenya from July 2015 to July 2022. In 2015, Dino received the Whitley Gold Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to conservation and joined WFN as a Trustee in 2021. Focusing on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation, for the past 20 years Dino has carried out research on insect-plant interactions, vector biology and coevolution in many parts of East Africa, as well in other parts of the world. His approach to conservation includes working with farmers to improve awareness of pollinators and the critical role they play in food production, develop pollinator friendly-agricultural practices and reduce the use of harmful pesticides to promote food security and pollinator conservation.

Staff

DANNI PARKS – DIRECTOR (CURRENTLY ON MATERNITY LEAVE)

WFN Director Danni ParksDanni’s grant-giving experience during her 11 years at WFN has covered Asia, Africa and Latin America, her work contributing to raising and distributing over £20m in conservation grants. As Director, Danni oversees the charity’s operations, fundraising partnerships, and conservation programmes, and leads on delivery of the Whitley Awards Ceremony. Gaining a BSc in Zoology from the University of Sheffield in 2008, Danni worked in Indonesia, before studying for an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London, completing her thesis in human-wildlife conflict. Danni has worked for environmental organisations including Earthwatch and the British Ecological Society. She is a Trustee of WildTeam UK, part of the Strategic Advisory Board for Conservation Optimism, a Mentor and Advisory Board member at the Magnolia Incentive and Co-Chair of the Conservation Evidence Working Group. Danni is currently on maternity leave, working on her own “small mammal” project.

VICTORIA THOMPSON – acting DIRECTOR

WFN Deputy Director Victoria ThompsonAs Acting Director, Victoria oversees the charity’s operations, fundraising partnerships, conservation programmes and communications while WFN’s Director Danni Parks is on maternity leave. She also leads on delivery of the annual Whitley Awards Ceremony and other events throughout the year. Victoria has been with WFN for over four years, and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Kings College London. Previously, she has worked on various grassroots sustainable development initiatives internationally, most recently in Mexico and Peru.

Sarah Harris – Operations Manager

Sarah works on a part time basis at WFN ensuring the smooth running of its London office and provides operational support to the team across events, fundraising, conservation programmes and communications. She joined the charity in August 2022 having spent the last nine years overseeing the ecotourism operations at Blue Ventures, a marine conservation NGO. Prior to that, she worked in a variety of conservation and operational roles both in the UK and overseas, and holds an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London. Sarah loves all things nature based and in her spare time is training to be a Forest School Practitioner so she can share this passion with the next generation of budding conservationists.

Lily Himmelman – Fundraising officer

Lily’s responsibilities are divided between fundraising and communications. She supports management of WFN’s donor base and the development of partnerships and helps increase awareness about Whitley Award winners through social media. She also leads WFN NextGen, one of the charity’s newest initiatives to engage young people with conservation. Lily joined WFN from a Kenya-based poverty graduation organisation and has worked internationally for various non-profits focused on microfinance, eco-tourism, horticulture, and education. She holds a BA in French, English and Anthropology from Northwestern University.

BRIAN JOHNSON – HEAD OF FINANCE

Formerly Managing Director of Guinness Cameroon and Finance Director of Guinness Africa, Brian, since his return to the UK, uses his core finance skills, to support charitable organisations on a part time basis. He has been with WFN since 2010 and acts as Treasurer/Finance Manager/Trustee of six other charities, several on a voluntary basis. An FCA, he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1975.

JANICE LAW – HEAD OF GRANTS

WFN Head of Grants Janice LawJanice manages WFN’s grants programmes comprising the flagship Whitley Awards, Continuation Funding and the Nature-based Solutions scheme. She is the primary liaison with winners and leads on network development of 200 strong global alumni. Her previous work spans across the conservation and environmental sectors which includes overseeing the online learning programme at the Zoological Society of London and greenhouse gas reporting schemes for the UK government and abroad. Her marine research projects have led her to working with hawksbill turtles in Costa Rica and white sharks in South Africa. She holds an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London.

kate stephenson – HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS

WFN Head of Communications Kate StephensonKate is responsible for leading WFN’s communications strategy, using the charity’s platform to spread awareness about Whitley Award winners across WFN’s website and social media. She leads on campaigns and supports across the charity’s PR and events to raise the profile of winners. Kate joined WFN in July 2022, after spending over a decade running the award-winning wildlife blog, Kate on Conservation. She holds a First Class Honours degree in BA English Language and Communications With Journalism, and has previously worked as Education Editor at National Geographic Kids, and for organisations such as Discovery Education (part of the Discovery Channel network), Channel 4 Learning, Channel 4 Talent and BBC Blast. Kate is a Trustee of Born Free Foundation, and founded The Wildlife Blogger Crowd; a virtual network of over 250 bloggers, social media influencers, podcasters, and filmmakers. In 2021 she published a book of their collective works, ‘Connections With Nature’.

GEORGIE WHITE – HEAD OF PARTNERSHIPS

Georgie White - WFN Head of PartnershipsGeorgie manages WFN’s donor base and the development of partnerships through which grassroots conservation is supported. She leads on delivery of WFN’s fundraising goals which have contributed to over £19 million in funds being distributed across Asia, Africa and Latin America. As Head of Partnerships, she is liaison with our Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. Georgie holds a BSc in Biology from Imperial College London and worked internationally on community development programmes across Asia, before gaining a MSc in Conservation from University College London. Georgie joined WFN in February 2017 from Synchronicity Earth. She has a background in sustainable business having worked for leading sustainable tourism brand, Soneva. She is a Trustee of YAKUM, an NGO which protects indigenous forest in Ecuador and builds cultural, medicinal and food sovereignty, through reforestation. Georgie is also a Trustee of SOLVE, a mental health charity local to her hometown in Kent. She is also an avid dancer and head of SafeSpace for Zoukglow, a Latin dance company based in London.

Whitley Awards Judging Panel

MARIANNE CARTER – DIRECTOR, CONSERVATION CAPACITY & LEADERSHIP, FFI

WFN Judging Panel Marianne Carter

Marianne oversees FFI’s work on organisational development support, conservation leadership and professional development, conservation livelihoods and governance and Oryx the international journal for conservation. Since 2009 she has had a focus on building conservation capacity across FFI and their partner network, and developing conservation leadership skills globally. Prior to this, she spent nine years managing the Conservation Leadership Programme, at BirdLife International. She started her career undertaking wildlife conflict research and leading community conservation education and awareness activities in Africa. She has an undergraduate degree in Geography and an MSc in environmental management. Marianne has expertise in capacity building, facilitation and training, and a love for motivating and building engagement, enthusiasm and commitment for conservation.

DAMIAN FLEMING – Deputy Practice Leader for Forests at WWF

WFN Judging Panel Damian Flemming

Damian is second in command at WWF’s Global Forest Practice, responsible for providing strategic direction, co-ordination with internal and with external stakeholders, and enabling WWF offices to deliver their forest goals. Damian has worked for WWF for over 11 years and prior to his role in the Forest Practice, Damian worked at WWF-UK leading their international programmes with a focus in East Africa, India, China and the Amazon. Before his career at WWF, Damian worked for 13 years in brand and advertising research. Damian holds a Masters in Conservation at UCL and a Bachelor of Science (Geography).

MATTHEW HATCHWELL – ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR AND CONSERVATION CONSULTANT, DICE

Matthew is a consultant and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent. As former Director of Conservation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), he was responsible for driving ZSL’s field conservation programmes in more than 50 countries worldwide, working alongside governments, NGO partners and local communities to protect a wide range of species and habitats. Matthew joined ZSL following a 30-year career with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where he served as Director for International Policy and Programme Development. Prior to this, Matthew served as Chief Executive for WCS Europe, having previously overseen in-country teams in Madagascar – where he was instrumental in the creation of Masoala and Sahamalaza/Iles Radama National Parks – and Congo, where he helped to establish Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and co-managed a capacity-building programme for protected area staff.

ANDREW TERRY – DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION & POLICY, ZSL

WFN Judging Panel Andrew TerryAndrew Terry joined ZSL as Director of Conservation and Policy in 2019 to oversee delivery of ZSL’s conservation work in the UK and internationally. He leads a team of 240 staff working across challenging landscapes and seascapes to restore species and find sustainable solutions for people and wildlife to thrive. Andrew joined ZSL following an 11-year career as Head of Conservation Programmes and UK Development at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, where he was responsible for co-developing Durrell’s global strategy to ensure measurable conservation impact on the ground. Prior to this, Andrew served as a scientific advisor and programme coordinator for IUCN’s European Programme based in Brussels.

EDWARD WHITLEY, OBE – CHAIRPERSON OF TRUSTEES AND FOUNDER, WFN

WFN Trustee Edward WhitleyWFN’s founder Edward has long held an interest in the environment and is dedicated to supporting grassroots conservationists around the world. Through his family’s charity, the Whitley Animal Protection Trust, Edward initiated the Whitley Awards in 1994 to provide young conservationists with the opportunity to launch their careers and develop long-lasting conservation projects. Edward is Chair of the Trustees of the Whitley Fund for Nature and was awarded an OBE in 2013.

CATHERINE FAULKS – CHAIR OF THE FRIENDS OF WFN AND TRUSTEE, WFN

WFN Trustee Catherine FaulksLady Faulks has supported and worked with WFN for many years and was instrumental in developing the Friends of the WFN, of which she is Chair. She has a longstanding fascination and love of wildlife and has been a Fellow of ZSL for over 30 years. Catherine is a Partner in Vivien Thompson Property search, and ran her own business, The Special Photographers Company, for 16 years. She has been an RBKC Councillor since 2011 and is currently the cabinet member for the Economy and Employment. She is Governor of Fox Primary school and Federation. Catherine became a Trustee of WFN in January 2005.

DANNI PARKS – DIRECTOR, WFN

WFN Director Danni ParksDanni’s grant-giving experience during her ten years at WFN has covered Asia, Africa and Latin America, her work contributing to raising and distributing over £18m in conservation grants. As Director, Danni oversees the charity’s operations, fundraising partnerships and conservation programmes, and leads on delivery of the Whitley Awards Ceremony. Gaining a BSc in Zoology from the University of Sheffield in 2008, Danni worked in Indonesia, before studying for an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London, completing her thesis in human-wildlife conflict. Danni has worked for environmental organisations including Earthwatch and the British Ecological Society. She is a Trustee of WildTeam UK, part of the Strategic Advisory Board for Conservation Optimism, a Mentor and Advisory Board member at the Magnolia Incentive, and Co-Chair of the Conservation Evidence Working Group.

JANICE LAW – HEAD OF GRANTS, WFN

WFN Head of Grants Janice LawJanice manages WFN’s grants programmes for the Whitley Awards and Continuation Funding, including applications and reporting. She is the primary liaison with winners and leads on development of 200 strong global alumni network. Janice has worked on various conservation and environmental initiatives, from managing the United for Wildlife online learning project at the Zoological Society of London to delivering greenhouse gas reporting programmes in the UK and abroad. She has also assisted in marine research projects tagging hawksbill turtles in Costa Rica and monitoring white shark populations in South Africa. Janice holds an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and joined WFN in 2019.

In addition to the members listed above, WFN’s Trustees rotate their participation annually, and each year our Whitley Gold Award winner joins the panel.

We would also like to thank the 2021 external scoring stage assessors: Olivia Couchman (ZSL EDGE of Existence Programme), Dr Claudia Gray (ZSL EDGE of Existence Programme), Paul Barnes (ZSL EDGE of Existence Programme), Dr Sanjay Gubbi (Nature Conservation Foundation and 2017 Whitley Award winner), Dr Simon Lyster (Conservation International UK) and Dr Charudutt Mishra (Snow Leopard Trust and 2005 Whitley Gold Award winner).

Continuation Funding Assessors

MORRIS GOSLING – Emeritus Professor, Newcastle University

Morris Gosling is currently an Emeritus Professor in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University. Before this he worked as a population biologist in the Scientific Civil Service, as Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London and as Professor of Animal Behaviour at Newcastle University. He is a member of the IUCN Equid Specialist Group and since 2004 he has been engaged in an individual-based study of the behaviour, population ecology and conservation of Hartmann’s mountain zebra in Namibia.

DAVID WALLIS – Partnership Development Manager, Nature Based Solutions, The Palladium Group

David plays a key role in the design and implementation of project development and financing facilities focussed on the delivery of nature-based solutions to protect and restore degraded and threatened ecosystems around the world.  Prior to joining Palladium, David worked at Althelia & Mirova Natural Capital, leading on the monitoring and reporting of the positive climate, biodiversity and social impact of funds and investments, and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and Rio Conventions. David previously played a key role in the development of international conservation programmes at the Zoological Society of London and spent several years overseeing Whitley Fund for Nature’s international grants and awards programmes. David is a member of the Conservation Advisory Panel of the World Land Trust and an advisor to the IUCN SSC Phylogenetic Diversity Taskforce.