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

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. He inspires audiences around the world to preserve our planet, through ground-breaking series such as BBC’s Planet Earth II, Netflix’s Our Planet and most recently Wild Isles, which combine stunning footage with sombre truths about humanity’s impact on the environment. Sir David was knighted in 1985.

Danielle de Niese

Hailed as “opera’s coolest soprano” by New York Times Magazine, Danielle de Niese is a prolific recording artist, TV and media personality, and has appeared on the world’s most prestigious opera and concert stages. Danielle has thrilled audiences worldwide from the Metropolitan Opera to Covent Garden, winning an Emmy Award as a TV host at the age of 16, and making her Broadway debut at 18 in Les Miserables, before going on to record with Hans Zimmer as the voice of Ridley Scott’s movie Hannibal. She has recorded four solo albums, with her debut album seeing her named New Artist of the Year at the 2008 Echo Awards and nominated for the 2009 Classical Brit Award for Female Artist of the Year. Danielle regularly presents the BBC Proms, and her documentaries; Diva Diaries, The Birth of an Opera and most recently, the highly praised Unsung Heroines, also for the BBC. In the spring of 2022, she produced and starred in her own film version of La Voix Humaine for BBC2 conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano and in partnership with the Royal Opera House and Trademark Films. Offstage, she is passionate about music education and is an advocate for children’s rights, as well as for protecting our planet for the future.

ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL

WFN Ambassador Alastair FothergillAlastair is a director of Silverback Films Ltd and series producer of Netflix’s Our Planet and BBC’s Wild Isles. He is the executive producer of BBC One series Perfect Planet and Disneynature’s Penguin and Polar Bear movies. 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 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.

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

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. 

VICTORIA THOMPSON – Deputy DIRECTOR (Currently on maternity leave)

WFN Deputy Director Victoria ThompsonAs Deputy Director, Victoria works closely with Danni to ensure the charity operates within its mission and objectives to realise its ambitions; proactively driving forward organisational and strategic development, while supporting the team to flourish. Victoria has been with WFN since 2018, and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Kings College London. She previously worked internationally on several grassroots sustainable development initiatives, most recently in Mexico and Peru. Victoria is currently on maternity leave.

kasia brookes – head of grants

Kasia joins WFN as Head of Grants following 10 years of grant-making experience with organizations working across climate change, social justice, environment and health and wellbeing research – most recently at Ashden Climate Solutions and the Wellcome Trust.  She has a BSc in Anthropology from UCL and an MSc in Ecology and Conservation from the University of East Anglia. She has practical experience working on conservation and agriculture projects in the UK, US and Honduras and is passionate about listening to and amplifying the voices of local experts who know best what is happening on the ground. One of her proudest achievements has been starting a thriving community food-growing garden for local people in South London. At WFN, Kasia leads on our grant giving and application processes across the Whitley Award and Continuation Funding programmes.

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.

Carol Roussel – HEAD OF Media relations

Carol leads media relations for WFN with the aim of building the charity’s profile and that of our winners in the national and international press. She joins the team from a background in business journalism across Europe, the US and Asia. She has worked as a staff journalist at The Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg News in Tokyo and Paris and BBC Radio Four and 5 Live as well as an independent writer in New York. Her work has also been published in The Economist and the International New York Times.

kate stephenson – HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS

WFN Head of Communications Kate StephensonKate leads WFN’s communications strategy, using the charity’s platform to spread awareness about Whitley Award winners across WFN’s website, printed publications 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’.

Lisa Wheeler –  Grants and Networks Officer

Lisa leads on WFN’s Winner Network Development programme, supporting and creating connections among the 200-strong global Winner Network to foster knowledge exchange and collaboration, and build capacity. She also supports WFN’s grants programmes, including managing WFN’s grants in Asia. Lisa joins from Galapagos Conservation Trust, where she worked for over seven years in a number of roles across project management and operations. She has also volunteered on conservation projects in South Africa and the UK, worked for Botanic Gardens Conservation International as a Tree Red List Assessor, and holds a MSc in Conservation Science. She is passionate about habitat restoration, the conservation of endemic species and inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders.

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).

ANDREW TERRY – DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION & POLICY, ZSL

WFN Judging Panel Andrew Terry

Andrew 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 Whitley

WFN’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.

DINO J. MARTINS, PHD – Chief Executive Officer of the Turkana Basin Institute and TRUSTEE, WFN

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.

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.

Also on the judging panel…

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

We would also like to thank the 2022 external scoring stage assessors: Paul Barnes (ZSL EDGE of Existence Programme), Dr Sanjay Gubbi (Nature Conservation Foundation and 2017 Whitley Award winner), Dr Simon Lyster (Chair of Conservation International UK) and Dr Munir Virani (MBZ and 2018 Whitley 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.