Innovative mammal conservation

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Professor Robbie McDonald – Chair of Trustees

Although usually based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus in Cornwall, where he holds a Chair in Natural Environment and involved in a wide range of interdisciplinary research projects in wildlife ecology and management, Robbie is currently on secondment to The Office for Environmental Protection as Chief Scientist. Robbie’s research career has focused on mustelids and he completed a PhD on weasels and stoats. He has also worked on Californian sea otters, martens, badgers, mink, ferrets and New Zealand and Irish stoats, and currently collaborates with VWT on marten and polecat research projects.

He has held a Fulbright Scholarship, Jones Fellowship, Royal Society postdoctoral fellowship, and has worked in universities, NGOs and in government agencies. He led Quercus, the Northern Ireland Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, a partnership between Queens University Belfast and NI Department of Environment. He was then head of wildlife science and Deputy Chief Scientist at the Food and Environment Research Agency. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. Robbie joined the Board of Trustees in 2017 and became Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2024.

Georgie Holmes-Skelton – Trustee

Georgie is Head of Government Affairs at the National Trust, where she works on public policy engagement, particularly relating to heritage and environment. Her background is in Parliament and public policy, having worked as a clerk in the House of Commons for nearly 10 years, supporting MPs and the work of Parliament, its committees, procedures and practices. She has also worked in the Civil Service, advising Ministers and civil servants on parliamentary business and engagement. Georgie joined the Board of Trustees in 2019.

Sarah Binstead – Trustee

Sarah is the Group Chief Risk and Compliance Officer at Ecclesiastical Insurance, where she moved to in autumn 2020 following just over three years as Chief Risk Officer at Triodos Bank UK Ltd. Similar to the role held at Triodos, Sarah leads the second line of defence and holds the SMF4 regulated responsibility. Ecclesiastical also operates in overseas jurisdictions, which brings an international element to the role. Prior to this, having qualified as a chartered accountant, she has worked for KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group and Nationwide Building Society in a variety of roles in external audit, internal audit, risk and finance. Sarah joined the Board of Trustees in December 2019.

Shelly Moledina – Trustee

Shelly is an Associate Director at Vidett, one of the UK’s largest professional trustee and pension governance firms. She uses her extensive pension and investment experience to improve member quality of life in retirement, whilst also considering social and environmental outcomes. Shelly has nearly 30 years of investment, pensions, training and business experience across a range of firms, including BAe Systems Pension Fund and Legal & General Investment Management. Shelly holds an MA in Economics and the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. She is also interested in wildlife photography and joined the Board in 2020.

Mark Hollinworth – Trustee

Mark works in a senior supervisory role for the Financial Conduct Authority based in London, having previously worked as a chartered wealth manager and investment manager both in the UK and overseas. Mark has 15 years’ experience in the wealth management and investment industry, advising high net worth individuals, trusts and corporate entities. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (FCSI) and holds a MSc in Finance. Mark joined the Board of Trustees in March 2023.

Chris Ellam – Joint Vice Chair of Trustees

Chris is an Associate Director at Russell Investments where he helps asset owners find solutions to their investment challenges. Previously, he worked as an investment consultant focusing on implementation efficiency. Chris also spent a significant portion of his career working in Global Equity Portfolio Management. He joined the Board of Trustees in March 2023.

Professor Sallie Bailey — Joint Vice Chair of Trustees

Professor Sallie Bailey (FICFor) has recently been appointed as Chief Scientist for Natural England following her role as Deputy Chief Science Advisor for Scottish Government for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, bringing science and evidence to the centre of decision making in government. Previously, she’s held leadership roles in the state forestry sector as regional manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, in environmental regulation and in the Forestry Commission, advising government with provision of science and evidence to inform policy development. Following completion of her PhD on spatial and woodland ecology and impacts of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity, she completed post-doctorate research at Stanford University on forests and ecosystems in the tropics of Costa Rica, arid ecosystems of Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Through her various roles to improve outcomes for protected woodland species and wider biodiversity, Sallie has become particularly familiar with the ecology and conservation of UK woodland mammals. Sallie joined the Board of Trustees in June 2023.

Dr Richard Young — Trustee

Rich is Managing Director at the sustainability consultancy, Nature Positive, where he helps businesses understand and act upon their biodiversity impacts and dependencies. Previously, he was Director of Conservation Knowledge at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust working on some of the world’s most threatened species and ecosystems, from giant jumping rats to mountain chicken frogs. Between 2011-2020, Rich was Co-chair of the IUCN Small Mammal Specialist Group and is currently a member of the task force assembled to develop the IUCN Green Status of Species. Rich joined the Board of Trustees in June 2023.

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