Steering Committee Candidate Profiles
Candidates are arranged alphabetically by last name. Voting runs from 28/11/22 - 7/12/22 with NCI members supplied with a voting form via email when voting opens.
Noreen Byrne, University College Cork
I am a founder and co-director of the MSc Sustainable Development, Agri-food & Co-operatives at Centre for Co-operative Studies, UCC. Through my work here & my research, I have gained a keen interest in the role of landscape and place as a communications, educational and practical medium for transitioning to a sustainable and regenerative society. Not enough focus has been placed on leveraging place and the embedded infrastructure already there. My primary motivation in joining NCI's committee is to increase dialogue on how the Irish natural capital project INCASE and the SEEA method could be used to develop the regenerative enabling capability of organisations and communities, where both see themselves as a living system that is part of nature, not just working for nature. Regenerative enabling capability indicators integrated with the local context (measured through INCASE and SEEA methodologies) could provide a holistic and regenerative framework.
Norah Campbell, Trinity College Dublin
I am Associate Professor in the Business School in Trinity for the past 15 years. I have a strong drive to understand the systems that cause climate change and research alternatives, as well as helping learners to do so too. I teach a Management module to first-year students (562 this year) through an ecological lens. I have researched teaching climate change at university level. My research is in the food lobby in Ireland, especially unsustainable food production and consumption. I'd like to join NCI as a lot of Trinity academics I know who have worked with them have had productive experiences. I am motivated to change what learning is in a climate-changed world, especially using embodied cognition, futures thinking and psychology. I feel I can bring inter-disciplinarity to the team and recently co-hosted a conference in UCD 'Futures Thinking', which discussed policy making, real utopias, indigenous knowledge and capitalism.
Charlie Coakley, Irish Water
I am an environmental scientist with over 21 years' experience, I have shown leadership over a number of areas including biodiversity, energy efficiency and water management. This leadership has allowed winning of numerous awards including SEAI, Bord Bia and IBEC awards. My primary motivation for joining the NCI Steering Committee is to help drive a natural capital approach both in Irish Water and nationally, through leading by example. With a large portfolio of assets nationwide, Irish Water can make a significant contribution to a natural capital approach.
Ashling Cronin, Scott Cawley Ltd
I am an ecologist with over 14 years of experience in ecological/environmental assessment and environmental management across both the private and public sector. In addition, I have a skillset in business and people management, development and leadership. I also have a keen interest in environmental law and policy, and how this shapes the work of the practitioners as well as the future for our society. I like to assimilate complex problems/situations and develop a multi-faceted strategy to deliver results. I'm a subject matter expert in ecology now managing the operational side of a company to develop and execute strategies to ensure the company is working towards achieving its vision. This involves supporting a team of ecologists to deliver a nature positive agenda in a ‘boots on the ground’ capacity. With the vision of the company being very similar to NCI’s, I can input to, help drive and deliver the natural capital agenda at a more strategic and national level.
Geraldine Ann Cusack, Failte Ireland
I am a Fellow and chartered engineer and a chartered water and environmental manager with a BSc Geology (engineering), MSc Energy (economics & environmental legislation). I have undertaken international environmental consulting project work (geological engineering, mineral resources, environmental hydrogeology, energy management) in Ireland, the US, UK, Azerbaijan & Chile. I have worked as a sustainability & climate action practitioner in public (local authorities) & private (manufacturing) sectors, helping to implement innovative circular economy principles within business cultures and strategies. I am a member of the Royal Irish Academy's Climate Change & Environmental Sciences Committee (2014-2022), and Future Earth Ireland Committee (2015-present). I enjoy working with all sectors of society on the many 'Wicked Problems' that need to be solved in today’s complex world. I’m motivated to work in and on behalf of various sectors in the Irish economy and contribute through collaborative efforts and innovative trial-and-error mindsets, with like-minded people and organisations who can help prove and demonstrate viable solutions. I believe that throughout our economic endeavours, our ecosystems and natural environments need to be viewed through the lens of valuation, protection, and regeneration.
Grainne Devine, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)
From 2019-2022, I project-managed the BIM Natural Capital Project, which was developed in two phases, to first understand and then test the application of natural capital accounting and multiple capitals accounting for the seafood sector in Ireland. I previously sat on the NCI steering committee from 2018-2020. I see natural and multiple capital approaches as a key factor in changing the narrative on how we understand and value our resources, and the services that they deliver. The consistent integration of the natural capital approach into planning and decision making has the potential to deliver truly sustainable solutions for the environment and society.
Catherine Farrell, Trinity College Dublin
I have recently moved to lead the new LIFE on Machair project, assisting farmers and other stakeholders to restore and conserve this unique coastal grassland habitat, after leading the NCI-facilitated EPA-funded INCASE natural capital accounting project, pioneering natural capital accounts at catchment level in Ireland. Before this, I was a Senior Ecologist with Bord na Mona, where I worked to promote and develop peatland restoration and rehabilitation, as well as creation of other wetland and woodland habitats on industrial cutaway peatland.
Jennifer Fulton, Ulster Wildlife
Chief Executive Officer at Ulster Wildlife since 2012, I have practical case study opportunities and experience of strategic planning, project development and change management qualification, with policy development and influencing skills. I began my career in the delivery of agri-environment schemes and associated training programmes in the Department of Agriculture, I also worked as a consultant on EU interstate projects, managing a range of voluntary bodies and consulted on aspects of the reform of local government for three district councils. I have an interest and involvement in Natural Capital as a key decision making tool and to demonstrate the value of nature (ecosystem services), including evaluation of impact of restoration work as an eNGO.
Mary Kelly-Quinn, University College Dublin
I am a freshwater ecologist with extensive experience in applied freshwater science, focused on identification and mitigation of human impacts on water resources especially in the context of the Water Framework Directive and climate change. I am working on identification, modelling and valuation of ecosystem services, and development of decision support tools for operationalisation of the ecosystem service approach, including on the new sustainable forestry project, ForES. As an educator, I have the opportunity to introduce third-level students to the concept of natural capital. As a long-time NCI Steering Committee member, I want to continue to contribute to efforts to integrate the natural capital (& associated ecosystem services) approach into policy and management of natural resources and see it integrated into third-level courses across a range of disciplines, from natural science to engineering to economics.
Conor Kretsch, Cohab Initiative
I have 25 years’ experience as an advisor on biodiversity and sustainability to governments, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs and civil society groups. I have particular expertise in science and policy on nature's contribution to people, including aspects of health, well-being, livelihoods, and social justice. I also have 20 years’ private sector experience in consulting, and 15 years in strategic planning and oversight of organisations in the NGO and charitable sector. NCI has developed rapidly over the past few years, and it has been very exciting to be a small part of that growth as a member of the Steering Committee. I wish to remain to support the latest developments and strategic plans which NCI has been working on, particularly in respect of the policy support, business outreach and research aims.
I’m an Environmental Sciences graduate from Trinity College with experience in community organising and advocacy. I was a steering committee member for the launch of a citizen science app (Skipper Science) that collected fisherfolk’s field observations to better communicate their experiences to scientists and policy makers. I also served for two years on the Trinity Students’ Unions executive body advocating for international students' needs across college. The changes in the behaviour of governments, businesses, and individuals to more sustainable practices after incorporating natural capital concepts into their finances has been inspiring to me. I find the approach very effective and would be excited to further the adoption of natural capital concepts across the Irish economy.
Kirstie McAdoo, Airfield Estate
I have strong academic and working knowledge of agricultural systems and their role within climate change in both academia and real world. I have teaching experience and curriculum creation at second level, as well as research into early years to third level in teaching methodologies. I am also skilled in business strategy and organisational development with qualifications in leadership. I have carried out research into practical applications for food waste reductions in the home. In joining NCI, I want to see real change in academia and business around reducing and managing the impact of climate change. I believe this will occur through the recognition of nature as natural capital. Having had experience in academia, education and business, I can see how integrated sustainable food systems can combine several industries to work together for positive change. My experience of teaching, learning and communication can also help.
I am a design professional with a passion for working with creative communities. In my experience with Intel Labs, I engaged heavily with the 'maker' community by developing Hackathons with business units, researching makerspaces in the US and establishing a makerspace on the Intel Campus. Since moving to Galway in 2018, I have developed strong ties to the R&D, digital creative and game development communities and hope to build out these. See www.maoilearca.com. The focus of NCI aligns with an area I have worked in extensively - sustainability. NCI's non-profit approach to the natural capital agenda in Ireland, along with a corporate governance set-up consisting of not only subject matter experts but expert facilitators makes it a body with real potential for changing the way we see our natural capital.
Martha O'Hagan, Trinity College Dublin
I am engaged in teaching and research in the area of Sustainable Finance. I previously worked in banking and so have good familiarity with the financial industry but am also deeply invested in exploring the role that the financial sector can play in redirecting capital flows towards sustainable economic activity, providing incentives that incorporate the social and environmental value of economic activity and ensuring that externalities are reflected in the true value of any asset. I would like to be involved in the development of natural capital accounting, how we can work towards correctly valuing our natural assets in Ireland in order to protect those assets, and how we can incorporate that value into the financial sector.
Jimmy O'Keefe, Dublin City University
I am a hydrologist and lecturer at DCU co-developing a course in Climate and Environmental Sustainability. I have over 12 years’ experience working on natural capital and ecosystem services in Ireland, UK and South Asia, with farmers, developers, regulatory authorities and governments, and recently helped organise Ireland's Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. I use interdisciplinary approaches, particularly stakeholder engagement and systems modelling to improve our understanding of the links and feedbacks between humans and the natural environment. I believe that positive societal engagement is critical to improving our natural environment and that NCI has a crucial role to play. As a steering committee member, I would support initiatives to further integrate natural capital approaches across different communities and stakeholder groups, particularly farmers, developers and students. I believe expanding natural capital and ecosystem services from the academic-policy sphere to a more familiar, accessible and useful resource will be key to societal and natural environment sustainability.
Although I am now (mostly) retired I spent a working life in biodiversity conservation, first as a scientist, then as a project manager, then in advocacy providing nationally/internationally recognised specialist expertise, influence and thought leadership in support of policy & advocacy priorities and programme development management. I have experience particularly in agri land-use, marine renewables, National Parks, wetlands, and at the local to international level. My primary motivation for joining NCI is to support and enable natural capital initiatives in both the policy and delivery spheres. Impact, impact, impact...
Javier Santoyo-Pastor, The OpenAir Collective, Nulla Carbon and Cliste Carbon
I have over 15 years’ experience working in Environmental Action, Sustainability and ESG with Fortune Global 500 companies, NGOs /civil society organisations and academia, developing and implement sustainability strategies. I am Fellow of the RSA, a guest lecturer for four universities, and an experienced board member/ non-exec/trustee with different organisations in the area of technology and conservation. I am a Kent MBA graduate, hold a BSc in Biology, and a BEng in Computer Science. Having specialised in the area I am most passionate about, ecosystems’ services valuation with the aim of using market mechanisms to fund and scale environmental impact projects, I would love to bring that to NCI and contribute to the delivery of its mission. I believe I can add value to NCI in the development of transformational new approaches, which through stakeholder dialogue, can connect businesses with community needs, and at the same time catalyse new cross-sector collaboration.
Noeleen Smyth, University College Dublin
I am a botanist, chartered horticulturalist and currently a university lecturer. My career has ranged from managing urban landscapes to large-scale forest restoration. I have deep interest and knowledge on plant species in global trade with roles in the EU, UK and Ireland. I act as the CITES Scientific Authority for Ireland, advising on sustainable trade within the EU. As a current Steering Committee member, I am very committed and passionate about the work that NCI do and look to spreading the word further though teaching, lectures and public communication. I also contribute to other national committees and forums such as National Biodiversity Forum Group.
Jane Stout, Trinity College Dublin
As co-founder, former Steering Committee Chair and Chair of the Board of Directors for NCI, I am strongly committed to the organisation. I am an ecologist and research the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services, which ultimately influence human livelihoods and well-being. I led the first research project in Ireland to apply the natural capital approach at catchment scale, INCASE, and currently lead three other research projects building on this in different sectors (dairy, forestry, wind energy). I recently took on a new role as Vice President for Biodiversity & Climate Action at Trinity College Dublin and so have the opportunity to embed in our own operations too. My motivation for joining the NCI committee is to stay at the forefront of the development of the natural capital approach in Irish policy and practice.
Sandra Velthuis, Whitebarn Consulting
I work as a freelance consultant in the NGO sector. I hold a BA Geography (1st Class Honours), University of Birmingham (1991) & an MA in Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield (1993). I am founder of the not-for-profit consultancy Whitebarn Consulting (2005), the Republic of Ireland's first Accredited Practitioner of Social Return On Investment (2014) with qualifications in Social Value International Level 3 Advanced Practitioner (2019), Founder Social Value Ireland (2019), Trustee/Director of Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG (2020). I believe nature and the humans who inhabit it cannot be separated. Although much of my previous focus has been on social issues, I have a strong interest in the environment. I am a fan of the Doughnut Economics concept and Capitals Coalition. I believe that in Ireland we need to bring natural capital and social value assessment together far more effectively than we do at present so joining the Steering Committee might be a practical way of starting to do this.
A former Irish Times staff journalist, I write regularly on environmental issues. I spent 20 years sub-editing and section editing national newspapers, academic articles, and drafting and editing responses to government and local authority policy consultations for NCI's Policy Working Group. I also have PR and management experience in the cultural sector, and am author of 'Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century' (Chicago, 2013), on ecological restoration, including the restoration of natural capital as a key conservation strategy. As a founding member of NCI, and long-term Steering Committee member, I believe the natural capital approach is vital in making the values of nature and biodiversity to our society much more visible to public and policymakers. I want to contribute to the Steering Committee, as NCI's only elected leadership, in fulfilling our mission. At a critical point in our growth, I want to see the roles of the Steering Committee, Board and Secretariat clarified and the rationale for taking on projects more closely scrutinised.