Update from the Board

Board activity and news.

16 Jan 2020

The Board currently has seven full members: Frances Butler (Chair), Chris Church, Jeana Malhi, Kay Polley, Afsheen Rashid, Anne Schiffer and Matt Wright plus Benedict Southworth (Chair of Charitable Trust, ex officio).

The Finance Committee, a sub-committee of the Board, has three
members: Afsheen Rashid (Chair), Frances Butler and Matt Wright.

Board members serve for a period of 3 years, with the possibility of extending their term for a further three years. Anne Schiffer and Chris Church are due to step down in June 2020.

The Board meets on a quarterly basis (in May and September 2019 since the last update) and also has an annual away day and additional Board meeting.


As Friends of the Earth’s governing body, the Board is responsible for providing strategic direction and reviewing and evaluating our campaigns.

In May 2019, the Board approved Friends of the Earth’s business plan for 2019-20, as well as the budget for this financial year.

Our campaigns on tackling the climate crisis, doubling tree cover in the UK and stopping plastic pollution are all ramping up and we have continued our fight against fracking and other fossil fuels.

Finances and fundraising

Besides approving the 2019-20 budget, the Board has recently signed off on the terms of engagement for the organisation’s annual audit.

In September, the Board received an update on Friends of the Earth’s approach to fundraising, including an overview of its revenue streams, income and investment trends in recent years, and the outlook for future years.

Board members were also pleased to attend a ‘Make More Space for Nature’ event at the Garden Museum in Lambeth in June, where they met with supporters, donors and corporate partners. The evening included speeches from Beth Collier, a nature-based psychotherapist, and Craig Bennett, CEO, about the importance of nature in our lives, and also featured an immersive ‘sound scape’ nature tunnel.

Engagement with local groups

Several Board members are active members of local groups, which helps the Board better understand the realities of local campaigning: Camden FOE (Frances Butler), Llangollen FOE (Kay Polley) and Oxford FOE
(Chris Church). All Board members attended one of the six Groundswell events and thoroughly enjoyed meeting local group members and attendees new to Friends of the Earth.

Frances, Kay and Matt travelled to Northern Ireland in July where they met with staff and local activists. They attended an Active Hope session in
Belfast and visited a community in Greencastle which Friends of the Earth has been supporting in their fight to stop a gold mine, as well as Loch Neagh.

Board members in Northern Ireland

The Board is looking forward to meeting with staff and local group members at its November Board meeting in Birmingham.

Appointments and changes

At its September meeting, the Board appointed Matt Wright as Vice Chair and Anne Schiffer as Senior Independent Director. The Vice Chair acts as a sounding board for the Chair, supporting and constructively challenging them. The Senior Independent Director is independent of the three chairing roles (Chair, Vice Chair and Finance Committee Chair) and so is able to offer advice and comment to the Board from a greater distance. Both roles will be reviewed in 2020.

The Board was pleased to appoint its first Youth Board member (aged 18-25 at time of appointment) in May 2019. Jeana Malhi currently works for Community Energy England as a graduate intern and has volunteered for Sheffield Renewables, a community energy organisation, since 2014. Her appointment was officially ratified on 6 September.

Jeana Malhi

The Board is also in the process of recruiting a Board member based in Northern Ireland to help ensure that a perspective from Northern Ireland is held within its governance structure. Individuals who have expertise in senior leadership and/or financial experience are especially encouraged to apply.

Finally, Kate Hand’s last meeting was in May 2019, as Benedict Southworth has since taken over as Chair of Friends of the Earth Charitable Trust. Kate Hand remains a Trustee of Charitable Trust and the Board sincerely thanks her for all her work and support as an ex officio member.

Get in touch

Local group members can contact the Chair directly, either via our social media channels or via chair@foe.co.uk.