We work as a team to support our members

Staff Team

- Michael Cook, CEO

Michael Cook

Your role

As CEO  ultimately  I am responsible for the leadership and management of Circular Communities Scotland, reporting to our Board of directors. In practice we are a small team and we all work together to tackle what needs to be done, so I can get involved in anything! My focus areas include delivering our strategic plan, representing the organisation to key stakeholders (e.g. Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Government), leading and supporting the staff team, maintaining our relationship with existing members, reaching out to potential new members, and supporting our Chair and Board.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

We are a strong staff team who support each other and work well together – I  definitely value  that. I have really enjoyed seeing the Board grow and develop and have a huge respect for our directors who have tremendous knowledge about our sector, giving their time freely to take Circular Communities Scotland forward. I also enjoy visiting and meeting our members who are central to what we are all about, they are doing great work and we exist to support that. Lastly  I value the opportunity to make a difference at Circular Communities Scotland, together with our sector we are working towards a more circular economy with all the environmental and social benefits which flow from that.

Supporting the environment

Since joining Circular Communities Scotland I am much more aware and informed of environmental issues such as the climate emergency and waste and recycling issues. Now I do put the right waste in the right bin and know what kinds of plastic can and can’t be recycled (I bore my family and friends on the subject too!). At Circular Communities Scotland we always take public transport if practical and one personal commitment we have made as a family is only to holiday abroad every other year.

- Elaine Ritchie, Events Officer

Elaine Ritchie

Your role

I joined Circular Communities Scotland in 2014 as Events Officer, and my role centres around managing a portfolio of events which includes our annual conference, awards dinners, seminars, forums and ad hoc meetings. I love networking, relationship building and working with a diverse range of people and organisations! I use this passion to build new connections and forge strong relations with Circular Communities Scotland members, stakeholders and sponsors. My responsibilities involve the planning, marketing, delivery and evaluation of events as well as sourcing sponsorship and managing the event budgets. On a personal level I am a stickler for ‘detail’ which I suppose (and hope!) makes a difference with our events in that they are both professional and of a high standard.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

Working in the third sector can bring its challenges, however, it is also a very rewarding sector to be part of. The role which Circular Communities Scotland plays, its ethos and services all resonate with me, as caring for people and planet is so important. I enjoy the fact we support so many members, located all over Scotland, to deliver a service that benefits both. It is admirable how members work away, unassuming, making a positive difference in their own localities and in turn collectively on a larger scale. I am fortunate to work with a very small, close knit team of individuals who all support each other when required and who make a ‘day in the office’ enjoyable!

Supporting the environment

Being exposed to the world of reuse, repair and recycling through working at Circular Communities Scotland, and learning about what we can indeed breath a second life into, has helped at home too. We as a family are now more ‘environmentally aware and friendly’. The children know which of the 5 compartments in the kitchen bin to place their leftovers and rubbish, we ‘sort’ vigorously on a weekly basis prior to kerbside collections and we now also have a large compost bin for fruit, vegetable peelings, eggshells and coffee grains. I also use our school’s preloved uniform scheme and walking as opposed to driving (when feasible) is starting to take off!

- Lesley Campbell, Reuse Consortium Co-ordinator

Lesley Campbell

Your role

The Consortium provides reuse furniture to Local Authorities to help households and people in need through poverty, homelessness and other difficult circumstances.  I support the Consortium members to ensure we provide a great service to Local Authorities, promote the Consortium to encourage more Local Authorities to get involved, and I do the number crunching and reporting bit for our funders.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

I love that as a  really small  team we all have our own areas of work to focus on, but we support each other and work together to get things done.  I also really appreciate and value the passion and commitment that our members have for the work that they do in their communities – you can’t help but be impressed, and it is good to play our part to support the positive stuff that is happening to counteract all the doom and gloom in the news.

Supporting the environment

Working with colleagues who are very knowledgeable about reuse and recycling, has given me a greater insight into what I can do at home to care better for the environment.  I didn’t know, for example, that plastic plant pots couldn’t be recycled …. and I am now trying to be a bit more creative about what I do with them!  Also, working with our furniture reuse members, I have been converted to look for reuse first, before going to buy something new. You can get some amazing quality items at great prices, and  it’s doing good for local communities as well.

- Matt Lewis, Membership Officer

Matt Lewis

Your role

My role is to look after our existing members and potential new members. I also support our events officer to manage our annual events programme for our members.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

Working for a national charity that supports its members is rewarding because you are getting to know some great projects and people right across Scotland that are doing some really remarkable and inspirational work.

Supporting the environment

I have always worked in the environment sector both in Scotland and abroad, I have always tried to do the right thing around my house and in the garden. Trying to minimise our own carbon footprints is important but not always straightforward.

- Michele Donegan, Finance Officer

Michele Donegan

Your role

I have been Finance officer at Circular Communities Scotland since 2008. The role includes finance management, finance operations, office management and ensuring we are compliant with governing bodies such as HMRC, OSCR and the Information Commissioner.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

What I enjoy about working at Circular Communities Scotland is we all have our own individual jobs to do but when we need to come together and work as a team, we do it so well. It’s also great to know that the fantastic work our members do contributes to a circular economy and hopefully improves the environment that my children will grow up in.

Supporting the environment

Working at Circular Communities Scotland has made me more aware of how to reuse and recycle items responsibly. I am an avid Facebook selling pages/gumtree user to offer goods that myself and my family no longer need/use. As a family we recycle as much as possible at home.

- Sarah Case, Communications & Campaigns Officer

My role

As Circular Communities Scotland’s first ever Communications and Campaigns Officer, a big part of my role is establishing the precedent for communications, marketing and influencing in the organisation. This comes with a broad remit, and lots of opportunity to be ambitious and creative. Broadly speaking, my role involves supporting Circular Communities Scotland to share our vision, to advocate and campaign for a circular economy in Scotland, and to listen to our members to help tell their story – ultimately representing the circular third sector in Scotland at the highest level. I enjoy working to support our team members to share the great work they do across our channels, and I am primarily responsible for all our traditional and digital marketing and communications output. I also lead on our annual campaign strategies, and provide bespoke communications support for members across the country.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

Working with Circular Communities Scotland for me means riding the crest of the wave of change when it comes to the circular economy in Scotland. We’re a super forward-thinking organisation and that’s really reflected in our membership and the team as well. We have so many phenomenal members supporting people and the planet, and some of my favourites are here where I live in Glasgow. I work remotely and I am supported to work from home with regular travel to the office – so the culture is very modern, it’s about trusting and supporting one another to do the best we can for our members, the sector and ultimately the planet.

Supporting the environment

I’ve been vegetarian since my mid 20’s and am an advocate for changes in lifestyle to help create change in society. I shop vintage and reuse where I can, particularly for clothing and furniture, which is made so much easier online. The awareness around environmental impact and poor working conditions for cheap clothing is coming to the fore now. I’m hopeful this will continue and extend even more into reuse across all industries and sectors, and hope to work in my role at Circular Communities Scotland to help that happen.

Board Members

- Naomi Johnson, Chair, Freelance Consultant

Naomi Johnson has been working as an independent freelancer in Scotland since September 2016. Naomi is client focused and has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Previous roles include leading the Scottish Charity Firstport (2007-2011) and also working for CRN UK (1999-2007). Naomi holds an MBA from the Cranfield Trust. Naomi has previously served on the Board of Social Enterprise Scotland and is currently a non-exec board member at Dumfries and Galloway College.

- Ian Harley, Treasurer, Bupa

Ian is currently the Director of Control & Governance in Bupa’s insurance business. Before that he held senior positions in Prudential across risk, compliance and audit disciplines. He has extensive experience of developing risk and governance frameworks and has also worked as an accountant and financial auditor in the public sector. Ian brings a strong advisory approach and continuous improvement mindset. He is married with grown up children and lives in Lanarkshire.

- Laura Tainsh, Partner, Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Laura Tainsh is the lead Partner in the Environmental & Waste Team with the Davidson Chalmers Stewart law firm. Laura has varied and wide-ranging experience which covers all environmental issues, with a particular specialism for dealing with the waste and resources sector and enjoys being involved in unique transactions which require a bespoke but commercial approach. Laura is a Chartered Waste Manager with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the only solicitor in Scotland to have obtained this accolade. She is also a member of the Scottish Council of CIWM and the Scottish representative of the CIWM Scientific and Technical Committee. In addition, Laura is a Law Society of Scotland Accredited Specialist in Environmental Law and is an active member of Law Society of Scotland Environmental Law Committee and of the Scottish Committee of the UK Environmental Law Association. On the more academic side of things, Laura is a member of the editorial board of the highly regarded Scottish Planning & Environmental Law (SPEL) Journal as well as being a regular contributor to the journal and also to Materials Recycling World Magazine as a columnist.

- Paul Johnston, Councillor, Aberdeenshire Council

Paul has served on the Circular Communities Scotland board since 2010 including acting as Chair for much of this time. Paul has over 25 years in retailing, business sales and procurement, predominately in the food and drink sector. During this time Paul has developed extensive experience in product evaluation, benchmarking and retail. Paul has been a Councillor on Aberdeenshire Council since 1995. Paul graduated from the University of Aberdeen.

- Ian Matheson, Blythswood

Ian Matheson is the Head of Operations for Blythswood Care.  Ian has overall management of Blythswood Care’s 24 Scottish reuse shops and 2 hub depots, processing goods for reuse and recycling sale. Leading 98 staff and 100’s of volunteers in this work, it provides funding towards Blythswood Care’s projects in Scotland and abroad e.g. food bank centres, supported training, life-skills for ex orphanage boys, education and community programmes etc.

Effective resource management is at the core of Blythswood Trading’s operations with 2100 tonnes reused or recycled each year in Scotland. Ian has led Blythswood’s work with/support for over 30 like-minded community organisations in Scotland. Ian is a founding member of the Zero Waste Scotland Revolve Users Group.

Prior to joining Blythswood, Ian spent over 18 years in the IT sector, implementing and project managing IT systems for clients in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Ian is a trustee of The Elsie Normington Foundation and a trustee of the Blythswood Romania charity.

- Elaine Brown, The Edinburgh Remakery

Elaine joined The Edinburgh Remakery as the new CEO in December 2019, bringing over 25 years’ experience of working in various roles within Local Authorities and not for-profit organisations. As Chief Operating Officer at Bright Green Business she led on providing Scotland’s number one Environmental Internship programme.

Now at the Edinburgh Remakery, she is driving forward the concept of Re-use and Repair through the community hub in Leith. Regularly giving talks to businesses and organisations across Scotland about the concept of reuse, repair, circular economy and social value. She is passionate about creating stronger collaborations between the third sector and public/private sectors.

Elaine first got involved with Circular Communities Scotland when she managed the Bright Green Business Network -working on a reciprocal membership basis with Circular Communities Scotland. The Edinburgh Remakery has been a long-term member of Circular Communities Scotland and under Elaine's leadership she has ensured that every aspect of the membership benefits was utilised. During Covid19 the support from Circular Communities Scotland has been a crucial element in the recovery planning for the Remakery. Now it's time to give back! Elaine looks forward to helping Circular Communities Scotland continue to provide a service to its members that is second to none.

- David Bryan, Social Enterprise Academy

David manages the Social Enterprise Academy’s activities in the North of Scotland and leads on rural programmes for Social Enterprise Academy International. He has account managed learning programmes on 28 different Scottish islands and scores of remote mainland communities, including in Gaelic medium programmes. Internationally David has account managed programmes in 12 countries on four continents. He works closely with Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and British Council.

Before joining Social enterprise Academy, David was Development Officer for CRNS from 2004-2008, covering the North of Scotland. The social and environmental outcomes of the sector are what drives David, avoiding what one CRNS member called ‘wasted resources and wasted lives’.

David has worked as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University for 17 years, tutoring on three Environment modules. He lives in Dingwall, and enjoys running, cycling, hillwalking and wild camping, often with some of his four children.

- Mark Morgan, Stella Voice

Mark is a Director of Stella’s Voice and in charge of its UK operation. Having been with the charity for over 32 years Mark not only brings a passion and keen interest for all things reuse, he also brings extensive experience and insight from his decades of working in the charity and reuse & recycling sector and how these projects can be used to impact and transform lives in communities locally and overseas.

Since joining, Mark has been actively engaged with Circular Communities Scotland and more recently (2019) Stella’s Voice joined the Reuse Consortium which has increased the involvement and engagement with Circular Communities Scotland.

- Jon Molyneux, FareShare

Jon Molyneux is Scottish Affairs Lead for Fareshare, which is the UK’s largest charitable redistributor of surplus food. In Scotland, Fareshare works through four regional centres and supports over 750 community-based organisations to access good food. Jon is also a serving councillor on Glasgow City Council, representing the Pollokshields ward for the Scottish Green Party since 2017. Previously, Jon was Head of Communications and Engagement for Zero Waste Scotland and he has held a variety of policy and front-line roles in the environmental and social enterprise sectors. Originally from West Cumbria, and via university in Liverpool, Jon now lives in Glasgow with his wife and two boys. He is also a Trustee of Spruce Carpets, a social enterprise focused on flooring reuse.

- Bev Knight, Redeem Exchange

Bev moved to Scotland in 2006 and has nearly 20 years’ experience within recruitment and employability, managing operational teams across Scotland to support people to achieve their true potential through learning and experience. Since joining Trade Right International and managing the Redeem Exchange plastic reuse initiative, Bev has developed a further passion for doing the right thing for our environment, helping to support others to do the same and raising awareness around the impacts we each have on our planet. Working alongside public and private sector organisations, Bev is focused on initiating change where these small changes can reap big rewards environmentally whilst bringing additional employment and training opportunities to communities which fall within areas of deprivation in Scotland. The Team at CRNS have been hugely supportive through the development and growth of Redeem Exchange and being part of a membership group who are all focused on achieving a future where there is no waste, only resources, is invaluable.

- Sasha Taylor, The Bike Station

Sasha Taylor is the CEO at The Bike Station, working alongside a team who work tirelessly, to ensure more people have access to the benefits of cycling whilst improving our environment.

Sasha brings experience from a career across the third sector, health, equalities, environment and social justice; and brings an unwavering commitment in collaboration and the social change.

Outside of work Sasha will be found riding bikes, avoiding squirrels and collecting Netsuke.

- Rashid Khaliq, SoulRiders

Rashid is the Chief Executive of SoulRiders, an innovative community cycling organisation based in Glasgow.

He has a passion for sustainable innovation and embedding grassroots scale-able projects. Rashid is also very proud of his Scottish and Pakistani heritage and has developed many strategic models with diversity at the heart.

As a keen believer of a just transition across many facets he is currently focused on the climate transformation. With a network that transcends all sectors he is developing a net-zero zone with a great ambition for Glasgow to become an exemplar community, cycling, green city.

Rashid also loves his bike and can be seen sipping a coffee having engaged in his favourite, ‘rolled up trousers’ riding style.