STAFF & BOARD

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.

- Matt Lewis, Membership and Policy Manager

Your role

My role is to look after our existing members and potential new members. I also manage our Member Services Team, including our Events Officer, who runs our annual events programme, and our Communications and Campaigns Officer, who delivers our marketing output.

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 and Office Coordinator

Michele Donegan

Your role

I have been Finance and Office Coordinator with 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.

- 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!

- Sarah Case, Communications and Campaigns Officer

My role

As Communications and Campaigns Officer, I oversee all marketing output across Circular Communities Scotland and our sub brands, including the Share and Repair Network, and our Reuse Consortium. I created and manage our marketing strategy, with a view to sharing our vision, and telling the story of our membership to promote the benefits of a circular economy in Scotland. I provide communications support to membership by leading our marketing events, and run both policy focused and public awareness campaigns that support our sector.

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 am an advocate for individual consumer responsibility, whilst also supporting wider scale political and economic change. 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.

- Nicola Aeberli, Reuse Consortium Coordinator

Your role

I coordinate the Reuse Consortium, which provides high quality reuse furniture to Local Authorities and Housing Associations, helping households facing difficult circumstances such as poverty or homelessness. I support our Consortium members to provide the best possible service to Local Authorities and Housing Associations, work to expand our network of buyers and Consortium members, and take care of quarterly impact reporting to Scotland Excel and our buyers.

The Circular Communities Scotland team

It’s great to work among such a dedicated team of changemakers who really know their stuff and support one another. I’m inspired daily by the work of our members in driving the circular economy and providing communities across Scotland with the opportunity and encouragement to repair and reuse items that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Supporting the environment

The philosophies of reuse and repair have been part of my life for a long time, starting as a young graduate delighting in the vintage markets of Berlin. This has continued to today where I will go to great lengths to fix a pair of beloved boots that have graced my wardrobe for over 15 years, and almost entirely decorating my home with reuse furniture, including a beautiful oak dining table and chairs which I was lucky enough to find on Gumtree for a steal.

- Emma Erwin, Share and Repair Coordinator

Your role 

My role is to set up and coordinate Circular Communities Scotland's Share and Repair Network. The network supports Sharing Libraries and Repair Projects across the country to get set-up and to assist the many amazing projects which already exist to grow their impact and become more financially sustainable. I listen to what our members need and find ways to support them through this exciting project.

The Circular Communities Team

It’s such a strong team and everyone is so supportive of each other. My last role was working for a member organisation so I know first-hand how much of an impact is made by the team supporting our members and how much singing about members’ successes and helping them when they face challenges can benefit them. I’m really enjoying getting to know the variety of projects there are out there and the incredible work they are achieving.

Supporting the environment 

Being a new mum my most recent environmental interest has been reusable nappies. It’s been a bit of a messy journey of trial and error but now we’ve found what works for us and I love seeing my baby wearing gorgeous prints instead of single-use plastic. Sometimes making changes to reduce our impact can be difficult (or messy!), but I think we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we fall short- the important thing is to just keep trying.

- Jeni Mackay, Bike Reuse Coordinator

Your Role

As National Bike Reuse Coordinator, I am responsible for planning, managing and delivering the “Affordable Access to Bikes” project which is designed to help remove barriers to accessing bikes. As well as being part on the Circular Communities Scotland team, I work closely with Scottish Cycling who funds this project, and with other partners in the project Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Most importantly I will be working very closely with Circular Communities Scotland and other bike share, reuse and repair projects and businesses.

The Circular Communities Team

The thing I love best, apart from bikes and mountain biking, is the trail blazing effect that third sector has on creating inspiring waste solutions and creating change. I am very proud to be part of a team that works alongside in supporting these projects, and others creating change in how we deal with waste and consumption. I am also currently doing a PhD researching community waste projects in Scotland and India. I also previously worked with Circular Communities Scotland in the distant past at the beginnings of CRNS.

Supporting the Environment

I have worked in environmental justice roles for many years in supporting and campaigning for climate and waste solutions. My family and I continuously try to go above and beyond to do the right thing which can be quite complicated with children, but they appreciate why ‘second hand’ and reuse is so important. Hopefully I have set a good example for my kids. As a family we can be seen regularly at climate and bike marches and protests.

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.

- 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 Thow, Moving On Inverclyde

Bev moved to Scotland in 2006 and has over 20 years’ experience within recruitment and employability, managing operational teams across Scotland to support people to achieve their true potential through learning and experience. Having managed a plastic reuse initiative for two years, Bev developed a further passion for doing the right thing for our environment. Working alongside public and private sector organisations, Bev is focused on initiating change environmentally whilst bringing additional employment and training opportunities to communities in areas of deprivation in Scotland.

Bev is now Service Manager for a Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service in Inverclyde and has introduced ideas focused on reuse, such as a borrowing library and preloved interview clothes to support people who might be struggling financially. There are always simple ways to help others and improve our environmental impact.

- 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.