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Announcing new Board members for BTO

Announcing new Board members for BTO

11 Jan 2023

New Board members in 2023

The BTO Board governs the charity and directs and drives our work.

We are delighted to welcome several new members to our Board, each of whom brings a unique set of skills and experience to our organisation.


How is BTO governed?

BTO is governed by the Board as well as several committees.

Each of these is responsible for a different area of BTO's work and operations. 

Learn more. 

Our Board members apply via an open recruitment process and are voted in at the Annual General Meeting each December, beginning their term in January. The normal term for a Board member is four years, although some also complete additional terms or parts of terms. 

In line with BTO’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, we are particularly pleased to welcome several Board members with extensive experience in this field. We are also looking forward to the contributions and guidance from our first Young Trustee, who will help steer BTO to better serve our younger supporters and members of our community.


Meet our new Board members

Prof Zoe Davies (Chair)

Zoe is a Professor of Biodiversity Conservation at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent. Zoe’s research interests focus on using data to answer questions relating to conservation management and policy, and to human-biodiversity relationships. She is passionate about widening participation within STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and growing public engagement with research.

She has served as a trustee for the British Ecological Society, receiving the BES Award for exceptional service to the Society and to the ecological community. Currently, Zoe sits on the Natural England Science Advisory Committee, is a Senior Associate Editor for the journal Conservation Letters and is on the Advisory Board for the revolutionary publishing initiative Applied Ecology Resources.

Emma Thornton (Young Trustee)

Emma is BTO’s first Young Trustee. She has been part of BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel since its formation at the start of 2020, and was inspired to set up and lead the Oxford Ornithological Student Society. 

Emma is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to connect with nature and science, particularly around improving mental health.

“I feel extremely privileged to be the first Young Trustee on BTO’s Board. Having volunteered on the Youth Advisory Panel since January 2020 I have seen first-hand and been inspired by the dedication of BTO staff, volunteers, and members. Being a part of this BTO family and helping to facilitate and grow its amazing work is very exciting. By presenting this opportunity, BTO has demonstrated its commitment to embedding young people into the organisation and I hope that my fresh perspective will contribute to ensuring BTO has its feet firmly on the escalator of our fasting moving world.”

Dr Paul Fitzpatrick

Paul’s experience as an environmental psychologist focuses on the mental health benefits of connecting with nature. His past experience includes chairing the Ethics and Equality committees at Cardiff Metropolitan University, and heading a research team for Cultural Cohesion in relation to both the Home Office and Welsh Government.

Paul is actively involved in several ornithological organisations; he is a voluntary warden for the RSPB and the South West Lakes Ecology Team, and also sits on the council for Devon Birds, where he is responsible for Partnership, Ethics, and Diversity. 

Emma Dresser

Emma’s current role as Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Loughborough University gives her particular strength in working towards an inclusive, fair and respectful culture.

As someone who is fascinated by birds and aims to share the joy of birds with others, she will assist BTO in addressing barriers to equity and diversity, and support our ambitions to create an inclusive environment for broader audiences.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the fantastic team at BTO and contribute to the important work of the organisation. Having first-hand experience of the mental and physical benefits of connecting with the natural world, I hope to contribute to broadening and diversifying BTO’s reach, and to create an environment within BTO where all people can have a true sense of belonging.”

Joel Ziff

Joel is a Partner at Clifford Chance, the international law firm, specialising in mergers and acquisitions. He is responsible for Clifford Chance's pro bono relationship with the RSPB.

Before joining Clifford Chance, Joel worked as a manager in the NHS.

He has been a keen birder for more than 50 years.

Jane Miller (Treasurer)

Jane is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and has experience in retail, telecoms and insurance industries.

Jane lives on the Suffolk coast and has a strong interest in waders and coastal birds. She is keen to bring her business experience to help BTO achieve its strategic aims.


Our new Board members join a group of dedicated individuals who continue to direct and drive BTO. Meet BTO’s President, Vice-presidents and our other Board members


Board members finishing terms with BTO

We are grateful to the Board and committee members who have finished their terms, and the contributions they have made to BTO’s development: 

  • Prof Jenny Gill (Board)
  • Frances Hurst (Board, Governance & Nominations Committee)
  • Dr David Parker (Board, Governance & Nominations Committee, Regional Network Committee)
  • Ian Packer (Board, Finance & Risk Committee)
  • Jean Spencer (Board, Finance & Risk Committee)
  • Nick Sherwin (Board, Governance & Nominations Committee)
  • Chris Gunn (Regional Network Committee)
  • Dave McGarvie (Regional Network Committee) 
  • Simon Taylor (Regional Network Committee)

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