The appointment of Dr Poonam Malik, Yvonne Greeves, Chris Hellawell and Ailsa Raeburn mark an important step as Firstport enters a period of strategic review. The new Board Members bring experience in sectors including finance, rural issues, technology, the sharing economy and gender equality to a charity that in 2017 alone, supported budding and existing social entrepreneurs to develop over 1000 ideas across Scotland. The board appointments also shows leadership in gender diversity and equality, with five female members out of the nine positions.
Two existing board members, Ian Dommett and Angela McCusker, are stepping down after six years.
Dr Poonam Malik is an academic research management leader with extensive experience of working in global partnership development within healthcare, industry and academic sectors. She is a Director of the World Health Innovation Summit, a social enterprise supporting community and health care organisations around the world, as well as an angel investor, mentor and active member of Scotland's only Women Angel Investor Community. In addition, she is a Court member for the University of Highlands & Islands.
Yvonne Greeves is Head of Women in Business for NatWest, The Royal Bank of Scotland & Ulster Bank. She is responsible for the Women in Business Strategy and a member of both the Women and Girls Sports Advisory Board and the Women in Enterprise Advisory Council for the Scottish Government, to help drive policy change at a national level around female equality. In addition, Yvonne is Chair of MsMissMrs, a social enterprise seeking to empower women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Chris Hellawell is the Founder and Director of the Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL), which he set up in 2013 to use resource sharing as a way to address both social and environmental challenges in his community. From a simple idea of running a library of tools instead of books, ETL has grown to encompass a variety of programmes from mentorship and skills training to community building and food education, as well as multiple sites across the East of Scotland.
Ailsa Raeburn is a Chartered Surveyor with many years’ experience in property development, management and regeneration. She is the former Head of the Community Assets Team at Highlands and Island Enterprise, responsible for the development and management of the Scottish Land Fund. She was also involved with HIE's social enterprise strategy and devising client support models for social enterprises in the Highlands & Islands area.
Peter Shakeshaft, Chair of the Firstport board, said: “On behalf of the team and board, I would like to welcome our four new members onto the board. Firstport will benefit tremendously from their experience and insights, especially at this crucial time of review and reflection. I would also like to thank Ian and Angela for their invaluable input and support over the last six years”.
Josiah Lockhart, Firstport Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ailsa, Chris, Poonam and Yvonne and look forward to working with them. They all bring a wealth of expertise that will positively influence how Firstport develops and grows over the coming years. With our strategic review now underway, our board is well placed to give us the outward perspective we need to ensure that our future work aligns with the changes taking place in our sector and beyond, but most importantly, that it responds to what the next generation of social entrepreneurs in Scotland need”.
Ailsa Raeburn said: “I am excited to be joining and making a contribution to the Firstport board. Both through my professional and lived experience, I understand the issues facing rural communities and their loss of services - but also the fantastic societal and cultural capital in these communities that focuses on solving problems through working together. Supporting the development of new ideas and ambitions as well as enabling existing enterprises to scale up is vital in some of our remotest and fragile communities”.
Chris Hellawell said: “I am looking forward to working alongside my fellow board members. As someone who is working on the front line of a social enterprise, I hope to represent the voices of young people and young social enterprises on the board”.