Beechbrae is guided by a board of committed individuals with a range of expertise, skills and perspectives.
Mark Smillie, Chair
Mark is the Head of Partner Support & Finance at Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT, a charity) since March 2014. Prior to that date he was the Head of Development at the Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT), the predecessor body to the CSGNT which he joined in 1993. CSGNT was created to provide capacity to help realise the Vision for the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN).
As Head of Partner Support & Finance, Mark has overall responsibility for finance and the Finance Team. He oversees the work of the Partner Support Team in the development and fundraising of all project works to help deliver the CSGN, circa £1.5m per annum, along with a wide range of partner support functions including the management and operation of an annual grant open to organisations of circa £500k per annum.
Mark has experience working with projects such as the Greenlink project, which created 7km of walk and cycle ways through derelict and socially disadvantaged communities. In addition to the above, his team oversee the management and maintenance of the John Muir Way (JMW).
Mark is a Director of Falkirk Environment Trust, the Environmental Key Fund and Beechbrae (a social enterprise delivering community development and education through engagement in woodlands and the natural environment) and been elected to chair the Scottish Landfill Credit Forum. Since joining the charity sector Mark has focused on the management and administration of charitable bodies to deliver a wide range of environmental and social outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged communities.
His personal interests include walking, cycling, computing, working on old cars and engaging in North Lanarkshire Council’s volunteer programme.
Tom has a background in education, youthwork, and horticulture and has spent the last few years successfully engaging people of all walks of life in growing food in their local communities. He’s particularly interested in the role that food (growing, cooking and eating) can play in providing a focal point for communities. He’s currently working to support Granton Community Gardeners, (North Edinburgh) a group he helped found in 2010. They are a group of local residents who work together to grow food on neglected land, and host shared meals and community events. In their area there is lots of land (in small parcels that local authority mostly sees as a maintenance burden), lots of people (it’s a fairly high density housing scheme), lots of need for better food supply (eg. 3 heavily used foodbanks), and a good amount of local support. So they’re living in the middle of this puzzle, and running experiments with the interesting opportunities and complexities it presents! Tom brings a range of skills and experiences to Beechbrae and is particularly helpful with community engagement and food growing.
Manna Dobó, B.Ed M.Phil CT
Born in Budapest in 1963, Hungarian teacher-artist, Manna has lived in Blackridge since 1987. She graduated in Mathematics and Art from Szeged, Hungary. She has taught painting, drawing and design in Bo’ness Academy and exhibited her work in Scotland for the last two decades. Her book, Visual Education, was published in 2011 in Germany.
Manna appreciates the potential educational value of Beechbrae in reaching out to pupils of all ages, but especially to pupils of all backgrounds and needs. Outdoor Education, is proven by countless Educational Research projects to be one of the most effective ways of achieving a cohesive community and promoting life-long effective learning. She is also fully supportive of the Beechbrae Project because the activities proposed and facilitated by the long-term plans would undoubtedly provide a natural, and effective, meeting space for all local residents, young and all, to encounter the wider, including nation/world-wide, community with all it offers in the form of exchange of relevant ideas, outlooks and creative activities. Incidentally, she also happens to love bugs and flowers and trees.
Jenny Johnson PhD (Soc Anth), MSc (For) BSc (Ecol Sci) MICFor
Jenny Johnson has worked for 35 years in forestry and rural development and currently works for Scottish Natural Heritage. Born in Wiltshire in 1957, she graduated in Ecological Sciences from the Universities of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania in 1980 and has since pursued a wide-ranging career in the public, private and charitable sectors.Her forestry experience was gained in Africa during the 1980s while working for the Department for International Development. Back in Britain she specialised in forestry economics, becoming the University of Edinburgh’s first female lecturer in forest economics in 1988.
Since the 1990s Jenny has undertaken research and consultancy for a number of research organisations, including the société générale de surveillance and the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation. She has been a Director of Reforesting Scotland, Chair of Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Woodlands Association and a Trustee of the Millennium Forest for Scotland. She has worked for the charities: Just World Partners, The Corrom Trust, the UK Forestry Accord and the Forest Stewardship Council. For 7 years she was Editor of Scottish Forestry, journal of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. She lives in Linlithgow.
In her introduction to Beechbrae, Jenny has been impressed by the inspirational and passionate commitment of the project’s managers and board. She fully supports the project’s vision and values and is particularly interested in the educational and cultural opportunities that it offers to place communities in touch with the natural world.