Meet the Team

We’re a small team based largely in the UK but working globally. We explore progressive ways of working and living to promote wellbeing in these challenging times, so many of our team members work from home, wherever they are in the world.

Sinéad Fortune, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland

Sinéad joined the Gaia team in June 2019 to manage the Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland programme. She works with coordinators around the UK and Ireland to support community groups, market gardeners and farmers to train in seed production. Her academic background in Political Ecology focused on food security and community empowerment, and her diverse professional experience spans community food movements, alternative sustainable food producion, science education and behaviour change. When Sinéad isn’t drafting funding applications or willing her garlic to grow, she can be found wandering the woods looking for interesting fungi, crafting herbal lotions, potions and remedies, or playing a few tunes on the fiddle.

Sinéad recommends Climate Justice by Mary Robinson and dreams of building her own cob house inspiried by The Hand-Sculpted House.

Carlotta Byrne, Earth Jurisprudence

Carlotta joined Gaia in 2019. She trained as a lawyer after completing degrees in languages and history of art. Disillusioned by a legal system destructively out-of-step with the laws of Nature and in pursuit of a more Earth-centred life, she swapped desk and screen for soil and scythe to study and work in the horticulture department at Schumacher College. During her time as a community food grower and course facilitator at the College, Carlotta explored indigenous cosmologies, deep ecology and alternatives to the industrial growth economy. Inspired to think more imaginatively about her legal practice and hoping to weave together her legal background, love of Nature and experience as a facilitator of transformative education, Carlotta encountered Gaia’s work on Earth Jurisprudence. The philosophy and movement resonated deeply and she feels privileged to support and accompany a growing network of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners in Africa and beyond.  

Barry Lopez, Nan Shepherd and Robert Macfarlane are among Carlotta’s favourite writers and, in the realm of fiction, she highly recommends Richard Powers’ The Overstory and the novels of George Eliot. 

Liz Hosken – Director

Liz Hosken was born in South Africa and was active from a young age in both environmental issues and the anti-apartheid movement. In the mid 80’s Liz co-founded The Gaia Foundation, based in the UK. During the first decade of Gaia’s work Liz spent many years in the Amazon, where she was “initiated” into indigenous ways of seeing the world, which resonated with her own. Together with partners and indigenous communities, they developed a methodology for accompanying communities to revive their indigenous knowledge and practices. When Liz returned to her continent she was inspired to share these lessons and search for ways to restore Africa’s rich cultural, spiritual and ecological heritage. Liz now teaches the philosophy and practice of this approach, which is rooted in experiential learning and Earth Jurisprudence. She has a BSc in Environmental Sciences and a Masters in Philosophy and Education for Social Change.

To understand Gaia’s theory of change, Liz recommends Margaret Wheatley’s work Using Emergence to take Social Innovation to Scale. Having been mentored by the late Thomas Berry, the founding father of Earth Jurisprudence (EJ), Liz would suggest that anyone looking to understand EJ principles and our great challenge ahead should read Berry’s The Great Work.

Rowan Phillimore – Deputy Director

Originally from Northumberland, Rowan is Deputy Director at Gaia. Rowan joined the team back in 2009 when the north London Learning Centre offered regular ‘Gaia Evening Talks’ and workshops. Since that time she has been involved across all areas of Gaia’s work, from fundraising to team support, but particularly focuses on communications, helping to raise awareness of critical issues through a range of films, campaigns, media and events. Rowan works closely on Gaia’s Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme, which supports small-scale seed producers to increase diversity and production of organic and open-pollinated seed, and has been instrumental in the We Feed the World campaign. Further afield she has worked with rural communities in Africa using Participatory Video techniques to create advocacy films. Rowan originally studied Social Anthropology & English Literature at The University of Manchester. After several years based in Gaia’s London office, she now lives in Frome in Somerset with her partner and three sons.

Rowan recommends: Wilding by Isabella Tree because of its hugely hopeful and practical message, and Flatpack Democracy, a guide to transforming politics at the local scale, inspired by the proudly politically independent town of Frome, UK.

Fiona Wilton – Sacred Lands & Waters

Fiona grew up in Cornwall with a passion for the sea, sailing and big storms. She first joined Gaia in 1992 but moved to South America soon after – working in Cuenca, Ecuador, before settling in Colombia in 1998 to join the Gaia Amazonas team. A fluent Spanish speaker, with an MSc in Protected Landscape Management, she has a mixed bag of lived and working experience – from indigenous-led projects in Colombia’s Amazon and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, to international consultancies. Fiona has pioneered the concept of ”distance-working” for Gaia, happy to pick-up any role including self-taught, in-house graphic designer. She lives in Uruguay, from where she oversees Gaia’s work on Sacred Lands and Wilderness, carries out impromptu animal rescues, supports local partner OCC-Uruguay protecting marine life and healthy oceans.

Fiona admits she gets most enjoyment from Calvin and Hobbes, by legendary cartoonist Bill Watterson – but if pushed to be erudite she recommends The Hidden Life of Trees.

Dijana Malidza – Finance & Grants

Dijana is originally from Croatia and came to England with her family in 1999. She worked at the Woman’s Trust, before joining the Gaia team in October 2010. She is now Finance Manager and looks after a number of grant relationships with our global partners, working particularly closely with our South African partners Usiko and Earthlore. Dijana holds a Diploma with the Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) and has a Charity Accounting Diploma. Whenever possible, Dijana escapes the bustle of London and returns to her small village in Croatia.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini made a huge impact on Dijana, and her favourite saying is “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet”, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Hannibal Rhoades – Head of Communications

Hannibal joined Gaia in 2013 and is currently Head of Communications. He works with Gaia’s partners from the Amazon to Africa to protect land, water and life from unwanted mining projects. As Coordinator for Northern Europe for the Yes to Life, No to Mining Global Solidarity Network, Hannibal is working with allies around the world to advance the case for going beyond extractivism. He is also a member of the London Mining Network’s advisory committee. Hannibal’s academic background is in anthropology. He is a participatory video facilitator and has written stories about and alongside indigenous and local communities working for environmental and social justice on every continent. These have featured in publications including The Ecologist, Intercontinental Cry, Truth Out, Ecological Citizen, Resilience, Red Pepper, Eco-instigator, Kosmos Journal and others.

Hal recommends: Maps and Dreams, by Hugh Brody and River, by Ted Hughes – “An upside down, buried heaven/Snarls, moon-mouthed, and shivers”.

Sara Davies – Grants & Fundraising

Working for us part-time from Zimbabwe, Sara returned to Gaia in July 2017 to help with fundraising. Sara lived and worked in London for 13 years and it was during this time, after the completion of her Masters in Human Rights, that she worked with us, on fundraising and holding the grants for the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and Usiko in South Africa. She has a passion for community food growing, having run her own food growing training project and being head grower on London’s then only certified organic market garden. Back home in Zimbabwe, she set up a community newspaper and continued links with permaculture projects in the country. She has a beautiful vegetable garden, keeps chickens and is delighted by the joy her two small children get from picking their own food.