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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.
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.
Originally from rural Northumberland, Rowan joined the team in 2009 coordinating Gaia’s communications alongside events programming for the Learning Centre, based in north London. She is now Deputy Director and Head of Communications, helping to raise awareness of both Gaia and our international partners through a range of films, campaigns, media and events. Rowan uses Participatory Video techniques to train grassroots partners and communities in advocacy filmmaking and storytelling. She has worked with communities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and South Africa offering trainings in film and communications. Rowan holds a first class degree in Social Anthropology & English Literature from The University of Manchester. Having spent time living in Cape Town and Buenos Aires she is currently based in the Somerset town of Frome, where she lives with her partner and baby.
Rowan recommends: Feral by George Monbiot, because it presents the hopeful approach of ‘Rewilding’ our landscapes, and The Century of the Self, by Adam Curtis, a documentary series exploring the roots of consumer culture.
Fiona grew up in Cornwall with a passion for the sea 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 with – and follows her love for sailing.
Hannibal (Hal) joined Gaia in 2013 and is currently communications and advocacy coordinator, with a focus on extractivism. 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, Hal 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. Hal’s academic background is in anthropology. He is an avid writer and a participatory video facilitator. He 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, Eco-instigator, Kosmos Journal and others. In his spare time, Hal enjoys hiking, wild swimming, birdwatching and crafting things for other people.
Hal recommends: Maps and Dreams, by Hugh Brody and River, by Ted Hughes – “An upside down, buried heaven/Snarls, moon-mouthed, and shivers”.
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.
Benjamin Hitchcock Auciello – Communications, Beyond Extractivism
Benjamin joined Gaia in February 2018 to support our communications team and Beyond Extractivism programme. Born and raised just north of Boston, Massachusetts (occupied Wampanoag territory), he began studying field ecology and environmental sciences as a teenager. Since then he has worked extensively on biodynamic and agroecological farms in Maine, central France and Southern Italy (where his grandparents emigrated from). Following migration-related research carried out in 2013, while living in a Maya-Kaqchikel community in Guatemala, Benjamin has sought to support social movements in Latin American migrant communities based in the US, and more recently, London. He holds a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic and a MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development from SOAS, University of London.
Benjamin recommends Fossil Capital by Andreas Malm for a critical political economy approach to the original fossil fuel transition, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Thirld World by Arturo Escobar for a powerful critique of the neocolonial, eurocentric development project, and Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa for a powerful, beautifully written take on identity, sexuality and place.
Neil Munro – UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme
Neil joined Gaia at the start of 2017 to lead the UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme, connecting and supporting seed growers right across the country. Well respected across the European seed movement, Neil was formerly the Head of the The Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic, producing around 120 varieties per year for an annual catalogue. Prior to that Neil completed an MSc in the ‘Conservation & Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources’ at University of Birmingham. His thesis focused on assessing the Genetic Erosion of Vicia species in Syria, where he interviewed farmers on changing land-use and agriculture, and carried out molecular analysis of former and current seeds collected from various sites across Syria. Neil has also worked on a city farm teaching horticulture to children and those on probation. He lives in the Midlands and travels extensively, collaborating with partners across the UK food and seed sovereignty to movement.
Francesca Price – Communications, We Feed the World
Francesca joined Gaia in 2016, after a long career in journalism and broadcasting. Following 10 years with the BBC, Francesca moved to New Zealand in 2005 where she founded a magazine and presented a TV show about sustainable living. Returning to the UK, Francesca started working as communications specialist to food and environment groups including the Sustainable Food Trust and Beyond GM. She now leads the We Feed the World project, a global photographic initiative which celebrates the work of small, family farmers and is designed to take the many benefits of agroecology and food sovereignty out to a mainstream public. Francesca lives in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol, where she fights a losing battle to get her teenage daughters outside and away from their screens.
Tamara joined Gaia in 2013 as European Commission Programme Coordinator, overseeing project management and supporting partners to strengthen CSO networks in Africa. Following maternity leave, she rejoined in 2017 part time as Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, supporting project data collection and Gaia’s MEL processes. Tamara has a BSc in International Management from The University of Manchester and an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics, where she specialised in indigenous rights and environmental governance. Originally born in Venezuela and raised in Singapore, she has a very international background giving her a breath of cultural experience which compliments her work with Gaia. Tamara is based at the Gaia office in London. When she gets the chance she loves travelling and dabbling in photography along the way.
Tamara recommends the book One River by Wade Davis, capturing a beautiful journey of adventure through the Amazon rainforest. She also enjoys the BBC Human Planet series showcasing the unique diversity of our world and which encouraged her path to international development.
Mersha Yilma – Research, Earth Jurisprudence
Mersha is a part time Legal Researcher based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He recently graduated from the first Earth Jurisprudence course which explores Earth-centred living and governance in Africa and beyond, led by Gaia. He holds a Bachelor of Law and a BA in English language and literature both from Addis Ababa University. Mersha is also working with our partner MELCA, where he has been Communications Coordinator since 2010. His work with MELCA has involved extensive experience working with rural communities across Ethiopia to revive indigenous seed varieties and secure sacred natural sites and territories. Working with Gaia and MELCA, Mersha was part of a programme which secured 22 Sacred Natural Sites as ‘no go areas’ to mining in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia.
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.