British Council appoints new Trustees

Tuesday 06 August 2013

The British Council is pleased to welcome three new members to our Board of Trustees, and to confirm the appointment of one further trustee effective from September 2014.

Rohan Gunatillake, Martin Roth, and Tom Thomson OBE have been appointed as Trustees, to replace Claire Ighodaro CBE, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, and Professor Steve Jones who have completed their period of service. They join the board with immediate effect. Kirsty Lang will join effective September 2014.

The Chair of the British Council's Board of Trustees, Sir Vernon Ellis, said: "I am delighted to welcome the new Trustees and Trustee-elect. They bring with them a vast breadth of experience and fresh energy and ideas that I’m sure will help us make even more impact for the UK around the world through our work in arts, education and the English language."

The British Council’s Board of Trustees assure the British Council’s charitable purpose and are accountable for the organisation's governance. They hold the Executive Board accountable for the organisations performance, strategy and policy. They are appointed to serve three-year terms, and are selected through a process of external search, interviews and final vote by the full Board.

Rohan Gunatillake, listed by Wired magazine in 2012 in their Smart List of 50 people who are about to change the world, is a producer, entrepreneur and advisor focussed on how the Arts can get the best from digital tools and digital thinking. He is the co-producer of Sync, the progressive innovation programme for the arts in Scotland and was the founding producer of the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab. Rohan's previous employers include Nesta, IBM and Accenture.

Gunatillake said: "I've admired the mission, work and people of the British Council for several years, so it is a tremendous honour and with great personal excitement that I join the Board.  Having worked with innovators of all sizes and in all disciplines, I look forward to bringing that experience to the British Council in its ambition to be impactful, networked and inspirational in a rapidly changing world."

Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum since 2011, holds a Ph.D in the politics and history of German Museums and Exhibitions from 1871 to 1945. Between 2001 and 2011 he was Director General of the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden), where he oversaw 12 museums and galleries. He is a member of the Council of the Royal College of Art, London, the Council of Imperial College, London and a Trustee of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group and a member of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation/National Museums Berlin, the German Olympic Sports Federation and previously of the advisory board of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Roth said: "I'm honoured to have been appointed as a Trustee and look forward to putting my experience of working in the international arts and culture community at the service of the British Council."

Tom Thomson OBE is managing editor of The Herald & Times Group, a leading Scottish media group which publishes The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald and associated websites. He also Chairs Albagaia Ltd., a diversified environmental technology company whose products include the world's fastest test for the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' Disease. Thomson began in journalism in Scotland before a long international career with Reuters, initially as a foreign and war correspondent. He was then news editor for North & Latin America and the Caribbean; news editor for Asia; editor for Japan and Asia; and global managing editor. Thomson was chairman of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and is honorary editor of the International Network of Street Papers charity which links 120 Big Issue-type papers sold by homeless people in 40 countries.

Thomson said "As a former long-term expatriate, I have witnessed and admired the British Council's successes and its important role in promoting cultural relations across the world. I am delighted to join the board of trustees at a time of change and challenge in many spheres in which it operates."

Kirsty Lang is an experienced journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in foreign affairs and the Arts. She spent many years as a foreign correspondent reporting for the BBC and the Sunday Times from Eastern Europe and later Paris. Shes been a presenter on Channel 4 News, BBC World, and Radio 4s daily arts programme Front Row. She chaired the Orange Prize for Fiction, was a judge of the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction in Translation, and was also a visiting Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

Lang said: “Having worked for the BBC World Service for many years my path has often crossed that of the British Council. Both institutions do important work in extending Britain's soft power and shining light in some of the darker corners of the world. It was as a correspondent reporting from Eastern Europe during the fall of communism that I first became aware of the impact of the British Council. I'm delighted to be joining the Board of Trustees because I believe the British Council continues to have a very important role to play in today's international arena promoting Britain through the Arts, the English language and our creative sectors.”

Notes to Editor

For more information please contact Tim Sowula, Senior Press Officer on 0207 389 4871 or tim.sowula@britishcouncil.org

For more information about the management and structure of the British Council please see here.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UKs international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff including 2000 teachers work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations.All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org