I was born in Lesotho in southern Africa and travelled to Zambia and Malawi whilst I was still very young, so Africa has been ‘in my blood’ from an early age. My first job immediately after leaving school was at a local vineyard giving tours and wine tastings, which provided some good first lessons in communicating to some very demanding groups! Completing a degree in Biology and a post-graduate certificate in teaching, I went on to teach science at secondary school level for a few years before starting work at WRENmedia, where I am about to mark 20 years of communicating science for agricultural and rural development. Whilst I have travelled to various countries around the world, my heart seems to remain in Africa. Working with our ‘family’ of African correspondents has been hugely rewarding, and I get enormous pleasure in seeing them progress in their reporting and winning accolades for their journalism, as many have done. As Director of WRENmedia, I am, of course, immensely proud of what we achieve as a team, in how we support one another and complement each other’s skills in the varied work we do, and in how often clients come back to us for new projects, even when they have moved to different organisations. And, having got married in 2015, I am enjoying the new chapter of my life in and outside of WRENmedia.
Having been brought up on a small family farm in the UK, I have always been interested in agriculture and the challenges farmers face. When young, I also lived in Kenya for two years with the nomadic Turkana people, which sparked my passion for international development. Before completing an MA in International Development, I worked in Kenya and Uganda for various projects, including helping to design and implement early childhood education training on behalf of UNICEF. After my studies, I was an intern for the advocacy organisation, Justice Africa, before working in communication for the Catholic aid agency, CAFOD. At WRENmedia I have had the opportunity to further develop my research, writing and editing and learn new skills including design, web and video editing. I particularly enjoy developing products that use visual elements to communicate science and research, whether it's sourcing images for publications, producing videos to highlight the impact of work to re-green Africa's landscape and tackle aflatoxin, or designing policy briefs and booklets to grab the attention of readers to increase the visibility of our client's work.
Scuba diving on a family holiday in Greece initially sparked my interest in marine life and environmental health and I went on to study marine biology at Newcastle University. On completion of my degree, I volunteered for a marine conservation and scuba diving course in Gau, Fiji, collecting coral reef biodiversity data to inform local governing bodies and research organisations. This experience was both eye opening and rewarding, and inspired me to undertake an MSc in environmental management to learn more about habitat preservation and global environmental issues.
At WRENmedia, I am involved with writing and editing articles for Spore and CTA’s website, coordinating and editing print and video stories from the field for GALVmed, and producing impact stories for IDRC’s CultiAF research teams. As social media manager, I am responsible for the Twitter account for WRENmedia, and have helped to create online communication strategies for the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA). Working with the Global Panel has involved coordinating with their communications team to assist with policy brief launches and high level roundtable events worldwide, tweeting live and producing coverage prior to proceedings.
A hiking trip in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco first sparked my interest in sustainable agriculture. Spending a week in Happy Valley helping a family work on their terraced barley fields really brought home to me the daily challenges that subsistence farmers’ face, and the necessity for improved communication about agricultural developments in such remote communities. Whilst studying History at Bristol University, I interned for the university’s publishing house, Policy Press, where I discovered an interest in academic publishing. I particularly enjoyed working on articles and journals about social policy and environmental development. After I graduated, I followed my interest in environmental development, interning for a small investment company which focuses on renewable energy and sustainable production. At WRENmedia, I have been able to draw on my publishing experience and writing skills in the production of articles for Spore magazine, as well as in editing for a range of clients. I am responsible for running the new social media accounts for Spore with the aim of broadening the magazine’s readership to include more women and young people. I also assist Olivia with the sourcing of relevant, eye catching images to use in Spore and for other scientific publications.
Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Kenya, and now living in Australia, I am a true third-culture child. I studied psychology at university but entered the workforce as a trainee copywriter, and haven’t looked back since. I have written a novel, drafted a foreword for a head of state, penned a plenary opening speech for a Nobel laureate, put my name to countless science publications, and trained researchers in effective science writing. But what I remain most passionate about is communicating science for development. Whether I am writing about coffee in Rwanda, teak in Indonesia or the cocoa pod borer in Papua New Guinea, I love that each assignment teaches me something new. As a child of the developing world, I understand firsthand the intricacies of the issues I communicate, and the bearing they have on the lives of people in the developing world. I live in Morwell, Australia with my husband and children, and am nearing completion of a master’s degree in publishing and communication at the University of Melbourne.
Having gone from ballet school to front-of-house hotel management, followed by a ten year ‘break’ to have my family, in 1997, I happily accepted a part-time position at WRENmedia, as office administrator. Over the last 20 years I have had the opportunity to develop new skills within the business including my current main role handling the office finances. I have also enjoyed some wonderful experiences helping to run training courses and attending conferences in Kenya, Morocco and Uganda, and meeting some really interesting people along the way. I’m a very methodical, well-organised person with a cheery manner – vital skills to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the office! I continue to enjoy working with a great team in this unique business where no two days are the same!