Board of Directors

The Directors of Scottish Rural Action are elected by the membership each year to govern the organisation.

Amanda Burgauer, Chair

Amanda BurgauerAmanda lives in the hills between Biggar and Moffat. She’s a member of the Lanarkshire LEADER Local Action Group and is Treasurer/Director at Wiston Lodge, a charity that supports children and young people.

Amanda is passionate about rural affairs and the need for vibrant, sustainable rural communities, and is a member of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership. Amanda was involved in the first workshop in Edinburgh that sought ideas from others in the European Rural Movement and has attended all three Scottish Rural Parliaments since. She was elected to the Board in March 2015, becoming Chair of Scottish Rural Action in February 2016 and re-elected and reappointed as Chair in November 2018.

Contact: amanda@sra.scot or @amshru

Alison Macleod

Alison Macleod was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to Applecross, Wester Ross after graduating froAlison Macleodm Edinburgh University in 1983 and has lived there since. As well as bringing up a family of four sons, she has worked on a creel fishing boat, as a home-help, nursery auxiliary, barmaid and as an administrator on a submarine noise ranging base (she is not proud of that one but employment choices are very limited in remote rural areas).

In 2006 she started working in community development, at first on Raasay, and in 2008 as a volunteer founder director of Applecross Community Company. Since 2011 she has been the local development officer for the Community Company, which owns and manages the local filling station, has installed a community broadband scheme and developed a recently completed hydro scheme, funded by selling shares through a Community Benefit Society. Alison became a Director in February 2016.

Cathleen Russell

Cathleen RussellCathleen Russell was born and brought up in North Uist in the Western Isles. She was educated both there and in Inverness. She is now retired and lives in Argyll where she has been a Head Teacher for over 25 years, latterly as the shared head of 3 schools.

Cathleen is the Convenor of Colintraive and Glendaruel Community Council, Chair of the Kilmodan Acre Trust and the Company Secretary of Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust.

Cathleen has lived and worked in the Western Isles, Highlands, rural Lanarkshire as well as Argyll. She is very aware of the problems that many rural areas face and is keen to help communities become more resilient and self-reliant.

Cathleen enjoys the outdoor life. She enjoys walking and gardening and is trying to grow more, enjoying the freshness, quality and taste of growing her own fruit and vegetables. She was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Claire Taylor

Claire TaylorClaire Taylor grew up on a farm outside Ayr, in the south-west coast of Scotland, where her family run a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle. Breaking the family tradition of becoming a vet, she studied International Relations and Politics at the University of Edinburgh and after graduating, worked for BBC Scotland for three years in News, predominantly working on election programmes.

Claire joined the Scottish Farmer Newspaper in August 2017, hoping to combine her love for farming with her interests in politics, and now uses her position to raise the profile of the rural economy both through her written work and through lobbying politicians.

As a vlogger for the Rural Youth Project, she is passionate about raising the voice of rural youth and is keen to look at ways to address the ageing demographic in rural areas and to tackle the growing urban/rural divide.

Claire speaks proudly and passionately about rural Scotland and hopes she will be able to inject her energy and enthusiasm in to representing the views of its members and ensure rural development is at the fore of future policy decisions. She was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Gordon Harrison

Gordon Harrison Gordon was born in Perth and now lives in the very rural south-western Scottish Borders.

Recently retired, for many years Gordon has been heavily involved in the Ettrick and Yarrow communities as the Chair of the Community Council and Director of their Development Company. He knows that 21st century communications are essential to ensure sustainable rural communities and has previously applied for and managed a LEADER rural broadband improvement project in Ettrick. He is a Project Board member for a large community broadband project in South Scotland and a very active member of the Borders LEADER LAG for the 2014-2020 period.

Gordon is fully committed to supporting rural life, rural communities and the rural economy, and is actively campaigning for more rural affordable homes and workplaces. He was elected to the Board in December 2016.

Kim Dams

Kim DamsKim Dams is a new Scot who calls rural Galloway her home. After a decade in London and Southern England, she made the move to Scotland a few years ago and says it was one of the best decisions ever.

Kim is a member of several Third Sector organisations, as well as DPOs, has been a volunteer for the SRA and attended the 2017 European Rural Parliament. She is Treasurer/Director of DG Voice, a charity that gives Disabled People across Dumfries and Galloway a voice.

Kim has a professional background in Finance, Risk, Strategy, Change Management and Compliance and has a strong passion for Equality and Human Rights. She is engaged in her local community and keen to address rural issues, especially with a focus on intersectionality in areas such as inequality, poverty, lack of infrastructure, 21st century broadband availability and co-production opportunities.

Kim was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Peter Kennedy

Peter KennedyPeter Kennedy lives in Aberdeen and works in rural Aberdeenshire as an Employability Officer working with those with a health-related barrier to employment for Aberdeenshire Council, through their Health and Social Care Partnership with NHS Grampian.

Peter is currently a board member of Grampian Housing Association, who provide social housing to around 4000 families in the three areas of Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. He represents Grampian HA on the Rural and Islands Housing Forum (RIHAF), whose members include a number of social housing associations in Scotland. He serves on the board of Grampian Regional Equality Council Ltd.

Peter was previously a board member of Aberdeen Cyrenians Ltd; Grampian Credit Union Ltd, where he was Board Secretary; an elected member of Grampian Area Committee of The Coop Group; and various other charities. Peter is a Chartered Institute of Housing Member and is currently studying for Chartered Membership of that institute. He is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the Institute of Employability Professionals. He has qualifications in Business and Management, Social Care and Housing and was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Rebecca Dawes

Rebecca is the Communications & Events Manager for Jane Craigie Marketing, a company that specialises in the agricultural, environmental, food and rural sector. She has been a Director since June 2016 and leads on digital content creation and planning, social media and events for Scottish Rural Action.

Formerly Communications and Rural Affairs Manager at the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, she has a real passion for engaging with young people so they have the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Rebecca is a graduate of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme, Scotland’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday Coordinator and a judge for the Lantra Landbased and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. She is also a board member for Kinross Local Events Orgainisation, a group formed to provide activities and events to sustain a vibrant local community.

Rebecca has a first honours degree in Events Management and is a farmers daughter from a mixed livestock farm. She was elected to the Board of Directors in February 2016, having been co-opted in June 2015.

Sheena Boyd

Sheena BoydSheena Boyd works as a development officer for two development trusts based in East Ayrshire and also currently volunteers as a member of her home-town community council.

Sheena is passionate about community sustainability and participatory approaches to democracy at community level. Her interest in these areas stems from concerns over the future effects of climate change and resource depletion. She is a professionally qualified accountant and her previous career was spent in accountancy practice, industry and charity. She has volunteered with various third sector organisations and has previous experience as a trustee.

Originally from Scotland, Sheena grew up in south east England. She has lived in rural Dumfries and Galloway for over 34 years and over that time has worked, studied, experienced unemployment and caring for family members, and is bringing up her four children here. She is therefore aware of some of the challenges rural life brings. She is also aware of the many positives to rural life and would like her children (and others!) to have the opportunity to live in their home town in the future if they wish.

Sheena was co-opted as a Director in November 2017 and then elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Sheena Horner

Sheena HornerSheena Horner has been involved in agriculture all her life and on returning home to Galloway, diversified into growing chillies.
Galloway Chillies, an artisan food business combines traditional methods of production with innovative social media techniques. Her fresh chilli business grows more than 40 varieties of chillies in tunnels one of which is heated, when required, with renewables. She sells fresh chillies direct to chefs and restaurants and she uses her own produce to create an award winning range of chilli preserves, mustards and hot toddies.

Sheena is a graduate of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme, the chair of the Wigtown Food Festival amd was a 2018 Emerging Leader of the Oxford Farming Conference.

In her (very limited) spare time, Sheena enjoys reading, walking and watching Scotland rugby team at Murrayfield, at every opportunity. She was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Steve Sloan

Steve SloanSteve Sloan has lived his adult life in rural areas and currently lives in Kirkcolm village outside Stranraer where he is convenor of the Local Community Trust. His community shares the issues of many rural communities; transport, broadband issues, retaining young people in the community after school, access to education and access to medical services being just some.

Steve is a passionate advocate for the voluntary sector and community causes, managing 3 and having chaired or been on the board of numerous charities from California to Geneva. He has provided advice to over 50 Scottish rural community organisations especially in the areas of; fundraising, marketing and governance.

Having worked in the areas of youth offending, and overseas development, Steve is currently an Ambassador for a Scottish conservation organisation. He was elected as a Director at the AGM on 16th November 2018.

Vanessa Halhead

Vanessa HalheadVanessa is committed to helping rural areas to remain vibrant and healthy. She has worked in rural community development in Scotland for over 30 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum, the first community based rural movement in Scotland, and worked for Rural Forum Scotland.

Among other things, Vanessa managed the EU funded Duthchas initiative on sustainability of peripheral rural communities (www.duthchas.org.uk); the Moray Firth Partnership; the Rural Transfer Network – sharing policy and practice in rural development across the Nordic region and Scotland; the Strategic Partnership between the North of Scotland and West of Norway – focussed on rural development. She was rural development policy officer in SNH.

For 7 years a community councillor and Highland rep. on the national ASCC, Vanessa continues to be active in local projects and is a director of 3 local community development organisations in the Black Isle. Her research on the rural movements of Europe lead in 2005 to the formation of the European Rural Community Alliance ERCA, of which she is a director, also to initiatives to promote and establish a rural movement in Scotland, From 2011-2013 she worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to develop the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and establish Scottish Rural Action SRA as the first rural movement in Scotland since 1999.

Through ERCA, she was involved in initiating the first European Rural Parliament ERP in 2013, and went on to be Joint Coordinator for the ERP. The ERP has grown to have National Partners in 40 European countries (including Scotland), each a civil society organisation working with rural communities to support and enable rural development. Vanessa also loves to spend free time walking and canoeing in the wonderful Highlands and enjoying music and other local arts activities in her home town, Cromarty.

Vanessa is a founding Director of SRA, having been part of the first Board on incorporation in October 2013 and then being re-elected in February 2016.