Trustees and Management

Senior executive staff

Responsibility for day to day management matters and the implementation of policy is delegated to the Chief Executive, supported by the Dartington Leadership Team. The team consists of senior executive staff from across the Trust’s activities and subsidiary trading companies.

Rhodri Samuel, Chief Executive Officer

Read more

Rhodri has been CEO of the Dartington Hall Trust since September 2015. He is responsible for driving forward a new vision and transformation strategy for the Trust and its 1,200 acre estate.

Following an early career in the arts and cultural sector, Rhodri worked for over 20 years in senior roles across the fields of strategy, design, place-making and regeneration, primarily in theWorld Heritage city of Bath. He ended up with responsibility for the long-term vision, strategy and regeneration plan for the City of Bath directing the delivery of large, complex regeneration and place-making projects, a number of which won national and international awards. He then left the public sector to set up his own consultancy business and to initiate two Community Interest Companies focused on empowering citizens to shape and contribute to the creative regeneration of their city. He also established a number of new leadership networks including Creative Bathand theBath Bridge.

Rhodri is a Fellow of the RSA and an academician of the UK Academy of Urbanism.

Tim Allen, Director of Finance and Resources

Read more

Following completion of a mathematics degree at Birmingham University, The Dartington Hall Trust’s Director of Finance and Resources Tim Allen qualified as an accountant at Brighton-based professional services firm Moores Rowland in 1993. He soon decided to ‘hop over the fence’ and work in industry, where he gained experience across the retail, technology, distribution and late night leisure sectors. Fast forward to 2005: he escaped the South East to join Orthogon Systems, a global provider of point to point broadband wireless systems based in Devon – as Financial Director. There he oversaw the company’s sale to Motorola Solutions where he worked until 2011. Later that year Tim was part of the management team that divested the original Orthogon business, together with other wireless broadband assets out from Motorola, creating a new, independent company called Cambium Networks. A global tech company specialising in wireless broadband, Tim describes Cambium as ‘one of the best kept secrets in South Devon’, investing in a highly skilled engineering workforce within the South Devon economy. However, a move to the US in 2015 wasn’t for him and he instead joined Exeter-based, AIM-listed procurement company Blur Group plc as he became Chief Financial Officer for two years, enabling access to creative, IT, legal and accounting service providers via a cloud based marketplace. Living in the local area, Tim and his wife Zoë have been regular visitors to the Dartington estate and he is excited by the vision for the future of the Trust and honoured to be part of the team.

Amy Bere, Director of Arts

Read more

Amy Bere joined Dartington in 2015 from the Geraldine Connor Foundation, a charitable arts organisation in West Yorkshire, where she was Director responsible for all areas of strategic development, partnership and programming. Amy is an experienced cultural and arts manager with seven years’ experience in classical music, working in two large-scale opera companies, Glyndebourne in Sussex and Opera North in Leeds. Her focus since 2007 has been in engagement, learning, participation and artist development. She has also been involved in producing new opera for professional and community casts (Knight Crew and Imago for Glyndebourne), and touring family opera (The Firework-Makers’ Daughter and Swanhunter for Opera North). Amy graduated with an MA Advanced Theatre Practice from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2000 and began her career as a creative producer and theatre director, during which time she worked at the Battersea Arts Centre for the producing company Your Imagination, established a collective of theatre artists delivering devised site-specific and studio performance, supported a number of emerging companies and established practitioners in a producing capacity (I’m a Camera Theatre Company, Fecund Theatre, Ridiculusmus, Cartoon de Salvo and Kazuko Hohki) and created her own performance work. Amy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She lives in Devon with her family.

Martyn Evans, Estate Development Director

Read more

Martyn Evans runs Uncommon, a property development company.  He was, until 2016, Creative Director at U+I, the regeneration-focussed property company formed in November 2015 from a merger between specialist mixed-use developer Cathedral Group and listed property company Development Securities PLC. Before joining the Cathedral board in 2011, Martyn worked in the property, regeneration and urban design sectors as a consultant to CABEThe Design Council and Design for London with a particular focus on regeneration through creative industry and cultural engagement. Martyn is also Deputy Chair of the London Festival of Architecture and founder, with RIBA President Jane Duncan, of the Young Architects and Developers Alliance (YADA), a networking and learning programme that brings young architects and developers closer together.  He is a regular columnist for BD and Estates Gazette and has been on the judging panels for a number of awards including Architect of the Year, AJ Small Projects, Estates Gazette, World Architecture News and in 2016 was a lay assessor for the RIBA Regional Awards.

Rebecca Renfro, Director, Marketing & Communications

Read more

Rebecca joined Dartington as the Director of Marketing and Communications in spring 2018. She is a strategic communications specialist with a focus on purpose-led brands. Prior to this she was Director of Communications at the University of East London and before that Head of Stakeholder Relations at Channel 4. She was also a non-executive director of Rich Mix, an arts centre in East London. She specialises in not-for-profit organisations, but has experience in the commerial sector having delivered award-winning campaigns for Absolut Vodka and Stella Artois. Her interest lies in fostering meaningful engagement between organisations delivering public value and the audiences they serve.

Urszula Kossakowska, Director of Visitor Experience

Read more

Urszula joined Dartington in Spring 2018 in the new Director of Visitor Experience role. She will oversee the transformation of Dartington as a destination. Urszula has a background overseeing change processes at arts and events organisations, including at The School of Life where she oversaw the overseas expansion of the brand. Her most recent role was as Managing Director at Guerrilla Science, an organisation creating interactive science installations and events for festivals and museums. Previous roles have included change management at the Southbank Centre, the Camden Arts Centre and the Whitechapel Gallery.

Board of Trustees

The Dartington Hall Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees. Members of the Board have two roles: first as directors of the company in company law and secondly as trustees of the charity. It is a non-executive Board and members are unpaid.

read more about our trustees ('our governance') and how they are recruited

Our governance

The Board of Trustees, acting in a voluntary capacity, has legal responsibility for the effective use of resources in meeting the Trust’s purpose; deciding policy; and for providing leadership and direction. They meet formally at least four times a year (involving the CEO, management team and other staff/advisors as appropriate) here at Dartington. The Board of Trustees has an Audit and Risk Management Committee which meets at least five times a year and reports directly to the Board. This Committee advises the Board on matters of risk (from a strategic perspective) and oversight of the audit.

Recruiting trustees

We recognise the importance of attracting and recruiting the best trustees to enable us to fulfil our aims. Trustee recruitment follows an open process and is based on the skills, experience and diversity required for the Board of Trustees to fulfil its purpose. This assessment is based on an annual skills audit of trustees against the needs of the Trust. Recruitment of new trustees is led by the Nominations Committee (a sub-committee of the Board). Trustees usually serve up to 3 terms of 3 years (maximum of 9 years). There are regular opportunities to apply for the role of trustee as natural membership rotation occurs. Please keep an eye on our website and social media or sign up to our weekly news and events e-bulletin to learn about when these opportunities arise.

Annual reporting

The Dartington Hall Trust is independently audited annually. The latest financial statements and directors reports are available to download. If you require any further information relating to our governance, please contact our Company Secretary at

Dr Greg Parston (Chair)

Read more

Greg is currently the senior adviser at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. He is a Chair of the Collaborate Foundation and in 1988, he co-founded the Office for Public Management (OPM), which he led until 2006, when he was asked to establish and lead Accenture’s global Institute for Public Service Value, which he did until 2012. As an independent consultant, Greg has advised leaders on governance, strategy and change, including at the NHS, the British Museum, the BBC, the Wellcome Trust, the Metropolitan Police, and the Gates Foundation. ‘Dartington Hall has a rich history of progressive thinking, culture, learning and enterprise. I am honoured to have asked by the Board of Trustees to chair the stewardship and oversight of the The Dartington Hall Trust’s redevelopment. The Trustees and Rhodri Samuel and his management team are absolutely committed to revitalising the Trust, creating – once again – a place where people from Devon, from Britain and indeed from around the world can gather to learn about the excitement and values of a many-sided life. We want to provide a sustainable environment and a range of activities in learning and living that can foster personal and social changes that make a real difference.’

Tim Jones

Read more

Appointed as a Trustee in December 2014, Tim Jones is a successful local businessman who has supported Dartington for many years, particularly as chair of the Trust’s property advisory committee. He volunteers his time to many other organisations in the South West, including the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (as a board member, following 3 years as Chairman) and Devon & Cornwall Business Council (as Chairman), and has a particular interest in criminal justice and creating routes into jobs for people who are long-term unemployed.He plays a leading role in many business development organisations and brings a wide network of government, enterprise and charitable contacts to Dartington.

Sylvie Pierce

Read more

Appointed as a Trustee in December 2014, Sylvie Pierce had a successful career in local government, leading two large local authorities. She has a great interest in education and the arts. Post-government, Sylvie moved into the private sector, leading a property development company working with communities in economically deprived areas in a collaborative way to achieve high quality regeneration schemes.Sylvie will strengthen the board’s expertise in developing creative partnerships with like-minded organisations and with its communities to make the best use of its land and property for the future. Sylvie is currently chair of the Mossbourne Federation of Schools, four schools in Hackney; and chair of governors at Mossbourne Community Academy, a school started by Sir Clive Bourne, to demonstrate his passionate belief in the ability of Hackney children. She has also been on a number of boards previously, including the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme and Shoreditch Trust.

Rob Sexton

Read more

Appointed a Trustee in January 2011, Rob has been Finance Director at Yeo Valley since November 2014. Yeo Valley is one of the South-West’s leading employers and is the UK’s largest organic brand. Prior to this Rob was CEO of the Soil Association Certification Ltd, the trading arm of the Soil Association, the UK’s leading charity campaigning for sustainable food and farming. He has significant experience across a wide range of sectors including the third sector, entrepreneurial enterprises and corporations.

Geetie Singh-Watson

Read more

‘I grew up on a commune in the Midlands, where I was taught from an early age to be aware of the impact we each make on the world around us. Fast forward to 1998 and I opened The Duke of Cambridge – the UK’s first organic gastropub, never dreaming of the awards it would shower along the way. I’m an active campaigner and firmly believe that businesses and individuals should act responsibly and be led by their values. It won’t come as a surprise to hear I’ve been a Trustee of the Soil Association, People Tree Foundation, London Remade and Women’s Enterprise Council to name but a few. As for Dartington, I’ve known of the Trust for years due to a family history on the arts side of things, but it wasn’t until I’d actually visited that the place truly grabbed my interest. I’m attracted to the alternative vibe and just adore the beauty of the estate. Even so, I see so much potential still to be realised and I want to be a part of it. New people have come in. Change is happening. You can see it. You can feel it. Now’s the right time to switch up the volume. I want it to be the fabulous, flourishing destination it aspires to be with a many-sided approach to life that can benefit everyone.’

Nigel Topping

Read more

‘So close and yet so far. Having studied at Schumacher College, and lived in Totnes for 10 years, I am deeply convinced of the power of The Dartington Hall Trust to act as an agent for real change in the world, and of the gulf that sometimes separates the Trust from the town – the promise from the delivery. As an industrialist turned climate diplomat, my whole life has been about improving systems, about embedding new ways of doing things into complex realities to effect positive change – whether making better brake pads (as a co-owner of TMD Friction) or tackling global climate change (currently as the CEO of We Mean Business, a global coalition working with thousands of the world’s largest companies in this field). I am also co-founder of the Totnes Pound and The Atmos Project (to redevelop Totnes’s Dairy Crest site). ‘As an outdoorsman, I need the wind on my face in wild places to reinvigorate my soul. And as a local resident, I love the eclectic mix of thinkers and doers drawn to our special part of the world, in no small part because of the historical influence of the Trust. There has never been a more important time for us to learn how to live and love in harmony with planet and neighbour. So I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to a newly humble and confident Trust playing an important role in understanding, sharing and applying the solutions we seek.’

Julia Unwin

Read more

Julia Unwin was Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust from 2007 until December 2016. She was a member of the Housing Corporation Board for 10 years and a Charity Commissioner from 1998-2003. Julia was also Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency and worked as an independent consultant, for 15 years, operating within government and the voluntary and corporate sectors. She has researched and written extensively on issues relating to philanthropy, the voluntary sector, and its relationship with government and has written several books, the most recent of which is entitled “Why Fight Poverty?” which was published in November 2013. She previously held a position as chair of the Refugee Council from 1995 until 1998, and is currently a member of the University of York’s Council, where she is a Pro-Chancellor and a Governor of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.  In 2010 Julia was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award in the Charity Awards and was awarded a Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute in June 2012. Julia chairs the Institute for Social Renewaladvisory board at the University of Newcastle as well as being a member of the Advisory Board for Policy Scotland, at the University of Glasgow. Julia is also on the advisory board of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge. In January 2016 Julia was appointed as an independent Non-Executive Director of Mears Group Plc. She has Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Wales and from York St John University, and in 2016 was made a Provincial Canonry by the Archbishop of York. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaunwin

Andrew Ward

Read more

For 40 years Andrew worked in Higher Education, most recently as Director of Corporate Relations at Brunel University London, where he built and maintained links with key industrial, intermediary and third sector partners and was the University’s Innovation Champion. He has served on the boards of more than 50 private, public and third sector organisations. He is passionate about the arts, especially music, and currently chairs NMC Recordings, is Associate Director of Club Inegales and the Institute of Composing, is on the Advisory Committee of the Music in Secondary Schools Trust and is business adviser to the Watermans Arts Centre. ‘The Dartington Hall Trust’s work has arguably never been more important than it is today. Current political and economic uncertainties far and wide make it essential for there to be places for cool, informed reflection and safe havens for innovation and experimentation. Dartington has a vital role in this respect. ‘The Trust’s exciting and ambitious plans for the future reflect the imagination and sense of purpose necessary to make a substantive impact on life in contemporary Britain. To be able to play a role in shaping and realising these plans is an immense privilege’.

Dame Jo Williams

Read more

‘If you haven’t visited the Dartington Hall estate, put it on your list and give it priority. It is a place of great beauty with a magical aura that encourages learning, reflection and tranquillity. I first visited over 20 years ago as a participant in a programme run by Research in Practice (RiP). This provides a range of services for social workers, offering them information, support and advice. I went on to Chair the Board of RiP. And in 2009 I was asked to join the Board of the Dartington Hall Trust. It continues to be a privilege to contribute to the future development of the Trust. The Elmhirsts’ vision and generosity of spirit is still relevant today. The big challenge for us is to find a way forward that preserves the values and identity of the Trust but in a way that is economically sustainable. My background has been in the public sector working as a Director of Social Services for 10 years and then in the voluntary sector as CEO of Royal Mencap Society. Latterly I was Chair of the Care Quality Commission.’