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Saturday, 23 October 2021
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Global landmine charity strengthens board following major growth

A new chair and four new trustees are to be appointed at a global landmine charity that has more than doubled in size over five years.

Julia Palca, the former chair of Macmillan Cancer Support, will become chair of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) this month, succeeding current chair Karen Brown.

Four new trustees will also join the board as MAG continues to strengthen its governance following a period of rapid growth.

They are Chatham House Deputy Director and Senior Executive Officer Renata Dwan; international development consultant Nesta Hatendi; former chief operating officer at the UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Peter Jones; and human resources specialist Harbinder Kaur.

MAG, headquartered in Manchester, employs over 5,000 people in 26 countries, clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance, providing risk education in affected communities and delivering programmes to reduce the risk of harm caused by small arms and light weapons.

The charity, which was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for its leading role in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, has more than doubled in size over the last five years.

Outgoing MAG chair Ms Brown, who has also chaired ActionAid and Oxfam in a non-executive career devoted to international development, retires from her position after four years.

She said:

“It has been a privilege to help lead an organisation which includes so many courageous and dedicated staff doing such tangible good. It is right that a new chair takes over as the organisation takes stock of a changing world and considers how it can best meet the needs of the communities it serves.

“My tenure has seen considerable growth for MAG and we have been purposeful in strengthening our governance, assurance and systems to underpin that expansion and ensure the maximum possible impact on those whose lives have been afflicted by conflict.”

Ms Palca, the Chair of Council at City, University of London, studied law and politics at Durham University and, until 2012, was a partner/consultant with the law firm Olswang LLP. She has served as Chair of Macmillan Cancer Support, one of the UK’s biggest charities, for nine years from 2010-2019, and was Chair of the Royal Free Charity from 2009 to 2018. She is a part-time Employment Judge and has served as a trustee for several other charities including the Nuffield Trust and the Olswang Foundation.

Renata Dwan is Deputy Director and Senior Executive Officer of Chatham House and is a former Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva, with over 15 years of experience working in peacekeeping and crisis management.

Nesta Hatendi was Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa at HelpAge International and also an Expert Advisor on Ageing to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Social Development Policy Division. She has also held leadership roles in VSO, US Peace Corps and the Zimbabwean Ministry of Education.

Peter Jones is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute. He worked in the British Diplomatic Service for over 30 years and has served overseas in Vienna, Bonn, Rome and Accra, where he was British High Commissioner to Ghana. Peter also served in a range of policy and corporate roles in the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in London, including as Director Defence and International Security, Director Migration, and Chief Operating Officer.

Harbinder Kaur is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and is a senior HR and organisational development specialist. She has worked with Care International UK, Care India and Christian Aid.  She is a trustee at Shelter and provides support to the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme.

Incoming chair Ms Palca said:

“I am delighted to get this opportunity to help lead an organisation which has such a dramatic and demonstrable impact on the lives of so many vulnerable people.

“The global community continues to face significant challenges in addressing the horrific consequences of conflict and MAG has a key part to play in this, not just by dealing with the issues on the ground but by advocating for change to prevent future harm to civilians caught up in armed violence.”

MAG Chief executive Darren Cormack said:

“Karen Brown has played a key role in helping MAG to become a better, stronger and more effective organisation and I’d like to extend my thanks and the thanks of all our staff for her dedication.

“In our new chair and trustees, we have secured individuals with a broad range of professional and lived experience who can offer insight and expertise in relation to key aspects of MAG’s strategic decision-making.”

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