Our Team

Operations Manager

Sonia Sinanan has over 25 years of experience in operations, administration, financial and project management and the use of ICTs in the not-for-profit sector, and has worked at a senior management level for the last 15 years. She has worked collectively in a number of organisations including Hazellville Housing Coop, Fifth Column t-shirt printing collective and 59 Greek Street hostel for homeless women. Sonia was a founder member of the charity Computer Aid International where she was Director of Operations for 10 years, and a board member for 6 years. She has also worked as a Grants Officer at Comic Relief, Deputy CEO at the Association of Charitable Foundations, Director of Operations at the peacebuilding charity Conciliation Resources and is a co-founder of Web Gathering Ltd. In her spare time Sonia is a holistic aromatherapist, a facilitator of participatory video projects, and she volunteers at a project for homeless young people in Brighton.

Email: sonia@ecologicalland.coop

Executive Director

Cate Chapman started her career in the student movement, working for the NUS and member unions. Working across a number of roles, she latterly focused on advice and advocacy as a finance and welfare benefits adviser, working with individual clients and informing social policy work. She has also variously worked as a lecturer and freelance copy writer/editor, and currently runs a small editing agency. Cate occasionally writes, with work published in several books including contributing to several of The Dark Mountain Project’s anthologies.

Email: cate@ecologicalland.coop

Executive Director

Zoe Wangler was the Co-operative's Managing Director from 2009-2015, moving to Executive Chair in August 2015. Before working at the Co-operative Zoe worked as a freelance environmental researcher. Her clients included the International Institute of Environment and Development, Friends of the Earth and the Food Commission. She also managed projects and ran stakeholder consultations, high-level workshops and project evaluations for clients including the National Consumer Council and Green Globe Network. For 3 years Zoe was part of the management team at the Tenderloin Neighbourhood Development Corporation, a not-for-profit property development and management company serving the low-income Tenderloin community in San Francisco. Zoe interned at the Centre for Alternative Technology and lived at John Seymour’s Centre for Living.

Email: zoe@ecologicalland.coop

Executive Director

In addition to working for our co-operative, Oli Rodker is part of the core group of the Landworkers’ Alliance. Over the last twenty years Oli has also worked – and continues to work – on a variety of environmental projects and campaigns. Previously Oli co-founded Equinox Housing Co-op in Manchester and Landmatters Co-op, a 42 acre permaculture community in Devon. He is a director of Knott Wood Coppicers, a workers’ co-op specialising in woodland management and tree planting.

Email: oli@ecologicalland.coop

Committee of Management

Board Secretary Alex Lawrie is a co-operative development worker for Somerset Co-operative Services CIC. Before joining SCS he co-founded Stepping Stones and Cornerstone Housing co-ops, Footprint Workers’ Co-op and Somerset Co-op CLT. He is the author of Empowering the Earth and Simply Finance

Treasurer Holger Westphely is one of the co-founders of Eastside Consulting and sits on the Eastside Primetimers Board as a non-executive Director. He has advised hundreds of social organisations over the last 10 years on finance, strategy and business planning. He also played a variety of roles on government funded support contracts aimed at helping small organisations to raise investment, ranging from project management and consultancy to quality assurance. More recently Holger has focussed on social investment and impact measurement, helping clients to define and monitor their social metrics with a view to demonstrating their impact to investors and commissioners.

Dave Darby is director of Lowimpact.org. He visited lots of communities before moving to Redfield Community in 1996. When working on development projects in Romania, he realised that they saw Western countries as role models, so he decided to try and bring about change in the UK instead, and set up Lowimpact.org in 2001.

Zoe Wangler, Cate Chapman and Oli Rodker (above) are also part of the Committee.

Site Manager

David Saunders is an experienced land manager and timber building enthusiast, working from Sussex. He joined ELC in November on a part-time basis to help progress the Arlington site development, and assist with planning applications, and the creation of new smallholdings, as new sites become available. David has pioneered many small woodland initiatives in his time and is well connected with landowners, contractors and builders with an interest in sustainable development, both in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe. As well as owning and managing 20 acres of woodland near Lewes, David also lectures at Plumpton College, University of Brighton and retains a role as Company Secretary for Woodnet, based at the Woodland Enterprise Centre, Flimwell.

Finance Manager

Rachel Boyd has been involved in the environmental movement since her teens but became interested in financial management more recently. From 2009-2015 she worked at Zaytoun CIC (which imports olive oil and other products from Palestine to support the rural economy there). She started at ELC in 2015 and works part time, alongside her other job as the Finance Manager at a charity in the women's sector where she has worked since 2010.

Funding Support Co-ordinator

Johnny Denis joined ELC in June 2015 to help bring in additional funding and resources. He has about 30 years experience in starting and supporting Co-ops, Social Enterprises, and projects and programmes in the community and public sectors. Johnny is a 2016 Fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab, Board Member and Manager of The Fuel Co-op. He is a Director of Sew Fabulous CIC, The Sailboat Project, and of East Sussex Association of Local Councils. He is a Chair of Glynde and Beddingham Parish Council and a Member of Ringmer Parish Council and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health

Communications Team

Lauren Simpson. Documentary film producer and organising enthusiast Lauren produced the acclaimed independent cinematic documentary Just Do It - a tale of modern-day outlaws released in 2011. As well as her role with the Co-op she works as the Office Manager for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and as Production Manager at Dartmouth Films in London.

Phil Moore. Communicator, collaborator, connector Phil is passionate about media. A former staffer at the Ecologist Magazine, he writes for Permaculture Magazine UK. A background in documentary film making Phil has worked for a number of organisations including ActionAid, The Environmental Law Foundation, The Environmental Justice Foundation and the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in a variety of roles. Phil recently produced a series of nine short films called Living with the Land.

Email: communications@ecologicalland.coop

The Co-operative is fortunate to benefit from the support of many other pro-bono advisors and volunteers:

  • Legal advice (planning), solicitor Lucy Thomas, Ashurst LLP;
  • Legal advice (real estate) and conveyancing, solicitor Louisa Bradley, Ashurst LLP;
  • Legal representation (planning), barrister Phil McLeish, Garden Court North Chambers;
  • Planning advice, Chartered Planner, Daniel Scharf MRTPI PfT Planning, Blake Morgan;
  • Website updates, volunteer Amelia Rowland;
  • School visit and work day co-ordination support, member Teresa Perrella
  • Video production, volunteer Marcus Hicks; and
  • Infrastructure development support (site), volunteer Marcus Tribe.