May 5th 2021
As it gears up for a ‘Decade of Action’ push to inspire and support 100 million people to grow some of their own food around the world, GIY is delighted to welcome four new faces to its Board of Directors in Ireland: Carol Montgomery, Stuart Fitzgerald, Aoibheann O’Brien and Tom Popple.
Founded in Waterford in 2008, GIY is a social enterprise that supports people to grow food with activities that inspire, educate, enable and connect people to have transformative food growing experiences. GIY’s mission is to create a global movement of food growers, whose collective actions will help to rebuild a sustainable food system. In 2020 GIY supported over 900,000 people to grow, cook and eat some of their own food for the first time in Ireland, the UK and North America.
In addition to its work of governing and overseeing the strategic direction of the organisation, the board will, in particular, be focussing on scaling the organisation to support the 100 million GIYers goal in the years ahead.
Chair of GIY Karen Hand said: “ GIY is a catalyst for change around people’s relationship with home-grown and sustainable food – building a show-case for food-growing within Waterford, Ireland and across the World. The GIY Board has always championed, supported and leveraged the value GIY delivers – and we believe the combined experience, energy and resourcefulness of these four new Board members will help us amplify and multiply the positive impact of GIY.”
CEO and founder of GIY Michael Kelly said: “I’m delighted to see Carol, Stuart, Aoibheann and Tom join the board of GIY and look forward to working with them in the years ahead. Each of them brings valuable expertise to the organisation and as we embark on an exciting new phase of growth it couldn’t be more timely for us to bring them onboard.”
Stuart Fitzgerald says he has been having great fun trying to grow food with his wife Vicki and kids since he joined the board of GIY. Stuart is MD and co-founder of the company which operates the LEON franchise in Ireland. He has worked with a range of franchised concepts in food & beverage and general retail and has in depth experience of the elements that are required to build, manage and control a successful franchised estate. He is also a partner with Fitzgerald Power, an Irish based accountancy, corporate finance and business advisory firm. He specialises in corporate fundraising, financial reporting & control, strategic financial planning and corporate leadership.
GIY, he says, is full of passionate change makers who are laser focused on their mission. “What Mick and the team have achieved to date is truly inspiring and I’m really excited and energised to pitch in for the next leg of the journey. We have set some ambitious stretch goals but the global food system needs to change radically, and given the talent and commitment of the GIY leadership team there’s no doubt in my mind that these goals will be delivered.”
Carol Montgomery has over 20 years’ experience in local, regional and global marketing teams on consumer brands in food and drink sectors. Her current role is Head of Society & Brand Experiences for Guinness and she has a personal passion for business that makes a positive impact on society. “I believe that GIY plays a valuable role in delivering a more sustainable world by inspiring people to grow some of their own food,” says Carol who grew up eating fruit and vegetables that her parents grew in their garden, although she admittedly took their efforts for granted. In recent years, along with her husband and young children, she has really come to appreciate the joy and pride that comes from growing your own food from scratch. She finds gardening to be a calming and rewarding antidote to what can be a hectic world.
“I am excited and honoured to join the GIY board and bring my energy, enthusiasm and experience to support the goal of reaching 100 million GIYers by 2030,” says Aoibheann O’Brien. “We really are in the decade of action when it comes to climate change. Making the food system more sustainable is an area that we can all take personal action in a way that can create global change but only if enough of us are doing it! I am looking forward to working on this challenge”
Aoibheann is co-founder and Partnerships Director of the award winning social enterprise FoodCloud. FoodCloud has a vision of a world where no good food goes to waste, and a mission to transform surplus food into opportunity in order to make the world a kinder place. Established in 2013, FoodCloud connects food businesses with surplus food with community organisations across Ireland, reducing the environmental impact of food waste and supporting social inclusion within communities. FoodCloud achieves this through a retail technology platform and a national network of three food redistribution hubs. FoodCloud’s technology is now being used by food redistribution NGOs in the UK, Australian and Central Europe. Aoibheann was the recipient of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact award in 2014, Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, EY Entrepreneur of the Year Special Achievement Award and IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Award in 2017. In 2018 she also received a Humanitarian Award from the Irish Red Cross.
Tom Popple says that getting your hands dirty in the garden, creating space for growing and enjoying food from seed, through growth, harvest, cooking and finally composting and reuse, encapsulates sustainability. “GIY is at the forefront of inspiration and insight on driving new sustainable behaviours and giving individuals a reason to value the world around them, one seed and one tasty mouthful at a time.” Tom reckons he has no choice but to be green fingered following a lifetime of inspiration from his Mum, who still to this day provides a tour of the family garden each time Tom visits, sharing new plants and ideas. It’s now a mammoth task to convert his 1+ acre former abandoned agricultural field in rural Laois to reach the heights of suburban Peterborough, whilst inspiring the next generation including his five year old and patient wife.
Tom is a supercharger for leaders to deliver on net zero and nature goals, Tom leads the design, development and delivery of climate leadership programmes for a portfolio of global brands including Sky, Logitech, PwC and Ørsted as a Senior Manager at Natural Capital Partners. Tom also finds time to provide support initiatives that inspire change at scale, including ChangeX, Natural Capital Ireland, Sheep Inc., and his beloved Climate Cocktail Club.
- Founded in Waterford in 2008 by social entrepreneur Michael Kelly, GIY is a social enterprise that supports people to grow food around the world. In 2020 GIY supported over 900,000 people to grow, cook and eat some of their own food for the first time in Ireland, the UK and North America. Our activities inspire, educate, enable and connect people to have transformative food growing experiences.
- GIY’s mission is to inspire, educate, and enable a global movement of food growers, whose collective actions will help to rebuild a sustainable food system. By 2030 GIY aims to reach 100 million GIYers through our campaigns, media projects, products and educational platforms. GIY envisions a world where all food is produced, distributed and consumed for the benefit of the planet and its people.
- The GIY group includes two companies GIY Ireland CLG and GIY Ireland Activities Ltd. Existing board members are Karen Hand, Tim Holmes, Paul Sweetman, Eve Anne Cullinan and Eamonn Clarke.