Who We Are

Community Land Scotland is made up of its members which staff and Directors (below) work to represent.

Development Manager, Linsay Chalmers

As Development Manager, Linsay’s role is to promote and FullSizeRenderencourage the take up of community land ownership across Scotland and support peer-to-peer learning and networking among community landowners. Linsay previously worked for Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network where she developed the Buy the Good Stuff social enterprise brand and ran Scotland’s first social enterprise festival. Prior to that, Linsay spent nine years working for the Community Resources Network Scotland supporting community reuse organisations across Scotland.

Policy Director, Calum MacLeod

Calum acts as our Policy Director on a self-employed, part-time basis.  He is a sustainable development consultant and academic, having taught postgraduate Masters courses on ‘Political Ecology’ and ‘Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability’ at the University of Edinburgh.  In 2010 Calum led post-legislative scrutiny of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 on behalf of the Scottish Parliament.  He is a board member of the Harris Tweed Authority.
(Photo courtesy of Highlands and Islands Enterprise)

Urban Development Officer, Kristina Nitsolova

Kristina’s role is to raise awareness of urban community ownership, to work with communities in Scotland’s towns and cities  and explore how communities can be supported at a practical and strategic level to buy urban land. Kristina has a background in community development and enterprise, sustainable food and climate change campaigning as well as research. Kristina is a co-director of Propagate C.I.C, a social enterprise consultancy working in the community food and enterprise sector. She is also on the board of trustees of Take One Action Film Festivals. Prior to that, Kristina facilitated the formation of Scotland’s first Ethnic Minority Environmental Network at CEMVO Scotland to add the voice of minority ethnic communities to strategic conversations about climate change and sustainable development in Scotland.

Urban Hub Manager, Dr. Carey Doyle

Carey is a chartered town planner with many years of experience delivering a wide range of developments including housing, regeneration, renewable energy, and recreation.  A social scientist at heart, she is always looking for ways to improve planning outcomes for communities by drawing together academic insights and the practicalities of development. She has published research on diversity and inclusive planning in rural and urban contexts. A key outcome from her research is the need for redistributive inclusive planning– in which land reform and community ownership plays a fundamental role.  She is excited to be setting up the first Urban Hub for Community Land Scotland.

Hub Development Officer, Heather Cumberland

Heather’s role at CLS is to support communities in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley aspiring to buy land and promote robust community engagement. Coming from a background of health and wellbeing, and social development, she is interested in building strong and resilient communities in Scotland. She has worked supporting the promotion and implementation of community gardening and community entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean and is conscious of the importance of communities creating and owning their own sustainable development projects. She is excited by the opportunity to support communities to grow and evolve through owning their own land in urban areas, taking an inclusivity and equalities approach.

South of Scotland Development Officer, Aimee Hesp

Aimee’s role is to support communities in the South of Scotland aspiring to buy land and assets as well as raise awareness and facilitate learning and networking opportunities. With 20 years experience in the Third Sector, most recently at the Scottish office of UK social enterprise, Pilotlight, she is passionate about bringing people together for greater causes. Inspired by the level of interest in community land ownership in the South and the huge potential for the region, she is excited to be part of this innovative and dynamic movement.

Chrissie Gillies, Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig (Gaelic Development Officer)

Chrissie’s role is to work with community and heritage trusts to grow the use of Gaelic. She will also be working within Community Land Scotland to increase the use of Gaelic across the community land sector and to identify opportunities to promote the cultural links between Gaelic and community ownership of the land. Chrissie started learning about minority language and community development as part of her degree at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in 2008. Since then she has worked in various roles to support Gaelic and community development – including work for various Community Trusts in the Highlands and the Western Isles. Chrissie’s interest of the significance of community aptitude and cultural assets, including traditional ecological knowledge, has been strengthened through her research towards her MSc in Material Culture and Highland History. Chrissie is a board member of Comunn na Gàidhlig.

Community Land and Gender Intern – Megan Burt

Megan is conducting a gender audit for Community Land Scotland, where she will be assessing the gender inclusivity of both internal and external practices. Megan is currently completing her MSc in Development Studies (with reference to Gender) at SOAS, University of London. This has strengthened her interest in issues around gender and sexuality within a development context and she is particularly drawn to ecofeminist perspectives when focusing on the environment. Her professional background is in the third sector and she previously studied Arabic and Persian at the University of Edinburgh. She is grateful to be involved in such an important task for Community Land Scotland and believes that this gender audit will make a positive impact on the future of community land ownership in Scotland.

Administration & Events Officer, Meg Taintor

Image of Meg TaintorMeg’s role for Community Land Scotland is to help organise and promote an exciting programme of events all over Scotland, as well as provide support in the day-to-day administration of the office, including finance and administering the Membership and Supporters schemes. Meg has 15 years of experience directing and producing theatre, where her focus has been on exploring ways in which a theatre can participate in the life of its community. She is excited to apply this experience in support of CLS’s work. Originally from the States, Meg now lives in Glasgow where she recently completed an MSc in Climate Justice from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Community Land Scotland Board of Directors

Ailsa Raeburn – Chairperson

Ailsa is a Chartered Surveyor based in Argyll with many years experience in property development, management and regeneration. As Head of the Community Assets Team at Highlands and Island Enterprise, she was responsible for the development and management of the Scottish Land Fund, in partnership with Big Lottery Scotland, and on behalf of Scottish Government. She was also responsible for a team of advisers across Scotland who worked with community enterprises to develop and deliver transformational asset based projects. She is particularly interested in the challenges of establishing and growing community enterprises in rural areas, especially those addressing regeneration and repopulation objectives.  Supporting the development of new ideas and ambitions as well as enabling existing community enterprises to scale up is vital in some of our remotest and fragile communities. There is no longer an expectation that the government or local authority will step in. Rather that the community needs to use its own people, skills, natural and cultural heritage and built assets to solve its own problems.  Community asset based enterprise is a mainstream, tried and tested model to deliver this. She strongly believes that extending this model into addressing some of the pressing issues facing urban communities is an exciting new direction for community land ownership.

Agnes Rennie

Agnes

Agnes lives with her family in Galson on the croft originally allocated to her Grandfather after WW1. She has been on the board of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn since the estate was purchased by the community in 2007 and currently serves as chair. She has had a long involvement in community development both professionally and as a volunteer member of many local and national bodies. She served as Crofters Commissioner for ten years from 1992 and as councillor with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a five year term.  She is currently manager of the publishing company Acair.

David Cameron

David lives on the Isle of Harris and is involved in a variety of businesses on the island. A strong believer in the concept of community landownership where the people are in favour, theory was put into practice by his involvement in the community purchase of North Harris in 2003 and its subsequent development. This has led to an equally strong belief that land reform is essential in a 21st Century Scotland with a re-balancing of landownership leading to a fairer, more socially just nation with the consequence of reversing decline in many fragile areas. He has served as a director of Community Energy Scotland.

Dr. John Watt OBE

John retired as Director of Strengthening Communities at Highlands and Islands Enterprise in 2012, where he had responsibility for HIE’s work with social and community development, including community land ownership and the growth of social enterprises. He has been involved in local economic and social development at policy and grass roots levels for nearly 40 years, through his work for HIE and its predecessor the Highlands and Islands Development Board.  He established HIE’s Community Land Unit and involved in many high profile community buyouts. He helped deliver the first Scottish Land Fund and the BIG Lottery’s Growing Community Assets programme.  From 2012 to 2021, John chaired the Scottish Land Fund committee. He was previously vice chair of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Group, a member of the Scottish Committee of the BIG Lottery, and a non-executive director of New Start Highland, a social enterprise based in his home town of Inverness.  John was brought up in Inverness and after graduating from Aberdeen University, he worked as a voluntary teacher in Malawi, and then undertook a post graduate qualification in Canada before returning to the Highlands.

Lincoln Richford

Lincoln trained in Sales and Marketing working in a variety of industries from Ball & Roller Bearings to Pharmaceuticals, Clothing, Food and Wine and, for the last three decades, running his own businesses. Among many interests History features highly, leading to a realisation of just how important Land Ownership is in human development. Scotland is a very exciting place to be as Land Reform begins to quietly transform communities across the Country. Lincoln moved to Wanlockhead in 2006 became involved with the Local museum and later Lowther Heritage who work to preserve the history of the area and he currently Chairs Wanlockhead Community Trust.

Mike Staples

Mike Staples is Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, a rural housing body that provides support to community-led housing projects and aims to facilitate an increase in affordable housing supply in rural communities across the region.  Mike has worked with the Trust for four years, having moved home with his family to rural Dumfriesshire.  Previously he worked on the strategic planning and delivery of regeneration projects across the UK, both in the public and private sectors.  Most recently he worked on the Transformational Regeneration Area programme of housing renewal across Glasgow.  Mike lives in the village of Moniaive and has four sons between the ages of 16 and 2.

Morven Gibson

Morven is the General Manager of South West Mull and Iona Development and has led the organisation through two community land buyouts over the past 6 years.  Driven by a passion to enable opportunities which allow people to live and work on Mull and Iona, she believes that community land ownership is fundamental in achieving this. Morven lives in Bunessan with her husband and three teenage children and is involved in a variety of local organisations.

Martin Avila

Martin Avila is the Director of Kinning Park Complex in Glasgow. The building was brought into community ownership following a landmark asset transfer. Prior to that, Martin was a co-founder of Xchange Scotland, a youth-led charity supporting intercultural learning experiences.

Magnus Davidson

Magnus Davidson is a Research Associate with the University of the Highlands and Island’s Environmental Research Institute, based in Thurso, Caithness. Native to the Highlands his work focusses on setting out a new vision for 21st rural Scotland which works for both people and nature and reverses centuries of depopulation and ecological degradation.  Adopting an eclectic research portfolio, he pulls together a range of often conflicting views into a holistic vision for the Highlands and Islands which is rooted in the unique social and cultural traditions of the region. Magnus also sits on the board of Thurso Community Development Trust and North Highland College UHI and has previously been involved as a board member for other national organisations.