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Interim Chief Executive appointed

News Item 2020

We are pleased to announce that Dr Gemma Harper has been appointed as the Interim Chief Executive of JNCC. Dr Harper will take up her new post in spring 2021.

Dr Gemma Harper is currently Deputy Director for Marine policy in Defra, where she is leading work to protect the global ocean. She is also Defra’s Deputy Race Champion. She founded, and co-chairs, the Civil Service Network for Nature (N4N). Earlier in 2020, Gemma co-led the Food Vulnerability Directorate for several months as part of Defra’s COVID-19 response. Gemma is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and external advisor to both the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) and the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement partnership (CAPE).

A social scientist by training, Gemma spent eight years in criminal justice research at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice prior to joining Defra in 2010. From 2010 to 2017, Gemma was Defra’s Chief Social Scientist. She has been awarded the Defra Leadership Award twice and co-led the Food Vulnerability Directorate to win a Defra Team Award and to be shortlisted in the current Civil Service Awards. Gemma is a University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy Fellow and a graduate of the Civil Service Senior Leaders Scheme.


Marcus Yeo, current CEO said:

I have known Gemma for several years and I greatly welcome her appointment. It gives me confidence that when I leave at the end of March 2021, I will be passing on the baton to someone who can lead JNCC effectively into the future. The organisation will be in good hands.”


On hearing of her appointment, Dr Gemma Harper said:

 “I am delighted to be appointed as JNCC’s Interim Chief Executive. It is a brilliant time to be joining JNCC given the unparalleled opportunities in 2021 to take action globally and within the UK to tackle biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. Evidence is in my DNA and I am delighted to be able to lead this world-leading science-based organisation. I bring my love of nature and passion for inclusion to JNCC and look forward to working with everyone.

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