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GSGSSI Personnel

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is made up of a small band of passionate people from all over the world, all of whom are dedicated to the environmental recovery and resilience of this remote UK Overseas Territory.

If you wish to contact us please use the contact form here.

Laura Sinclair Willis – Chief Executive

LauraLaura began her overseas career as cabin crew for an international airline in 2001, and then worked across the public, private and charitable sectors around the world prior to joining GSGSSI in 2021. She is accountable to His Majesty’s Commissioner for the effective management, good governance and operation of this UK Overseas Territory.

Laura has overall responsibility for people and finance, and an annual operational budget of c.£8m. to deliver our strategic ambition: “Environmental recovery and resilience through world-leading evidence-based sustainable management”.

Laura’s responsibilities include:

  • Planning, managing and co-ordinating the delivery of Protect, Sustain, Inspire, our 5-year values-driven approach to stewardship.
  • Ensuring the development of appropriate relevant policies and legislation, undertaking business planning and annual reporting;
  • Overseeing and directing operations to ensure the proper management, good governance and appropriate use of resources;
  • Ensuring the Territory meets its international obligations.
  • Developing, managing and maintaining strategic relationships with Government’s partners and stakeholders to help maintain the sovereignty and security of the Territory;
  • Enhancing the profile and outreach of Government.

Laura lives in the Falkland Islands with her husband and 3 children. When not at work, you can usually find her sat at a sewing machine producing clothing for herself and her family.

Mairi Macleod – Director of Operations

Mairi has worked in operations and logistics in several sectors globally, starting her career as a site engineer in the Highlands of Scotland before travelling overseas to work on contracts in both humanitarian, logistics and operations roles. Her impressive track record includes time spent with Medicin Sans Frontier, MdM, ALE and White Desert, switching between both sectors and climates over the years. She has worked in operations in the UK health sector since the pandemic and joins GSGSSI from a short sabbatical as an ERU Air Operations delegate with the British Red Cross in Egypt.  She previously worked on South Georgia with the British Antarctic Survey at King Edward Point, and again several years later as a volunteer with the South Georgia Heritage Trust.

Mairi has family ties to South Georgia, as her Father was a radio officer for Salvesens in the late 19650’s.  She is looking forward to exploring the Falklands and revisiting South Georgia.

Vicki Foster – Head of Operations

FosterWith degrees in Marine Biology and Ecosystem-based Management, Vicki has had a varied career in fisheries management and marine conservation in the UK prior to moving to the South Atlantic.

In 2016 she joined the British Antarctic Survey as Fisheries Biologist at King Edward Point research station and fell in love with this unique and harshly beautiful island. Vicki spent most of the next 5 years at South Georgia, including as Station Leader at the small and remote Bird Island.

In 2021, she joined GSGSSI as a Government Officer at King Edward Point, overseeing Government operations in both winter and summer seasons, before being appointed as the Operations Manager in 2022.

Vicki’s main responsibilities include:

  • Coordination of day-to-day operations on South Georgia between the Government, science, building, museum and contractor teams;
  • Port operations in Stanley and King Edward Point, as well as patrol planning for the government Fisheries Patrol Vessel;
  • Assisting the Director of Operations with project management and delivery of on-island milestone from the PSI Implementation Plan;
  • Planning and delivery of induction, training and decompression activities for staff deployed onto South Georgia;
  • Line Management of the Government Officers;

Denise Blake – Visitor Manager

Denise is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and holds an MSci in Marine Biology. She has a very varied background in marine and environmental management in the Falkland Islands before joining GSGSSI as Visitor Manager in November 2023.

Denise’s responsibilities include:

  • Delivery of the Government’s visitor management and permitting processes;
  • Integrating visitor management requirements into the full range of Government operations;
  • Integrating Government policies on immigration, permitting and protection into the visitor journey;
  • Ensuring visitors are informed about, and adhere to, SGSSI’s strict biosecurity requirements;

Denise loves spending time outdoors with her husband, daughter and dog and is working towards a PhD in Geography with a focus on invasive species perceptions in her spare time.

Elena Lindsey – Lead Civil Engineer & Project Manager

Following the completion of her Master’s degree, Elena began her career working as a Civil Engineer for Binnies, in the UK. Elena undertook project development from concept to detailed design, working on large scale river and coastal engineering design projects. Elena’s work on the evaluation of carbon tools and decarbonisation of the water industry lead to international publication.

Elena sought to broaden her experiences and gain construction site experience in the Falkland Islands, as well as undertaking the role of Contracts Engineer for the Falkland Islands Government. With enthusiasm for working in an overseas territory government, and seeking opportunity to implement nature based solutions in extreme environments, Elena joined GSGSSI.

Elena’s main responsibilities include:

  • Project management of large-scale infrastructure installation and maintenance on South Georgia;
  • Development of annual maintenance plan for government-owned assets;
  • Line management of the Building and Heritage Team.

Elena is passionate about continuous development of processes and policies, and seeks personal development through her professional body: The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Here, Elena has been appointed as one of the President’s Future Leaders, and will collaborate on projects at a strategic level within the ICE, such being a member of the Community Advisory board for Low Carbon Energy.

Jo Campbell – Business Support Officer

Jo joined the Government in February 2022 as the Business Support Officer having previously worked in administration in the third sector and private sector in Scotland and Australia.

Jo’s key responsibilities include:

  • Processing and raising invoices
  • Dealing with applications and issuing permits for tourism
  • Ordering office and other supplies for both Falklands and South Georgia-based staff
  • Purchase stock for the SG Post Office, and co-ordinating delivery to FI and SG
  • Booking travel and accommodation for government staff and contractors

She is also the first point of contact for customers and stakeholders.

Jo is enjoying being back in the Southern Hemisphere after a number of years in Scotland and is looking forward to exploring as much of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as possible. As an artist and crafter in her spare time, Jo is excited by the inspiration she finds in these incredible islands.

Dr Mark Belchier – Director of Fisheries and Environment

Mark joined GSGSSI in July 2018 on secondment from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) where he has worked on South Georgia marine and fisheries science projects since 2000.

Mark establish the Government’s applied fisheries research laboratory at King Edward Point (KEP), as well as developing and managing the KEP research programme.

Mark holds a PhD in marine fisheries ecology and has extensive fisheries research experience. He has been the lead scientist on nine research surveys of fish resources at South Georgia.

Mark has represented the UK as part of the UK Delegation to CCAMLR and has chaired many international conservation and fisheries treaty meetings.

Mark’s key responsibilities include:

  • Sustainable management of the terrestrial and marine environments of SGSSI including one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas.
  • Development and management (including licencing) of its associated fisheries to the highest international standards of sustainability.
  • Development and delivery of the Government’s science and research strategies.

Mark divides his time between Cambridgeshire and Stanley and loves rugby, cycling, walking Keats the dog and playing guitar badly.

John Clorley – Director of Strategy and Policy

John joined the Government in March 2021 on secondment from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the UK. Whilst with DEFRA he was responsible for the environmental aspects of negotiations for the new UN Treaty for Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, environmental regulations for Deep Sea Mining and the marine targets for the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. He was vice-chair of the OSPAR Commission for the protection of the Northeast Atlantic, having previously been chair of the Biodiversity Committee.

John’s key responsibilities include:

  • Developing implementation plans for the Government’s 5-year values framework “Protect, Sustain, Inspire”;
  • Planning and target-setting for Government activity;
  • Generation, management and review of the Government’s internal and external policies;
  • Researching, drafting, and implementing new legislation and the modification and repeal of historic legislation;
  • Developing and overseeing external and internal consultation exercises;

John has previously worked on reforming fisheries management in MPAs, Parliamentary legislation and de-regulation, non-native species and Government statistics. His first “real” job was as a supermarket manager, a very long time ago.

Sue Gregory – Senior Marine and Fisheries Manager

Sue first visited South Georgia in 2009 as a fisheries ecologist with the British Antarctic Survey at King Edward Point, and she remained with BAS for the next 8 years including overwintering at King Edward Point and spending considerable time on commercial fishing vessels as a scientific observer and conducting research surveys. She joined GSGSSI in 2017.

Sue is responsible for the day-to-day operation of South Georgia’s fisheries and Marine Protected Area, working with the Director of Fisheries and Environment to manage the fisheries sustainably and to the highest international standards in compliance with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Sue’s key responsibilities include:

  • Day-to-day management of South Georgia’s fisheries, including the fishery observer programme and catch verification contract
  • Marine Stewardship Council certification and surveillance audits
  • Coordination of GSGSSI engagement with Darwin Plus grant proposals and support of scientific research and monitoring to deliver fisheries and MPA objective
  • Policy lead for Human Lives at Sea to raise welfare standards for seafarers
  • Providing training on fisheries management, licensing and CCAMLR requirements to Government staff and external partners
  • Baking cakes for the team, although she struggles to keep up with demand.

Jennifer Black – Head of Environment

Jen Lee

Jen joined the Government in 2012 as the Environment Officer.

Jen has been involved in a huge range of projects about or actually on South Georgia including non-native species management, wildlife surveys and policy development. Jen was instrumental to the success of the reindeer eradication programme and supporting the subsequent rodent eradication.

In her current as Environment Manager, Jen has responsibility for:

  • Managing compliance with environmental legislation and co-ordinating the Regulated Activity Permit System
  • Delivery of the newly designated “Terrestrial Protected Area” including development of the management plan and legislation
  • Supporting the science programmes that secure external funding
  • the much-envied role of co-ordinating the design and approval of all the Territory’s stamps and coins.

Jen is now mainly based in the UK where she enjoys all things outdoors. She travels south as often as she can.

Andrew Dawson – General Counsel

Andrew is the Government’s General Counsel and something of a geek when it comes to the laws of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. He put together the website having hunted down and identified all our local laws from 1775 onwards. He described the exercise as “legal archaeology”.

Andrew likes to tell the world how marvellous our laws are, and why everyone should look to contract pursuant to them and use our courts. Nothing gives him greater pleasure than researching and applying the Territory’s domestic legislation.

Andrew has a not-so-secret love of trains and was delighted to discover that outside the museum in Grytviken is a tramway wagon similar to those used by Zorin Industries in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. Andrew’s other James Bond claim to fame is that he got married in the church opposite the pub where Daniel Craig grew up.

Paul Shafi – Website Development and Technical Support

Paul has been developing commercial software since back in his school days. A Glasgow University graduate, he has worked in various software development roles picking up a BAFTA nomination along the journey.

His South Georgia involvement started when he joined the Centre for Remote Environment at Dundee University over 20 years ago.

Responsible for:

  • Website development and maintenance
  • Technical support
  • .gs domains

All the Government Officers have similar responsibilities and they include:

  • Leading the administration of many Government functions on South Georgia including: Customs, Immigration, Harbour Control, Registrar and Police duties;
  • Acting as the single point of contact for on-Island interaction with the Government for all visitors, operators and personnel;
  • Providing the initial response to emergency or critical incidents within the Territory;
  • Ensuring all persons on the Territory adhere to prescribed laws, policies, regulations and management plans;
  • Delivering the Government’s values as outlined in Protect, Sustain, Inspire.

Dee Baum – Government Officer

Dee BaumDee Baum joined GSGSSI in 2023 following five years leading the Conservation Team on Ascension Island. Her background is in ecology and conservation management. She holds a PhD in salmon life history strategies and spent over ten years working for government and NGOs in the Scottish Highlands before moving to the South Atlantic.

Outside of work, Dee is never happier than when running up a hill.

Karen Wolstenholme – Government Officer

WolstenholmeA career diplomat for over 30 Years, Karen has previously been posted to remote and difficult environments – including Pitcairn Island (another UK overseas Territory) and North Korea. In the UK she worked in the FCO Polar Regions Section in the 1990s, cementing a lifelong passion for all things Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. She was fortunate to work on Antarctic issues whilst posted to the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand from 1998-2002, and visited the Antarctic Peninsula and the Ross Sea as a tourist in 2000. Working in South Georgia fulfils a lifelong dream and she looks forward to bringing her communication, collaboration and advocacy skills, as well as environmental interests, to support the South Georgia government.

Hannah Johns – Postal Officer

Hannah’s journey into Antarctic postofficery began when she visited South Georgia in 2017 en route to Port Lockroy in Antarctica to be sub deputy postmaster. After two seasons ‘philatelising’ down south, she spent the subsequent season living a mere 50m from the Grytviken Post Office on South Georgia when working next door in the museum. This was followed by several visits to the SG Post Office and the chance to check out the new stamp issues whilst guiding on cruise ships. Therefore, when the opportunity to be post officer arose, she jumped at the prospect. Where else do you have seals singing on your doorstep while you do your postcard cancelling?

Laura Ling – Postal Officer

Laura has travelled extensively throughout the world, enjoying nothing more than a remote destination with new scenery, wildlife, or culture to explore. After a period working for the Post Office UK during university, she first went South as a tourist in 2007, before returning to work on an historic Antarctic base for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. A career in travel followed, working across sales, administration, operations and product management for tour operators specialising in a wide range of destinations, from Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, to New Zealand, collaborating with colleagues across the globe.

Laura cherishes time spent in the great outdoors, and also relishes a good coffee, a comfy chair and an absorbing book, preferably altogether. She is very much looking forward to experiencing South Georgia’s unique ecosystem-in-recovery first-hand, and to being a part of the multi-discipline team at King Edward Point.