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Executive Team

Our Executive Team, led by our five Directors, is responsible for the management of the Alliance and the SSA’s day-to-day activities.

Ellen Fay

Founder & Executive Director

Previously founder/director of a groundbreaking international conference series centred around trees, soil, ecosystems and conservation, Ellen identified the need for a dedicated soil-health partnership.

Ellen focuses on vision-building and creating a shared space where diverse organisations can come together with common purpose. She is key to establishing partnerships and liaising with influential figures in NGOS, government, agencies & academia.

Her experience and dedication to the conservation and sustainability causes enable her to translate relevant knowledge into positive change for future generations.

Matthew Orman

Executive Director & Public Affairs

Matthew is a Public Affairs Consultant of nearly 20 years' experience with some of the country’s largest FMCG businesses including Nestle, Kraft, Danone, PepsiCo, Burger King and Weight Watchers.

Much of his career was spent in Brussels where he worked in the European Commission and then European Parliament for former EPP Environment Spokesman, John Bowis, on many of the formative pieces of EU waste, water, recycling and air legislation.

Matt brings his knowledge of the political and lobbying environment, as well as a specialism in environmental sustainability, to his work with the SSA.

Theo Heaton-Davies

Research & Communications Executive

Theo joined the SSA in 2022 as a research, content and communications executive. This follows various research roles in food systems, that have included work on phosphate trade dynamics, climate adaption on UK farms, and palm agroforestry in West Africa.

Theo completed a degree in geography at Sheffield University followed by a Masters in Environmental Resource Management at Imperial College.

Anicée Defrance

Research & Communications Executive (part-time)

Anicée manages the Alliance’s supply chain workstream, including the Soil Health Industry Platform (SHIP).

Anicée is also a PhD researcher at the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training. Her background is in food cultures and mobility which she studied at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, following a degree in human geography at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE).

Tara Smith

Communications and Public Affairs Intern

Tara joined us in 2023, and researches and monitors developments in soil science and policy. She runs the SSA’s social media and writes our weekly blog The Week in Soil, as well as our quarterly newsletter.

She started her career working in the outdoor cooking industry but recently made the shift to follow her interest in sustainable food systems and food security.

Tara studied History at the University of Glasgow, before going on to complete an MSc in Gastronomy at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Her research covered food identity, culture and food sovereignty.

Neville Fay

Founder & Director

Neville has been instrumental in forming and driving forward the SSA, providing expert guidance following extensive experience in ecology and conservation coupled with central roles in establishing organisations & charities including Tree Aid & the Ancient Tree Forum.

He is Founder/Principal Consultant of Treework Environmental Practice, lecturing worldwide on the arboricultural conservation and ecosystem approaches he has developed over the past 35 years.

Nev provides training & support on the link between soil and tree health for land owners and managers including the Royal Parks, English Heritage, Natural England and City of London.

Kevin Kennedy

Legal Director

Kevin has been a Director of the SSA since inception. His involvement began with the view that many active voices in the agricultural sector were saying similar things about the issues facing soils without engaging with each other to achieve a consensus and accepted plan for the future.

A lawyer at Burges Salmon specialising in agricultural and sector-relevant private client issues, Kevin is also a regular speaker and writer.

Robert Rawle

Financial Director

Robert comes from a farming background, now focusing on accounting and advising clients on progressing businesses to achieve personal goals. It is his passion for the countryside that has led to his involvement with the SSA.

As a partner at Milsted Langdon LLP he looks after a diverse range of clients, many within his sector specialism of creative, tech and media companies, whilst others include recycling and environment-focused clients.