Directors of the Black Isle Partnership

There are four directors of the Black Isle Partnership

Jon Palmer (Chairman and Company Secretary)

Jon Palmer is an entrepreneur, and runs a small independent retail business in Cromarty. Before re-locating to the Highlands in 2012 he worked in the arts and education sector as Artistic Director for two touring theatre companies, and as a freelance trainer. His skills cover: project management, marketing, personnel management, disability awareness and group facilitation. He is a graduate of the Common Purpose programme (2001) and served as an ambassador for Huddersfield (2006-8). He is a strong advocate for cross-sectoral collaboration and from that, the potential for community re-generation and sustainability. He is also a member of the Black Isle Tourism Team.

Fo nine years Jon Palmer was Artistic Director (basically chief exec) at Full Body and the Voice, Huddersfield and was responsible for over £2 million of public subsidy and grants - Arts Council England, local authority, EU et al. Every project was completed on time and to budget and officially signed off. Jon has also been director on a number of boards including Theatre for Children and Young People UK, Harrogate Theatre and chair of Balbir Singh dance company.

Dr Julian Paren (Treasurer)

Julian Paren spent his professional career as a glaciologist working in the Arctic and Antarctic, specialising in the climate record of ice cores and the stability of the floating ice shelves of Antarctica.  On retirement Julian lectured for the University of Cambridge on a range of environmental topics and was an Oceanography tutor for the Open University. He was a founder member of the Cambridge branch of the Ecology Party (now Green Party) and the Ecology Building Society.  He retired with his wife to a smallholding on the Black Isle above Munlochy.  He has been a Director of Transition Black Isle since 2011.  Julian has been active in the Black Isle Tourism Team since its inception, and this has led to his current role as Treasurer of the Black Isle Partnership. He is also a member of the Black Isle Tourism Team and Convenor of Transition Black Isle.

Julian Paren is a Trustee of two Antarctic charities with combined assets of £500,000 and is Treasurer of four community organisations on the Black Isle.

Gordon Adam

Gordon Adam has been an elected member of the Highland Council for the Black Isle since 2017. He is Chair of the Black Isle Area Committee, and a board member of Eden Court Theatre and and Highland Opportunities Ltd which provides loans to small businesses. By background he is a BBC radio journalist and manager, first with Radio Scotland and then the World Service where he headed Pashto Language broadcasting to Afghanistan for eight years.  Following his move to the Black Isle in 1994, Gordon launched Media Support, an organisation specialising in broadcasting to areas afflicted by war and humanitarian disasters, notably the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.  His particular focus was developing partnerships between broadcasters and aid workers to tackle disease and the aftermath of conflict. Over 20 years he raised and managed on behalf of the BBC, Media Support and iMedia Associates, funding totalling several million pounds from a range of donors including the British and American governments, a number of UN agencies in including UNICEF, UNESCO and UNDP, and the World Bank. In recent years he has focused on designing and evaluating media’s role in peace-building, holding governments accountable, and communicating risks in the HIV/AIDs and Ebola pandemics. 

Gordon lives in Charleston, North Kessock and is a Director of a family business, Black Isle Yurts, which is run by his son and daughter.” 

Vanessa Halhead

Vanessa Halhead has lived in the Black Isle since 1985, in Resolis and now in Cromarty. She has always been active as a volunteer in the local community, including Resolis Community Council Secretary for 7 years, Association of Black Isle Community Councils, Director of Transition Black Isle for 10 years and is a long standing Director of the Black Isle Partnership.

In her professional life she has worked in rural community development in Scotland and Europe for over 30 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum and worked for Rural Forum Scotland; Manager of the Moray Firth Partnership and Rural Development policy officer in Scottish Natural Heritage. From 2011-2013 she worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to develop the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and establish Scottish Rural Action (SRA) as the first rural movement in Scotland since 1999. Vanessa is a founding Director of SRA, having been part of the first Board on its incorporation in October 2013 and then being re-elected in February 2016. She is now the Acting Chair of SRA. Vanessa was involved in initiating the first European Rural Parliament (ERP) in 2013, and is now one of its Joint Coordinators.


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