Jo has been a Director and Chief Executive of the Wilderness Foundation since 2004, but has been involved as Projects Director and Project Coordinator since 1998.
South African by birth, Jo has enjoyed a rich life of wild places in many parts of Africa as she grew up. She trained and worked as a Social Anthropologist during the time of Apartheid, working mainly with rural communities. Understanding and measuring the effects of value on wellbeing and encouraging people to respect and understand the value of wilderness and nature lies at the heart of her passion in her work.
Jo focuses on the effects of wilderness on developing sound youth leadership built on environmental awareness and ethics, and developing positive wellbeing and mental health in young people who are vulnerable or at risk.
Using the extensive wilderness network and her close link to South Africa and programmes running there, she merges best practice from around the world into creative programmes that suit British climate and culture.
Over the past 20 years, Jo has established a wide range of programmes within the Foundation to meet these needs of nature connections, individuals and society as a whole. These include Wild Swans women’s leadership, Sirius Environmental Leadership Programme, TurnAround Programme, Out There Programme and the Chatham Green Education Programme. Jo has been a passionate advocate for the Imbewu Programme in South Africa, and in 2014 launched a Scottish programme to mirror this. Jo also leads the South Africa wilderness trails out reach – keeping her love of the wild intact and sharing this with others.
Jo is a Master NLP Practitioner and Advanced Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. She uses her skills in behaviour change facilitation and motivation across the board, with a particular focus on the outdoors.