Appointment of Board Members to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute

Date published: 09 February 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs announced the appointment of two new members of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) board with effect from 31 December 2017.

Roberta Brownlee (pictured left) and Kate Burns (pictured right) who were appointed to the AFBI Board in December 2017

Kate Burns and Roberta Brownlee have been appointed from 31 December 2017 to 31 March 2019.

In making the announcement, the Department acknowledged the strategy development and corporate governance skills of both new members.  Skills which continue to be valued on the board at a time when AFBI is further consolidating its role as a leading provider of agri-food science and biosciences.

AFBI Chair, Colm McKenna, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Kate and Roberta to the Board. They each bring important skills and knowledge of the industries we serve and I look forward to working with them in the important time ahead”.

The appointments have been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice.

Notes to editors: 

  1. AFBI is a DAERA Executive Non-Departmental Public Body set up under the powers of the Agriculture (NI) Order 2004.  It is empowered under the Order to undertake scientific work (research and development, testing, advice and information on scientific matters and dissemination of the results of scientific research) in the fields of agriculture, animal health and welfare, food, fisheries, forestry, the natural environment and rural development and enterprise. It employs approximately 630 staff located on six specialised, DAERA-owned sites across Northern Ireland.
  2. AFBI's Vision “Advancing the Local and Global Agri-Food Sectors Through Scientific Excellence”.
  3. The above appointments have been made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published.  Neither of the appointees have been involved in any political activity during the past five years.
  4. Board members are paid £377 per day for a time commitment which is not expected to exceed 20 days per annum.
  5. Kate Burns lives in Belfast and has previously held posts within Coleraine Borough Council, including Leader Programme Manager and Economic Development Manager.
  6. Ms Burns as also held the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Irish Central Border Area Network, implementing Interreg IIIA in 10 local authority areas and from 2009 to 2012 Ms Burns was the Director of Initiatives Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
  7. Since January 2007, Ms Burns has been Principal at Burns Consulting (rural and marine consultancy) and from May 2013 has also been self-employed as Managing Director of Ocean Veg Ireland Ltd, a kelp growing and processing business.
  8. In addition, Ms Burns currently holds the position of Board Member of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority, receiving £3,860 per annum and is governor and sub-committee member with Belfast Metropolitan College, for which payment of £250 is received for Board meetings and £150 for sub-committee meetings.
  9. Roberta Brownlee lives near Loughgall in Co Armagh. Mrs Brownlee has held Chief Executive and Managing Director positions within the Private and Voluntary Sectors in Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.
  10. Since 2002 Mrs Brownlee has been the Principal of SRB Consultancy, offering a range of services to a wide variety of businesses.  In addition, Mrs Brownlee is also the owner of Silverdale Care Home in Castlederg.
  11. Mrs Brownlee currently holds the position of Chair of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust for which annual remuneration of £29,716 is received, is a Member of the Social Care Tribunal NI (Panel of Experts) receiving a daily rate of £150, and is also a Member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) for which a daily rate of £300 is payable.
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  13. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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