Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Executive Board

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is run by an Executive Board.

The Executive Board is the key decision-making board that oversees the operations and delivery of RBG Kew’s strategy and plan.

The Executive Board meets formally once a month and informally in between.

The Executive Board is supported by a Secretariat team within the Strategy & External Affairs Directorate.



Photo of Richard Deverell

Richard Deverell - Director RBG Kew

Richard Deverell is the 15th Director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Richard joined Kew in September 2012 and succeeds Professor Stephen Hopper. Richard joined Kew after nearly 20 years at the BBC. He achieved great success leading and managing new initiatives in BBC News, running both the news and sport websites, and BBC Children’s, where he was responsible for CBBC and CBeebies.

He was also the Chief Operating Officer for BBC North and thus contributed to the delivery of one of the BBC’s most important new capital projects, the creation of Media City in Salford.

Photo of Oliver Shiell
Oliver Shiell - CEO, Kew Foundation

Oliver Shiell is the Chief Executive of Kew Foundation, an independent registered charity set up to raise funds for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He has 15 years' experience in major gift fundraising, business development and cross border partnerships and has worked at Board level for over a decade. Oliver’s experience is international in scope, including China, Europe, the Middle East, India and the USA, establishing and maintaining relationships with major funders, government, business and society.

Oliver’s career to date has also included Director of Development and Corporate Relations at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. A member of the University’s leadership team of the 'Oxford Thinking' campaign, he worked with colleagues, donors and corporate partners to secure £1.25 billion of philanthropic and corporate investment. 

He is a member of the Board of the China-Britain Business Council, London Symphony Orchestra and a founding trustee of Social Bite, a social enterprise supported by Bill Clinton, Richard Branson and George Clooney.

Photo of Tony Sweeney

Tony Sweeney -  Director of Wakehurst

Tony has a long career in the cultural, creative and museums sector in the UK and Australia. Most recently, he was Director & CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, an innovative museum dedicated to art, film and contemporary digital culture. During a ten-year stint he established ACMI as one of the most-visited cultural attractions in Australia, through its dynamic program of exhibitions, film, live events, education and digital engagement programmes. Prior to joining ACMI, he directed an award-winning masterplan re-development of the National Media Museum (formerly the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television) in Bradford, which is part of the national Science Museum Group.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Tony has a keen interest in connections between the arts, science, creativity and learning to engage people in cultural and environmental issues. Tony has a long-standing love of the natural and created landscape, environment, design and heritage in urban and rural settings.

Photo of Richard Barley
Richard Barley - Director of Horticulture

Richard Barley is a qualified horticulturist and was formerly Chief Executive Officer of Open Gardens Australia. In his previous role as a Director within the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne,  Richard developed a deep understanding of the need to balance a world-class horticultural visitor experience with maintaining and caring for an important scientific living collection.

Richard holds dual British and Australian citizenship and has spent much of his career at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, as well as holding a number of other roles including as senior fellow at the University of Melbourne, lecturer, member of expert committees, international tour guide  and show judge. He has a Degree in Applied Science Horticulture, from Burnley College (University of Melbourne).

Photo of Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin - Director of Corporate Services

Jill McLaughlin is Director of Corporate Services responsible for delivery of the professional services that cross the organisation: Estates, Finance and Procurement, HR, IT, Legal, Strategic Projects and Planning, Risk and Safety. Jill commenced this role in July 2013. Previous experience includes Special Projects Director and Planning & Resources Director at BFI, and a number of senior HR and General management positions in business process outsourcing companies and contract catering. Jill is Chair of Governors of a Community Secondary School in Islington.

Photo of Kathy Willis
Professor Kathy Willis - Director of Science

Professor Katherine (Kathy) J. Willis is Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Kathy is also Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and an adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Bergen. She previously held the Tasso Leventis Chair of Biodiversity at Oxford and was founding Director of the Biodiversity Institute.

Kathy’s research interests focus on the relationship between long-term ecosystem dynamics and environmental change. Recent work has also focused on the development of technologies to measure and derive economic and ecological values for biodiversity. Kathy has published extensively and has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific publications, including the landmark book The Evolution of Plants, now in its second edition.


Vacant - Director of Public Programmes



David Cope – Director of Strategy & External Affairs

David is responsible for building Kew’s external reputation and relationships across all our stakeholders, facilitating changes to strategic plans, and ensuring the effective governance of Kew. David joined Kew after eight years working in a variety of change management, strategy, analysis, performance improvement and policy roles in Defra and the Home Office.

David trained as a biologist, conducting his PhD and postdoctoral research on the population dynamics and conservation of herbivores. David aims to bring his passion for science and conservation along with his developed knowledge of strategy formulation and implementation and his understanding of the workings of government in order to support Kew in achieving its potential to make an even greater positive impact in the world.