Winsome McIntosh, ClientEarth’s founding chair, has stepped down after more than 12 years leading our board of trustees. During her tenure, the organisation has transformed from a start-up charity into one of the most effective organisations in the environmental sector.
Winsome is a celebrated philanthropist who has spent more than 40 years at the forefront of the environmental movement in Europe and the US. She is a leading proponent for using law as a means to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Through the McIntosh Foundation, she and her late husband Michael awarded ClientEarth its first grant. Winsome has supported the organisation both through her philanthropy and through her leadership ever since.
The role of chair will be taken on by Howard Covington, who has served on ClientEarth’s board since 2014. He brings a wealth of experience in the worlds of business and philanthropy. He combines this with a passion for science and a deep understanding of climate change.
Winsome said: “Having brought the American model of public interest law successfully to Europe, it seems timely to reflect that success now with European leadership.
“I want to thank all of the staff at ClientEarth for the outstanding work they have and will continue to accomplish in coming years. I value their dedication on behalf of our planet and its inhabitants here in Europe and beyond.”
An impact across the board
The experience and commitment Winsome continues to offer ClientEarth is felt across the organisation.
Karla Hill, Director of programmes and on ClientEarth staff since 2007, said: “As our founding chair, Winsome McIntosh was there at ClientEarth’s beginning and she has been a driving force behind the organisation ever since.
“She showed real vision starting something new in a new setting. But her deep belief in the power of the law planted a seed and allowed a new approach to protecting our planet to emerge in Europe.
“It’s always been a true privilege to work with, and learn from, Winsome, and I’m deeply grateful for the support and trust she has given to the people of ClientEarth since its early days. With her continued commitment as a trustee, we will continue to enjoy her valuable contribution.”
Ed Walker, ClientEarth’s director of finance, also joined the organisation in its first days.
He said: “It’s hard to overstate how much ClientEarth owes Winsome for her courage and vision in seeding our organisation. She has steadfastly invested in our people and ideas from the outset.
“Her commitment and support are rare gifts and the lifeblood of charities like ClientEarth. The last 12 years have been a hugely rewarding experience for me and many others throughout the organisation – with her backing we have turned a powerful idea into an influential and successful institution. In no small part, Winsome made that possible.”
A vision realised
Winsome and Michael McIntosh identified the urgent need to bring public interest environmental law to Europe. They challenged James Thornton, our CEO, to make ClientEarth a reality. They launched the charity in 2006.
James’s relationship with Winsome and Michael extends to his time building the US public interest law movement in the 1970s.
He said: “Without Winsome’s vision and support, not only would the organisation not be what it is today, but it would not have come into being.
“After years of pioneering work funding environmental law groups in the United States, she holds a deep understanding of the law’s power to achieve change. Together, we determined to bring this essential tool to Europe.
“I am forever grateful that she entrusted me with helping to deliver on her mission. I’m delighted that she’s agreed to remain on the board and will continue to offer her support and guidance.
“Her presence alongside so many exemplary and committed board members, together with the leadership of our new chair, Howard, can only see ClientEarth go from strength to strength.
“A decade ago, who would have dared hope our organisation might be a worldwide presence? With Winsome as chair, that is what has happened. We now have a wonderful opportunity to protect people and planet on a global scale. We go forward together.”