Dr Rose O’Neill appointed as new Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks

14 Sep 2021

We are pleased to announce that Dr Rose O’Neill is the new Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks (CNP), the only independent charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and improve National Parks in England and Wales.  

Her appointment comes as Interim Chief Executive Anita Konrad steps down after leading CNP through the global pandemic following the departure of Corinne Pluchino in June 2020. 

Rose brings expertise in policy, advocacy, and campaigning from a career across the third and public sectors. She led the high-profile UK rivers programme at WWF, building partnerships to connect grass roots campaigners with Westminster decision makers. Rose has a track record of successful fundraising and designing and delivering programmes, in partnership with business, universities and civil society. 

Prior to joining Campaign for National Parks, Rose led social and behavioural science at Natural England, to understand what drives and supports people to act for and connect with nature, and to understand inequalities to ensure that natural spaces are inclusive and accessible to all. Rose has a PhD in environmental science and is a Trustee of Wessex Rivers Trust and Non-executive director of Waterwise, the water efficiency NGO.

Rose, who lives close to the South Downs National Park with her young family, said: “It is my real privilege and joy to be appointed Chief Executive of such a prestigious organisation, which has been working at the forefront of the National Parks movement for over 80 years. I take great inspiration from those campaigners before me, and those now campaigning across the country for National Parks to continue to be places where people and nature can thrive. The social and environmental values that drove the first campaigners are still so relevant today."

“Campaign for National Parks, and our role as the independent voice for National Parks in England and Wales, could not be more important right now. As the nation seeks solace and recovery from the pandemic in these beautiful places, significant decisions are being taken about their future and their role in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. I look forward to working with the whole community of stakeholders involved in the future of our National Parks, to deliver more for nature, for climate, for communities and for everybody.”

Janette Ward, Chair of CNP, said: “The Trustees were very pleased by the high interest shown in the Chief Executive position, and following a rigorous recruitment and interview process, we are delighted to have made this appointment. At this pivotal time for the development of National Parks, Rose will bring to CNP a wealth of environmental leadership experience in campaigning, policy advocacy, building partnerships, organisational development, and fundraising, as well as her commitment, enthusiasm and ambition for our National Parks and natural landscapes.” 

Janette added: “I must also thank Anita Konrad for the splendid job she has done as our interim Chief Executive, tasked with leading the organisation through the upheavals and uncertainties of a fast-evolving pandemic. She leaves CNP better equipped to continue its important work in the “new normal” era and we wish her all the best for the future.”  

Anita said: “The past 18 months have put a spotlight on the vital role that our National Parks are playing in supporting the nation through the pandemic. They have also shown that the coming months and years will be critical in ensuring that the Parks are enabled to fulfil their purpose and potential in tackling the nature and climate emergencies. 

"I have felt privileged to lead Campaign for National Parks during this time. A huge thank you to the staff team, the Board of Trustees, our members and partners for all their support and passion for our cause. I am delighted to hand over to Dr Rose O'Neill at the end of this month and am sure that CNP will continue to go from strength to strength under her leadership.” 

Rose joins CNP this month (September 2021) for a handover with Anita and will officially take over as Chief Executive on 1 October 2021.