Transaid has appointed former Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, Joan Aitken OBE FCILT, as Chair of its board of trustees. Joan has been a long-time supporter of the international development organisation and has taken part in two Transaid fundraising cycle challenges, visited projects in Uganda and Zambia, and been a trustee since March 2019.
She takes over from Jo Godsmark, Chief Operating Officer of BigChange, after six years as Chair and eight years on the board. During her tenure Transaid has significantly grown its programmes and fundraising income, and is currently involved in projects within nine countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
Joan was first introduced to Transaid at an industry event where Transaid was the beneficiary charity. Following conversations with the senior team, she jumped on her bike in 2017 and cycled with a team of 40 riders who collectively raised more than £200,000 during the Cycle South Africa fundraiser.
Commenting on her appointment, she says: “Transaid is the most incredible organisation and has earned a very special place in my heart. I’ve been privileged to have visited two projects in Zambia, one focused on access to healthcare and the other on road safety; plus I contributed to the driver training activities in Uganda, which cemented my understanding of Transaid’s life-saving work.
“To be appointed Chair is an honour and responsibility. I am excited by the opportunity to work even more closely with the wonderful Transaid team, which has demonstrated such incredible versatility during the challenges of the last two years.”
Jo, who will ride in Transaid’s Cycle Malawi event this October alongside Joan, says: “I’m hugely proud of what we have achieved as an organisation over the last six years, and particularly how we have increased the diversity of the board, with representation from countries where Transaid is working. When you have a team as highly regarded within the development sector as Transaid, being Chair is more of a privilege than anything else.
“This is a unique organisation and not one you can walk away from; I’m honoured to have been invited to join Transaid’s team of ambassadors and I couldn’t be handing over the reins as Chair to anyone better qualified than Joan.”
Joan is a Scottish solicitor by profession. She retired in 2019 after a varied career which ranged from local government, private practice, tribunal chairing, UK public appointments and the Senior Civil Service. In 2003 her long standing interest in the role of transport and her regulatory experience came together when she became one of the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain as the Commissioner for Scotland. In 2019 she was awarded the OBE for services to transport in Scotland and for road safety.
She continues her involvement with transport through chairing the Glasgow City Region’s Bus Partnership Steering Group. She sits on the Scottish Board of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and on the College’s Lay Group. Always one to volunteer, her current activities include being a simulated patient for Edinburgh’s School of Medicine, the virtuous activity of litter picking and learning to drive a canal barge.
She becomes the fourth industry figurehead to serve as Chair of Transaid. Prior to Jo, Graeme McFaull was Chair between 2010 and 2016, taking over from John Harvey CBE who had held the role since Transaid’s inception.