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Staff and key contributors

Rob Hopkins: Catalyst & Outreach Manager

Rob is the co-founder of both Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network. He is an serial blogger, author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff and he tweets as @robintransition. He previously wrote The Transition Handbook and The Transition Companion, and was recently awarded a PhD by the University of Plymouth and an Honorary Doctorate by the University of the West of England. In 2012 he was voted one of the Independent's top 100 environmentalists and one of ‘Britain’s 50 New Radicals’. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a keen gardener and one of the founders of New Lion Brewery in Totnes and a Director of Atmos Totnes, a very ambitious community-led development project.


ben brangwyn photoBen Brangwyn: Transition Network co-founder

Ben’s background is in marketing, customer support and organisational change in international hi-tech businesses. However, a growing awareness of climate change, economic injustice and society’s addiction to fossil fuels compelled him away from being part of the problem towards being part of the solution. As a result, he co-founded Transition Network and decided to devote his time to helping catalyse and support community-level responses to the biggest challenges of our times.

Within Transition Network, Ben coordinates International Development. In his local initiative, Transition Town Totnes, Ben is DoctorBike and part of the local currency team.

Ben has two sons, Josh 24, Ollie 21, and hopes they'll inherit a human-scale world with a human-friendly climate.


Jo Coish: Office Manager and Training Support

Jo blew into Totnes (well Dartington really) in Sept 1992 to attend Dartington College of Arts where she passed out in July 1995 with a ‘Desmond’ in Theatre and Arts Management! She met and married her hubby in 1999 and has been in Totnes ever since. Jo starting working at Transition Network in January 2008, left to have a baby and then came back in January 2009. She has worked in a pub/restaurant, a call centre (which she hated and left after 2 weeks), a shop, a solicitors, research in practice from 1998 – 2007 and a prison.

Jo starting working with Ben and Rob in the office where there was no phone, no laptop and Rob was using his lap as a desk - it has changed somewhat since then! My role is to make sure everyone has desks and looking after all the HR, Finance and the office here in Totnes, also supporting the Training with the various administration tasks. There are now more staff and a lot more going on but a great team to work with, and great to be part of Transition movement.

Naresh Giangrande: Transition Training and Consulting

Pioneering co-founder of Transition Town Totnes (TTT) and Transition Training, Naresh has been involved in designing, running and evolving many of the events, groups, and trainings that have been at the heart of the enormously successful Transition Towns project.

He has delivered  the Training for Transition, Transition Talk Training, Train the Trainers, and Transition training for Local Authorities and organisations to hundreds of participants in 14 countries. As one of the Transition Town founders he has given dozens of lectures and interviews, and spoken at many conferences and other public events.  He set up and coordinated the energy group of TTT.

Prior to Transition Towns he has lived and worked in an eco community, was Managing Director of a small to medium sized enterprise, and a gaffer in the film industry. He has also taught meditation, has a chemistry degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is father to two lovely daughters.


Nicola Hillary: Funding Manager

nicola hillary photo

Nicola previously worked at BioRegional Development Group, which she joined as a local food researcher.  When the grant ran out, she stayed on as their first fundraiser. She quickly discovered the huge satisfaction of finding the financial resources to ensure that people can turn brilliant project ideas into reality.

Nicola was the Resources Manager (fundraiser and senior manager of central functions) at BioRegional Development Group from 1999 – 2005, helping them grow. Since then she worked as a freelance fundraiser for environmental charities, looked after her two young children and stood as a Green Party district council candidate, throwing herself into the deep end of canvassing her local community about environmental issues.


Sarah McAdam: Delivery Director

Sarah McAdam pictureSarah has had a varied public sector career working in housing, criminal justice and - most recently - rural development (she was leading DEFRA's Rural Communities Policy Unit when she caught the transition bug).

She has run a housing aid centre, helped set up a new Ombudsman Service, managed criminal courts and cleverly became Chief Executive of a small Quango shortly before the Government decided it should be abolished.

Sarah became a Transition Network trustee in 2011 when we were looking to widen the range of skills and perspectives on our board. Finding Whitehall exhausting and increasingly frustrating, she left the civil service to sit under a tree for a while and then search for a more satisfying way to live and work. She believes she may have found that in TN.

Sarah lives in Woolwich in South East London with her partner Lynne and loves being able to travel into town by boat.

Ed Mitchell: Web and Communications Manager

ed mitchell photo

Ed studied Development Studies way back in the early 90s and found it very stimulating but upsetting; what can we do in the face of such enormous crisis? Following that he tried all sorts of jobs ranging from the serious to the ridiculous to the extraordinary, but none quite hit the spot until he met the web. He has been working on the web since 1997 when he met a North London pirate radio station crew and agreed to be the studio manager for their early UK community webcasting startup, GaiaLive.

Since then he has worked as a web producer and online community facilitator for membership bodies, charities and government organisations. He also likes growing vegetables, bicycling, climbing, camping and generally being outdoors.

Amber Ponton: PA to Rob Hopkins & Board Secretary

Amber joined Transition Network in April 2011. In a prevous life, she worked for a media agency and then a multinational energy company, the latter of which took her to Calgary for four years.

amber ponton picture

Upon her return to the UK in 2009, with her large adopted Canadian hound in tow, she decided to relocate to Totnes to be close to her family. 

Whilst working for nearby Dartington Hall Trust and simultaneously being involved in her local Transition Streets initiative, her goal of finding fulfilling local employment with a zero carbon commute was realised when she found this role! 

As well as exploring the moors and green lanes of South Hams both on foot and on horseback, Amber loves walking, running and swimming on the Dartington estate where she now lives. She is currently enjoying a return to creativity by trying her hand at printmaking. 

Fiona Ward: REconomy Projectfiona ward photo

Fiona leads the REconomy Project for the Transition Network, which helps community groups to transform their own economic destiny. She developed the Economic Evaluation process that some Transition towns are using to build local partnerships, quantify local market potential, create new livelihoods and enterprises, and redefine the purpose of the local economy as one that contributes to growth in wellbeing for all.

The REconomy Project contributed to the Transition Network being awarded the European Economic and Social Committee Civil Society Prize in 2013. She also set up and ran the Transition Streets project for Transition Town Totnes, which won the Ashden Award for Behaviour Change in 2011. Both projects are now being replicated by Transition Towns around the world.

Fiona's background is in running large projects in the private sector – over the last 20 years or so she has worked with companies of all shapes and sizes to define and deliver business transformation strategies. After realising that these kinds of transformations weren't generally what served the greater good (or her own), Fiona moved from London to South Devon in 2006 just as Transition was coming into being - a fantastic piece of good timing!  


sophy banks photoSophy Banks: Inner Transition and Transition Training

Originally trained in engineering, Sophy worked in London for over 20 years teaching electronics, computer systems and technical stuff to women returners, and then in housing associations. She later trained in psychotherapy, healing and family constellations – and set up a private practice as a therapist. In 2005 she realised she was too old to carry on slide tackling on the muddy football pitches of Hackney Marshes and moved to Devon, to find the Transition movement coming into being just down the road.

In 2006 Sophy co-founded the “Heart and Soul” group of Transition Town Totnes, addressing the psychological and spiritual dimensions of Transition. She helped to set up and run the Totnes project as it took off. In 2007 she and Naresh set up Transition Training and created the two day “Introduction to Transition”, now known as Transition: Launch. Sophy has trained trainers from around the world to deliver this training. Transition finally brought together her love of football, engineering and inner work in its comprehensive and systemic approach to creating healthy and joyful communities.

Still a part of the Totnes project, Sophy mainly works for Transition Network coordinating, supporting and speaking about Inner Transition in the UK and around the world. Sophy blogs here.


Filipa Pimental photoFilipa Pimentel: Transition Network National Hubs Coordinator and EU Policy Coordinator

Filipa is Portuguese and mother of two girls.

In 2000, she went to Brussels to join an internship at the European Commission and, since then has been working at EU level in several EU Institutions and organisations related to sustainable development.

In 2009 Filipa heard about the Transition Movement and, half a year later, she catalysed a group of friends to found the third Transition Initiative in Portugal – Portalegre em Transição. Six months later, she quit her job to dedicate herself fully to the Transition Movement and started working very closely with Transition Network.

Filipa is now a fully integrated member of the staff team, acting as the International Coordinator of the Transition National Hubs and making the bridge between Transition Network and the EU Institutions (and other organisations based in Brussels).

She is inspired by the concept of Gift Economy and she is particularly interested in exploring alternative responses to the austerity programmes so popular with many governments of today.   

Michael Thomas: Transition Initiative Support Coordinator

Michael Thomas

Michael joined Transition Network in 2013 and is based in Bristol. He has been involved in loads of community projects since 1990, such as Unemployed Community Resource Centres, Homeless Charities, neighbourhood projects, all local action projects dealing with a range of issues. He became interested in Transition and wider social change from being actively in activist groups and deciding to setup a website with his permaculturist friend Steve Jones called Permanent Culture Now which talked a lot about Transition and related activities. This lead to him applying for a job at Transition as he saw it as a way of using his skills to really help grow a movement for positive social change.

Michael is very interested in helping build social movements like Transition through building infrastructure and support systems. He is also interested in how power operates and how organisations can be as flat as possible and operate in a non hierarchal way. 

Michael loves all forms of music from classical to electronica, but is happiest listening to very loud dark drum n bass music in a small club or field.