Current directors

The Network can have up to 9 Directors on the Board. Our current Directors are:

Faustina Atipoka Awane

Faustina’s aim is to improve the livelihood of communities through sustainable development programs, it is her passion and experience. Her community mobilisation skills can help facilitate community-led energy programs.

As an Environmental Health Officer with 16 years experience in Municipal and District Assemblies across Ghana, Faustina implemented community-led programs in water and sanitation and sustainable development initiatives for hundreds of communities. During that time she collaborated with NGO’s such as UNICEF, Water Aid, Rural Aid, and ADRA Ghana. She came to the notice of these large NGS’s after conference speeches and publishing papers. This also led to research with universities of Edinburgh, KNUST (Ghana) and Cooper Union (US) funded by the Royal Society.

Through a charity she set up in Ghana Faustina funded 90 boreholes taking 25,000 people out of water poverty; provided 150 household latrines, and delivered hygiene education to all the recipient communities over ten years. She is a determined and effective community worker with skills of mobilisation, communication and conflict resolution.

Faustina is a school Governor for Rosemary Nursery, and Warden at a Quaker Meeting House in Bristol, has a MSc in Environmental Health, a degree in Environmental Health and Sanitation and Diploma in Human Resources Management.

Paul Chandler

Paul has been passionate about sustainable energy since he identified it as the best way to use his engineering skills to address climate change 20 years ago. During this time he has run a renewable energy installation business, worked as a consultant providing advice on energy, as a volunteer advocating clean energy and as an activist campaigning against fossil fuels.

He is an expert in photovoltaics (PV )& batteries and has degrees in Renewable Energy Systems Technology, Electrical Power Systems and Electronic Engineering. As well as PV he has worked in windfarm development and provided hydro site identification and energy efficiency services. His practical experience includes installation of PV, batteries, EV chargers, biomass, solar thermal heat-and pumps systems.

Ruzanna Chitchyan  

Dr Ruzanna Chitchyan is an Associate Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Bristol, an EPSRC research fellow on Living with Environmental Change and  a member of the Cabot Institute for the Environment.

She has worked on energy and sustainability topics since 2011. For instance, she has researched and developed new energy services solutions (e.g., peer-to-peer trading and demand-response services), researched skills needs for transition to smart local energy systems for the city of Bristol, and co-developed the international Manifesto on Sustainability Design (with over 200 signatories from across the world – from Ghana to USA).

At BEN Dr Chitchyan works on improving collaboration between BEN and University of Bristol in fostering transition to net zero and helping to develop solutions for training provision and upskilling for this transition.

Kirsty Hammond

I’ve grown up all my life in Hartcliffe and have my own first-hand experience of how the inequality here is systemic and transgenerational. I work for a charity called Heart of BS13 working across the life course in BS13 supporting the community to produce a community climate action plan.
My role as Heart of BS13’s Climate Action Practitioner has catapulted me onto my own journey, and it’s been so powerful to share what I’ve been learning about low carbon futures and green economy jobs with young people who have their own dreams and ambitions for how they will play their part in a changing world.
I am passionate about supporting people to reach their full potential by ensuring there are equal opportunities for them to access services to tackle the inequalities faced here.
Working alongside BEN over the last year my confidence and learning has also grown which has helped me support residence in BS13 facing fuel poverty being a platform for their voices to be heard. In 2021 BEN nominated me as their Global Goal Hero7- Clean affordable energy and now joining the Board as a director I will bring my energy, creative thinking and experience to the team from an area of Bristol that often gets left behind.

Mark Leach

Mark has worked in varied roles across public, private and charitable sectors.

Over a decade in local government has included coordinating the 2015 European Green Capital bid, supporting the Bristol 2015 company, managing the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, working on climate change policy, land-use planning policy, and providing BCC support to Bristol Energy Network, other community energy organisations and Bristol’s Community Strategy for Energy.

His background includes training and development, community development, and community and stakeholder engagement and consultation.

Mark is currently organising the Clean Air for Bristol engagement programme for Bristol City Council.

Laura Penny

Laura has worked in sustainability and energy utilities since 2011, across the public and private sectors in Bristol. Before launching her own consultancy business, Laura worked for Bristol Energy Limited as Innovation and Strategy Manager. She has developed and managed EU and UK grant funded energy innovation projects, motivated by an enthusiasm for smarter greener energy systems and community resilience. Laura also established Bristol’s No Cold Homes steering group, a collective of multidisciplinary organisations working together to alleviate fuel poverty.

Laura is a vocal advocate for empowering individuals and communities to enact positive change and an avid champion for social equity and energy justice, always ensuring that those who may benefit the most from innovative solutions aren’t left behind. She holds an MSc in sustainable environmental management and is also a Trustee for the West of England Rural Network.

Paul Phare

Paul has been working for the community energy sector in the UK since 2003.  He was involved with the first community owned wind farm in Scotland and won the prestigious Ashden Award for this and other projects.  Paul continued to support the development of charitable community energy projects in Scotland until 2008 when he joined Energy4All.  Since then Paul has delivered five shared ownership co-operatives in Scotland, including the Spirit of Lanarkshire Co-operative, which successfully raised £3m and owns a stake in two large commercial wind farms.  Paul was a founding member of Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op, the largest community owned rooftop solar project in the UK and is a founding member and currently Chair of Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Society, the largest community owned hydro scheme in the UK. Find him on Linkedin.

Robert Smart

I am an environmentalist, SuperHome (Think Bristol Green Open homes!) owner (achieved over 70% carbon reductions through behavioural change and technology combined), researcher, sole-trader with 25 years’ experience of sustainability within a public- service organisation. New to Bristol, I bring experience of how to run a successful, constituted, community environmental organisation over twenty-years and have delivered low carbon innovation, saving over £250,000 per year, with a projected efficiency saving of over £2,000,000 on projects already in the ground and an expected payback on investment of under 3 years. I have trained as a Low Carbon Retrofit Coordinator and have delivered practical refit at scale.

Aisha Stewart

Aisha moved to Bristol from Canada in June 2016 after completing her degree at the University of Waterloo. She recently completed a Certificate in Sustainability and Behaviour Change where she deepened her interest in understanding how to create effective projects to encourage more sustainable behaviours. 

Building on her passion for sustainability, she joined Wessex Water in August 2021 as their Sustainability Adviser supporting and delivering projects that drive the business’ ambition to be net zero.

Prior to this role, she was working in the Energy Service at Bristol City Council. She was part of a team responsible for delivering domestic energy efficiency measures such as solar PV, loft insulation and more to households across the city. Additionally, she led on the development of Bristol’s Fuel Poverty Action Plan, which is aimed at providing a strategic roadmap for tackling fuel poverty in the city and ensuring a just energy transition. As part of that work, she connected with a range of organizations across the region to raise awareness on existing support services available for households in fuel poverty as well as leading on bids for new projects and services.


The 2022 AGM was held on Tuesday 29th November online. Please see our 2022 Director’s Report for a round up of BEN’s work this year.

Read about the 2020 AGM in this blog post and see the 2020 Directors Report

AGM 2019

AGM 2018

AGM 2017

Notes from earlier AGMs can be accessed from the ‘past events’ listings.

Board meetings

Board meetings are held regularly, usually on the first Wednesday of the month, to review activities of the CIC and ensure good governance.


If you have any problems using this form, please click here

Social Media

Connect with us on social media: