Who we are

The Society is composed of a board of nine trustees, supported by one full-time member of staff. We employ volunteers to assist with various aspects of our work as required, and we offer internships and work experience opportunities for young people on a regular basis.

The Trustees

Elizabeth Grierson, Chair

Liz came to York after studying History at University to work in the Marketing department of Rowntree Mackintosh where she was the brand manager of several brands including KitKat. After the takeover by Nestlé she ran the PR and Site Services departments which at the time included archives and the writing of the Rowntree History by LSE’s Business History Department. With this connection in mind she became the Nestlé representative on the Rowntree Society Board in 2005 after the departure of John Sunley, one of the founding members. She has remained on the board and on leaving Nestlé formed an Imagination Agency. She was appointed Chair in 2013.

Brian Jardine, Treasurer

Brian is treasurer of the Rowntree Society and has been a trustee since it was established. Trained as a quantity surveyor and for many years he worked in housing development and asset management at the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. He was brought up in New Earswick and has been involved with the village in a private and professional capacity for many years. He has been a governor at three of the Friends’ Schools.

Steven Burkeman

Steven founded the Rowntree Society and was its Chair until December 2012. He is a former Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and is currently a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and vice chair of Jessie’s Fund, which helps children with additional and complex needs through the use of music.  He has worked as a consultant with grant-making trusts and human rights NGOs, and lectured widely on issues relating to philanthropy.RS trustees 2013

Richard Jagger

Richard studied Economics at the University of Hull and has an MBA from the University of Leeds. He has significant experience in senior commercial, sales, marketing and management positions in the UK and internationally. He is a non-executive director of York Museums Enterprises Ltd, the trading subsidiary of York Museums Trust and was a Trustee of the Bowes Museum between 2000 and 2011.

Susan Palmer OBE

Susan had a career in senior positions in marketing and communications in financial and professional services, ultimately as Marketing Communications Director of Grant Thornton International. She has also had an active involvement in arts and heritage. Currently, she chairs the Anna Plowden Trust, she is a Trustee of the North Music Trust, of The Bowes Museum,and of Malton Museum Foundation, and a Governor of St Peter’s School, York. She chairs the Benevolent Trust of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. A member of the University Court at the University of York, Susan chairs the Departmental Advisory Board of the Department of Archaeology and sits on the History Advisory Board. She has been a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. She was awarded the OBE for services to national heritage in 2004.

Stephen Pittam

Stephen retired as Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in August 2012, a post he had held for 11 years, with responsibility for the Power and Responsibility programme, among others. He has been involved in European Foundations networks, and has contributed towards promoting community development by liaising with civil society organistions. He has been a trustee since the establishment of the Rowntree Society.

Janette Ray

Janette is a bookseller who has a bookshop on Bootham, with a focus on architecture, design, photography and landscape.  She is a member of the Antiquarian Book Sellers Association and other national organisations, and she is involved in several heritage and arts projects based in York.

Tina Walker

Most of Tina’s life since coming to York in 1982 has been spent in institutions and organisations associated with Joseph Rowntree. She studied history at the University of York, the establishment of which owed much to the money and people provided by or associated with JR organisations. After qualifying as a chartered accountant, she went onto work for those organisations in the following order – Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, most recently serving as JRRT’s Trust Secretary for a number of years.

Tina has been acted as the treasurer for several women’s organisations and a youth homelessness charity. She was a founding member of the York Community Accounting Scheme and an after school and holiday club. Other spare time has been spent in active involvement in local politics.

Christopher Webb

Chris came to live in York in 1980 and is now Keeper of Archives at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, where he has worked in various capacities. The Borthwick has the largest accumulation of Rowntree archives in the world, and they form a key part of the Borthwick’s work. Chris’s professional interests and responsibilities are broad and always expanding. He was lucky to have the opportunity to apply for the funding and to help to design the building that now houses the Borthwick Institute, which looks after records management, information policy, Freedom of Information and Data Protection for the University, as well as curating its large and growing archive holdings. Chris’s current research interests centre on the late medieval and early modern church and city as exemplified by York, and environmental history. Current projects include digitising archives (focusing on the parish registers, bishops’ transcripts and archbishops registers); historic parchment as a source of DNA; and the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Commissions for the Northern Province in 1560, preparing an edition of the first Act Book for the Commission for the Northern Province.

Company Secretary: Sarah Proctor, (Lupton Fawcett Denison Till)



Executive Director:  Bridget Morris

Bridget Morris taught modern and medieval languages (Scandinavian Studies) for fifteen years at the University of Hull. Between 1999 and 2015 she was editor-in-chief of an international translation project published by Oxford University Press, New York, and she is the author of a number of scholarly books and articles on St Birgitta of Sweden.  She started to work for the Rowntree Society in 2009.

Email: info@rowntreesociety.org.uk