The Green Connection Board

Annual General Meeting 2016 Front: Basier Dramat, Liz McDaid Back row: Glyn Williams, Yachika Reddy, Leila Weideman, Penny Hlakula and Roshan Stanford

Liz McDaid

Liz is a qualified scientist, teacher, and adult educator, with a Master’s Degree in Climate Change and Development from the University of Cape Town. As an independent environmentalist, she has worked for over 25 years at the energy/poverty/community nexus, with a focus on participative, ethical governance.

She has coordinated, led and supported a wide variety of civil society groupings to advocate for energy justice and against energy poverty. Liz has worked for government and Parliament and civil society, and her predominant aim is to ensure that people’s development is both transformative and within the boundaries of ecosystem sustainability.  She is one of the founding members of The Green Connection, which strives to ensure that economic growth and development, improvement of socio-economic status and conservation of natural resources, takes place within a commonly understood framework of sustainable development. She has led a variety of climate change awareness and adaptation interventions. Liz has worked with small-scale fishers over decades, empowering fishers to increase their understanding of the marine ecological systems and how we ensure that we fish sustainably.  This has been through UCT, Masifundise, WWF and IOISA. She currently works with the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), groundWork, OUTA and others, across the SADC region on energy and eco-justice issues, engaging with local communities, national policies and international governance initiatives. Her recent work as part of the Electricity Governance Initiative includes an energy poverty analysis for Oxfam – ‘You can’t eat electricity’ – and a review of the South African renewable energy programme, with a focus on community impacts.  Her work with SAFCEI, as Eco-Justice Lead, involved an advocacy campaign against an illegitimate, secret deal between South Africa and Russia for a nuclear build programme, which would have bankrupted the country. These efforts culminated in a successful legal challenge – a landmark victory – in partnership with Earthlife Africa JHB, which ended the nuclear aspirations of the then Zuma government. For her part in this, Liz was awarded the 2018 Goldman Environmental Award, Africa.
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Abdul-Basier Dramat

Basier graduated with a B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of the Western Cape, and served articles with Shrand & Ekermans Inc. He subsequently worked as Audit Manager and Financial Advisor at Shrand & Ekermans, and then Audit Manager and Economic Development Consultant at HS Accounting.

Registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants, he began his own practice, AB Dramat & Associates, specialising in accounting, taxation, environmental accounting, economic development, and community-based projects. His work with the Green Connection involves multiple facets, from being responsible for organisational and project financial management, providing business expertise, and training communities with financial management skills. He has experience in the latter in projects working with emerging farmers in land reform. He is also Chief Financial Officer at the Cornerstone Institute, Financial Director at Earthlife Africa JHB, and Finance Committee Member of the Western Province Rugby Union. Furthermore, he is presently undertaking a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the Management College of South Africa.
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Christy Bragg (Pr. Sci.Nat)

Christy is a graduate of the Master’s in Science Conservation Biology Degree from the University of Cape Town.  She has over eighteen years’ experience in biodiversity conservation, ecology and community involvement in natural resource protection and sustainable use.

She has sectoral knowledge in freshwater ecology and research, terrestrial ecology, climate change adaptation, environmental and co-operative governance, marine conservation, sustainable use, biodiversity stewardship, and other concepts and issues in community conservation.
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Glyn Williams (B.A. LL.B (UCT))

Glyn is the senior partner at Chennells Albertyn Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers. As a commercial and litigation attorney, he specializes in inter alia environmental law. His clients have included the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and a number of environmental action groups.

Glyn Williams recently successfully represented a group of small-scale farmers from the Philippi Horticultural area take on the City, developers and government to protect the area from urban development and buffer the city from climate change impacts. Glyn is based in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
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Yachika Reddy

Yachika has an MSc in Energy Studies from the University of Cape Town. She is currently employed at Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) as Project Manager of the SEED Programme.   During her 6 years of employment at SEA, Yachika has worked across a spectrum of projects focused on rooting sustainable energy approaches and practices in urban development planning and management processes across South Africa.

Whilst studying for her Master’s Degree at the Energy Research Centre (University of Cape Town), Yachika was employed as a research assistant participating in energy research as it relates to poverty reduction and climate change. One of the projects in which she was principally involved, entailed an in-depth analysis of energy transitions in fuel use that occur among low-income households in South Africa. This culminated in a research paper which she co-presented with her supervisor at the Energy Transitions Workshop held jointly by Stanford University (CA, USA) and the University of Cape Town in 2004. Prior to her Master’s Degree, she worked in the field of Information Systems in software development, creating, designing and developing information systems for corporates in South Africa. Soon after completing her Honours Degree in Environmental and Geographical Science, she worked in the United Kingdom for two years as a research assistant at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WILDCRU), Oxford University. She also worked at the Haematology Unit at Guys Hospital in London, primarily involved in analysing statistical data related to research in the respective fields.
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Penny Hlakula

Penny has more than 16 years experience in the NGO sector, with a strong background in organisational support services. She specializes in project administration, executive assistance, office management, events coordination, community development and facilitation.

Penny’s work exposure covers the labour movement, environmental education, community development and workers’ education sectors. Penny is passionate about youth development and the empowerment of women and girls. She has been involved in local, regional and global movements for the realization of women’s sexual reproductive rights as well as the recognition and promotion of labour rights for women. Another interesting part of her work history includes working with youth as a community organizer for environmental awareness, HIV/AIDS and socio-economic issues, as well as hosting a youth radio show. She has proudly fought gangsterism, violence and crime in her community working alongside different stakeholders in the community (NGOs, SAPS, Dept. of Community Safety, Community Policing Forum, etc.). She continues being a student of the University of Life through her own human journey.
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Green Connection Associates

Gus Pickard

Gus has a vision to engage the beneficiaries of black economic empowerment projects, rural dwellers and all relevant stakeholders in an honest and transparent way, in order to materialise effective black economic empowerment and sustainable rural development.

An independent consultant and development facilitator, Gus has worked as a community facilitator and trainer since 1994.  He is experienced in research and development in the field of land reform, water allocation reform, integrated water resource management, fair trade, social compliance auditing and climate change adaptation. Gus brings to his work a rare combination of development experience and personal insights (gained during an upbringing in a poor ‘Platteland’ community). This enables him to communicate to, and establish credibility with, a wide range of stakeholders, and to straddle an important divide between organised and emerging sectors related to natural resource use in South Africa.
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Adrian Pole

Adrian holds a Master’s Degree in Environment and Development (awarded cum laude), as well as an LLM degree in environmental law. His focus areas include environmental and administrative justice, sustainable ocean economies, and working towards a just transition to renewable energy, in response to global climate change.

An environmental attorney, Adrian started in the environmental justice sector when he joined the Legal Resource Centre’s (LRC) environmental justice project in 2001. His work in the LRC included successful legal interventions.  Adrian moved into private practice in 2003, but continued working on environmental justice issues.
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Neville Van Rooy

Neville is a qualified nature conservation field and tourist guide, and also has a Degree in Theology. He started out as a volunteer working with young people, and later with emerging farmers (ultimately becoming a farmer himself). He has partnered with a variety of environmental justice platforms. Neville currently works for the Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC), on an environmental justice programme that resists fracking and promotes renewable energy in the Karoo.

Natasha Adonis

Natasha is a qualified and proficient PR/media communications professional and events manager, with more than a decade of experience, gained in both the public and corporate sectors. She is confident producing various types of written materials, such as proposals, internal communications and many strategically-considered press releases, media/event invites and alerts.

Sean Brown

Sean is a development practitioner, whose formal qualifications include a BScEcon in Development Studies and an MPhil in Critical Issues in the Study of HIV & AIDS and Society, obtained from the University of Cape Town. His practical work experience includes youth empowerment work in West and Southern Africa, HIV and AIDS information and education, and programme support for women living with HIV.

More recently, Sean has worked as the Acting Executive Director and Operations Director of SAFCEI, a multi-faith environmental organisation, where there was a key focus on ethical governance of South Africa’s energy future.
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Jan Arkert

Jan and Linda Arkert

Jan holds a BSc (Honours) Degree in Engineering Geology and an MPhil Degree in Wildlife Management – completing a thesis into the possible ecological impacts that fracking may have on the Karoo. He has practiced as a geologist his entire career and founded his own consulting practice in 2003, working extensively throughout Southern Africa. 

He assisted the Zululand Environmental Alliance during the campaign to prevent mining of the sand dunes along the eastern shores of Lake St. Lucia. As a member of Treasure Karoo Action Group, he assisted with much-needed scientific input in the fields of geology, geohydrology, soils and ecology. 
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Linda Arkert

Linda obtained her BA Degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has since graduated from UNISA as a Social Worker and has a Master’s Degree in Social Work, focusing on Green Social Work in South Africa.

Her community, group and case work at a community care centre assisted people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Her work is driven by her growing awareness of the issues of environmental degradation and climate change, and the impact in particular on the poor and marginalised.
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