Departure of Andrew Barnett as Director of UK Branch and appointment of Louisa Hooper

11 jan 2022

Statement from Martin Essayan, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Trustee


Andrew and I have had a number of discussions over the last few weeks and he has shared his feeling that 15 years was a lot longer than he had originally intended to serve as UK Branch director and that he would like to move on. He has always said that he has a few more important roles in him and he has a lot of projects on which he wants to engage. He emphasised his wish to support the transition in whatever way he can.


I am delighted that Louisa Hooper has agreed take on the role of Interim Director of the UK Branch with immediate effect. I am immensely grateful to her. There is further information on her below.


We all know Andrew’s contribution to the Foundation has been huge and transformational for the UK Branch. Campaign to End Loneliness, Making Every Adult Matter, Civic Role of the Arts, Valuing the Ocean, and now great signs of progress on Public Engagement on Climate.  It is a formidable list, especially for a small team like ours.  



Statement from Andrew Barnett, UK Branch director 

I am thrilled for Louisa and know you will all support her. This year, I will have spent fifteen unforgettable years helping deliver what charitable foundations are for with the unique assets available to us: innovation – and impact – which benefits the most vulnerable in society by addressing often underserved causes whether social, cultural or environmental. There is much that makes this possible but the enduring trust and support of my overseeing trustee is certainly one. I have been fortunate in working throughout with Martin Essayan, from whom I have learned so much, and it has been an honour to have served under three Presidents of the Foundation over the period as well. I have admiration for them all. Most recently, the encouragement of our current President, Isabel Mota, has helped demonstrate the benefits of forging closer working links with colleagues at our Headquarters and there is more that can be done to integrate our activity in pursuit of the Founder’s wish to ‘benefit all humanity’.



Further information on Louisa Hooper

Louisa has had a long and varied career at the Foundation and since 2010 has pioneered programmes under the UK Branch’s environmental funding pillar. In recent years, this has focused on Valuing the Ocean – supporting new networks and approaches to promote effective engagement on marine protection in collaboration with colleagues in Portugal and the conservation sector. Louisa was instrumental in the establishment of the Marine CoLABoration group. She sits on a number of advisory groups including for the UN Decade for Ocean Science and Sustainable Development and the UK’s Ocean Literacy Working Group.

Louisa was Secretary to the Trustees for the Saint Sarkis Charitable Trust (also created by Calouste Gulbenkian) from 2003-13 and has a background in communications, publishing and education. Early work for the Foundation included production of the art and environment anthology, Wild Reckoning, and of Saudade: An anthology of fado poetry with original translations by the leading names in English poetry today.  Past roles include teaching in Japan and working for the Japan National Tourist Organisation. Louisa studied English at Cambridge and is a published poet. She has been a judge for the Koestler Awards and edited Brittle Star magazine for new writers for many years.

Louisa’s background, knowledge and experience position her well to operate across the UK Branch’s arts and environmental interests and to capitalise on the Foundation’s cross-cultural assets and increasingly international outlook.

“I am honoured to take on the role of interim Director of the UK Branch at this pivotal moment for the arts and the environment in and beyond the UK, and excited to build on the legacy of Andrew Barnett’s work. I believe deeply in the power of collaboration, the need to connect and find common ground across cultures, issues and diverse views, if philanthropy is to play its part in shaping a sustainable and equitable future for all. I look forward to working with the UK Trustee Martin Essayan and my colleagues in the UK and Portugal over the coming year to make the most of the Foundation’s achievements to date and to help deliver on its mission going forward.”

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