Reform Scotland


Chris Deerin


Chris is Reform Scotland’s Director, and one of Scotland’s leading journalists and commentators. He is Scotland Editor of the New Statesman and also writes for a wide variety of publications, including the Financial Times, The Economist, the Press & Journal and the Big Issue. Chris has worked in senior positions at several of Britain’s top newspaper titles, including as Head of Comment at The Telegraph, Executive Editor of Scotland on Sunday, and as a columnist for the Daily Mail. He has twice been voted Scotland’s Columnist of the Year. Chris has also worked at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government and had spells in communications consultancy. He coaches better writing skills at many of the UK’s most prestigious companies and organisations.

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Alison Payne

Research Director

Alison is Reform Scotland’s research director and joined the think tank in 2008. 

After graduating from Edinburgh University with a degree in Economics and Politics in 2001, Alison spent four years as Head of Research for the Scottish Conservatives, later becoming Political Adviser to the then leader, Annabel Goldie MSP.   

Before joining Reform Scotland Alison was a senior account manager with PPS, which provides communications and consultation advice to the property and development industry. She also spent 10 years volunteering as a Girl Guide leader and is an area coordinator for the charity Widowed And Young.  

Alison lives in Edinburgh with her two children.

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Rowan Taylor

PA to Director

Rowan joined Reform Scotland in November 2021.  As PA to Chris, Rowan manages Reform Scotland’s extensive and varied events calendar.  She is responsible for the Director’s diary management and all donor-related administration.

Rowan has over 40 years’ experience working in PA roles in the property sector in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where she was responsible for organising corporate hospitality events, marketing, and office facilities management.   She has two grown-up children and lives with her husband in Haddington.

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Heather McCauley


Heather McCauley is a former senior civil servant who has worked for the New Zealand and Scottish Governments and the UK Parliament over a 30 year period. Her roles have included policy advisor to two New Zealand Prime Ministers from 2001 to 2012, during which time she advised on a wide range of social, economic and public sector design issues.

Heather also brings a first-hand knowledge and understanding of the Scottish context, having worked as a senior civil servant in the Scottish Government from 2012 to 2016, and consulted to various Scottish public bodies since 2018.  Heather currently works independently, advising public sector leaders on medium-term strategy and organisational change, and undertaking short-term policy and research projects.

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Stuart Paton


Stuart Paton has spent his career in the energy sector. Having started as an exploration geologist at Shell, he joined Dana Petroleum, a mid sized, Aberdeen based oil and gas company initially as Commercial Manager. He was board member and COO of Dana until the company was acquired by the Korean National Oil Corporation in 2010.  He has since taken on a wide variety of industry roles including with an energy focussed US private equity fund, a number of board positions of private companies and advisory roles with a range of organisations. He has been a non executive board member of AIM listed Getech plc since 2011 including serving 10 years as Chair. In addition to being a non executive of Getech, he also Chairs the wholly owned subsidiary H2 Green which is focussed on green hydrogen projects including a number in Scotland. 
Stuart is a Trustee of the Machan Trust, a local charity working with children and young people  in the Larkhall area where he was brought up. He is actively involved in a variety of community endeavours in Dunkeld where he now lives including the development of a new sports facility in the village.
Stuart has a degree and PhD in geological sciences from Cambridge University. He  is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of the Scottish Energy Forum.

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Keir Bloomer

Chair - Commission on School Reform

Keir Bloomer is Chair of the Commission on School Reform, the educational think tank of Reform Scotland. He was until recently Chair of the Education Committee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Scotland’s National academy) and the Scottish Book Trust.

He was Director of Education and later Chief Executive of Clackmannanshire Council. Since retiring he has undertaken a wide variety of educational consultancy work in the UK and in Africa.

He has been appointed by the government of Northern Ireland to chair a review of education in the province.

The full membership of the Commission can be viewed here.


Chair - Rt Hon Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Jack McConnell was First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007, UK Special Representative for Peacebuilding 2008-2010, and has been a member of the UK House of Lords since 2010.

Lord McConnell is Chancellor of the University of Stirling, Chair of the McConnell International Foundation, and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the UN Global Goals. He is also Chair of the International Peacebuilding Awards and an adviser to the Bangsamoro peace process in the Philippines.

Jack has served with many organisations supporting vulnerable young people and is currently Vice President of UNICEF UK and a Trustee of youth mentoring charity MCR Pathways. He has a keen interest in sport, now serving as Honorary President of Scottish Athletics and Chair of the Commonwealth Games Scotland Endowment Fund.

Jack grew up on a sheep farm on the Isle of Arran, and graduated in Mathematics and Education from the University of Stirling before working as a High School Mathematics teacher for a decade. He was Stirling Council Leader 1990-1992, a Member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention 1989-1998 and General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party 1992-1998.

Sinclair Dunlop

Managing Partner, Epidarex Capital

Sinclair has over 20 years of experience successfully building early-stage life science companies and delivering competitive returns to international investors. Sinclair is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of four Epidarex Funds.  He has venture investing experience in North America, Europe and East Asia and has built an international network of blue-chip investors from both the public and private sectors. Sinclair is a Director of Epidarex Management Ltd, Epidarex Capital Management LLC and he serves on the Boards of Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Clyde Biosciences Ltd. and Lario Therapeutics Ltd.

Sinclair received his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School where he was the R.C. Kopf British-American Fellow in International Business. He holds an M.A. with Honours in Political Economy from the University of Glasgow and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Sinclair is a St. Andrew’s Society of New York Scholar. Earlier in his career, he was a political economist with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Geraldine Gammell

Geraldine is a Chartered Accountant with four Non-Executive /Trustee roles (Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Golden Charter Trust, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Foundation and Kilgraston school). She was formerly the Director of The Prince’s Trust in Scotland. 

Sandy Kennedy

Sandy has 25 years experience as an entrepreneur, CEO, investor and advisor to scaling firms, Government and entrepreneurial support organisations. He is a Director at the vertical farming scaleup, Intelligent Growth Solutions, Innovation Research Fellow at the Glasgow School of Art, Growth Advisor to Eos Investment, Non-executive with Elevator, Reform Scotland and strategic advisor to Converge, and SoSE. He has been CEO at Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation and The Saltire Foundation and on the boards of Social Investment Scotland, Scottish EDGE and Glasgow City Innovation District. He is a Scale-up Ambassador for the ScaleUp Institute and has written a regular column on entrepreneurship for The Herald.

Anna Macdonald

Anna Macdonald is a fund manager. She began her career at Henderson Global Investors in London, where she co-managed the core UK equity product. After some time living in Kenya, as head of research for Old Mutual Asset Management, she returned to the UK and worked at Threadneedle Investors in London before moving to Edinburgh. Anna joined Amati in 2018 from Adam and Company, where she led research for the PAM-award winning wealth manager. Anna contributes frequently to the Today programme, BBC TV, Sky News and Bloomberg TV. Anna now works for Sustineri Global Investments, a Vienna-based global fund manager with a strong ESG focus.

Anna was brought up by Loch Lomond. She studied Economics and Philosophy at the London School of Economics, and has been a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder since 2003.