The Scottish Parliament's think-tank


Scotland’s Futures Forum is the Scottish Parliament’s futures think-tank. It works on a non-party basis to promote research and to stimulate debate on the long-term challenges and opportunities that Scotland faces. We aim to inform MSPs and those who work with them, enabling them to consider the effects of decisions taken today on Scotland’s long-term future.

Looking beyond the five-year electoral cycle and away from party politics, the Futures Forum seeks to bring fresh perspectives, ideas and creativity on how we might prepare now for the future. We host discussions and seminars and present ideas to engage Scotland’s parliamentarians and challenge their thinking.

Contact us

If you would like to be kept informed of the work Scotland’s Futures Forum, you can join our mailing list.

We use the mailing to send messages about upcoming events and other work that may be of interest. We send a couple of emails a month at most. We ask only for your name and email address, and we never share your information with anyone else.

If you would like to sign up, please email:

Our governance

The Futures Forum is formally constituted as a company limited by guarantee (SC288940) owned wholly by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB). This the body responsible for ensuring that the Scottish Parliament is provided with the property, services and staff it requires. The SPCB provides 100% of the Futures Forum’s funding.

Our work is overseen by a Board of Directors, which is chaired by the Parliament’s Presiding Officer. As company directors, Board members are responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of Scotland’s Futures Forum and its programme of work.

Board of Directors

Directors come from two general categories: MSPs and non-MSPs. MSP directors are nominated by their party to provide a parliamentary input into the work of the Futures Forum. Non-MSP directors bring experience of different aspects of civic Scotland, including academia, the third sector, the arts and industry.

Directors are required to show a strong commitment to, and an understanding of, the value of strategic and long-term thinking within Scotland. They are expected to support the work of the Futures Forum, promote it within their networks, and occasionally host events.

The position of director is not remunerated and is held for an initial term of five years with extension mutually agreed by the individual director, the Presiding Officer as Chair of the Board, and the SPCB.

Nomination, appointment and reappointment of directors

Given that the Board of directors are most aware of the experience needed at any one time, the directors propose individuals for appointment, bearing in mind requirements for a Board that is broadly representative of Scotland’s population. It is then for the SPCB, as the company’s owner and sole member, formally to nominate each director and thereby confirm their appointment.

It is the responsibility of the Chair of the Board, acting with the advice of the Company Secretary, to review the performance of each director before inviting them to extend their term as a director. The review is conducted against the director specification, considering among other things attendance at and involvement in Futures Forum board meetings and wider activities. Assuming the invitation is accepted, the SPCB is asked formally to extend the appointment.

Current Directors

Alison Johnstone MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (Chair)

Biography of Alison Johnstone MSP, PO and Chair of SFF board of directors

Alison was elected to the role of Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament in May 2021. In this role, Alison chairs the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. as well as the Futures Forum board of directors.

Alison has represented Lothian region in the Scottish Parliament since 2011 and prior to that was a City of Edinburgh Councillor from 2007 to 2012. Following her election to Presiding Officer Alison resigned her Scottish Green Party membership.

As an MSP and Councillor Alison campaigned on issues of environmental justice, health and wellbeing, sport, equality, human rights and animal welfare.

Maggie Chapman MSP

Biography of Maggie Chapman MSP, member of SFF board of directors

Maggie was elected to the Scottish Parliament as an MSP for the North East Scotland region in 2021. She is Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, a member of the Economy and Fair Work Committee, and a member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. Maggie is the Green Party spokesperson for Justice, Equalities and Human Rights, Economy, International Development and Social Security.

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Maggie moved to Scotland for university. Prior to her election as an MSP, she worked for feminist women’s organisations and a disability charity, and had been a lecturer in human geography for over a decade. Maggie was Rector of the University of Aberdeen for six years, and a City Councillor in Edinburgh from 2007-2015.

Kirsten Hogg, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Kirsten is head of Policy, Research and Campaigns at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.  She has built her career influencing policy on behalf of voluntary organisations, with a previous focus on social care, learning disability and children’s services.

Before joining the voluntary sector Kirsten worked on a European citizen participation project, inspiring an academic and professional interest in how different groups can get involved in decision making.  At Barnardo’s Scotland she helped to pilot arts-based methods for engaging young people and professionals in discussions about policy and practice.

Kirsten is a Trustee of Starcatchers, Scotland’s Arts and Early Years Organisation.  She holds an MA (Hons) in Politics and German and MSc in Public Policy, both from the University of Glasgow.

Diarmaid Lawlor, Associate Director, Scottish Futures Trust

Biography of Diarmaid Lawlor, member of SFF board of directors

Diarmaid is an Associate Director (Place) at the Scottish Futures Trust. He’s an urbanist with a multidisciplinary background and over 20 years’ experience working across sectors in the UK and Europe. Diarmaid helps clients make well-informed decisions about place-based policy and investment challenges, using design thinking to unlock problems.

Diarmaid is a designer, educator, communicator and collaborator who writes and speaks on creative approaches to making better places. He is a principled pragmatist and believes that place matters.

Diarmaid has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the Edinburgh College of Art and a Masters in Urban Design from the University of Westminster.

Sarah Munro, Director of the Baltic Mill Centre for Contemporary Art

Biography of Sarah Munro, member of SFF board of directors

Sarah has over 20 years of experience of cultural leadership following a distinguished career in Glasgow as both Artistic Director of Tramway and Head of Arts for the city, where she led the bid to bring the Turner Prize 2015 to Scotland for the first time. In August 2015 she was appointed as Director of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Sarah is Chair of Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN); Chair of Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN) North East region and a member of Gateshead Cultural Forum and NGCV network.

Sarah has an MA (Hons) in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Dundee and holds a PG Diploma from City University, London.

Esther Roberton

Biography of Esther Roberton, member of SFF board of directors

Esther is an expert in civic, corporate and constitutional governance and passionate advocate for a new route map to Scotland’s future. 

Esther has spent a lifetime in public service, most recently as Chair of NHS Lothian and before that Chair of NHS24 and as a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Government. In 2017 she was asked to chair the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation for the Scottish Government and was a Press Complaints Commissioner from 2007 to 2014. In the 1990s, Esther was Coordinator of the Scottish Constitutional Convention whose 1995 publication ‘Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right’ provided the blueprint for devolution. 

Alex Rowley MSP

Biography of Alex Rowley MSP, member of SFF board of directors

Alex was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2014 as an MSP for the Mid Scotland & Fife region. His interest in politics was heavily influenced by his parents and the Trade Union movement, and he was a shop steward in his late teens.

After studying at Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith and the University of Edinburgh, Alex worked for the National Local Government Forum Against Poverty and the TUC. He then worked as full-time agent and constituency manager for Gordon Brown MP, as well as serving as leader of Fife Council and General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party.

Alex was born in Dunfermline and brought up in Kelty. He has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. Alex is a keen gardener and loves growing his own fruit and vegetables.

Evelyn Tweed MSP

Evelyn was elected to the Scottish Parliament, in May 2021, as MSP for the Stirling constituency. She is a member of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee and the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Prior to this, Evelyn was a Stirling Councillor for the Trossachs and Teith ward. She has a professional background in housing, having served in senior positions within several housing associations before entering politics. Evelyn was a member of the Board of the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland from 2007-2009. 

Evelyn is married to Ahsan and has two children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, and reading.

Brian Whittle MSP

Biography of Brian Whittle, member of SFF board of directors

Brian was elected as an MSP for the South Scotland region in 2016. He is a member of the Economy and Fair Work Committee.

Brian grew up in Ayrshire, and qualified as an industrial chemist before becoming a professional athlete.

Brian has represented Great Britain 45 times, including at the 1988 Olympics and 1990 Commonwealth Games. He’s probably most famous for running his leg of the 1986 European Athletics Championships with only one shoe – and still managing to achieve a personal best!

As a former professional sportsman, Brian has championed the role of community organisations and local sports clubs in promoting good physical and mental health. He is also an advocate for the use of technology and innovation to address many of the long-term challenges facing Scotland, such as climate change.

Our team

  1. Allan Campbell, Company Secretary. Allan is Head of Operations at the Scottish Parliament and within the Futures Forum has responsibility as Company Secretary.
  2. Susan Mansfield, Head of Business. Susan manages and represents the organisation and organises and delivers events and projects in line with the strategic direction provided by the Board of Directors.
  3. Audrey Gray, Business Co-ordinator. Audrey provides administrative and event support.

Annual Reports

Each year, the Futures Forum submits an annual report of its activities to the SPCB as part of its governance arrangements. It is also legally required to prepare and submit financial statements (annual accounts) to Companies House and HM Revenue and Customs.