Please meet RSA Board Member, Louise Kempton
I’ve been based at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University since July 2011. Before joining CURDS I was a local and regional development policy maker and practitioner, working in a local authority and a regional development agency in the North East of England. Prior to that I worked in international development, spending six years with an NGO promoting fair trade for producers in the Global South and three years living and working in Gambia, helping to develop a more ethical and sustainable tourism industry.
I enjoy visiting new places so am very lucky that my work (and previous jobs) have involved a lot travel, including to many places in Africa, Asia and South America. My favourite places are small cities where you can really get a feel for a place in a few days. My current top choice for a long weekend is Valencia in Spain which ticks all my boxes – amazing food, a beautiful old town, lots of culture and green spaces, near the coast and lots of sun.
I was born and raised in Ireland but left at the age of 24 to go to Gambia where I met (and married) my husband who is British. We came to the UK after our stint in Gambia and I successfully applied for a two year job with the fair trade NGO Traidcraft Exchange, based near Newcastle. And twenty-five years later I am still here! So I have now lived longer in Newcastle than anywhere else, which I guess makes me an adopted Geordie! Luckily Newcastle fulfils all my criteria for the perfect small city (though a bit more sun would be nice!)
Outside of work and travel my other passions are reading (almost anything apart from science fiction), music and food, both cooking and eating it. My favourite part of visiting a new place is meticulously researching the best places to eat in advance. I am the (self-appointed!) social secretary at CURDS where I assume control over organising our nights out, leaving nothing to chance. Thankfully my colleagues are willing to indulge my bossy ‘Irish Mammy’ tendencies!