Introducing New JRI Director Shelly Dennison

At our AGM in April we elected two new directors to the board. This is the first of two short blog posts in which the new directors introduce themselves, the second post is here.

I first came across JRI when I signed up for the CRES course in 2019. I thoroughly enjoyed the two years, which seemed to fly by, and was impressed with the quality of the course materials and other online JRI resources. Since finishing CRES I’ve been getting to know more about JRI and writing a few blog posts and book reviews for the website, as well as turning two of my study papers into briefing papers.

I studied History at the University of York, followed by a PGCE at the University of Leeds. I then went into arts and heritage outreach, developing an interest in informal and community learning projects. I’m currently the Digital Engagement Officer for CPRE Bedfordshire, which is part of the network of local groups that make up CPRE, the countryside charity. As the job title suggests, I mostly work on the website and social media channels, but I also work on print materials like our members’ magazine. It’s a varied role covering content creation, communications strategy and planning, profile raising and engaging new audiences. A more recent development has been working with local community groups and campaigners to help them communicate their aims, which is a very rewarding part of the job.

It is all too easy to put work in one box and church in another, so I saw CRES as an opportunity to help me connect my job and my faith. The study papers and work diaries gave me the chance to reflect more theologically on some of the areas on which I work, including local food, the planning system and access to the countryside. I’m looking forward to being able to use some of my experience in outreach and communications to help JRI in return.

I have an ecumenical background. I serve on the Church Council and am the Eco Church lead at my local Methodist Church, and also worship at my parish church.

Outside of work I enjoy reading (I’ll read just about anything but I’m particularly fond of detective fiction and nature writing) and nature filled walks.