Deputy Chair Appointed to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Board

Date published: 26 March 2020

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced the appointment of the new Deputy Chair to the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). 

Mrs Roberta Brownlee, has been appointed as the new Deputy Chair and her appointment is effective from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023. 

Confirming the new appointment, DAERA Minister Poots MLA said: “I welcome the appointment of Mrs Roberta Brownlee as the Deputy Chair to the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.

“Roberta has extensive experience as a Chief Executive with a special interest in quality improvement, stakeholder engagement, governance, risk and safety management. I have no doubt Roberta’s experience will enable her to play a positive role in the future of AFBI.”

Mrs Roberta Brownlee has had a distinguished professional career in Health & Social Care in the Private, Public & Voluntary Sectors and was recognised for this with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.  Roberta owns and operates a Nursing Home in Castlederg, County Tyrone.  Roberta has completed an MSc in Executive Leadership which afforded her the opportunity to study in Boston and Lusanne Business Schools.  Roberta is presently Chair of the Southern Health & Social Care Trust Board and a member of the Courts & Tribunals Service - Care Tribunal (NI) Department of Justice. 

Roberta has a strong commitment to education and is a past member of the Education Board (SELB) and a past member of the Board of Governors in Primary and Post Primary Schools. She is also a past member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (NI Member). Roberta has three grown up children, two daughters and a son, and has four grandchildren.  Roberta enjoys fundraising and has spent many years raising money for a variety of charities in NI.  Roberta was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2019 for services to Charity and to the Southern Health and Social Services.

AFBI is an arms-length body of DAERA with approximately 650 staff delivering scientific work for DAERA and other government departments, public bodies and commercial companies in Northern Ireland, and further afield. AFBI’s science plays a crucial role in providing underpinning statutory and analytical testing, research and development, emergency response capability and expert scientific advice to support the various work programmes of DAERA and the wider requirements of the agri-food industry.

AFBI's three main areas of work are:

  • Leading improvements in the agri-food industry;
  • Protecting animal, plant and human health; and
  • Enhancing the natural and marine environments

AFBI occupies seven sites across Northern Ireland;

  • Newforge Lane (HQ)
  • Stormont
  • Hillsborough
  • Crossnacreevy
  • Loughgall
  • Omagh
  • Bushmills
  • plus a 53 metre dedicated marine research vessel based in Port of Belfast


    Notes to editors: 

    1. Mrs Roberta Brownlee lives near Loughgall in County Armagh where her husband and son are involved in the family farm business. 
    2. The post attracts a remuneration of £11,188 (under review) per annum. 
    3. Mrs Brownlee is currently a member of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Board.
    4. The above appointment is based on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) requires the political activity of appointees to be published.  The appointee has not been involved in any political activity during the past five years.
    5. The appointment is made in accordance with the Agriculture (NI) Order 2004 and the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.
    6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email to: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
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