Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS is a professional geographer. She was appointed Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences to succeed Stephen Anderson from 28 January 2019. Rita was previously Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography, from 1996 to 2018. In that role, she developed and led a sustained, strategic programme of modernisation and expansion of the society, advocacy for geography, and public and policy engagement. Dr Gardner has extensive experience in advisory, trustee and committee roles, including Personal Advisor for geography to Lord Adonis (Schools Minister, Department for Children, Schools and Families); Chair, Exhibition Road Cultural Group; Non-Executive Director, British Antarctic Survey; and Member, ‘Finch’ Review Group on Open Access to Scholarly Publications. Dr Gardner pursued an early academic career in geography from 1979 to 1996 at London University after studying at Oxford University (DPhil) and UCL (BSc). Her work is recognised with three leading geography awards, five honorary degrees and a CBE for services to geography.