Board Members

Rick Menell

Rick joined the PAST board in 2002, and succeeded Tony Trahar as Chairman in 2006. He holds an MA from Cambridge University and an MSc from Stanford University, both in the earth sciences field. Rick has had a 35-year career in the international mining industry and has been a geologist and mining executive in North America, Australia and South Africa.

Dr. Berhane Asfaw
BerhaneAsfaw received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-leader of the scientific team that discovered Ardipithecusramidus. Dr. Asfaw is the Director of the Rift Valley Research Service, a Research Associate in Physical Anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, as well as foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Dr. Asfaw is a founding member of the new Ethiopian National Academy of Sciences.

Philip Baum


Philip Baum, B.Com, LL.B, Higher Diploma in Tax Law (University of the Witwatersrand).

Philip is chairman of Nord Gold and a director of Ruukki as well as being a trustee of PAST ( Palaeontological Scientific Trust) and the Tiger Kloof School. He has had a 31 year career with Anglo American plc, with experiences in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australasia in mining, minerals, heavy industry and financial services. He retired from Anglo American in 2009 as chief executive officer of it’s Ferrous Metals division and a member of it’s Executive.

Prof. John Cruise


Prof. John Cruise PrEng is a Consulting Mining Engineer and a Chairman and Director of Companies. He is an Honorary Life Fellow and past president of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering. He is anHonourary Professor in the School of Mining, University of the Witwatersrand, and a Founding Trustee of PAST.

Robin Petersen Gibbs


Robin is a philanthropic advisor and has worked in business and fundraising strategy for a number of organisations including Tshikululu Social Investments, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), Imperial College NHS Trust and Brown University. During her tenure in finance, Robin was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs.  Robin was previously a Trustee of Jeans for Genes and is currently on the Advisory Board of The Lunchbox Fund.  Robin holds a BA in history from Brown University and a MBA in finance with distinction from Columbia Business School.

Vincent Zwelibanzi Mntambo


Zwelibanzi is executive director of Xalam Performance (Pty). He trained as a lawyer and holds the degrees B.Juris, LL.B, LL.M (Yale). He was Senior Lecturer at the Universities of the Northwest and Natal (Durban) and served as the first Director General of the Gauteng Provincial Government. Zwelibanzi has over the last 12 years directed a management consultant practice focusing on strategy development and performance improvement solutions. He is an experienced conflict management practitioner who was Executive Director of the Independent Mediation Service of SA (IMSSA). He served as chairman of the governing body of the CCMA for eight years, and as chairman of Eyesizwe Mining (Pty) and Eyesizwe Coal (Pty) for five years. Zwelibanzi currently serves on the boards of Eyesizwe Mining (Pty), Mainstreet 333 (Pty), Metrobus (Pty), SA Tourism (Pty), Exxaro Ltd and Aveng Ltd.

Selepe Homer Motuba


Homer studied medicine at the University of Natal, Durban, and is a fellow of the College of Surgeons (FCS) of South Africa (SA). He has taught medical and dental students at the University of Witwatersrand since 1984, as well as having won the Michael and Janie Miller Post graduate prize in Surgery for Outstanding achievement at the University of Witwatersrand in 1986. Homer serves as a Managing Trustee.

Michael Nayler

Trustee & Treasurer

Mike has held various management positions at Anglo American plc for over four decades. He is presently Chairman of Link Market Services SA (Pty) Ltd and Trustee, Treasurer and Office Manager of PAST.

Dr. Yonah Seleti


Dr. Yonah Seleti is currently Chief Director: Science Missions in South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology where he is responsible for Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Palaeosciences, Marine and Polar Research and Earth Systems Sciences.

His pioneering work in the fields of Indigenous Knowledge Systems has earned him international acclaim in various fora and in 2002 he was appointed by the African Union Permanent Representatives to the UN in Geneva as chief negotiator and strategist for the African Group on Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Genetic Resources at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).In addition he has worked to build international linkages on traditional medicine with countries such as China and India.

Currently he is serving as an Honorary Professor in the African Renaissance Institute at the University of South Africa. He serves on many boards and has published widely on historical themes covering Zambia, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.

Sim Tshabalala


Hlabisa-born Simpiwe “Sim” Tshabalala is joint Chief Executive of the Standard Bank Group and Chief Executive of Standard Bank South Africa.

Standard Bank is Africa’s largest bank, with operations in 18 African countries and 20 countries on other continents. Standard Bank is Africa’s most valuable banking brand, and the only African company to be ranked on among the world’s 100 Most Sustainable Corporations list.

Sim – who is a qualified attorney, and holds an LLM from Notre Dame University (USA) – joined the Structured Finance division of Standard Bank Group in 2000, and worked himself up through the ranks, becoming Managing Director of Stanbic Africa and Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, before being appointed as Chief Executive of Standard Bank South Africa in March 2008. He was appointed as one of three Deputy Chief Executives for Standard Bank Group in April 2009.  In June 2012, Sim took on the additional responsibility for Corporate and Investment Banking’s client franchise in South Africa. In March 2013, Sim was appointed joint Chief Executive of the Standard Bank Group, extending his responsibilities to the banking businesses on the African continent outside South Africa and to the bank’s Wealth business, including Liberty Holdings.

Sim believes that ‘Being a banker is always exciting because it’s always a stretch. A good banker has to be strategic thinker, a people person and a technical expert all at once. Bankers can make a really big positive difference. We give people the ability to be active economic agents; we allow small businesses to perform; and we are in a position to facilitate transformation.’

In Memoriam

Jennifer Oppenheimer

Jennifer Oppenheimer participated in a broad range of civil society organisations in South Africa primarily in education-related fields. In addition to PAST, some of her commitments included the Institute of Human Evolution, the Field Band Foundation, the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, and Endeavor. Together with her husband, Jonathan, she was also involved with the Brenthurst Foundation, which works to strengthen Africa’s economic advancement through private sector-led growth.