Susie Ventris-Field – Chief Executive
With a passion for involving people in internationalism, Susie leads the WCIA, and has been involved in the organisation since getting involved as a volunteer in 2013. Her career in the third sector has included work in gender equality, education and inclusion in Wales, England, South Korea and Eritrea.
I’m constantly inspired by the people in Wales who give their time, energy and experience to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. At the WCIA, we want to build on these fantastic examples and get more people involved so Wales can continue to punch above its weight as a globally responsible nation.
Shaela Ismail – Finance Manager
Shaela joined WCIA in 2015 and helped to establish a fully functioning finance department. Qualified AAT Accountant with experience of private sector and charity finance. She oversees all aspects of the finance department and prepare the management reports, payroll, annual report, banking and investments, contracts and related HR aspects. She also works closely with project leads to manage the financial administration of externally funded grants and projects, and with the venue team to manage venue finances.
Born and raised in Cardiff, a mum of two, of Bangladeshi descent. An advocate for cultural integration, a desire to raise awareness and encourage discussion of global and political issues within ethnic and disadvantaged communities in Wales. She loves to travel and explore different cultures, religions and cuisines!
The WCIA is unique in that it offers the people of Wales the first step into exploring and navigating global issues. Through campaigns, workshops and debates, we give a voice to the Welsh on an international spectrum.
Amber Demetrius – Global Learning Manager
Amber is responsible for ensuring that the WCIA’s educational programmes are running smoothly. Her role includes designing and running projects to improve Global learning, evaluating their impact and developing learning partnerships across Wales. She is also developing our existing projects in schools.
Amber has a background in Education and previously taught across the Primary sector for fifteen years. She has also worked with Theatre in Education and Global Learning Groups to provide innovative approaches for students in primary and secondary settings, helping individuals who are disengaged with learning to rebuild their confidence within it. Amber is a zealous reader and a lover of crime dramas and cats.
What I’ve learned from working with young people is that so much comes down to your attitude. If you believe you can make a change happen then you always really can. A lot of our work is about people not being afraid to stand and fight for the things that matter most to them. You can do it through simple acts of kindness but also by writing to politicians and influencing decision makers in your community. The world needs more people who are willing to fight for the right things and I think if more people did, we’d have a much better world to live in.
Hannah Harvey- Head of Programme Development & Policy
Hannah Harvey job shares as the WCIA’s Head of Programme Development and Policy. Hannah has been working in the international and voluntary sector in Wales for the last ten years, supporting charities to manage risk, grow and keep up with best-practice initiatives. She is passionate about minimising her impact on the climate and also runs a domestic renewables’ company in Swansea with her husband.
Following her masters in social policy management and development, Hannah worked to support the development of the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act, specifically highlighting Wales’ global connection and the impact of global supply chains in public procurement.
Following an initial career as a publicist for the BBC, Hannah worked as a communications consultant for the World Bank, Sustrans and DfID and as a researcher at Gender at Work. Hannah loves spending time in nature, specifically: experiencing wild spaces with her family, sea swimming, tending bees and also growing veg as part of a community group.
Hayley Richards – Head of Programme Development & Policy
Hayley has been an activist for environmental and social justice since her school days: either organising fundraisings for famine in the 1980s or co-ordinating letter campaigns in support of political prisoners around the world. At Cardiff University, Hayley studied Zoology, Applied Hydrobiology, and then a Ph.D. in Entomology (the study of insects!).
She became a Project Manager at Insect Investigations and has also worked for several years as Project Manager and then Deputy CEO at the Wales Community Recycling Network. She has spent over 10 years as a Researcher and then Policy & Advocacy Officer with Oxfam Cymru, initially working on domestic poverty but then focussing on global issues such as climate change, migration, and Wales’ role in international development.
Hayley worked closely with the Welsh Refugee Coalition on the Wales Nation of Sanctuary campaign and with the Sustainable Development Alliance to positively influence the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Most recently, Hayley has been involved with bringing ‘doughnut economics’ to Wales as part of influencing the well-being economy.
I am extremely excited and proud to have recently joined the amazing WCIA team. Given the significant global challenges we all face, it is so important to make the world a smaller place, better connect people from different countries and develop our learning and understanding of global issues. I am looking forward to working as part of such a dynamic, inclusive, and forward-thinking team.
Craig Owen – Heritage Advisor
A leading figure in Welsh internationalism over the last 15 years, Craig joined WCIA from WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action), where as International Manager since 2007 he developed the Wales Africa Community Links programme. This supported 150 civil society organisations delivering 500 projects on learning, partnership building and community development between Wales and Sub-Saharan Africa, and sharing practice with European partners.
Craig previously worked on Oxfam International’s Tsunami Relief Programme in Indonesia, with a focus on peace building in the conflict-stricken province of Aceh. Craig wrote a ‘Blog from Banda Aceh’ followed by people throughout Wales and worldwide. As Wales Campaigns Coordinator with Oxfam Cymru, Craig led work on ‘Make Poverty History’, ‘Control Arms’ (securing an International Arms Trade Treaty) and on Fair Trade. He has travelled extensively and gainedinternational experience of peace building and community initiatives as far afield as South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Lesotho, Indonesia, Cambodia, Angola, Israel and Palestine. Craig led public and youth outreach work with Oxfam and during 2 years as President of NUS Wales (National Union of Students), and as a students union officer at Aberystwyth University, where he studied Geography and Geology.
Over 2020-21 Craig is undertaking an MPhil on the ‘History of Welsh Internationalism‘ with Aberystwyth University’s Dept of International Politics. In his spare time, Craig has volunteered as an outdoor pursuits leader and trustee with the LGBT charity OutdoorLads; and is an ambassador with cancer charities such as Maggie’s Centres, having been in ongoing treatment and chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma (Bone Marrow Cancer) since 2016. Craig works and studies part-time, primarily home-based.
I’ve loved working with Wales’ International sector over the last couple of decades, supporting charities and community groups to connect with the wider world. It feels like a natural progression, ‘giving something back’, to be uncovering and sharing the heritage of Welsh Internationalism. There are so many really inspiring stories, with the real power to inspire future generations to build a better world. On a very personal level, WCIA has been incredibly flexible and supportive throughout my (ongoing) Cancer treatment; I’m proud to contribute to an organisation that lives its values so positively.
Jane Harries – Peace Education Coordinator
Jane has been a lifelong peace and human rights activist, most recently coordinating Cymdeithas y Cymod – the Fellowship of Reconciliation – through whom she has also worked with Urdd Gobaith Cymru supporting young people in developing the International Peace & Goodwill message. Jane is a languages expert and fluent Welsh speaker; she taught and was Head of Dept for Modern Languages at Cymer school in RCT, prior to 5 years as Wales Education Advisor for the NSPCC, and 7 years in Welsh government as lead for children’s rights and young people’s participation. Jane spends several weeks each year in Palestine & Israel co-facilitating Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops, building on her involvement as a Human Rights Monitor with EAPPI, about which she is writing this blog.
Jane’s role continues to deliver the ambitious Learning Strategy established through the Wales for Peace project over 2015-19 – developing bilingual teaching and curriculum resources; delivering conferences, networking and events for schools, youth & community groups; organising the annual Young Peacemakers Awards, and establishing a world-leading ‘Peace Schools’ scheme for Wales.
Mariska Eventon – Admin Assistant
As the Admin Assistant with a background in event management and international aid & development, Mariska supports with the finances and provides is also the first point of contact for volunteers at the WCIA. She takes care of the administration for volunteers on our international exchange programmes and placement schemes.
Mariska is Dutch, and grew up in both Spain and the Netherlands, before moving to the UK after meeting her Welsh husband. When not in work, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, reading, hiking and gardening.
I very much enjoy the daily interaction with volunteers from all over the world. It’s fantastic to be working for an organisation such as the WCIA, and come across so many different people, all wanting to be involved in the fantastic projects we have.
Michaela Rochman – ESC Programme Manager (European Solidarity Corps International Volunteers)
Michi joined UNA Exchange in 2014 and since then has led across a portfolio of EU-funded programmes, including Erasmus+ and predecessor youth exchange schemes. At WCIA Michaela is managing European Solidarity Corps projects and international exchanges.
Experienced in international volunteering herself, Michaela has participated in projects worldwide, including in Germany, France, South Africa, Tanzania, England and Wales.
Elen Hywel – Global Learning Project Assistant
Nel works within the Global Learning Team at WCIA and also for Climate Cymru. Her responsibilities involve general administrative tasks, co-facilitating the wonderful Youth Climate Ambassadors and co-designing educational training in various areas. These areas include, debating skills for young refugees, and global citizenship, climate change and peace education for schools and youth organisations.
Nel has a first-class degree in Anthropology and International Development from the University of Sussex. She also has a background in international human rights law, having co-authored and published a legal memorandum for Survival International on indigenous education and volunteered in advocacy roles supporting vulnerable asylum seekers in detention centres. She’s a fluent Welsh speaker and currently learning Portuguese. When not at work, she loves to cook and try out new places to eat, visit museums and art exhibitions and photograph landscapes and wildlife.
“What I love most about working at WCIA is that learning is a constant reciprocal and non-hierarchical exchange, whether that’s between staff members or between young people and facilitators, everyone is always open to exchanging ideas and learning from one another which makes WCIA a really special place to work.”
Sam Ward – Climate Cymru Campaign Manager
Sam dedicates much of his waking hours doing everything he can to avert the biodiversity and climate crisis, both in East Africa, his adopted home, and in his country of origin, the UK.
His early career was orientated around the outdoors, especially the magical world of white-water kayaking. Ultimately Sam ended up coaching the British national team to over 30 medals at international competitions and competing himself at the international level for a number of years.
During this time Sam travelled and worked in around 35 countries, set up and developed a range of businesses, originating with his first company, Love it Live it. Later Sam bought a Uganda based kayak school and establishing Nile SUP, another company orientated around getting people out into nature.
Alongside these companies, Sam has always been involved in a series of social enterprises, environmental initiatives, charities, community events and environmental advocacy campaigns.
Sam is now working as a sustainability consultant and program manager for environmental and conservation projects with a focus on the intersection between environmental and social benefits in the global south. He is a director of the biodiversity alliance, a charity focused on biodiversity and habitat protection, and has recently stepped back from a project managing a major association that represents community’s interests in (going against) the establishment of a controversial 3000 hectare World Bank’s biodiversity offset in Uganda. Whenever he can find the time, Sam dusts off his microphone and talks about the latest thing that’s got him excited in the environmental sphere.
“The Climate Cymru campaign is centred around meaningful and fair action to address the climate emergency and will gather voices from all areas and demographics of Welsh society. As partners or people sign up, they tell Climate Cymru what is important to them and the responses received will shape the campaign’s communication and advocacy at COP26 and to county councils, Welsh and UK governments. Ultimately, the people of Wales own the message.”
Ameerah Mai – Academi Heddwch Coordinator
Ameerah comes from Llanberis, in north Wales, and completed a work experience placement at the WCIA when she was 16. Following this placement, Ameerah knew that she wanted to work in the field of Welsh internationalism after graduating university. Ameerah graduated during lockdown with an undergraduate degree in History (BA), and completed a postgraduate degree in International Relations (MScEcon), both at Cardiff University. She started volunteering with the WCIA again in January 2021 as their website administrator and became Academi Heddwch Coordinator in July 2021. In her spare time, Ameerah is part of the Future Generations Leadership Academy 2021-2022, where she is working alongside the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and several Welsh ministers. She’s very interested in current affairs and Welsh politics, which has led her to conduct her own research on refugee identity-creation in Wales.
“Academi Heddwch Cymru is funded by the Welsh Government and supported by the universities of Wales. Our aim is to continue Wales’ tradition of peace-making by creating a community of researchers in relevant fields across Wales, and to place peace firmly on the Welsh Government’s national and international agenda.”
Isabel Garcia – ESC Volunteer
Isabel, together with Clara, is one of our volunteers for the ESC project. During this year she will be helping with WCIA communication. She has studied Advertising and Public Relations in Spain and recently worked for an advertising agency, so she really loves anything that is related to creativity. She really wanted to work abroad and get out of her comfort zone by exploring new cultures and ways of living.
“For me, being able to work with WCIA it’s such an inspiring and valuable experience that allows you to reach an intercultural dimension through a non-formal approach. Participating in many different activities, tasks and events give you the opportunity not just to acquire new skills and abilities useful for your personal/professional growth, but also to promote active citizenship and the development of local communities.”
Clara Morer Andrades – ESC Volunteer
Clara comes from Catalonia and, together with Isabel, joined WCIA team in 2021 as part of an ESC volunteer project. She has worked in the field of human rights and transitional justice in the past years as part of different charities in Spain, Tunisia, and Colombia.
She has a bachelor degree in International Relations and currently, she is about to finish her Master degree in International Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice at Ulster University.
“I’m really excited to be part of the WCIA. I was impressed by how people across Wales have taken active action to work for the achievement of global justice and peace. So, I look forward to getting further involved in the different actions that WCIA is promoting and in joining the team that is making it possible.”
Hub Cymru Africa Team
The Hub Cymru Africa Team are also employed by and based with WCIA on behalf of the HCA Partnership Board, under contract with the Welsh Government, to deliver development support to Wales-wide international and community groups partnering with African organisations.
WCIA’s Venue Team manage Temple of Peace venue hire, room bookings and events – from meetings and conferences to weddings and film shoots.