Our trustees

The Welsh Centre for International Affairs is a registered charity (no. 1156822) and is governed by a Board of Trustees.

The trustees meet regularly as a full board, as well as delegating certain responsibilities to the Finance and Risk, Staffing and Remuneration and Governance Committees.

 

Darren RalphDarren Ralph  Co-Chair

Darren Ralph is co-chair for the WCIA. His background in equality and human rights is shaped by various roles at the Valleys Regional Equality Council and later as one of the Community Cohesion lead’s for Wales.

He now works as Head of Inclusion for the National Trust. His earlier interests include World Religions and Eastern Cultures born from extensive travels in India as a child. He has contributed to the debate on declining patterns of faith and is the author of Secularising Religion.

Darren is keen to use his academic research, professional experiences and interests in international affairs to encourage global dialogue and activity through the mutual understanding of fairness, decency and respect.

 

Rhiannon Hardiman – Co-Chair and Governance Committee Member

Rhiannon has been a Trustee since 2015 and is currently Co-Chair of the Board. A Welsh public affairs specialist, Rhiannon manages active travel charity Living Streets Cymru. For 10 years Rhiannon headed up an EU-funded Rural Development Programme leading on strategy; multi-agency partnerships; community development and grant giving; and raising multi-million funding packages for programme delivery.

Rhiannon worked in the USA for one year as part of her tourism management undergraduate studies and over 2019/20 is studying an MSc Econ in Welsh Government & Politics with Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

 

Peter Sargent -Treasurer and Hub Cymru Africa Board (Finance and Risk)

Peter is an experienced leader in the humanitarian and development sector and has worked extensively in east and central Africa as an NGO finance specialist and freelance consultant before moving back to Wales. He passionately believes in the transformative power of aligning operations to strategy in order to improve performance and ultimately impact, and he has spent most of his professional focus in this field.

His particular interests are in working with local communities and partners, and at a strategic level in improving grant and risk management practice. Peter is based in Cardiff with his wife and three children, where he works as Chief Operating Officer for United Purpose, a Wales-headquartered international development NGO that is a leader in community-led development and grassroots innovation aiming to help people gain agency over their own lives so they can move beyond aid.

 

Sara Whittam – Secretary and Chair of the Governance Committee

Originally from Ynys Mon, Sara has been based in Cardiff with her family for 15 years. Studying languages and linguistics at the University of Leeds led to working and living in France with a stint at the European Parliament.

Sara has 10 years’ experience of working in higher education policy and strategy at the University of Bristol and Cardiff University, and is currently seconded to a role developing medical education provision in north Wales. She recently completed postgraduate studies in Higher Education Leadership, Management and Administration.

 

 

 

Chrishan Kamalan

Chrishan  has been a member of the Board since 2013 and he had previously been the chair of the Centre’s Legal Affairs Committee and Chair of the Board. He is a civil servant at the Welsh Government and has a legal professional background. As he is an employee of one of our funding bodies, he takes no part at all in related, strategic decision making which is left to the other trustees.

At present, Chrishan is completing an executive education Certificate in Public Leadership from the US Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge near Boston, Massachusetts.

 

 

Simon Pickard – Hub Cymru Africa Board

Simon works as Portfolio Manager for the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises programme within Elrha. Prior to this role he spent 8 years as International Development Fund Manager at the Cardiff-based grant giving charity the Waterloo Foundation. He has experience of grant management and partnership working across international development and humanitarian themes, working with a wide variety of international and local NGOs and academic institutions operating across Africa and Asia.

Simon has represented the WCIA on the Partnership Board of the Hub Cymru Africa programme since it was founded in 2015.

 

 

 

Eira Jepson -Chair: Staffing Committee and Member Finance Committee

Eira is a PhD student at Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, specialising in foreign language learning in schools in Wales. Her research aims to explore ways of improving policy and practice in Wales to promote language learning as an important skill, as well as an integral aspect of global education and citizenship.

Having grown up in North Wales as a bilingual Welsh and English speaker, Eira’s interest in multilingualism and multiculturalism has taken her to study and work abroad in Europe on several occasions, including in France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.

Before starting her PhD, Eira worked in policy and communications in the third and private sector in Cardiff, and at the European Commission in Brussels, with a focus on the area of equality.

 

 

Catrin Wyn Edwards – Staffing Committee 

Catrin Edwards is a Lecturer in International Politics at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. She previously worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa. She was awarded her PhD in International Politics from the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University in 2014 for a thesis on language-in-education policy and immigration in Catalonia, Wales and Quebec. Catrin has spent time as a Visiting Scholar at UQAM, Montreal, where she was based at the ‘Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité au Québec’, and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Catrin’s research interests include language policy and politics, immigration policy, linguistic diversity and multiculturalism, citizenship and sub-state governance. She also holds a MSc Econ in European Governance and Public Policy from the school of European Studies, Cardiff University.

Prior to undertaking the PhD, Catrin worked as European Policy Officer at the Welsh Language Board.

 

Emma West

As a trustee for the WCIA Emma has a specific focus on heritage, working to protect and promote the history of the Temple of Peace and the organisations within it.

In her role as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Emma has worked with the WCIA’s Wales for Peace project to develop a new tour of the Temple of Peace based on her archival research.

Together with Wales for Peace, Gentle/Radical and the Being Human Festival, Emma was one of the co-organisers of ‘A New Mecca’, a reinterpretation of the Temple’s opening ceremony as part of 2018’s #Temple80 celebrations. Her interview with Huw Edwards about the Temple’s history appeared on BBC4/BBC1 Wales in November 2018.

Emma has a BA, MA and PhD from Cardiff University and lives in Riverside.

 

Kate Oprava 

Kate Oprava joined the WCIA Board in 2020 as a trustee from UNA Exchange following the merger in April 2020. Currently sitting on the Finance and Risk committee, she will take over from Peter as Treasurer in November 2020.

Kate qualified as a Chartered Accountant with one of the Big Four accountancy firms in London before moving to KPMG’s corporate finance department in Cardiff.  Since then she has worked for a number of organizations in both finance and IT roles.  She has worked for several third sector organizations and is currently working as Finance Director for a social mobility charity.

Kate has a keen interest in the environment and is an active member and committee member of Cardiff Rivers Group. She also enjoys the arts and volunteers at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre.

 

 

Raphael Esu

Raphael Esu is a Nigerian and British trained lawyer, licensed Barrister and Solicitor and arbitrator. He is also a PhD researcher in the area of maritime law.

In the third sector, Raphael has worked with the UN, World Bank, Sub Sahara Advisory Panel, Empowered African Youths Foundation and other organisations on delivering various projects both in Nigeria, Africa at Large and the United Kingdom.

He is keen on youth development and inclusion as evidenced in his work.

 

 

Felicite Walls 

(better known as Flik) is a passionate advocate of volunteering, leadership and wellbeing, with a particular interest in enabling young people to flourish.

As the Volunteering Manager at WCVA, Flik aims to enable volunteers and voluntary organisations across Wales to make a bigger difference together. She currently leads the Future Leaders Network in Wales and is a member of the Global Network of Volunteering Leadership. Flik has a Masters in Management in the Community Professions and a PG Diploma in Youth and Community Work.

 

 

Martin Fidler Jones

Martin’s teenage years were influenced by a UNA Exchange/Solidarité Jeunesse exchange programme in France. There he lived and worked alongside young people from over a dozen different cultures to restore a historical monument in the French suburbs and saw the power of the UNA model first hand.

He went on to study French and Economics in Cardiff University where his ERASMUS year took him to Lyon, France where he studied Political Science (SciPo). Later he established a tree planting and social development programme in Cameroon before returning to Cardiff for a Masters in International Relations where he specialised in climate change.

Since graduating he has worked in international development in Uganda and Kyrgyzstan, helped lead the anti Brexit campaign in south Wales and was a Torchbearer for the 2012 Olympics.

 

 

Elin Roberts 

Elin Roberts is a Political Science student at the university of Sciences Po Paris’ Latin American campus in Poitiers. There she majors in Politics and Government. She is currently on exchange at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Growing up as a native bilingual (Welsh & English), Elin has a great love for languages and is now fluent in French and Spanish. She is currently learning Portuguese and Russian.

Brought up in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Elin is an advocate for social and educational mobility and has worked closely to provide workshops on languages and studying abroad with the Seren Network. Elin worked on issues relating to young people when she was a town councillor on the Ffestiniog Town Council.

She continues to work with young people whilst working to expand access to the arts for the young people of Ffestiniog through Cellb and Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig. Elin has also previously worked as a caseworker and researcher for Liz Saville Roberts MP.

 

Nirushan Sudarsan

Nirushan is currently studying Law and Politics at Cardiff University.  He is also a young trustee and Llais Ifanc member of Youth Cymru and a leader with Citizens Cymru Wales.

He is passionate about making change within communities and enjoy working on campaigns and social actions.

 

 

 

 

  Martin Pollard 

Martin joined the Board in 2020 as a trustee from UNA Exchange, following its merger with the WCIA. Martin is Chief Executive of the  Learned Society of Wales, the national scholarly academy for arts and sciences, where he works closely with all of Wales’s universities.

Prior to that, he was the WCIA’s Chief Executive. Martin is a qualified teacher and has 20 years of experience in  education, specialising in  the area of global learning.

His past positions include Chair of the Wales Alliance for Global Learning, Trustee of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, international sector lead on the Third Sector Partnership council, and member of the World Schools Debating Council.