The ‘Susie’ Rose
Nestled behind the Peace Garden Memorials Trail map lectern, alongside the Size of Wales ‘Peace Rose’, this second rose bush is a tribute to WCIA Chief Executive Susie Ventris-Field presented by the WCIA staff team for her 40th birthday in June 2021:
“‘Susie Ventris Field, WCIA’s (1st female) CEO. ‘Susie’ rose, planted June 2021 – her 40th birthday – as a heartfelt THANKYOU from the whole WCIA staff team, for Susie’s leadership and compassion through the COVID Pandemic: ‘For bringing a smile to the public face of WCIA.”Inscription on ‘Susie’ Rose
Susie Ventris-Field’s Contribution to Welsh Internationalism
Susie worked for gender equalities charity Chwarae Teg for some years prior to joining WCIA. Originally from the Forest of Dean, Susie’s degree in Media Studies from University of Westminster initially drew her towards journalism. However, her keen passion for international development and aptitude for training and supporting others, led to her volunteering as a teacher in Kenya, and as a TEFL Instructor with Berlitz in South Korea, before taking up a post with VSO Voluntary Service Overseas from 2007 supporting teacher development. From 2007-9 she led a Teacher Methodologists programme in Eritrea, East Africa, where she met her husband.
Returning to Wales, alongside her work with Chwarae Teg Susie undertook a Masters in Development with the Open University, and volunteered with the newly created Wales International Development Hub (now Hub Cymru Africa) from 2012, researching how support could be improved for diaspora groups Wales-wide to be able to increase their impact and voice – supporting the establishment of SSAP, Wales’ Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel. In. March 2013, Susie was appointed as WCIA’s first Deputy Chief Executive, with a brief to modernise the organisation to be ‘fit for funding’ as WCIA sought to develop more public facing, high profile participatory projects. After coordinating Temple75, the Temple’s 75th Anniversary in 2013 – including launch of the first Cardiff Peace Trail – Susie worked alongside WCIA CEO Martin Pollard to secure the HLF-funded Wales for Peace project, followed by the successful merging of 7 networks to form Hub Cymru Africa.
1st Woman Leader of WCIA
In 2019 Susie became WCIA’s first female Chief Executive, following Martin Pollard’s succession to lead the Learned Society of Wales. She has supported the WCIA team through a period of considerable change and success, from the extremely high profile events programme surrounding Temple80, to the development of new global education projects , environmental programming leading to establishment of Climate Cymru, and the successful establishment of Academi Heddwch, Wales’ Peace Institute.
The COVID Pandemic of 2020-21, coupled with the post-Brexit departure of the UK from Europe, posed an existential challenge to WCIA’s work, with the Temple of Peace closed to the public, most staff furloughed, and loss of much income generation and project grants threatening the future not just of WCIA, but work on global issues Wales-wide. However, Susie’s leadership through this rocky period safeguarded the survival of WCIA, and has laid foundations for ‘building back better’.
A Rose of Thanks
Susie’s contribution to Welsh Internationalism is deserving of recognition within the ‘Peace Heritage’ story of the Temple of Peace, shaping history in the present day; and in June 2021 the WCIA staff team marked Susie’s 40th Birthday by quietly conspiring behind the scenes to plant a rose in Wales’ National Garden of Peace as a permanent tribute to Susie’s work, and as a thankyou from WCIA staff past, present and future for bringing a ‘smile to the face of the Temple of Peace’.
‘Wales for Peace’ Oral history interview with Susie from 2019: