Who we work with

We offer our range of products and services to leaders and managers working across the public service in Wales:

  • Education - schools, further education and higher education organisations in Wales
  • Fire and Rescue - fire and rescue organisations in Wales
  • Local Authorities - local authorities in Wales
  • NHS Wales - NHS Wales organisations
  • Police - police services in Wales
  • Third/Voluntary - registered charities operating in Wales
  • Welsh Government - Welsh Government departments
  • WGSB - Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies: Welsh-based public sector organisations funded by the Welsh Government
  • Whitehall - Welsh-based public sector organisations run by the UK Government
  • Whitehall Sponsored Bodies - Welsh-based public sector organisations funded by the UK Government
  • Other - invited guests from partner organisations and other public service bodies across the UK

The Academi Wales Expert Panel was formed in 2022. Replacing the previous Advisory Board, this move to an Expert Panel reflects our new strategy and direction of travel.

Our Expert Panel brings together a group of individuals willing to use their expertise and experience to advise on key leadership challenges and opportunities in Wales.

Panel members will represent their sector, but also provide their own professional experience and views. Their advice will subsequently assist Academi Wales in facilitating the development of emerging priority leadership skills and capabilities, built on principles of collaboration and partnership.

More information about each panel member can be found below.

Chief Executive, Wrexham County Borough Council

Ian took up his post as Chief Executive of Wrexham Council in August 2018 and for the previous fourteen years worked at a senior leadership level within large public service organisations in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North East Wales. Most recently, since 2014, this has been at Flintshire County Council as a Chief Officer leading successfully the development and implementation of a number of major strategic programmes.

Ian is committed to public service delivery and aims to work with partners, local communities and residents to build and deliver a clear vision that achieves outstanding results. Ian has lived in Wrexham for the last 18 years and is passionate about the current positive opportunities Wrexham and Wales provides and the potential for the future.

Director of Partnerships and Engagement, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

Estelle Hitchon is the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement.

She joined WAST in 2014, following a varied career in journalism, academia and a number of leadership roles across the public, not-for-profit and arts sectors.

The Director of Partnerships and Engagement role is unique in NHS Wales, combining a range of disciplines including communications and engagement, statutory partnerships and political and public affairs.

Estelle originally trained as a journalist in her home town of Llanelli, following a degree in European Studies and a Master’s degree in East European Studies. She is a fluent German speaker.

Estelle is experienced in working with Boards and Executive Teams, with a particular focus on strategic counsel and leading through complexity. She is a passionate advocate for communications and engagement, and for diverse leaders, at Board level.

Outside work, Estelle’s other interests are architecture, interiors and music. She recently moved back to Cardiff from South Worcestershire, where she was the custodian of a Grade 2 listed house designed originally as a stable by the renowned 18th century landscape architect, Lancelot “Capability” Brown. She now has a more modest mock Georgian home in a north Cardiff suburb, but remains a sucker for a period property.

Estelle is a keen, if not entirely talented pianist, and also plays the flute (badly) and oboe (appallingly badly).

Service Director Organisational Development, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

Debra began her career in local government in 2000 after working in training consultancy with large private sector organisations.  A qualified secondary teacher, she has a passion for learning and development and providing opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential.

A fellow of the CIPD and holding a Masters in Organisational Development, Debra has built a diverse team delivering award winning programmes including the Councils Graduate and Apprenticeship Schemes and specialist employment programmes. 

Debra is passionate about staff engagement and wellbeing with her team, providing an array of learning and development programmes, occupational health and wellbeing services, staff benefits and staff consultation.

Debra would like her legacy to be that the Council has high quality programmes in place to ensuring that individuals, particularly those that are from disadvantaged and complex backgrounds, have an opportunity to flourish within the Council and beyond.

Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Race Council Cymru

Originally from Nigeria, Uzo holds a law degree from the University of Nigeria and she qualified as a solicitor and a barrister and was called to the Nigerian Bar.

After qualifying as a barrister in Nigeria, Uzo moved to Wales where she now serves as the chief executive officer of Race Council Cymru and sits on the board of several voluntary organisations. This includes serving as the chairperson of the African Community Centre in Wales, which she founded in 2004.

Uzo has served with the Police National Diversity team, based at the Home Office, where she was involved in developing national policies on race relations and diversity.

In 2004, she joined South Wales Police and in the same year, she founded the very first African Community Centre (ACC) in Wales and served as Chairperson for ACC for 15yrs.

Uzo served with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) UK as a Commissioner until it merged with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in October 2007. In 2008 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to community relations and South Wales communities.

In 2022, Uzo was awarded a CBE by the Queen in the Jubilee Birthday Honours.

Professor Iwobi received the CBE for services to racial equality and to championing diversity and inclusion.

Uzo was the first Black woman to be appointed as a Specialist Adviser on Equalities to Welsh Government.

Director of Improvement and Development, Social Care Wales

Sarah joined Social Care Wales in 2016 and is the Director with responsibility for workforce development, service improvement, research, data and innovation.

Starting her career as a youth worker, Sarah has worked in a variety of statutory and voluntary organisations, supporting children’s participation and inclusion. She has held positions in local authority policy development and service improvement and prior to her current role worked as Director for the UK partnership of social care workforce organisations. Sarah is a Welsh language learner.

Sarah has just been successful in securing a new role so from end of July 2024, she becomes Chief Executive of Social Care Wales.

Deputy Chief Executive / Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW)

A chartered fellow of the CIPD, Julie has worked in the Welsh public sector for almost four decades.

She has enjoyed a varied career in Government and the NHS, spanning a wide range of social policy, OD and HR roles. In 2013, Julie became the National Workforce & Organisational Development Director for NHS Wales, a role that she held until April 2018 when she joined Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW).

Since joining HEIW, Julie has led the development of the first ‘Health and Care Workforce Strategy for Wales 2020-30’; supported the national response to the roll-out of the covid vaccination programme and overseen the development of a range of resources and programmes to embed compassionate leadership at all levels across NHS Wales.

Assistant Director of Strategy & People, Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)

Sara is Assistant Director of Strategy & People for Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), the national membership body for voluntary organisations in Wales. She has worked for WCVA since 2006 and is responsible for the operational management of activities such as policy, strategic partnerships, HR, membership, learning, marketing and communications.

Before joining WCVA Sara worked in both the public and private sectors, starting her career in sales and marketing in the manufacturing industry. However, when given the opportunity to work in the public sector for Devon and Cornwall Police, Sara began to recognise that a job can be about far more than just making money, it can also help individuals and the wider community, those facing the most disadvantage.

Sara enjoys her role at WCVA immensely and working in the third sector to use her passion and skills to help those who most need it.

Chief People Officer, South Wales Police

Mark joined South Wales Police in September 2018 as Chief People Officer having previously enjoyed a career spanning 18 years within large, Multi-National private industry.

Working as part of the Executive Board, Mark provides leadership and strategic direction for workforce development (c 6,300). He is responsible for a diverse people service portfolio including: Safety, occupational health, Resourcing & Workforce planning, HRSS, Reward & recognition, employee relations, employee engagement, talent management and learning & development.

Mark is the Strategic Lead for human resources and learning and development collaboration across the 4 Welsh Police Forces.  He is also the UK’s National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) Lead for learning and development.

Mark is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a member of the Industrial Law Society.