Meet the ColegauCymru Team
About Iestyn Davies
Iestyn Davies took up post of CollegesWales Chief Executive in October 2015 having worked across a range of public policy areas since the arrival of devolution in 1999. Originally from Merthyr Tydfil, he attended Swansea University where he studied Philosophy and Welsh and later gained an MA in Political Communication from JOMEC, Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Media and Journalism. Having worked in the fields of business and economic policy, health, the creative arts and education, Iestyn has overall responsibility for the mission and direction of the charity. He is currently completing an MBA researching the role of collective bargaining in the educations sector. Iestyn is a frequent contributor in the broadcast and print media on the subject of post-16 education and in particular the role of education in enabling mobility and enhancing economic and social cohesion.
Director of Finance
About Carolyn Thomas
Carolyn has worked in the further education sector since 1991, having previously been an accountant for a small college. She has worked as CollegesWales Finance Director since 2004 and is a fellow of the ACCA.
Director of Policy and Public Affairs
Dr Rachel Bowen
About Dr Rachel Bowen
Originally from Llanelli, Dr Rachel Bowen studied history at Cardiff University, obtaining a PhD in 2006. Rachel has had a varied career to date, having spent time in the civil service (Equalities, Education and Agriculture Departments), as a music librarian at Cardiff Central Library, and working on pan-Wales public engagement projects at Cardiff University. More recently she has focused on public policy, research and campaigning roles including periods at Mind Cymru and FSB Wales. Having maintained a keen interest in education and education policy throughout her career, Rachel joined CollegesWales as Director of Policy and Development in November 2016. Rachel is a Welsh learner and is a Spanish learner thanks to Duolingo.
Rachel also teachers adult learners and undergraduates at Cardiff University. Her research interests cover the late medieval and early modern period. She is particularly interested in gender, sexuality and identity. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, running (especially visiting European cities to take part in marathons and half marathons) and enduring/enjoying watching the Llanelli Scarlets and Cardiff Devils.
Director of Development
About Kelly Edwards
Kelly leads the CollegesWales Development Programme which aims to enrich the learning experience and enhance learning outcomes for the further education sector. She works with the Principals’ Forum and the Board of Directors to ensure the Programme is aligned to the vision and mission of the charity.
Project Manager - European and International
About Siân Holleran
Siân joined CollegesWales as European and International Coordinator in November 2010. Her main areas of work include coordinating a programme of overseas training opportunities for staff, learners and apprentices, acting for the Welsh Government as the National Contact Point for EU initiatives and selling Wales to the world through working collaboratively with international partners.
Siân is fluent in French, Spanish and Welsh and previously worked for CILT Cymru, the national centre for languages, promoting the learning of modern languages as a valuable skill for young people in an increasingly globalised world. She continues to share her love of languages and the cultures of other countries by promoting the benefits to young people of spending periods of time studying or working overseas. Siân also represents the further education sector on the steering group of Routes into Languages Cymru.
Project Manager - Sport
About Rob Baynham
With over 20 years experience in the further education sector, Rob has been involved in a wide variety of regional and national initiatives and projects with the current focus moving towards well being and employability of FE students. As National Sports Coordinator for FE in Wales, Rob’s responsibilities include managing Welsh Colleges Sport and developing participation, volunteering and sporting pathways for FE students. Since Rob joined CollegesWales in 2014, an additional 3,000+ FE students have participated in different initiatives with over 100 new student leaders created to support college projects. New initiatives and developments in participation and employability opportunities have also continued to rise.
About Nia Brodrick
Nia has worked in the further sector since 2013. She is currently the CollegesWales Project Officer, a role which involves co-ordinating projects such as Work Welsh, Mental Health and the current EQAVET restricted call 3.
About Gill Barclay
Gill works as CollegesWales' Finance Officer. Additional to this role, she leads on the IT support and facilities management of the organisation.
ALN Transformation Lead FE
About Chris Denham
Chris' career started working in the construction industry in Surrey before completing his Cert Ed at Huddersfield Polytechnic and then moving to Pontypool to take up a lecturing post at Pontypool College. Chris was instrumental in setting up the first special needs link courses with Crownbridge Special School in the late 1980s and after some retraining, he developed a new full-time special needs programme at Pontypool. As this provision grew, he recognised the need for support within mainstream and so took an additional qualification in specific learning difficulties and established a support centre at the college.
Following incorporation and the creation of Coleg Gwent, Chris occupied several management posts before taking on the role of ALN Manager for Coleg Gwent in 2014. During this time he also represented the college on the ColegauCymru ALN Network, performing the role of Chair from 2014.
Chris has worked closely with Welsh Government over the last four years to help shape the Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (ALNET) Act and Code of Practice. He took up his current post with CollegesWales in January 2018 and continues to support colleges across Wales as they prepare for the implementation of ALNET.
About Lucy Hopkins
Lucy manages our communications and marketing activities, in line with the organisation’s strategic objectives. She ensures our communications are both influential, informative and appropriate to our stakeholders.
About Amy Evans
Amy graduated from Swansea University in 2011 with a degree in Media and Communications. Following 5 years in the retail sector, she joined CollegesWales as a Receptionist. In May 2017, she took on the the role of Public Affairs Assistant and since March 2020 has been working as our Policy Officer. Amy is a fluent Welsh speaker.
Executive Administrative Assistant
About Rachel Rimanti
With 10 years of administrative experience, Rachel is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive and provides administrative support to the organisation. She manages the delivery of key meetings including the Further Education Principals’ Forum.
About Jon Davies
Jon supports the development of Colleges Wales' key policy objectives through the undertaking of research projects and analysis. He supports the Policy Team in advocating for better provision of further education in Wales.
Digital Marketing and Communications Assistant
About Hannah Murray
Hannah began her career working at a creative agency where she was able to develop her design and marketing skills. This was followed by an internship as a Marketing and Communications Assistant with Youth Cymru. Here she gained event management skills, delivered training and had the opportunity to further improve her design and creative abilities. Hannah joined CollegesWales in 2018, and applies the skills she has learnt previously to her current role as as Marketing and Digital Communications Assistant. Hannah is a fluent Welsh speaker.