About the network

As in most industries, women, though well represented in the lower and middle echelons of the public affairs world, are under-represented in top posts. There are some incredibly successful and inspirational women at the top in public affairs, but many more who aspire to get there and struggle to achieve it.

Launched by women in the latter group and supported by women in the former, the Women in Public Affairs Network is an opportunity for women from across the industry to come together in an informal setting, to share experiences, offer advice and support and explore how we can work together to help smash the glass ceiling.

Our Aim:

• Our aim is to set up a network of women working in the public affairs arena, after we found from working in the industry and doing further research that the majority of senior practitioners were men.

• We envisage women from the industry coming together to network, support each other and find solutions to fixing this imbalance of men to women senior practitioners.

• We hope to have networking events and forums at different times and places to suit all working women, which will provide a supportive and advisory platform.

• We welcome feedback and ideas from both men and women public affairs professionals to ensure the network is successful.

Why was the network set up?
“When deciding to make the leap from politics into public affairs I did a lot of research into the different agencies, and was surprised by the relatively small number where the senior team featured as many, or more, women as men.

Baffled by this I also looked for a public affairs women’s network to join to see if I could find some answers, receive some training and find networking opportunities and was surprised to find that no such network existed.

I then embarked upon the CIPR Public Affairs Diploma at the PR Academy I got talking to Ella Uziell-Hamilton who had had a similar experience and had worked on women’s leadership projects in the past. We decided to have a go at setting up a network ourselves. The rest is history!”

Laura Gilmore

About Us

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Ella Fallows (nee Uziell-Hamilton)

Ella is Head of Political Intelligence at Lexington Communications, managing their Intelex monitoring service and advising clients from across the financial services, transport and creative industries sectors. She has worked on pro bono campaigns for one billion rising and the Young Women’s Trust.

Ella started her career working for a Labour MP in Parliament before working in the Civil Service. After this she moved into the private sector, delivering political and parliamentary training before moving to consultancy.

Ella is one of the two co-founders of Women in Public Affairs and is currently on maternity leave, having had a baby in May.

Laura Gilmore

Laura is a European Union Politics MA graduate from the University of Liverpool. She is currently Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Dearman, a fast growing British clean technology company, and leads campaigns across the UK and EU.

Before this, Laura was Head of the Liberal Democrat Whips’ Office in the House of Lords whilst the Liberal Democrats were in Government. There she provided senior counsel to the Chief Whip and the Leader of the group of 99 peers on political, communications and legislative matters. Prior to this, Laura worked for the Rt Hon David Laws MP, London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon and at Liverpool City Council.

Outside of work, Laura is on the Board of Trustees of the climate change charity 10:10 and is one of the two founding members of Women in Public Affairs.

Executive Committee Members

The Executive Committee is appointed on an annual basis and is made up of 10 women from across the industry, from in-house roles and agency. The Committee meets bi-monthly and its role is to put forward ideas for events and activities that the Network can undertake, and to help in finding venues and sponsors for our activity. Additionally, committee members will be contributing to our blog and helping to raise the profile of the Network across the industry.


Stacey Frier

Senior Parliamentary Adviser, Historic England

Although employed by Historic England, Stacey is currently on a twelve-month secondment to its parent government department, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). At DCMS she had a key role in writing the Government’s Culture White Paper.

Stacey has over fourteen years’ experience working in public affairs. Her previous roles include working as a research assistant to John McFall MP and Tom Clarke MP, Parliamentary Officer and then Senior Parliamentary Adviser for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)​. A British Politics and Legislative Studies graduate from the University of Hull, Stacey also has a MA in Legislative Studies and has carried a number of academic projects on All-Party Groups in the UK Parliament. Outside of her work in public affairs, Stacey is a school governor at an academy in Peckham.

Jen Pufky

External Affairs Manager, Local Government Information Unit 

Jen shapes and promotes the Local Government Information Unit’s (LGiU) political debates, policy analysis and ideas as well as manages all media outputs. Prior to this role, Jen was Stakeholder Relations Manager at Age UK, where she managed the charity’s engagement with national decision-makers and influencers. As an Account Manager at Insight Public Affairs (2007-2010) she developed and implemented high profile public affairs and public relations campaigns for a variety of clients including national charities, major corporations, patient groups and trade associations. As Communications Manager at The White House Project she organised and led national and regional media training and press briefings across the country and, in 2006, launched SheSource.org, a national online database of women experts for journalists in the US that dramatically increased the number of women on Sunday political talk shows.  In 2005, Jen was a Press Assistant for the London Labour Party during General Election campaign where she helped organise press events and campaign visits for candidates, MPs, Cabinet members and the Prime Minister.

Laura Sainsbury

Senior Consultant, FTI Consulting

Laura is a Senior Consultant at FTI Consulting where she works across a broad range of accounts including financial services, technology, infrastructure and justice. Prior to joining FTI Consulting, Laura worked at Bellenden and before that as a political journalist at PoliticsHome.com and Total Politics magazine where she co-authored Class of 2010, a biographical guide to the 2010 parliamentary intake.

Gabrielle Wain

Public Affairs Manager, National Housing Federation

Gabrielle has over six years experience in public affairs, spanning both agency and in-house. She currently leads the public affairs work of the National Housing Federation, the trade body for over 1,000 housing associations in England. She is responsible for boosting awareness and understanding of housing associations, as well as lobbying on their behalf for policies that support their work. Prior to this, she worked for the agency EUK Consulting, providing public affairs support for a number of FTSE 100 companies, and in the private office of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lizzie Wills

Associate Director, Westminster Advisers

Lizzie has eight years’ experience in public affairs, advising clients on a wide range of policy and communications activities, as well as political risk. Lizzie has led successful campaigns for major corporates across a wide range of sectors including financial services, transport, FMCG, technology and healthcare, and is an expert at guiding businesses through policy-rich and regulated environments.

Prior to joining Westminster Advisers in January 2014, Lizzie worked at Cohn & Wolfe, MHP Communications and in the office of David Laws MP. Lizzie holds a master’s degree in International Peacekeeping from the University of Birmingham and has an undergraduate degree in Politics and European Studies from the University of Durham.

Clare Fraser

Account Manager, Cavendish

Clare is an Account Manager at Cavendish where she focuses on accounts covering skills, transport, financial services, health and safety and construction. Prior to this, Clare worked for Interel in various positions and also for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Before working in public affairs Clare worked in the office of Glenda Jackson MP and at polling agency, ComRes.

As well as her work with Women in Public Affairs, Clare is also a member of the Association of Professional Political Consultants Young Consultants’ Committee.

Emma Robinson

Director of Policy & Campaigns, Historic Houses Association

Emma is Director of Policy & Campaigns at the Historic Houses Association (HHA) – a non-profit organisation representing 1,640 privately owned historic houses, castles and gardens across the UK. HHA Members range from iconic heritage attractions such as Blenheim Palace, Highclere Castle (‘Downton Abbey’), Castle Howard and Chatsworth, to more intimate houses such as Traquair in Scotland, Treowen in Wales and Belle Isle in Northern Ireland. Emma leads public affairs campaigns across a range of policy areas affecting HHA Members, including taxation, de-regulation, tourism and planning policy. Emma also manages the work of the HHA’s education service and leads on major collaborative projects, such as the Capability Brown Festival 2016.

Before joining the HHA, Emma spent several years in education policy as Senior Strategy & Policy Manager in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of Roehampton. Prior to this, she was Policy & Communications Adviser at The Heritage Alliance – the advocacy group which unites over 100 heritage sector NGOs, including the National Trust and English Heritage.

Emma holds an MSc with Distinction in Public Policy and a BA in English Literature from the University of Exeter. In her free time Emma is a mentor and occasional guest speaker under the Birkbeck Politics Mentoring Scheme, and voluntary PR adviser to the charity Learning Through Horses.

Anna Wallace

Head of UK Political Relations, PwC

Anna Wallace is Head of UK Political Relations at PwC where she is responsible for the firm’s political engagement strategy and corporate positioning among policy makers. She works closely with the Executive Board as well as the lines of service, to provide counsel on political issues including political risk. Anna has nine years’ experience in public affairs and political relations, working across a wide range of sectors including pharmaceuticals, retail and charity. Immediately before joining PwC. Anna led public affairs at the UK’s largest mobile telecoms company, EE, lobbying on network and infrastructure issues. Anna also sits on the Executive Committee of the Women in Public Affairs network. She was recently named 12th most influential Woman in the City, according to City A.M.

Siobhan Hill

Account Director, Edelman

Siobhan is an Account Director in Edelman’s UK Public Affairs practice. She works closely with clients to identify political risks and opportunities across a number of sectors, and to help strengthen their relationships in Westminster and Whitehall.

Siobhan has strong experience as a campaigner in the Conservative Party. She joined Edelman from Conservative Campaign Headquarters where she worked in the Business Relations team. Before that, she was seconded to the Rt. Hon David Cameron’s Operations and Events Team, where she worked on his political visits leading up to and during the 2010 General Election.

Natasha Thomas

Head of Public Affairs, Brands2Life

Natasha has been Head of Public Affairs at Brands2Life since 2011. She is responsible for the public affairs practice, part of Brands2Life’s digitally-led, integrated communications offer.

Natasha works with innovative, often tech-based clients to break down barriers and create opportunities from change, helping clients engage with the political process to ultimately improve the business environment. She has worked with a range of tech-based clients such as EMC, Nuance and Nominet on public service innovation, UK tech growth, privacy and internet safety as well as leading manufacturing companies like Sharp and Tetra Pak on clean tech and healthcare.

Previously Natasha ran an outsourcing industry lobby group and was political adviser to the Government’s schools funding agency. She has worked at Golin Harris and Ludgate Communications  for the retail and building sectors and started her career with five years’ at the Institute for Directors’ Policy Unit, focusing on EU business regulation.

Roisin Watson

Senior Public Policy Manager, Aviva

Roisin has over six years’ experience in government affairs, spanning both agency and in-house. Roisin leads Aviva’s public policy activity with UK policy-makers and key stakeholders on a number of policy areas including financial advice. Prior to joining Aviva, Roisin worked at the Association of British Insurers and at Guide Consultancy. She has managed corporate client accounts across sectors including tech, financial services and transport. Roisin holds an MSC in Geography from the University of Edinburgh.

Soniya Ganvir

Senior Public Affairs Adviser, ABI

Soniya is currently Senior Public Affairs Adviser at the ABI where she leads on political strategy and engagement across a breadth of issues relevant to the insurance and long term savings industry. She was previously an Account Director at Bellenden (now Newington Communications), leading accounts spanning financial services, technology, justice, housing, education and helped grow their European and due diligence practices. She started her career in public affairs working for the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party in Brussels. Soniya also runs a Latin American supper club and catering business called Sobremesa.


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Previous events

Get the most out of party conference season - Wednesday 14 September 2016

This week, in partnership with Ellwood Atfield, we held the latest workshop in our ‘Public Affairs Leadership Series’ on how to get the most out of Party Conference season. Emily Walch, Executive Director of External Affairs at the BBA and former government Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Elin de Zoete, Managing Director of PLMR shared their conference experiences and top tips to a packed room of women.

So how do you get the most out of Party Conference season?

First and foremost, remember why conference exists. It is an opportunity for MPs and Ministers to meet their activist base. With that in mind, you need to be absolutely clear about what you want to get out of party conference season. That should determine how to make best use of your time and company or client resource.

Conference is busy, pressured and overwhelming so once your aims are clear, make the effort to plan a detailed schedule of meetings and events. This should include all logistical details and mobile numbers of everyone you will be either meeting or having speak on a panel. Have a back-up schedule too. Conferences are unpredictable and nothing ever fully goes to plan so be adaptable and have a second option available. This is particularly helpful if you are looking after clients – if an MP meeting gets cancelled maybe you could take them to see a Minister’s speech in the main conference hall instead? This might not be plan A but it’s better than hanging around with nothing to do.

Finally, be creative. If you’re trying to target Ministers, think about their activist base, play on the constituency element and think about who are the key people shaping the party from within.

A number of the Women in Public Affairs Committee will be at both Labour and Conservative Party Conference this year. We’ll be arranging drinks at both so keep an eye on our twitter account for details.

Forthcoming events
Women in PA report: Who’s Talking? – analysis of gender diversity at party conferences

Our new report shows that last year men outnumbered women 2 to 1 as speakers at fringe events. On average men made up 66% of fringe speakers while women represented only 34%.

This is particularly concerning given that party conferences are supposed to represent a broader cross-section of the membership compared to the leadership and parliamentary parties whose pipeline issues are well documented.

Topline figures across all three of the party conferences show that men outnumber women 2 to 1 as speakers on the fringes. On average, men made up 66% of fringe speakers while women represented only 34%.  Two out of every three chairs of fringes were male. And, there were almost 5 times as many fringes without any female speakers, compared to fringes without any male speakers.

When comparing the three parties, Labour came out on top, followed by the Liberal Democrats with the Conservative Party faring the worst. Women made up 39% of speakers at Labour fringes compared to 35% of fringes at Lib Dems and only 27% of fringes at the Conservative Party Conference. Across all three party conferences the number of women on fringe panels was consistently below 40%.

WiPA is urging the political parties as well as the stakeholders who host and organise these fringe debates to commit to having a diverse range of voices represented on their panels. From party conferences in 2017 onwards WiPA is calling for all:

  • political parties to ensure at least 90% of all fringes at their conference have at least one female on the panel
  • parliamentarians to challenge fringe organisers if there is no female representation on panels they are asked to participate in as speaker or chair
  • fringe event organisers to ensure that they secure at least one female speaker on their panels

The full report is available here: https://www.scribd.com/document/325023185/Whos-Talking-FINAL


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