We’re proud to welcome so many fantastic speakers to this year festival of ideas.

Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales

Mark was born and brought up in west Wales before moving to Cardiff more than 30 years ago. Since then he has lived in the Pontcanna area of Cardiff. A former probation officer, youth justice worker and Barnardos project leader in Ely and Caerau, he has been a professor of Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences at Cardiff University. Mark has also taught previously at Swansea University.

In the 1980s and 1990s Mark was a Labour Councillor on South Glamorgan County Council, specialising in education issues, including Welsh medium education. Between 2000 and 2010 he worked as the Cabinet’s health and social policy adviser at the Welsh Government, and was latterly head of the First Minister’s political office. He has a 40 year knowledge of the Cardiff West constituency.

Mark became the Assembly Member for Cardiff West in May 2011. He was Chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee from July 2011 – March 2013 and of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee for European funds from July 2011 – March 2013. He was appointed Minister for Health and Social Services in March 2013. He was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government in May 2016. Mark was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance on 3 November 2017. On 12 December 2018 Mark was appointed First Minister of Wales and became a member of the Privy Council on 13 February 2019. Mark was appointed First Minister on 13 May 2021.

Jane Davidson, Chair of Wales Net Zero 2035.

Jane Davidson is the Chair of Wales Net Zero 2035 and the author of ‘futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country‘ – and passionate about living lightly.

She is Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Patron of the UK Chartered Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Managers. From 2000 – 2011, she was Cabinet Minister for Education, then Environment and Sustainability in Wales where she proposed
legislation to make sustainability the central organising principle of government: the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act came into law in 2015.

She is a RSA Fellow and guest faculty on the Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership programme at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language

Jeremy Miles was born and brought up in Pontarddulais. As a Welsh speaker, he was educated at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley and New College, Oxford where he studied law. Straight after graduating, Jeremy taught law at Warsaw University in Poland. Later, he practised as a solicitor in London and then held senior legal and commercial posts in media sector businesses, including ITV and the US television network and film studio NBC Universal. After returning to live in Wales he set up his own consultancy working with international clients in the broadcast and digital sectors.

Jeremy was elected to the National Assembly for Wales for the Neath constituency in May 2016 as the Labour and Co-operative party candidate, following the retirement of Gwenda Thomas AM. On 16 November 2017 Jeremy was appointed Counsel General and on 13 December 2018 he was appointed Counsel General and Minister for Brexit. Jeremy was appointed Minister for Education and Welsh Language on 13 May 2021.

His interests include economic and community development, and education and skills. He also enjoys film, reading, cooking, hiking, cycling and following rugby locally.

Sian Griffiths, Education editor at The Sunday Times.

Sian Griffiths is education editor at The Sunday Times. She was shortlisted at the Press Awards for her work with her colleague Richard Kerbaj in breaking the story of the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham schools. Her most recent book is Body Clocks, with the scientist Paul Kelley. Sian is a wild swimmer who loves the chilly waters off the Welsh coast.

Sian Griffiths is education editor at The Sunday Times. She was shortlisted at the Press Awards for her work with her colleague Richard Kerbaj in breaking the story of the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham schools. Her most recent book is Body Clocks, with the scientist Paul Kelley. Sian is a wild swimmer who loves the chilly waters off the Welsh coast.

Millar began in journalism as a trainee on the Mirror Group Graduate Training Scheme in the West Country, later moving to the Daily Express, where she worked as a news reporter and lobby correspondent and was a colleague of Peter Hitchens. She was a freelance journalist between 1988 and 1995, contributing to the Daily Express, the Sunday Mirror and The House magazine, Parliament’s in-house publication. In 1993, she co-authored (with Glenys KinnockBy Faith and Daring, Interviews with Remarkable Women to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Virago Press.

Millar worked in the office of the Leader of the Opposition from 1995 to 1997, as an adviser to Cherie Blair from 1995 to 2003, as a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003, as head of Cherie Blair’s office, and Director of Events and Visits at Downing Street. Millar opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but was pressured to stay at Downing Street because of the risk of adverse publicity.[1] She informed Blair of her definite intention to resign after the capture of Baghdad, on the day of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue.[2] The resignation was publicly announced in August 2003.[3]

In 2003 she started writing a monthly column for The Guardian about education, and in 2004 she presented a documentary film for Channel Four called The Best for My Child, examining how the quasi-market in schools was working in practice.

In 2005, along with Melissa Benn, she co-wrote a pamphlet “A Comprehensive Future: Quality and Equality for All Our Children”, and is active in the campaign against the Trust Schools white paper.

Between 2009 and 2013 Millar was chair of Comprehensive Future, an organisation that promotes the perceived advantages of comprehensive schools in the UK. Her children attend state schools in the Camden LEA.

Between 2003 and 2010 she was chair of trustees of the Family and Parenting Institute, and now chairs the National Youth Arts Trust. She also chairs the Trustee Board of the Young Camden Foundation.

Millar received the Fred and Anne Jarvis Award from the National Union of Teachers in 2009, for her campaigning for good-quality local comprehensive schools as against academies.[6] That same year she wrote The Secret World of the Working Mother, a book about finding a balance between working and being a mother.

In 2010, Millar helped form the Local Schools Network, a pro-state schools pressure group.

In 2018 she published The Best for My Child. Did the schools market deliver? to mark the 30th anniversary of the Education Reform Act 1988.

Grahame Davies, Poet, novelist, editor and literary critic.

Grahame Davies is a poet, novelist, editor and literary critic, who has won numerous prizes, including the Wales Book of the Year Award. He is the author of 18 books in Welsh and English, including: The Chosen People, a study of the relationship of the Welsh and Jewish peoples; The Dragon and the Crescent, a study of Wales and Islam; a novel, Everything Must Change, based on the life of the French philosopher Simone Weil; the critically-acclaimed poetry volume Lightning Beneath the Sea, and two volumes of psychogeography, Real Wrexham, and Real Cambridge, published in 2021.  He is a much sought-after lyricist for classical composers and songwriters, and his work has been performed worldwide at venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall. His longstanding writing partnership with Paul Mealor led to them being described as ‘The Lennon and McCartney of Classical Music.”

Carwyn Graves, Author and Welsh food connoisseur.

Carwyn is the author of Radio 4’s Food Programme’s best food policy book 2022 – ‘Welsh Food Stories’ – and the bestselling ‘Apples of Wales’ (2018). Passionate about culture and food, he was instrumental in establishing the national collection of Welsh varieties at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. He lives in Carmarthen with his family and a growing veg garden and is currently writing a new book on the Welsh landscape, past and future. He will open up the rich and often overlooked heritage of Welsh food, and the diverse traditions that have survived to the present or are experiencing a long overdue renaissance…

Dr Simon Brooks, Welsh language activist and academic.

Simon Brooks is a multi-disciplinary scholar who specialises in language planning as well too as the history of Welsh-language culture. Books published include Why Wales Never Was (2017), and the prize-winning Hanes Cymry (2021), a history of ethnic diversity within Welsh-speaking communities.

He is currently writing the history of the Welsh in England. Simon also advises the Welsh Government on Welsh-language policy. He is the author of the independent report, Second homes: developing new policies in Wales, which underpins much government policy in the field. He currently chairs the Commission for Welsh-speaking communities on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Eluned Morgan Ms, Minister for Health and Social Services.

Eluned Morgan was born in 1967 in Ely, Cardiff. She was educated at Glantaf Welsh language comprehensive school. She won a scholarship to the United World College of the Atlantic and gained a degree in European Studies from the University of Hull. She formerly worked as a researcher for S4C, Agenda TV and the BBC.

Eluned’s political career started at the age of 27 when she was elected as the youngest Member of the European Parliament in 1994. She was only the fifth woman elected to a full time political position in the history of Wales, and the first full time politician in Wales to have a baby whilst in office. She represented Wales for the Labour Party from 1994-2009. In this role she became the Labour spokesperson on industry, science and energy and spokesperson for the 200 strong Socialist Group on Budget Control matters. She authored the Green Paper on energy on behalf of the EP and led the Parliament’s discussions on the Electricity Directive where she ensured new rights for consumers and demanded that Member States of the EU addressed the issue of fuel poverty.

From late 2009 until July 2013 she worked as the Director of National Business Development in Wales for SSE (SWALEC) one of the UK’s largest energy companies. During 2013 -2016, Eluned Morgan served as the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, and from 2014-2016 she served as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was granted a peerage in 2011 and is formally known as Baroness Morgan of Ely.

Eluned Morgan was elected to the National Assembly in May 2016 as regional member for Mid & West Wales. In November 2017 Eluned was appointed Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning. On 13 December 2018 she was appointed Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language. Eluned was appointed Minister for Health and Social Services on 13 May 2021.

Sara Penrhyn Jones, Academic and author.

Sara Penrhyn Jones is a Reader in Film and Media at Bath Spa University. She is interested in deconstructing how important ideas, from the environmental crisis, to the concept of gender and race are represented across media and literary forms. Most recently she has reviewed books on the theme of women, ageing, and the menopause as well as others on women, sex and consent for the literary publication O’r Pedwar Gwynt. 

Sarah Williams,  Inclusivity Consultant

As ‘Equality Counts’, Sarah is a Pembrokeshire based Equality Standards Consultant and active advocate for inclusion in the menopause sector.

She is a notable forerunner in providing workplace training and hosting community menopause conversations across the UK. Sarah is Co-author of ‘Surgical Menopause, Not Your Typical Menopause’, and Co-Founder of the Menopause Inclusion Collective.

Committed to improving standards of workplace support Sarah is a current British Standards Institution Committee Member developing national guidance on Menstruation and Menopause at Work. She recently developed ‘Talk Menopause’ community menopause support course, empowering people to be proactive in their approach to the menopause transition.

Hannah Jones, CEO Earthshot Prize

Hannah joined The Earthshot Prize as CEO in June 2021. Prior to her current role, she served as Vice President of Nike Innovation Labs and has held numerous positions, including Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA. In her role as Nike’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, she led the transformation of their labor rights and sustainability efforts, turning both functions into globally acclaimed engines of business model innovation.

She has worked as a social entrepreneur, founding and leading pan-European AIDS/HIV prevention and anti-racism campaigns. Hannah has also won multiple awards, including the C.K. Prahalad Award of Global Business Sustainability in 2013 and the Portland Business Journal’s Women of influence Award in 2018. She continues to dedicate her career to advancing and advising on sustainability and innovating for change for both corporate, start-up, and non-profit organizations.

Simeon Rose, Creative Director of Faith in Nature

Simeon Rose is a Creative Director at Faith In Nature, together with his creative partner, Anne Hopkins. Having worked in London ad agencies for nearly 20 years, he now lives in West Wales and is passionate about ideas that help protect the natural world. In September 2022, his work lead to Faith In Nature becoming the first company in the world to appoint Nature to its board of directors. His hope now is that ‘Nature on the board’ is replicated globally in as many companies as possible.

Sarah Rowland Jones, Dean of St Davids Cathedral

The Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones LVO OBE is the Dean of St Davids, heading the Cathedral community in Wales’ smallest city. Prior to ordination in the Church in Wales in 1999, she was a British Diplomat for 15 years, with postings to Jordan and Hungary. Between 2002 and 2013 she worked as Researcher for successive Archbishops of Cape Town, before returning to Wales to lead Cardiff’s City Parish Church of St John the Baptist. Her doctorate ‘Doing God in Public’ reflects on philosophical resources for Christians engaging from the perspective of faith in today’s pluralist public square. 

Penny Sartori, Nursing lecturer, Swansea University

Dr Penny Sartori worked as a staff nurse for 21 years; 17 of those years specialising in intensive care. She undertook the UK’s first long-term prospective study of near-death experiences (NDEs) and in 2005 she was awarded a PhD for her research. Her 2008 academic monograph, The Near-Death Experiences of Hospitalised Intensive Care Patients: A Five Year Clinical Study, was published by The Edwin Mellen Press. Penny has lectured at national and international conferences and is a Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing at Swansea University, School of Health and Social Care.

Patrick Nash, Social entrepreneur and Author.

Patrick Nash is a lifelong social entrepreneur. Starting in wholefoods in 1980, he moved on to lead the development of an ecovillage in Scotland in the early 1990’s. A move to London saw him set up the first free counselling service for schoolteachers across the UK, before moving to Wales to create a unique contact centre that provided telephone and online
support to people with a range of life challenges including poverty and debt, mental health, unemployment and more.
Come and join Patrick for the launch of Building Social Enterprise, his book that tells this story to give encouragement to social entrepreneurs. Patrick is a founder of the St Davids Festival of Ideas and lives in Solva.

Paul Mason, Journalist, writer and filmmaker.

Paul Mason is an award-winning journalist, writer and film-maker. Formerly economics editor at both BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 News, he is the author of seven books, including his latest: How To Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance, published by Allen Lane. He writes for The New European, The New Statesman, Social Europe and Der Freitag and is a regular guest on political TV and radio news.

Llewelyn Hopwood, lecturer in Celtic Studies and Welsh, Cardiff and Oxford Universty.

Llewelyn Hopwood is a PhD student at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of English Language and Literature, a Lecturer in Welsh at Cardiff University, and a Lecturer in Celtic at Oxford’s Faculty of Linguistics. His current project seeks out the sounds of medieval Wales by listening to the poetry produced during the period c.1300–c.1600 (‘The Poets of the Nobility’ period), but his interests also lie in multilingualism, the history of the senses, media, and communication, music, and several aspects of Celtic languages.

Tim Newburn, Professor of Social Policy, LSE, author of Orderly Britain.

Tim Newburn has been Professor of Criminology and Social Policy at the LSE since 2002. He was Head of Department of Social Policy from 2010-13 and Director of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology from 2003-2009. Prior to joining LSE he was Joseph Rowntree Professor of Urban Social Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Public Policy Research Unit (1997-2002). He has also worked at the University of Leicester (1982-85), the Home Office Research & Planning Unit (1985-90), the National Institute for Social Work (1990-92) and the Policy Studies Institute (1992-97).

He is the author of over 40 books, including: The Future of Policing (with Morgan, Oxford University Press, 1997); Private Security and Public Policing (with Jones, Clarendon Press, 1998); Policy Transfer and Criminal Justice (with Jones, Open University Press, 2007); Criminology (3rd edition, Routledge, 2017) and Criminology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018). His latest books are Orderly Britain: How Britain resolved its everyday problems: from dog mess to double-parking (with Ward, Little Brown, 2022), and The Official History of Criminal Justice, vol. IV:  Politics of Law and Order (Routledge, November 2022, with David Downes).

Tim was editor of the journal Policy Studies (1995-2001), the founding editor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2001-2006) and is General Editor of Routledge’s Key Ideas in Criminology series, and a series editor of Key Thinkers in Criminology. He was elected to the Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences in 2005, and was President of the British Society of Criminology from 2005-2008.

Tim’s research has spanned a number of areas including policing, restorative justice, youth justice, drugs and alcohol, comparative policy making and urban violence. He was the LSE’s lead on Reading the Riots, their prize-winning research with the Guardian on the 2011 disorder, and with Professors David Downes and Paul Rock is currently working on an Official History of Criminal Justice. 

Professor Mererid Hopwood, Welsh poet, academic and author.

Mererid Hopwood came to the Chair of the Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth University in January 2021. Before that she had been Professor of Languages and the Curriculum Cymreig in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She has spent her career in the fields of languages, literature, education and the arts. She won the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Chair, Crown and Prose Medal and Welsh Book of the Year prize for poetry in 2016 for her collection of poems, Nes Draw. She has been children’s poet laureate of Wales (Bardd Plant Cymru) and in 2018 won the Tir na n’Og prize for her writing for children. She has composed words for musicians, visual artists and dancers, and has taken part in literature festivals in Europe, Asia and South America. She has translated many works of literature into Welsh including plays from Spanish and German for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. She is Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Academi Gymreig, and Honorary President of the Waldo Williams Society. She is the secretary of the Academi Heddwch Cymru.