Meet the team

The UKNC is managed by a Board of Non-Executive Directors and staffed by the Secretariat.

Non–Executive Directors

Dr Beth Taylor – Chair

Until early 2016, Beth Taylor worked as a consultant for the Institute of Physics as chair of the UK National Committee for the International Year of Light, and for the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) on the development of an advanced skills training hub. Her previous full time role was as Director of Communications and External Relations at the Institute of Physics (IOP), responsible for the Institute’s relationships with stakeholders in the UK and internationally, including media relations, public affairs, science outreach activities and web developments.

She led the Institute’s international activities, including the physics for development programme which supports education and training for physicists in the developing world. Following a research degree in earth sciences at Cambridge University, Beth joined the UK Department of Energy, to work on energy conservation and the “Save It” campaign, and later on North Sea oil development. She subsequently spent three years in the USA, teaching geology at the University of New Mexico, and working as an energy policy consultant for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Returning to the UK, she joined the Energy Technology Support Unit as an analyst, modelling alternative strategies for meeting national energy demand projections and reducing environmental impacts. In the 1990’s, Beth joined the corporate strategy team of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, to work on the privatisation of AEA Technology and the refocusing of the UKAEA on nuclear site clean-up and fusion research. Beth became head of the UKAEA’s corporate communications in 1998, responsible for media and community relations at Dounreay, Windscale, Harwell and Winfrith.  She moved to IOP in 2007. Beth was a founding Director of Caithness Horizons, a new community facility and visitor attraction in Thurso.

Professor Kiran Fernandes PhD, CEng, FRSA – Vice Chair with Higher Education portfolio

Professor Fernandes’s expertise lies in modelling complex social and business domains ranging from operational processes to strategic decisions. His work has covered a wide range of fields, including construction, pharmaceutical, biotech, automotive and digital companies. His most recent research utilized modelling techniques to better understand gangs and their involvement in gun crime. Professor Fernandes is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Professor Colin McInnes – Vice-Chair with Social and Human Sciences portfolio

Colin McInnes holds a chair in Aberystwyth University’s Department of International Politics and is the University’s Professor of Research Excellence and Impact. He was Dean of Graduate Studies and Head of the University’s Department of International Politics. He was a lecturer in the Department of War Studies, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst; Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College London; and Special Adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee. He is currently advising both Public Health Wales and the InterAction Council (an NGO consisting of over 40 former Presidents and Prime Ministers still active in influencing world events) on global health issues. Professor McInnes has published widely, initially on strategy and security and more recently on global health politics. His book, Spectator Sport War: The West and Contemporary Conflict, was a Choice ‘Outstanding Academic Title.’ The wider impact of his work was rated 4* in the 2014 REF, for which he is also a panel member. He is currently a Non Executive Director of the UK National Committee for UNESCO, responsible for the Human and Social Sciences Portfolio; and is the lead author of its papers setting out recommendations for reform of the World Social Sciences Report and on the UNESCO Chairs programme. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and of the Royal Society for the Arts.

Zamila Bunglawala – Cross Cutting portfolio

Zamila is a Deputy Director of the Cabinet Office. Through her extensive national and international policy, strategy and programmes experience in senior roles – including No.10 Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office, central Whitehall departments, Open Society Foundation, Young Foundation, Brookings Institution, United Nations in Darfur, Sudan and Kathmandu, Nepal – Zamila has led a wide range of policy and program projects, specialising in education and employment, gender, SGBV, ethnic and faith minority groups, humanitarian conflicts and development. She has strong communications, stakeholder engagement, networking, influencing, strategic oversight, governance and leadership skills from working in national and international organisations. She has advised Ministers, Special Advisers and Heads of UN agencies. She is widely published and is an international public policy speaker on gender and minority equality issues and appears regularly in print media and TV. She also designed and delivered the Knowledge Exchange Trials (KET) program – focussing on bridging the divide between the academic and policy communities, in collaboration with University of Manchester, where she is a Fellow.

Helen Maclagan – Culture portfolio

Helen Maclagan is an independent heritage and cultural specialist, based in the West Midlands. Having originally studied and trained as an archaeologist, she worked for some 20 years as Warwickshire County Council’s County Archaeologist, also playing a role in national archaeological and heritage organisations. She is currently a Vice-Chair of the Council for British Archaeology,  a member of the National Trust Archaeology Specialist Advise Panel, Director of Warwickspace – a community enterprise company and has been a member of numerous other national committees in a voluntary capacity. Helen joined the UK National Commission in December 2013. Since then she has been involved with World Heritage Sites (particularly the UK Tentative List) and with issues around Underwater Cultural Heritage, each the subject of a recent UK National Commission Policy Brief. Other areas of activity have related to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, and to Culture and Conflict (with UKNC partners the Blue Shield Committee). Challenges ahead include engaging with Intangible Cultural Heritage, Diversity of Cultural Expressions and with broader issues around Culture and Development. Her interests include the engagement of local communities with the historic and natural environment and links between culture and health.

David Drewry – Natural Sciences portfolio

David Drewry was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull between 1999 and 2009, and was previously Director of Science & Technology at the Natural Environment Research Council, Director of the British Antarctic Survey and Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. He served on the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. He is Honorary Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, Trustee Emeritus at the Natural History Museum, London and recently completed eight years as Vice-President of the European University Association and Chair of its Research Policy Working Group. He holds a Doctorate in Geophysics from Cambridge University and has research interests in the environmental sciences and global climate change having published three books and more than 100 research papers (including in nature and science).

Karen Merkel – Communication & Information portfolio

Karen Merkel has specialised in media production, consultancy and training in development for 30 years. She jointly set up New Media Networks (NMN) to partner with international agencies, broadcasters, media practitioners, academic institutions and communities globally. Previously, she assessed capital lottery bids for the Arts Council of England specialising in Cultural Quarters and digital developments, and produced the BFI’s Capital Development Plan. She also was Chair of Stratford Circus Arts Centre in East London for 4 years. She produced features for BBC Radios 4 and 5Live and started and co-ran SoundRadio – one of the first five Community Radio Stations with a UK Licence to broadcast. She worked for the BBC for nine years, directing projects for World Service Education and as Director of Education for the former World Service Trust (the BBC’s International Development arm) and directing strategy for BBC Worldwide Interactive Learning. She went on to run Amnesty International Secretariat’s Internet Programme, oversaw the launch of the new Amnesty website globally and introduced its first online debate. Karen has commissioned and led creative teams to deliver media programmes for broadcast and interactive platforms globally. She is an Associate Tutor for the practice based module of the Master’s Course in Media and International Development at the University of East Anglia in the UK. Karen discovered Tate & Lyle Sugars’ forgotten collection of films and the company has granted NMN the license to use its archive collection of films for educational purposes.


James Bridge – Chief Executive and Secretary-General

James runs the UK National Commission for UNESCO, having been brought in to restructure it in 2011. The UKNC received an A+ rating from the UK government in December 2017 for the fourth year in a row. He advises the UK Government, Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies on UNESCO internationally and UNESCO in the UK. He is an Alternate Member of UNESCO’s Executive (management) Board.

James advised on national and international policy and ran campaigns for Age Concern, the National Council on Ageing (now Age UK). He was International Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing; and was head of the Brussels offices of Save the Children International; the UK Law Societies; and Greater London Enterprise. He worked in the Secretariat-General of the European Commission liaising with the European Parliament Committees on International Trade and Economic and Monetary Affairs.

Andrea Blick – Accreditation, Finance and Office Manager

Andrea joined the UK National Commission for UNESCO in June 2011, having previously worked for 20 years as Finance Manager for a leading set of criminal barristers. Previously she worked in theatre and theatrical management. Andrea also oversees the accreditation process providing support and quality control for individuals and organisations applying for UNESCO designations, prizes and patronage in the UK.

Matthew Rabagliati – Communications and Research Manager

Matthew supports the UKNC in developing and delivering its policy advice to UK government, devolved administrations and UNESCO and in strengthening relationships with experts and representatives from UNESCO projects across the UK. He was formerly a Senior Parliamentary Advisor at Historic England, and a Policy and Communications Manager at The Heritage Alliance.

Moira Nash – Policy Adviser

Moira helps to coordinate the delivery of the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s policy briefs. She joined the UKNC in December 2013 having worked as a freelance consultant to international NGOs. She has over twenty years experience of the international development sector focussing on issues including trade negotiations, indigenous peoples’ rights and corporate accountability.

Sarah Shaw – Newton Prize Project Director

Sarah has joined the UK National Commission for UNESCO to work with BEIS leading on the high profile Newton Prize with an objective to raise the profile of the Government’s Newton Fund, demonstrating to partners and the public the value of collaborating with the UK in science and innovation to tackle the complex global challenges of our age. Formerly Sarah was the Communications Director for WISE, the leading campaign for gender balance in science, technology and engineering in the UK. Sarah is on the Board of Trustees for Remap, a charity that custom-makes bespoke equipment for disabled people, and for the Carers’ Resource, a charity providing support and advice to carers.

Anna Duenbier – Administrative and Research Assistant

Anna joined the UK National Commission in March 2018 and is the first port of call for UK UNESCO- related enquiries. Anna has an MA in Professional Language and Intercultural Studies and a strong interest in UK-China relations, having previously worked at FCO Beijing.

Shara Samra – Newton Prize Project Assistant

Shara joined the UK National Commission for UNESCO in September 2018 to work with BEIS on the delivery of the Newton Prize project. Previously, Shara worked as a Policy Assistant at Green Alliance, working for the Greener UK coalition on the environment and Brexit. She holds an MSc in Sustainability and Consultancy from the University of Leeds.