Our People

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The UK National Commission for UNESCO is comprised of a Secretariat team guided and supported by a Board of Non-Executive Directors appointed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Secretariat and Board of Directors work closely with the UK Ambassador and Permanent Secretary to UNESCO. Together, we use education, culture, communication and information and science to build mutual dialogue and peace in the United Kingdom.

Board of Directors

Dr Dan O’Connor



SINCE 2021


Dan O’Connor is Head of Research Environment at Wellcome Trust. Dan has a PhD in the History of Medicine (University of Warwick) and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics and the History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University), as well as considerable experience in the commercial sector.

UK Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO

Anna Nsubuga


SINCE 2023

Anna Nsubuga is the UK’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. An experienced public and social policy professional, Anna worked at community, national, regional and international levels across a range of policy areas. She has three decades of experience working in the non-profit, public and private sectors. Her areas of expertise include further education and adult learning, girls and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, European affairs, and stakeholder engagement. Anna’s posting is her second diplomatic role at the British Embassy in Paris, where she was previously First Secretary, Labour and Social Affairs.


James Bridge


SINCE 2011

Chief Executive and Secretary-General

James runs the UK’s National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) and represents it as Secretary-General at UNESCO headquarters and to its 190+ member states.

He works with the UK’s UNESCO sites and designations and the global network of 200 National Commissions for UNESCO. He is an Alternate Delegate for the UK at UNESCO’s General Conference and was an Alternate Member of the UNESCO Executive Board for the UK from 2013 – 2019.

James was part of the social inclusion task force when at Age Concern; he wrote the first human rights and nursing policy position paper at the Royal College of Nursing. He worked on EU Trade and Partnership Agreements at the European Parliament; was a stagiaire at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission; worked at the UK Financial Services Authority; and ran the Brussels offices of the Law Societies, Save the Children International, MHA Associates and the start up Internet company I-Wave Limited.

Matthew Rabagliati


SINCE 2017

Head of Policy, Research and Communications

Matthew is the Head of Policy, Research and Communications at the UK National Commission for UNESCO. He leads the organisation in developing and delivering its policy advice and research to the UK government, devolved administrations and UNESCO. He leads the support to the network of UNESCO designations in the UK, and the Organisation’s Delivery Framework and Theory of Change to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). He leads the Organisation’s annual review to the FCDO, ensuring the delivery of an A+ rating anually since 2017.  He also works on strengthening relationships with experts and representatives from UNESCO designations across the UK, ensuring UK representation across UNESCO’s programmes and activities.

Matthew is also responsible for the UK National Commission’s wider communication portfolio, as well as the NLHF Local to Global Project and Heritage and Climate Change Project on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Andrea Blick


SINCE 2011

Head of Finance and Accreditation

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. She has overall responsibility for the financial management of the organisation, as well as managing office administration and HR.

Andrea oversees applications to UNESCO’s programmes and sites in the UK, and those wishing to apply for UNESCO Prizes and Patronage.

Previously, Andrea worked in theatre and theatrical management, and media.

Charlie Kennedy


SINCE 2019

Accreditation, Policy and Operations Manager

Charlie supports the UKNC in their communications output and administration. He assists in the management of the UKNC’s online presence and helps to coordinate the organisation’s business processes.

Charlie has formerly worked for the NHS and in the Pharma and Medical Communications industries, as well as completing an internship at the 1954 Hague Convention Secretariat at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Liam Smyth


SINCE 2023

Local to Global Project Implementation Manager

Liam leads the delivery of ‘Local to Global’ which aims to bridge the research-policy-practice gap by building a more resilient network of UNESCO-designated sites in the UK.

With more than 15 years’ experience working across the culture and creative industries, Liam combines in-depth sector knowledge with expertise in innovation, social enterprise and data-driven practice. In 2021, he earned a first-class honours Master’s degree in business administration and Chartered Manager status.

Liam has worked with organisations across Europe, South-east Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa at operational, strategic and governance levels, cementing his credentials in international cultural relations. In 2023, he co-authored the ‘International Collaboration’ report for the Birmingham 2022 Festival, evaluating all 29 bilateral partnership projects held during the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Liam is also a trustee of IKON, an internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue in Birmingham, UK.

Alison Smedley


SINCE 2023

Policy Co-ordinator and Local to Global Project Administrator

Alison is the Project Administrator for the National Lottery Heritage Fund ‘Local to Global’ project which aims to build a resilient UNESCO Network in the UK.

Alison joins UNESCO UKNC after 10 years working for the Inland Waterways Association where she coordinated national campaigns and parliamentary activities as Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager. Alison previously worked in administrative roles in a variety of sectors including estates management, publishing and at the Department of Health.

Alison was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours list, for voluntary services to the inland waterways. She continues to volunteer for the Inland Waterways Association including as chair of its North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Branch.

Dave Chapman
Dave Chapman


SINCE 2024

Project Lead, Climate Change and UNESCO Heritage Project

Dave is Project Lead for the Climate Change and UNESCO Heritage project, which aims to enable the development of cross-cutting solutions to the impacts of climate change and to develop shareable tools and models to support natural and heritage sites worldwide.

Dave’s background is in project & programme management, with a particular interest in managing and evaluating research and innovation projects. Before joining the UKNC, Dave led transformation programme activity for a national healthcare charity.

Prior to that, Dave led on national evaluation programmes for collaborative & inclusive open data science research (AIM RSF, The Alan Turing Institute) and for pilot pathways for non-specific symptoms indicative of cancer (ACE, Cancer Research UK). Dave also has experience of strategic development and performance management, having held several roles in NHS and local government.

Aisling Parrish


SINCE 2024

Project Administrator, Climate Change and UNESCO Heritage Project

Aisling is the Project Administrator for the Climate Change and UNESCO Heritage project, which aims to enable the development of cross-cutting solutions to the impacts of climate change and to develop shareable tools and models to support natural and heritage sites worldwide.

Aisling’s background is in policy and project coordination, primarily in the public sector with a focus on heritage and culture. Prior to joining the UNESCO UK, Aisling managed the Historic Environment Forum, a collaborative initiative hosted by the Heritage Alliance. She has previously worked at Historic England, providing coordination for grant projects and advice casework in the North East of England, and in a Cultural Property policy role at DCMS where she delivered work on the Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Act 2022 and was Assistant Secretary to the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel.

John Carmichael


SINCE 2023

Communications and Marketing Manager

John has built a career in marketing and communications, with specialism in the field of place marketing.

A graduate in Tourism Studies at Bournemouth University, John has worked at a senior level in destination management organisations including Visit Bath, Visit Brighton and Visit Kent.

John has also been the Deputy Director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy and joins UKNC from the Angel Business Improvement District where he led the organisation’s communication and marketing.