Our Staff

Our staff are based in offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

If you would like to contact a member of the team please email [email protected]. For press enquiries please contact the media office.

London Office

Darren HughesDarren Hughes
Chief Executive

Darren joined the Electoral Reform Society in 2012 as Director of Campaigns and Research, in 2014 Darren became Deputy Chief Executive, then Chief Executive in 2017. Originally from New Zealand, he was elected to the House of Representatives at age 24 and served across three parliaments. During that time he was a government minister; an opposition shadow minister; a party whip; and in addition to portfolio responsibilities such as transport; infrastructure; social development and employment; and education was deputy leader and then shadow leader of the House.  New Zealand has had proportional representation for around 20 years and Darren is a firm believer in its ability to represent people more fairly and for the culture of politics to change more positively.

Research and Policy

Jessica GarlandDr Jess Garland
Director of Policy and Research

Jess is responsible for the Society’s policy and research. A former Senior Political Adviser to a Shadow Cabinet Minister, Jess has several years experience working in Westminster. She has a PhD in Politics from the University of Sussex and holds a Research Masters (MRes) in Government, Policy and Politics from Birkbeck, University of London and a BA (Hons) in Philosophy from UCL. Jess has particular expertise in political participation and political party organisation research.

Michela Palese
Research and Policy Officer

Michela develops and carries out the Society’s research and policy output, focusing primarily on the House of Lords, online political campaigning, deliberative democracy, and devolution.
She holds an MSc in Public Policy and a BA in European Social and Political Studies from UCL. Prior to joining the ERS, Michela was Research Assistant and McDougall Fellow at the UCL Constitution Unit, where she co-authored Doing Democracy Better, a report examining how the quality of information and debate during election and referendum campaigns might be improved in the UK.

Ian Simpson

Ian Simpson
Research Officer

Ian specialises in the analysis of election, survey and polling data. He holds a Research Masters (MRes) in Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London and a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Essex. Ian spent nearly a decade at the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), primarily working on the British Social Attitudes survey.


Doug CowanDoug Cowan
Digital Officer

Doug manages the society’s digital output across campaigns, membership and fundraising. He holds an MA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Edinburgh and a Diploma in Professional Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketers. Before working at the ERS Doug worked in theatre marketing.

Lizzie LawlessLizzie Lawless
Membership Officer

Lizzie oversees the ERS’s membership scheme and manages members’ subscription administration. She holds a degree in Politics from Royal Holloway, University of London. Before working at the ERS Lizzie completed a marketing traineeship with Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras.

Jon NarcrossJon Narcross
Communications Officer

Jon previously held a number of roles in communications and campaigns in HE and charity sectors. He holds an MA in Political Communication from Goldsmiths, University of London and a BA in History and Politics from the University of Sheffield where he focussed on constitutional reform issues and the 2011 AV referendum.

Natasha Fox

Natasha Fox
Public Affairs and Campaigns Officer

Natasha engages with parliamentarians to promote our evidence-based reports, campaign issues and policy analysis. She has an MSc from the London School of Economics and an MA from the University of Edinburgh in Politics and Social Policy. Before joining the ERS, Natasha worked at Westminster for 4 years for the SNP and Westminster Foundation for Democracy. During this time, she worked with MPs and international parliamentarians from Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe to strengthen democratic processes and increase political representation for marginalised groups.


Kate WestKate West
Chief Operating Officer

Kate is experienced in financial, operational and HR management. Kate was previously Head of Operations at political think tank Demos where she led a two-year programme of internal restructuring. She has worked for local and national government, including the Charity Commission, where she worked alongside the Board and Directors to ensure high standards of governance. Kate is also a Trustee of the charity Wikimedia UK.

Stuart ThomasStuart Thomas
Operations and Fundraising Officer

Before joining the ERS, Stuart spent 3 years as Executive Officer at the campaigning charity the Town and Country Planning Association with responsibilities in the areas of governance, HR and facilities management. Stuart has also worked for Wandsworth Borough Council, Somerset County Council and for Evergreen, an environmental NGO based in Toronto, Canada.

ERS Scotland

Willie SullivanWillie Sullivan
Senior Director, ERS Scotland and Campaigns

Willie is the Director of ERS Scotland. He has worked at senior levels in the business, voluntary and public sector. He was the Campaign consultant on the successful Fairshare Campaign for the introduction of STV for Scottish Local Government and was Campaign Director for Vote for a Change, the campaign to secure a referendum on electoral reform.

Willie was seconded to be Head of Field Operations for the Yes campaign in the UK wide AV referendum. He also has been a paid political advisor to senior politicians in the UK and Scottish governments.

Phil ConorPhil Connor
Campaigns Officer

Phil is an experienced campaigner and organiser who has worked in the democratic reform sector since 2007. His previous roles include working for Scottish think tank Common Weal, Vote for a Change, Power 2010 and the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign. He is also currently the coordinator of the proportional representation lobby group Make Votes Count.

Jonathon ShafiJonathon Shafi
Campaigns Organiser

Before joining ERS, Jonathon was a senior researcher for an independent MSP in the Scottish Parliament where he worked on a range of issues including efforts to develop extended political communication to rural Scotland. He has a long-standing interest in political engagement and brings the experience of various social movements aimed at raising democratic participation amongst groups of people who often feel alienated by the political system. He holds a joint Honours degree in Politics and Sociology and has work published on a range of outlets.

Alice Kinghorn-Gray
Campaigns Organiser

Alice completing her MA in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, she worked for youth and human rights based campaign groups in the U.K. Fluent in Spanish she lived in both Brazil and Spain undertaking work with local democratic organisations and movements. Returning to Scotland Alice undertook policy research for Common Weal think tank and co-ordinates conferences on political and social issues in Scotland whilst furthering her interest in the political economy of state-society relations.

ERS Cymru

Jessica BlairJessica Blair
Director, ERS Cymru

Jess Blair has been Director of ERS Cymru since March 2017 and leads our work on delivering electoral reform in Wales, which includes working with politicians, officials and stakeholders, giving evidence to committees and appearing in the media. In the past few years this has resulted in the first legislation on STV in Wales, the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds and the establishment of campaigns for better diversity in our political institutions.

Jess holds a Masters in Welsh Government and Politics from the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University. She was previously Policy and Projects Manager at the Institute of Welsh Affairs, a leading Welsh think tank. She was also Acting Director during 2016. Prior to that Jess worked in the Senedd and has worked in Brussels with Regional Governments on lifelong learning policy.

Matthew Mathias
Campaigns and Projects Officer

Mat works at the centre of our campaigns and projects, meeting with politicians and decision makers at all levels in Wales to deliver electoral reform. Mat holds a Masters of Regional History from the University of Wales. Mat has over 15 years of communication and campaigning experience. He has previously held roles at National Autistic Society Cymru and Avon and Somerset Police. He has also worked in various communication positions for a political party at European, national and local authority level.

Nia ThomasDr Nia Thomas
Research and Campaigns Assistant

Nia is an experienced researcher and communicator having worked across a broad range of fields including biology and politics. She is currently completing her PhD at Cardiff University in biological conservation and has previously held communications roles at the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the Wales Environment Research Hub. She is also a co-founder of Beyond A Book Projects and has led several adventure-education expeditions designed to connect youth with nature through adventure, conservation and education.