RSS Members' Week: Meet the RSS policy and public affairs team

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Our policy and public affairs team work to ensure that statistics remain high on the political agenda and visible in the everyday lives of the general public. Get to know the team and their areas of work below.

 

Iain Wilton, director of policy and public affairs

I’ve been at Errol Street for nearly two years. My job obviously involves policy and public affairs! But it’s great that I also get to work on other things, from communications with members, to conference and events, to media work.

What’s my favourite policy area? One that stands out is from last year when we campaigned on pre-release access to official statistics. It was really spontaneous, as it was prompted by the completely unexpected general election. It was also a campaign in which we managed to involve dozens of our members. Above all, it was really successful in a pretty short period of time. So it was great when its success was recognised with the MemCom award for ‘Best Campaign on Shoestring’ (we don’t really do campaigns of any other sort)!

 

Louise Whatham, policy and research manager

I have been at the RSS for six months. I am covering Olivia Varley-Winter’s secondment to the Ada Lovelace Institute. My role looks at the policy and legislation that affects the statistics community and how it can influence upcoming changes and debates surrounding the subject. Statistics covers many broad areas, so my role can be really varied, for example working with medical statisticians, national statistics, academics, economists, lawyers and many more.

I don’t have any one favourite policy area as I find every area really intriguing. A couple of my favourites include the gender pay gap and the Retail Price Index (inflation measure). The areas I work on have a direct impact upon people’s lives and if we can make changes in policy that help people, then this is what makes my job worthwhile.

 

Carole Haynes, education manager

I joined the RSS as Education Manager on 1st October 2018.  I hope to bring my knowledge and experience from other professional bodies to the RSS, focusing on education policy. Something that has attracted me to the RSS is the fact that it is an internationally recognised organisation that can influence education policy for the greater good.

I am really looking forward to engaging with RSS members, and other interested individuals, to inspire our generation by highlighting the importance of understanding statistics and using data to explore the world within an ethical framework. This will help policy-makers make informed evidence-based choices to positively improve our everyday lives and communities.

 

Amber Furnell-Leigh, education officer

I am the Education Officer and I’ve have been working with the RSS for the past four months. My role aims to improve statistical understanding amongst the public and integrating more maths throughout the UK’s educational system, in collaboration with The Royal Society, The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society. My role has been evolving since I began, and I have had the opportunity to work on projects that personally interest me, such as data ethics and the gender pay gap.

Policy is ingrained in some way in almost everything we do. It is crucial that both the general public and the RSS’ 9000 members are able to influence policy and ensure that the government are implementing policies that benefit society. The RSS’s policy team have the important role of communicating the changes our members would like to see incorporated into policies to improve society, both statistically and more generally.

 

Daniel Lapedus, media relations and public affairs manager

I joined the RSS in September 2018 as their Media Relations & Public Affairs Manager. My job is to communicate RSS’s policies to policy makers, think tanks, government, MPs, peers, the media, the general public and just about anyone else who cares about RPI, the gender pay gap, data ethics or any other topical area we are working in.

I also manage our wonderful statistical ambassadors group (a group of around 20 highly energetic statisticians who want to communicate stats accessibly to the public through the media and talks). I coordinate our Statistical Excellence Awards, as well as Statistic of the Year and the President’s Dinner.

The communication of stats has never been more important, in the age of 'fake news'. This is what drew me to the organisation. If I can be part of something that can improve democracy through honest and factual communication, then that’s something I definitely want to be part of.

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