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Hayley Bendle

Hayley Bendle - Advisory Board member

The benefits of international travel and experiences, to me, can never be understated. Born and raised in Neath, my horizons were initially broadened through family holidays to Spain, inspiring me to study French, Spanish and Portuguese at university, and then spend time on my Year Abroad as an English Language Assistant near Seville, Spain. This unparalleled opportunity was truly life-changing, and fuelled my passion for even further international exposure and immersion, both as an Au Pair in Provence and Cast Member in Disneyland Paris. 

Since, I have vowed to undertake my own taith in international education, and have dedicated my working career to date to the enlightenment, encouragement, and empowerment of even more young learners in Wales, from all walks of life. Previously as Head of MFL and Director of Careers & Higher Education in comprehensive and independent schools in Cardiff and Barry, I now deliver international university advice and guidance to learners in Wales’ Seren Academy. Fuelled by my own personal experience, I strive to ensure that no learner is left behind and help them to make informed decisions about their futures. 

Whilst I remain devoted in my calling to help level the playing field and work with young learners directly, being at the creative edge of delivering national and international initiatives captivated me. Since 2019, I have been elected to serve on a range of non-profit and charitable boards, including but not limited to International ACAC (a global collaboration of over 3,500 university counsellors and admissions colleagues supporting learners in their transition to international higher education), and IC3 Movement, a global movement to establish high-quality career and college counselling in every school around the world. 

Needless to say, international education has been the cornerstone to who I have become, personally and professionally. I am delighted to join Taith’s Advisory Board, to further play a strategic part in the delivery of transformative exchange opportunities to all young learners in Wales, no matter their background.   

Other Advisory Board

Siân Hughes - Advisory Board member

Siân Hughes

Travel provides unparalleled learning and life experiences, something I know first-hand from my own experiences.  I am a Welsh speaker and grew up in Llangefni, a rural community in Anglesey, North Wales. I was fortunate to participate in international exchange programs during my youth – both in school and at Cardiff university – and this enabled me to experience firsthand the immense joy that travel and exploring diverse cultures can bring. It was truly transformative. 

These experiences fuelled my passion for learning languages, my cultural curiosity, and inspired my career choices. I have been based in Brussels, Belgium, for over 20 years and have had the opportunity to support different kinds of organizations –  from startups to global corporations and privately owned companies –  in corporate affairs, communications, and human resources. Being multilingual and having an affinity for different cultures, I’ve been able to help them to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps and engage with their internal teams and external stakeholders in a way that’s inclusive and meaningful. And from my side, being able to work with people from different countries and backgrounds, I am constantly learning, growing and learning new skills. 

These are skills that are transversal across all sectors, in all different kinds of jobs which is why I find the Taith programme so exciting. I am delighted to contribute my experience and skills to the Advisory Board, helping to support even more Welsh learners and young people, from all walks of life, to set off on their own life-enriching journeys. 

Zenny Saunders - Ex Officio Member, Advisory Board

Zenny Saunders

Ex Officio Member

Zenny Saunders, Deputy Director of Post Compulsory Education and Training Reform, Welsh Government. Zenny began her career in the Department for Working Pensions before joining the Welsh Government in 2001 where she has held a variety of posts in areas relating to local government, education, employability and skills, and legislation. Zenny also worked for the UK Government on secondment for 5 years supporting the Secretary of State for Wales in delivering the devolution settlement. In these roles Zenny has delivered key programmes including the Government of Wales Act 2006, the UNCRC application to Wales, establishing a Welsh system of teachers pay and conditions,  and establishing the Working Wales employability Service. Her roles have extensively involved social partnership working and ensuring that improvements in the education sector focus on the learner. Zenny became Deputy Director for PCET Reform in 2019 leading on the legislation and establishment of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, that will oversee the post 16 education sector in Wales. Zenny is also the Welsh Government lead on the International Learning Exchange Programme, Taith. During the Covid response Zenny provided leadership to the WG Volunteer Strategy. Zenny has 3 children, is a LA Governor at a Cardiff Secondary School and the Welsh Government member of the Cardiff Public Service Board.

Lem van Eupen - Advisory Board member

Lem van Eupen

As someone deeply passionate about international cooperation and exchange in education, I am excited to contribute to Taith’s mission of creating life-changing opportunities for learners and young people across Wales through international learning exchanges. The decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union had far-reaching consequences, and one of the most glaring casualties of this departure was the UK’s participation as a programme country in the Erasmus+ programme. The damage inflicted by the Brexit is still sorely felt in the world of education. All the more reason to enthusiastically welcome the initiative by the Welsh government to establish an alternative programme.   

As Director of the Dutch National Agency Erasmus+ Education & Training and as Dean at a Higher Education Institution in the Netherlands, I have experienced at first hand how life-changing it can be for young people to go abroad for study or internships. The impact is particularly high for students with less opportunities. Therefore, Taith’s commitment to inclusion and diversity speaks to my heart. At the Dutch National Agency, we have chosen inclusion as one of our national priorities, and we have developed specific strategies and tools to involve underrepresented groups in Erasmus+. I am keen to exchange experiences with you and learn from each other what more could be done to achieve ‘internationalisation for all’.  

I do hope that my involvement in the world of education and international cooperation, my experience in managerial, advisory and supervisory roles, and my network throughout Europe can be of benefit to Taith and its participants! 

Kirsty Williams - Cadeirydd Bwrdd Ymgynghorol Taith

Kirsty Williams


Kirsty Williams served for 22 years in the Senedd.  In 2008 she was elected leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the first  woman to lead one of the four main political parties in Wales.  Between 2016 -2021 she was Minister for Education, leading a national mission of education reform. She retired from front line politics in May 2021. Alongside her roles at Taith, she is Vice Chair of Powys Teaching Health Board and serves on a number of  community and charitable organisation’s boards in the county. She lives on the family farm in the heart of the Brecon Beacons and is an enthusiastic volunteer at Pontfaen Young Farmers Club and Powys Samaritans.

Anne Marie Graham - Advisory Board member

Anne Marie Graham

The Taith programme is creating life-changing opportunities, and I want to contribute personally to its longer-term success as a member of the Advisory Board. As a first-in-family undergraduate - from a single income family - my Erasmus grant in the early 1990s made it possible for me to study overseas while minimising the financial pressures on me and my family, so I know first-hand the impact a programme like Taith can have. I look forward to working with my Advisory Board colleagues to ensure that individuals across Wales can benefit from global mobility opportunities.  

I’ve worked on a range of programmes and initiatives that support individuals’ international mobility. As the current Chief Executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, and the former Director of the Chevening Scholarships programme for FCDO, I bring a wealth of experience in overseeing and ensuring good governance and financial sustainability at the highest level.  Previously, I established the Go International programme at Universities UK International in 2013 to implement the first UK Outward Mobility Strategy and drive engagement in the UK and overseas.    

I am committed to ensuring that international mobility is accessible and equitable for all. I hope to bring my experience of managing mobility programmes, with expertise in monitoring and evaluating success and impact, to ensure that Taith realises its ambitions for equality and inclusion, and brings transformative mobility to as many individuals as possible.  

Hannah Pudner - Advisory Board member

Hannah Pudner

I know first had the power of international experiences. I was fortunate enough to spend a year studying and working in America straight after graduation, it was transformative for both my personal development and professional development – it opened me to new people, new ideas, and new horizons. I want everyone in Wales to have access to similar opportunities, especially those who have had to overcome challenges and barriers to get to where they are.  In this spirit, I am especially heartened to see Taith’s firm commitment to equalities and inclusion. 

I’m an organisational development specialist based in Swansea. I work with values-led organisations like the John Lewis Partnership, Greenpeace UK, The Good Law Project to develop confident, inclusive, and dynamic workforces. Before becoming freelance, I was Deputy CEO of United Purpose, a £30 million turnover international development agency working to alleviate absolute poverty in some of the poorest parts of Africa and South East Asia. I also spent 12 years working in progressively senior roles within UK higher education.  Much of this time was spent amplifying the learner voice with students’ unions and I warmly welcomed learning how important the learner voice is to Taith.  

I am delighted to be part of Taith, and look forward to contributing all the knowledge, skills, and experiences I have accumulated in terms of leadership, organisational development, equalities, and learner voice to its future success. 

Chelsea Ljutic - Advisory Board member

Chelsea Ljutić

Almost fifteen years ago, as a young student in Ottawa, I declined an offer to study abroad at Swansea University for financial reasons. Devastated, I vowed to one day travel to Wales. Now, as a dual British-Canadian citizen who has worked and studied in several countries, I can confidently speak to the life-changing impact of international learning experiences. These nurture our personal growth and help us build emotional intelligence. They bridge linguistic and cultural divides, acting as a form of soft diplomacy, and allow us to develop skills that are increasingly valued by societies and economies. 
Unfortunately, international education has a long history of excluding those that cannot afford the cost, time, or distance. This can widen the disadvantage gap, making travel – and the transformative opportunities that come with it – a luxury. That’s why I’ve been a keen supporter of Taith from its inception. Taith bakes equity, diversity and inclusion directly into its strategy. Taith recognises the barriers to accessing global opportunities, and then works creatively to dismantle these. Taith boldly acknowledges that disadvantage knows no boundaries and that education is not restricted to classrooms. 
It is my passion for Taith’s inclusive aims that has fuelled my desire to join its Advisory Board. Tackling educational disadvantage is the thread that has run through my career, spanning both private and public sectors. More recently, I was privileged to work on strengthening bilateral ties between Wales and Canada in education and R&D, with Taith at the core of this engagement. 
I am thrilled to have been appointed to the Advisory Board in the early stages of Taith’s delivery. I bring with me a strong background in strategy development, extensive networks in the global education sector, and a grounding in education policy and advocacy. I hope to contribute my skills and knowledge to ensuring Taith’s longevity and sustainability – so it may have the greatest impact possible for future generations. 

Nabil Ali - Advisory Board member

Nabil Ali

It’s a bit of a cliché to say, but travelling abroad is truly transformative – it shaped my character, values and my view of society. It made me the person I am today. It’s not always easy though – as a queer British Pakistani from inner city Manchester it was an empowering but challenging experience. I’ve since spent most of my professional and personal life advocating for international exchanges more equal, inclusive and to a broader range of society. I was privileged to contribute to the design of Taith in its initial stages, serving as their policy development manager leading the development and engagement of Taith with the Welsh higher education sector. It’s now an even greater privilege to rejoin the team as an Advisory Board member.  

I look forward to bringing my experience in international education policy development and mobility policy through my work spanning across the UK and European education & research sector, through working in schools, further education to higher education & research. As well as previously being part of the amazing Taith Executive team, helping to develop their policy and strategy in the early days, I was previously the policy lead for Erasmus+ at Universities UK International, working with the Department of Education advocating for a functional and inclusive Turing Scheme. I have also been previously based at UKRI in Brussels acting as the national contact point for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme for the mobility of researchers.  

Taith is an extraordinary scheme that puts inclusivity and diversity at the heart of international exchanges – no other scheme does this in quite the same way. I look forward to bringing my skills and perspectives in truly delivering change in Wales through diversifying international exchanges, particularly to empower and better support LGBTQIA+ individuals and racialised minorities throughout Wales.