UCL Policy Lab


Meet the team

Tom Baldwin

Tom Baldwin

Tom is a journalist and writer. As a former Assistant Editor of The Times, he worked in both Westminster and Washington. Between 2011 and 2015, he was the Labour Party’s Director of Communications. He later ran strategy and communications for the People’s Vote campaign. Tom is the author of several books including, Ctrl Alt Delete How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy. His new book, England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straight is co-written with Marc Stears and is due out from Bloomsbury in early 2024. He is currently writing a new biography of Keir Starmer.

James Baggaley


James Baggaley is a strategic communications and external affairs specialist who has worked on range of issues, including climate change, global health and social justice. Before coming to the UCL Policy Lab, James led a team at King's College London focused on Global Health and International Development, including leading the policy engagement to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and internationally. Before that, James worked at Amnesty International on domestic and international Human Rights campaigns. James is passionate about the Lab's ability to bring together experience and ideas to help deliver lasting change. As Head of Communications for the UCL Policy Lab, James is editor of the UCL Policy Lab magazine, which works to share compelling ideas through the lens of everyday experiences.

Nigel Ball

Nigel Ball

Nigel is an entrepreneurial leader with a track record in social change spanning government, social enterprise, and academia. He is currently Director of the new Social Purpose Lab at University of the Arts London. Prior to this, Nigel was the inaugural Executive Director of the Government Outcomes Lab at Oxford University, where he led a team that uncovered cutting-edge research insights into cross-sector partnerships, and worked with public, private and social sector leaders to improve collaboration practices. In former roles he was part of the founding leadership team of West London Zone for Children and Young People, the Head of Innovation at Teach First, and supported social entrepreneurship in East Africa. 

Anoosh Chakelian


Anoosh is Britain Editor of the New Statesman, where she covers policy, politics and social affairs, and interviews high-profile figures. She is host of the award-winning New Statesman Podcast and co-presents the Westminster Reimagined podcast series with Armando Iannucci. She appears regularly on national media as a commentator on current affairs. 

Graeme Cooke

Gramme Cooke

Graeme leads the evidence, economics, and policy teams at JRF to achieve a deeper understanding of the causes and nature of poverty across the UK and develop bold, creative, and credible policy solutions. Previously Graeme was Director of Inclusive Growth at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, where he had responsibility for regeneration, housing, planning, economic development, employment, energy, and environment. His other roles include Head of Strategy at the London Borough of Islington, Director of Research at the Institute for Public Policy Research and Expert Adviser to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis

Chris is the Head of Political Polling at Opinium, having previously worked in YouGov’s political team. He works on Opinium’s UK wide polling series for the Observer, as well as conducting regular research for Sky News and The Sun. He is a regular commentator on the polls and politics, having written for The TimesThe Guardian and The New Statesman on these subjects

Piali DasGupta


Piali is Strategy Director, London's Future at London Councils, helping boroughs to deliver their Shared Ambitions on issues such as achieving net zero, increasing the supply of good quality affordable housing and enhancing opportunities for Londoners through access to skills and jobs. Prior to that, she held senior roles at a number of councils, including London Borough of Newham, Surrey County Council and Birmingham City Council. She has also led policy teams and campaigns at the Local Government and Solace. Piali got her professional start with the Government of Canada, where she led the team that developed the country's national homelessness strategy. In her free time, she loves to indulge in travel, photography, art exhibitions and theatre.

James Graham 

James G

James is an award-winning playwright and Honorary Professor of Practice at the UCL Policy Lab. His most recent work, Dear England, transferred from a sell-out run at the National Theatre to the West End. Previous work includes the HBO and Channel 4 drama Brexit starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Other theatre work includes This House at the National Theatre and West End, 2016. Privacy transferred from Donmar Warehouse to The Public Theater in 2016. The Vote was broadcast live on the U.K. election night in 2015 and nominated for a BAFTA. James’ screenwriting includes the political drama, Coalition (Channel 4) winner of the Royal Television Society award for Best Single Drama. His first feature film X+Y was selected at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014.

Yasmin Ibison


Yasmin is a Senior Policy Adviser at JRF. She will be leading on the commissioning of thinkers and practitioners with original ideas exploring deeper cross-cutting issues related to poverty. Previously, Yasmin worked at Black Thrive Lambeth managing the employment workstream, which sought to improve employment outcomes for Black people with long-term health conditions in Lambeth, South London. She also previously ran her own social enterprise which worked with young Londoners to widen access to arts and cultural spaces.


Alisha Iyer


Alisha joined the UCL Policy Lab to help develop Ordinary Hope, as well as managing other projects that foster the Lab’s collaborative ecosystem for change. She is a policy specialist, having previously worked in policy and strategy roles across the civil service, in the Department for Digitial, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Her expertise and interests lie in policies around addressing inequalities, including skills and technical education and improving the social mobility and diversity of the UK workforces. She also previously co-founded a community based organisation working with refugees in Southwest Uganda, winning the Alastair Ramsay Award for International Social Responsibility.

Chrisann Jarrett


Chrisann is the CEO of We Belong, the UK’s first national migrant youth-led organisation working to improve individual outcomes and driving systemic reform to the UK immigration system. We Belong believed in Lived Experience Activism and builds on the success of the Let Us Learn project, founded by Chrisann in 2014 which focussed on campaigning and strategic litigation, changing student finance policy impacting 2,000 young migrants every year. Chrisann has led sustained national campaigns accelerated path to citizenship impacting over 330,000 children and young people. After graduating with a law degree from the LSE, Chrisann was a Policy Advisor to the Deputy Mayor of London on Social Integration and has spoken at the United Nations on the topic of mainstreaming youth in global migration governance. Since 2021 she has been an independent consultant for Trusts and Foundations working to advance systems change and youth-led activism in the UK.

Paul Kissack

Paul Kissack

Paul is the Group Chief Executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT). Paul started with us on the 1 September 2020, and was previously a Director General in the UK Government working on the national response to the COVID-19 crisis. He has held Director General roles at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Education. He was Deputy Chief Executive for Policy and Organisational Strategy at the Ministry for Children in New Zealand. Paul has also held senior roles at HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, and a local authority. He has worked throughout his career on economic and social policy issues and public service reform.

Lindsey Macmillan


Lindsey is the Founding Director of the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO), creating new research to inform evidence-led education policy and wider practice to equalise opportunities across the life course. She is also a Research Fellow in the Education and Skills sector at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at London School of Economics. Lindsey is an elected member of the Scottish Economic Society Council, and Co-Editor of Education Economics. Lindsey's research considers the role of early skills, education, and labour market experience in the transmission of incomes and work across generations. She has written on topics relating to educational inequalities, including the impact of selective schooling systems on social mobility, understanding the improved performance of London pupils, and the characteristics and outcomes of those who undermatch in higher education.

Maff Potts


Maff went from being homeless to running the biggest homeless provider in the country in 7 years. In that time he also turned the Millennium Dome into a homeless shelter, re-wrote the UK Government’s policy for homeless centres and oversaw the building of £170 million worth of homeless projects. Having also been a CEO of charities and housing associations he now believes that real social change comes through social movements and has set up Camerados. Camerados helps communities open public living rooms where people having tough times can look out for each other. They have done this in a hospital, library, prison, football stadium and other locations in the US and UK. You can find out more at www.camerados.org.

James Purnell

James P

James is President and Vice-Chancellor at University of the Arts. James arrived at UAL from the BBC where he served as Director of Strategy and Digital. In 1997, James became Special Adviser on the Knowledge Economy, including the arts, internet and broadcasting policy, to Tony Blair after he became Prime Minister. He was elected Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, before becoming Secretary of State for Culture and then for Work and Pensions. In 2009, as Secretary of State for Culture, James commissioned the McMaster Review, which reset the debate around access and excellence in culture. James has also served on the boards of the National Theatre, the Young Vic and the BFI.

Marc Stears 

Marc Stears

Marc is an academic, political strategist, speechwriter and executive educator, who specialises in creating dynamic collaborations between academic researchers and broader society. Currently the inaugural Director of the UCL Policy Lab, Marc has previously been Director of the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney,  CEO of the New Economics Foundation, Professor of political theory at the University of Oxford and chief speechwriter to the UK Labour Party. He is the author of several books from the world’s leading presses, including Out of the Ordinary published by Harvard University Press in 2021. Along with his co-author Tom Baldwin, his new book, entitled England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straight is due out from Bloomsbury next year.

Jon Stokes

Jon Stokes

Jon is a director of the leadership advisory firm Stokes & Jolly. He is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and accredited Executive Coach & Supervisor, a Clinical Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and a former Senior Fellow at Said Business School. Jon has worked as a leadership advisor for over 30 years across many sectors in both the UK and abroad. Recent publications include From Ego to Eco: Leadership for the 4th Industrial Revolution (Said Business School, 2020) and, with Jan Hall, Changing Gear: Creating the Life You Want After a Full-On Career (Headline Home, 2021).


Xiaowei Xu

Xiaowei Xu

Xiaowei is Senior Research Economist at the IFS. She joined the IFS in 2018 and works in the income, work and welfare sector. Her research focuses on inequalities in labour market outcomes and health. Before joining the IFS, she worked at McKinsey, the Gates Foundation and in economic consulting. Xiaowei is a regular commentator on recent economic developments in all fields of media. She regularly publishes in high-profile academic outlets and her work featured in the recent IFS Deaton Review of Inequality.