Let’s pause to celebrate a modest yet outstanding group of women who are influencing our city, shattering barriers and igniting change. Whether entrepreneurs, activists, scientists, or artists, these women are making an undeniable impact on Cardiff and its surrounding communities.

Ilora Gillian Finlay, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

Credit: Trinity Mirror – Artwork produced by Amber Whiles (USW)

Ilora Gillian Finlay, a trailblazer in palliative care, has been a driving force for better end-of-life support since the 1970s. As a former President of the Royal College of Medicine, Professor at Cardiff University, and Crossbench in the House of Lords, her influence spans globally. Her roles with Hospice UK and Marie Curie Care, combined with her work at Velindre Cancer Centre, have transformed patient care. Notably, she spearheaded the charge to ban smoking in public places in Wales years before it was implemented, as well as being a key figure in the push for organ donation to be changed from opt-in to opt-out. Her tireless advances and campaigns in the world of palliative care and beyond solidify Ilora as an incredibly inspirational figure. 

Bernie Davies 

Credit: BernieDavies.com

Bernie Davies, a landmark figure in diversity and entrepreneurship, is a catalyst for change. Bernie has overcome challenge after challenge to break barriers and become a beacon for change. In addition to an extensive legal background, her advocacy spans globally by mentoring businesses and promoting diversity in major institutions, as well as being recognised as a TEDx Speaker and best-selling author. Honoured as an Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation, her dedication to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion shines. Bernie’s influence spans awards, mentorship, and media engagements, inspiring audiences worldwide with her mantra, “We go together, or not at all.”

Jessica Leigh Jones MBE

Credit: The Alan Turing Institute

Jessica Leigh Jones MBE, is a pioneering engineer, social entrepreneur and speaker. Her groundbreaking career, marked by winning the UK Young Engineer of the Year Award, reflects her commitment to innovation. Jessica’s unconventional journey from astrophysics to human resources has made her a force to be reckoned with as she challenges norms and drives thought-provoking discourse. Founder of Iungo, Jessica bridges career opportunities for young people and champions skills development to future-proof the Welsh economy. After being awarded an MBE in 2020, she was also appointed Global Focal Point for Upskilling Migrants by the United Nations, the youngest Welsh citizen to receive this diplomatic honour. 

Francesca James 

Credit: Francesca James LinkedIn

Francesca James is the creator of the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, championing British entrepreneurs and businesses. Hailed as ‘The Grammy’s of Entrepreneurship’, the NGBEA are now seen as the premier entrepreneurship event in the UK. But, it’s not just an awards programme – Francesca and her team have built an incredible support system to nurture and uplift new businesses and offer unparalleled support that is invaluable in helping entrepreneurs achieve success. Francesca has since founded more programmes that champion rising stars of business as well as being appointed GEN UK National Director Wales in 2020. Her tireless efforts to highlight new businesses and offer an incredible support network to entrepreneurs illustrate that Francesca is a remarkable figure whose impact is felt not just in Wales, but across Great Britain. 

Melin Edomwonyi 

Credit: MeDesign

Who says you have to stick to specialising in just one area? Not Melin Edomwonyi, that’s for sure. Named as one of BusinessLive’s businesswomen, leaders and trailblazers making their mark on Wales, Melin is a multi-hyphenate creative who is the founder of the “no niche” design studio MeDesign and now the Creative Director of Yellow Sub Creative. Her diverse approach to branding, social media and digital breaks down expectations and goes against tradition. But that’s not all – as the host of Creative Mornings Cardiff, Melin fosters connection and inspiration in the community with monthly meetups, she’s founded her own sustainable, feminist lifestyle brand Lil Titsy, is the host of the YouTube show Mixed and Confused and co-organised the Cardiff Design Festival in 2019. As a multifaceted innovator, Melin is dedicated to driving positive change.

Ruth Dodsworth 

Credit: Regan Talent Group

Ruth Dodson bravely shares her journey of overcoming domestic abuse to empower others. Her courage and resilience have made global headlines and by utilising her platform through documentaries and media appearances, Ruth sheds light on the realities of domestic abuse. Recognised as Communicator of the Year 2022 by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, she’s a beacon of hope. Frequently taking part in podcasts, debates, and training sessions with front-line services as well as having presented to the Welsh Government and The Criminal Justice Board to name but a few, Ruth amplifies voices and fosters positive change, drawing on her own experiences to inspire transformation.

Julie Williams 

Credit: UK Dementia Research Institute

A world leader in the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Government and Professor of Neurophysiological Sciences, Julie Williams is an exceptional woman who inspires change. Recognised around the world as a pioneer of Alzheimer’s research, her groundbreaking work was recognised by TIME as a top medical breakthrough in 2009. Since then, Julie has continued to make leaps and bounds in scientific research, including leading the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP). Julie advocates for women in science, striving for their inclusion and advancement in leadership roles. Her dedication to scientific innovation and gender equality is instrumental in shaping the landscape of neuroscience and empowering future generations of women in STEM.

Rabab Ghazoul 

Credit: 100welshwomen.com

Rabab Ghazoul brings a dynamic energy to Cardiff as an artist and cultural leader. Working for over 20 years at the intersections of art, culture, equality and social justice, Rabab champions change and progress. Through her organisation, Gentle/Radical, Rabab ignites crucial conversations on decoloniality and social justice, amplifying voices that are often marginalised through numerous projects. Rabab also founded the Gentle/Radical Film Club, which is the longest-running community film project in the UK specifically devoted to Minority Ethnic audiences. With a dedication to community engagement and inclusivity, Rabab’s work reshapes colonial or exclusionary narratives, fostering spaces where all voices are heard and celebrated.

Lisa Marie Brown 

Credit: @lisamariebrown123

Successful businesswoman, entrepreneur and perhaps best-known for her pink supercars, Lisa Marie Brown has firmly established herself in multiple male-dominated fields. Lisa has been involved in developing multiple thriving businesses, including Pinkspiration, which is a unique enterprise that inspires those who would like to start a business or set up an innovative project in the community. Her passion is working in the construction industry, training young people to become competitive and stand out in today’s modern business world. Nominated as one of the Top 100 WISE ‘Women in Social Enterprise’, in the runnings for Twitter’s ‘Most Influential Woman Online’ and featured in Wales Online’s Top 10 Business Women in Wales, it’s safe to say that Lisa has well and truly made her business mark.

Author WCS

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