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Sarah Leanne Powell, CEO of Sport Wales Honoured by Swansea University


Sarah Leanne Powell, the first female Chief Executive Officer of Sport Wales, has been presented with an honorary award by Swansea University.

Ms Powell was presented with the DSc (Doctor of Science) award today (Monday 24 July) by Swansea University Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Steve Wilks, during the degree ceremony for the College of Human and Health Sciences.

Sarah Powell graduated with a degree in Psychology from Swansea University and gained a PGCE teaching qualification from UWIC.  She started her career as a secondary school teacher at Lewis Girls Comprehensive, Ystrad Mynach, before joining the Sports Council for Wales to work with Welsh National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport.

She was subsequently seconded to the Welsh Sports Association to develop and lead a modernisation programme for NGBs, before returning to Sport Wales to head the Performance and Excellence department.

She is a former Welsh hockey captain, winning over 70 senior caps and playing at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.  She dedicated 10 years to playing at senior level before retiring from international competition to coach the Welsh Under-18 hockey team.

She joined Sport Wales and was High Performance Director between 2008 and 2010.  She became head of the Corporate Director of Sport Wales in 2010 and in 2013 became the first female Chief Executive Officer of Sport Wales.

She has been a Board Director of Ryder Cup Wales Limited, and is a non-Executive Board member of the Commonwealth Games Council of Wales.

On her appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Sport Wales, she said: “Becoming Chief Executive is an immense honour, and a privilege.  Our great sporting nation has the potential to be a leading light in the world, not just in terms of international success and medals won, but in terms of the life opportunities we can offer to every one of our children. I am incredibly proud to have been entrusted with this responsibility.”

At her appointment, Professor Laura McAllister who was appointed a CBE in 2016 for services to sport in Wales and who was last year herself awarded an Honorary Award from Swansea University, said: “Sarah has a depth of knowledge and expertise, and a strong reputation in sport on the UK and international stages, as well as in Wales. Her energy and vision is compelling. I am convinced that she will drive even greater success for sport in Wales and Sport Wales, in the coming years.”

On receiving her honorary degree, Sarah Leanne Powell said:

“I am extremely honoured and humbled to receive this award. To be back in Swansea where I have so many great memories of both studying and playing sport makes this day and the recognition even more special. Sport is very much part of our DNA in Wales, something that can divide us on the terraces but unite us as a nation. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the athletes, coaches, volunteers and organisations that work tirelessly to make sport happen. I feel very lucky to have been able to play my part. Finally, thank you to Swansea University and everyone involved in making this a day to remember.”

Presenting the degree, Professor Steve Wilks said:

“Throughout her life, Sarah Powell has shown a remarkable dedication and drive to excel as a sportswoman, as a mentor and as a leader.  She is an excellent ambassador for the University which places great importance on sport and is hugely proud of its sporting alumni of which Sarah is an outstanding example.”