Who we are
We are experienced developers of effective political and corporate campaigns
Rachel Wolf is a Founding Partner of Public First. She was previously the education and innovation adviser to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.
Her career has spanned business, charities, politics and Government. She was recently Senior Vice President for the technology company Amplify in New York, running one of their main product divisions. She also founded and ran the New Schools Network – a charity that developed much of the Free School policy, successfully campaigned to the public and to Government for its implementation and delivered the programme. In this role she wrote for national think tanks, for most of the major broadsheets and was grilled on all the major broadcast shows including Today, Newsnight, and BBC News – often against vocal and well-known opponents.
She has been an education and a political adviser to the Conservative Party, and was a policy adviser to Boris Johnson on his first mayoral campaign and in his earlier role as Shadow Higher Education Minister.
Rachel studied Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry, at Cambridge and she also studied Economics at Birkbeck.
James Frayne is a Founding Partner of Public First. Having spent his entire career analysing and moving public opinion, James has created some of Britain’s most effective political and corporate campaigns. He has created coalitions to successfully challenge planned Government policy changes, mobilised endless independent endorsements to back organisations’ public strategies, and created vast amounts of content for organisations to explain their case to the media and general public.
As Director of Communications for the Department for Education between 2011 and 2012, James pioneered a public-facing, campaign approach within Government. He then worked for one of New York City’s best regarded communications firms – representing some of the city’s highest profile names to the likes of the New York Times and the New York Post – before returning to work as Director of Policy and Strategy for Britain’s leading think tank, Policy Exchange. In 2015, he published a major polling study on the “Just About Managing” classes – now a key concern of Government.
James started work at the highly successful No Campaign against the euro and was Campaign Director of the successful North East Says No campaign against a Regional Assembly, which won an upset landslide in the 2004 referendum there. He was an Associate Partner at Portland Communications and a Partner at Westbourne Communications between 2007 and 2011, where he specialised in corporate campaigns.
He is the author of a detailed guide to working with public opinion – Meet the People, published by Harriman House in 2013.
Gabriel Milland is a Partner at Public First. He is a former Senior Civil Servant who previously worked as a journalist covering wars, presidential elections and Westminster politics. In over a decade on Fleet Street he held roles including political correspondent and foreign editor. He was Head of External Communications at the Ministry of Justice and Head of Communications at the Department for Education. His last Whitehall role was as Deputy Director, Government Communication Service based at the Cabinet Office. He has deep and wide contacts across all parts of the media, political parties and Whitehall.
Gabriel leads Public First’s media relations practice. He holds a PhD in communications history from the University of Leicester and studied at the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate.
Jonathan is Director, Policy & Research. Jonathan joined Public First from the think tank Policy Exchange. As the organisation’s Economic & Social Research Fellow, he authored papers on topics from the future of work to digital government, and from development aid to the industrial strategy. He previously worked as a parliamentary researcher, an independent economic researcher and an analyst for the anti-BNP campaign, “There is Nothing British about the BNP”. He has co-written multiple books on public policy, including A Time for Choosing for Palgrave Macmillan and Gridlock Nation for Biteback Publishing.
Steve Hughes is an Associate Partner, specialising in public policy. He was previously the Head of Economic and Social Policy at the think tank Policy Exchange and published reports on contributory welfare and youth unemployment. Before Policy Exchange Steve worked at the Bank of England, where he conducted research into the circulation of banknotes, and helped manage the regulatory system that governs cash distribution in the UK.
Prior to this, Steve worked at the British Chambers of Commerce, producing economic indicators and advising on tax, international trade and SME finance policy. He has also worked in Parliament, researching HM Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions legislation as it passed through the House of Commons. Steve read economics at the University of Nottingham.
Elena is an Associate Partner at Public First. Elena has held a number of senior advisory and operational roles for the Government and in London. Elena was a Special Adviser and Speechwriter to Michael Gove in the Department for Education when the Department was driving radical education reform across England – implementing the Free Schools programme and expanding the number of Academies. She was also Theresa May’s Policy Adviser in the Home Office, focusing on women and equalities issues. She ran the New Schools programme for Boris Johnson at the Greater London Authority during his mayoralty.
Elena studied Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge. She spends much of her spare time training as a boxer, and is a member of the Team England squad.