Fiach Mac Conghail
Fiach Mac Conghail has been Director/CEO of the Abbey Theatre since May 2005. The Abbey Theatre is Ireland’s National Theatre and he is responsible for the artistic programming and strategic management of the organisation. He has produced many productions at the Abbey, including plays by Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, Marina Carr, Paul Mercier, Mark O’Rowe, Billy Roche, Sebastian Barry and Sam Shepard. Fiach is also an Independent Senator in Seanad Éireann. Fiach was Arts Adviser to John O’Donoghue, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (2002-2005). He was has worked on many cultural projects and festivals for the state, Ireland’s Presidency of the EU (2004), Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2001-2003), EXPO (2000), Venice and Sao Paulo Biennales of Visual Arts (1996-7). He was Artistic Director of Project Arts Centre from 1992 – 1999. He was awarded the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship in 2004 and currently sits on the board of Theatre Forum Ireland and is a member of the University of Limerick’s Governing Authority. Fiach graduated with a degree in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin.
Prof. Tom Collins
Professor Tom Collins is currently President of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Prior to this he was Head of the Education Department and Dean of Teaching and Learning at NUI Maynooth. He is the former Director of Dundalk Institute of Technology in which capacity he established the Centre for Renewable Energy, the National Centre for Fresh Water Studies and the Centre for Ageing. All three centres look to innovative ways of linking the research and educational agenda of Higher Education with economic and social development needs of the wider society.
He was Government advisor on both the Green Paper (1998) and White Paper (2000) on Adult Education at which time he was Director of the Centre for Adult and Community Education at NUI Maynooth. He is currently chair of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
Professor Collins has published and lectured widely in the area of Education and is a regular columnist in the Irish Times and other national media.
In his current role he is pioneering a number of collaborative initiatives in the area of energy and sustainability.
Ned Costello is Chief Executive of the Irish Universities Association, the representative body for the seven Irish Universities. In this capacity, he works closely with the IUA Council and IUA’s standing committees which represent university senior management. He has particular responsibility for strategy and supporting the development of the sector’s position on issues impacting on third and fourth level education, research and innovation in Ireland. Previously he was Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment where, most recently, he was responsible for leading the team which developed the national Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation. His previous responsibilities spanned industrial policy, labour market policy, programme evaluation and strategic planning, along with a period spent working in the enterprise sector in a sales and marketing, capacity. He is the sectoral representative on national and international initiatives and committees and is currently a member of the Taoiseach’s Innovation Taskforce, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the Education Sector Performance Verification Group. He has previously served on the Boards of Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Tyndall National Institute. He studied English Literature and Education at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, graduating with a B.Ed (Hons) and holds a Diploma in Business Studies from the Irish Management Institute and an MSc in Strategic Management from the University of Dublin, Trinity College. His interests include current affairs, technology, music and the creative arts, and competitive cycling.
Niamh is co-founder of Women for Europe and Women for Election, organisations focused on increasing women’s voices in the political process. Niamh works as Research and Policy Analyst at the Children’s Rights Alliance in Dublin. As part of her work she represents the Alliance at Social Partnership, on the End Child Poverty Coalition, and at Eurochild, where she is Chair of the Policy Working Group. Before joining the Alliance Niamh was a researcher at Demos, one of the UK’s leading think tanks. Her research focused specifically on public services, looking at issues of disability, education youth services and family. She co-authored a series of Demos reports, including ‘Making it Personal’ looking at the future of Social Care in the UK with Charles Leadbeater. Niamh also worked closely with UK local authorities supporting them to co-design new local education services with local people. Niamh holds a Masters Degree in Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin.
Owen Keenan is founder and managing director of Middlequarter, a niche consultancy that since 2005 has worked with non-profit and philanthropic organisations in Ireland and abroad. He had previously worked for more than thirty years in the community and voluntary sector in Ireland, mostly in positions of leadership and management including fifteen years (1990–2005) as Chief Executive of Barnardos, which under his leadership grew to become a national organisation. Owen currently serves on the boards of a number of organisations that seek to build the capacity of the non-profit sector.
Owen served as President of the European Forum for Child Welfare (1996-8) and subsequently was elected president of the world body, the International Forum for Child Welfare (2000-2). He is currently chair of the National Children’s Advisory Council, and of the Dissemination Initiative for Prevention and Early Intervention. He chaired the Committee of Inquiry into the death of Kelly Fitzgerald (1995). In 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dublin City University for his advocacy and services on behalf of vulnerable children.
Brigid Laffan PhD took office as the Principal of the College of Human Sciences, University College Dublin in September 2004. In 1991, Professor Laffan was appointed as Jean Monnet Professor of European Politics in the Department of Politics, UCD. She was the founding Director of the Dublin European Institute UCD in 1999. In March 2004, she was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy. She is a member of the Research Council of the European University (EUI) Florence, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) and the Irish Government’s High Level Asia Strategy Group. Professor Laffan is author of Integration and Co-operation in Europe, 1992, The Finances of the Union, 1997 and co-author of Europe’s Experimental Union 2000. She has published numerous articles in the Journal of Common Market Studies and the European Journal of Public Policy. Professor Laffan co-ordinated a six country cross national research project Organising for Enlargement (2001-2004), financed by the EU Commission’s Fifth Framework Programme and is part of an integrated research project on New Governance in Europe. She was Chairperson of the Ireland for Europe citizens’ campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum.
Sylda Langford is the former Director General of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in the Department of Health and Children. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Justice and Law Reform for nine years. She has had extensive experience in policy and legislative work across a broad range of government areas. She is Chair of the Citizen’s Information Board. Sylda is an Adjunct Professor at the UCD School of Applied Social Science, UCD College of Human Sciences. She has a professional background in social policy and social work and is a graduate of University College Cork and the London School of Economics.
Ruairí is the founder of the Community Creations not for profit social change organisation, which runs the multi award winning SpunOut.ie and is developing the POSSIBILITIES (www.possibilities.ie) civic engagement initiative. From a new base in the Temple Bar area of Dublin SpunOut.ie reaches over 50,000 unique users per month, providing information, support and opportunities to 16-25 year olds on health and social issues. SpunOut.ie also provides training, mini grants and support for young activists and innovators. Ruairí spent his youth dreaming and scheming in Cootehill Co. Cavan before gaining a Business with Human Resources Management degree in Scotland and travelling the globe working, volunteering and campaigning. In 2004, at the age of 26 and following a stint as a Youth Health Researcher in Donegal, Ruairí worked with his friends Anna Lally and Keith Corcoran to set up Community Creations as a way of creating innovative solutions to the big problems of our age. Ruairí enjoys live music, travelling, meeting random people and day dreaming.
He is originally from Rwanda and has been living in Ireland since 1995. Before joining the ICI in 2002, Fidèle worked in community development with Canal Communities Partnership and was a researcher with the African Cultural Project. He is a founding member of the Africa Centre. He is a regular public speaker on issues pertaining to immigration and integration in Ireland, Europe and further afield. He has personal interest in civic and political integration of migrants, community organising amongst migrant communities and fostering links between migrants and members of the established communities in Ireland. Fidele is currently the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s Integration Manager.
He is currently managing a number of integration projects including Pathways to Parental Leadership aimed at enhancing and fostering migrant parents’ involvement in the school life of their children in Ireland. Between 2009 and 2010, he managed a mentoring programme that aimed at fostering interactions between newly arrived migrants and members of the established community. During the 2011 general elections campaign, he managed on behalf of the ICI the Count Us In campaign aimed at encouraging candidates and political parties to engage with the over 35,000 naturalised citizens in the last 6 years. His doctoral thesis was entitled: (New) Migrant Political Entrepreneurs: Overcoming Isolation and Exclusion through Creative Resistance in Ireland.
In December 2010, he was conferred a PhD at University College Dublin. He is a fellow with the Transatlantic Forum on Integration and Migration, an initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Robert Bosch Foundation
Malcolm established VSO in Ireland in 2004. He is a University of Limerick (UL) business studies and languages graduate and also has an MBA from the Solvay School of Business at the Free University of Brussels. After graduating from UL Malcolm took up an internship at the European Commission in Brussels. Following this Malcolm held a position in a lobby group representing the direct marketing industry, also based in Brussels. After two and a half years working as a lobbyist, Malcolm began working in internal communications for GTS, the second largest wholesale telecoms company in Europe at the time. Following this he decided to do an MBA in Belgium. In 2001, Malcolm became a VSO volunteer in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He worked for two and a half years with local refugee grassroots NGOs across former Yugoslavia. Malcolm worked on VSO’s exit strategy from the region and until recently advised on a regional volunteering programme there, that VSO instigated in partnership with United Nations Volunteers. In October 2008, Malcolm was awarded for his “outstanding contribution to humanity and society” by the University of Limerick’s Alumni Association.
Malcolm speaks fluent French and Spanish and has intermediate levels in Serbo-Croat, Dutch and Japanese. He has lived, studied and/or worked in Ireland, Finland, Spain, Belgium, Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Japan, USA and through VSO has worked across the Eastern and Southern Africa regions.