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IUSA Board

Elected at the  Fourth Annual Alumni Congress on 24 January, the board will serve until the next congress in 2016.

Please feel free to contact them for further information.  If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact the President at or the Embassy Alumni Coordinator, Katie Keogh, at

President – Mr. Declan Dunne

Declan Dunne is an experienced General Manager with a private sector background. He is the CEO of Sophia Housing Association. Sophia is a homeless agency and approved housing body operating across Ireland. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Mensa member and has been an invited speaker at OECD events internationally. His board experience includes Ballymun Regeneration and the National Education Welfare Board, where he also chaired both Audit Committees, and the National Childcare Coordinating Committee at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Declan is an alumnus of the Boston College Irish Institute Programme. He has served on the IUSA Board from its formation and chairs its education committee.

Vice-President – Mr. Vincent Mc Carthy

Vincent Mc Carthy is the Co-founder & CEO of The Festival of Curiosity. Vince previously was the Curator of Dublin City of Science 2012 at the Irish Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser. Dublin City of Science 2012 was a year-long festival of science that celebrated Dublin hosting the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin in July 2012. Over 600,000 people attended Dublin City of Science 2012 through a rich and vibrant programme of over 200 events that included visual art, theatre, film, puppetry, interactive installations, large scale experiments, talks, debates and workshops. Dublin City of Science has evolved into a new annual Dublin festival of science called The Festival of Curiosity which takes place every July. Vince worked as a Community Engagement Manager with the Inspire Ireland Foundation which helps young people through tough times. He also worked with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs as a consultant on science and technology projects in Mozambique. He is a contributor for RTÉ Young Peoples on Science and Technology and is a regular contributor on Irish radio shows, including Savage Sunday on Today FM. Vince recently returned from an IVLP on ‘Education in the Digital Age’ in November 2014, where he visited educational institutions in Washington DC, Boston, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Vince has a JointHonours BSc in Physics and Mathematics from University College Cork and an MA in International Relations from Dublin City University.

Treasurer –  Mr. John Kearns

John Kearns is Chief Executive of Partas, a social enterprise with over 60 staff, working to foster entrepreneurship, business training and social economy since 1984. Partas also operates four Enterprise Centres and a micro-loan fund and conducts research on a national and EU level into many areas of social policy, particularly self-employment for marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Current areas of activity include innovative approaches to youth unemployment and innovation.  Prior to taking up his current position with Partas, he exercised his own entrepreneurial flair within the music business running his own company – Enigma Productions Ltd. As an entrepreneur in the music business, he had been responsible for some of the most successful recording and live events in Ireland over the previous ten years. Since then he has also achieved a 1st class MBA in Entrepreneurship and is an alumnus of Boston College ‘Accessing the Economy’ programme. John is also Chairman of the South Dublin County Enterprise Board in addition to holding other economic development roles within South Dublin County and board positions with various organisations.

Partnerships & Development – Chris Gordon   Chris Gordon is a business and a social entrepreneur. Chris’ work focuses on Social Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Startups, Cooperative Development, Exporting and Small Business in Ireland. He is the Director of Social Enterprise NI, a director of Treehouse, Far & Wild and Founder and Chair of the Irish Social Enterprise Network ( and the Irish Export Cooperative ( Chris is a Social Innovation Fellow from StartingBloc in the US, a Constellations Society Fellow from France, Tällberg Pathfinder Fellow from Sweden and a Boston College/ US Department of State awardee on Social Enterprise and Tackling Long Term Unemployment programme. Chris’ passion is in outdoor facilitation, youth work, social inclusion and his community development experience, where he worked in Northern Ireland for a number of years. Chris has a degree in Theoretical Physics from Queen’s University Belfast, a Masters in Business from the University of Ulster and has spent time at Babson College, Dorset College and Boston College.

Membership Secretary – Aoibhin O’Hare

Aoibhin O’Hare is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and currently works as a solicitor at Arthur Cox, Dublin. She was a participant of the Washington Ireland Program in 2008 and interned in the Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Aoibhin returned to Washington DC in 2009 to work as a member of the Washington Ireland Program Management Team in 2009.

Events – Ms. Julia Carmichael

Julia Carmichael is the Chief Compliance Officer for IPB Insurance with over 15 years’ experience in retail /commercial banking and insurance. Her previous roles include CCO for Aviva Group Ireland, Postbank Ireland, a start-up enterprise, Head of Enterprise Risk and Information Security for Ulster Bank RBS Group, Finance Administrator and Treasury Manager for Baxter Pharmaceutical and as a Senior Manager for Credit and Risk Management for MBNA Europe.  Julia has worked in several regulatory jurisdictions and international financial institutions across Europe.  She actively supports the development of education for in financial management and personal development for women in business.  As an active member of her local community she has been elected twice to Dublin City Council from 2004 – 2013 as a councillor for local government.  During that period she has chaired the Dublin City Arts, Culture and Sports Strategy Committee which included initiatives such as the Tall Ships, One City One Book with the Dublin City Arts Officer, the Dublin City Economics sub-committee and also as a member of the Leaders Group.   As a non-executive director she has been a member of several professional, not-for-profit organisations and local organisations, such as Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Dublin Enterprise Board, Ballymun Regeneration Ltd, the Royal Irish Academy of Music, the Ballymun Partnership and St James Hospital Dublin. She is currently completing her Msc in Compliance and Regulation in UCD.

Communications Officer– Niamh Ni Conchubhair

Niamh Ní Chonchubhair is Programme Manager at axis: Ballymun, a producing and receiving venue and an arts development organisation. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies and Modern Irish from Trinity College Dublin. Over the past ten years she has worked as an arts programmer and theatre producer touring productions nationally and internationally to the UK, US, Europe and South Africa. Current productions include ‘The Hijabi Monologues’, ‘The Parting Glass’ by Dermot Bolger and ‘Waiting for Elvis’ by Eileen Gibbons. Prior to her work with axis she worked as a freelance facilitator and project co-ordinator for primary schools and for the HSE. Niamh is an alumna of the U.S. State Department’s IVLP program. She is also a board member of Theatre Forum Ireland and TEAM Educational Theatre Co and a member of Meitheal na mBeag. She coordinates the ‘Imeall’ venues network and is on the ‘New Stream’ arts management programme with the DeVos Institute, Washington and BusinessToArts. She also works with organisations such as Arts and Disability Ireland, The British Council and the Intercultural Cities programme with the Council of Europe.

Press Secretary – Mr. Richard Moore

Richard Moore is the Managing Director of a public relations company, Mcomm Communications Consultants, in Dublin city centre.  A former journalist with experience of both regional and national newspapers, he spent over 15 years working at various Press and Special advisory roles in five separate Government Departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice. He served as Press Advisor in the Department of Foreign Affairs during a crucial part of the Northern peace process which resulted in the signing of the St Andrew’s Agreement in Scotland in 2006. He has also been involved in bilateral and aid programmes and UN work.  During his tenure at senior level in Government, he handled national and international media and was central in developing policy and strategic options. A native of Ballinasloe, Co Galway, he is a frequent contributor to current affairs programmes and national media.

Press Secretary – Ms. Shona Murray

Shona Murray participated in an Edward R Murrow IVLP programme for journalists in September 2009. She is currently a journalist with Newstalk Radio. She holds a BA in Journalism from Thames Valley University and an M.Phil from Trinity College Dublin in International Affairs. Her interests include current affairs, politics and international affairs, in particular, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. She also enjoys travelling.

Awards Committee Chair – Dr. Anne Cleary

Anne Cleary is a lecturer in the School of Sociology, University College Dublin where she is co-ordinator of Masters and Higher Diploma programmes.   Her teaching and research interests include health and well-being (particularly gender aspects of health), psychosocial development of children and ethics.  Anne was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in 2009/10 which she spent undertaking research in the Department of Sociology, University of California (Berkeley).  She is chairperson of the Growing Up in Ireland Ethics Committee and also chaired the Working Group which produced national guidelines for developing ethical research projects involving children for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2012).  Anne is the Irish representative on the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), has received research grants from the Irish Government, Teagasc, the National Disability and three awards from the Irish Research Council and has produced a 2-volume book on children (2001), a textbook – The Sociology of Health and Illness in Ireland (2001) and her most recent publications (Social Science & Medicine Special Issue, 2012) are an international collection of papers (with Silvia Canetto, CSU) examining the topic of suicide and male behaviour and an outcome study of children with conduct disorder (International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 2012, with Elizabeth Nixon, TCD).   In 2013 while on a study visit to Berkeley she  carried out a study of ethnicity and suicide in 19th century San Francisco and was commissioned to produce an assessment of the work of Arlie Hochschild (Professor Emerita, UC Berkeley) for the International  Encyclopaedia for the Social and Behavioural Sciences (to be published in 2014).

Ms. Kate Acheson

Kate Acheson National Youth Officer with the Fine Gael Political Party. Kate holds a BA in Public Relations and Communications and her areas of speciality include event management, communications, public speaking and campaign co-ordination. Before joining Fine Gael, Kate served as the Deputy President for the national Students’ Union; the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). In this role, Kate represented the views of more than 250,000 members to key stakeholders and was responsible for the development and roll-out of all media, events, and campaigns undertaken by the USI on a national and international level. Kate has loved America from a very young age and planned her college summer months around trips to the United States. In 2008 she completed a J1 to Fire Island, NY. Kate’s nomination by the U.S. Embassy as the Irish delegate on the International Visitor Leadership Programme; ‘Women in Politics and Social Sectors ‘, in October 2014 was a huge honour and an experience she valued greatly.

The hospitality, the worldwide connections and the insight into over 48 American organisations have enthused her to offer her services to the IUSA board.

Ms. Edith Delaney

Edith Delaney is a Law and Business graduate from Trinity College and is currently pursuing a career in corporate law (A&L Goodbody Solicitors). Having studied at Boston College and having served as a campaign coordinator for a democratic candidate she has developed a keen interest in both US politics and Irish-US relations.

Edith has a strong interest in travel and international development and has previously sat on the board of Trinity’s International Development Initiative. Her work with this body, coupled with her experiences on EIL’s Development Education Committee, encouraged her to work in both India and Jamaica. Edith has been selected as a participant on a number of youth leadership programs such as the Washington Ireland Program and the Rotary Youth Leadership Initiative. Further to this, she has represented Ireland in Vermont, USA to debate and discuss social and current issues concerning young people.

Service Day Coordinator – Ms. Róisín Fitzpatrick

Róisín Fitzpatrick is interested in volunteering with the Board in relation to the Service Days that it runs and any kind of corporate social responsibility element of the Board. She is currently training in a leading criminal law and human rights firm in Dublin. Róisín previous participated on the Washington Ireland Programme in 2011 where she worked as an intern in the Law Library of Congress and was voted Valedictorian. Whilst in Washington, she volunteered in a number of projects in Washington DC which she found to be a great insight into the way volunteering and charity is organised in Washington. On her return to Ireland, she has continued volunteering in different areas including homeless, youth mentoring and youth offending services. From her current and previous work and volunteering experience, she has developed a range of skills; including excellent communication and client care, organisation of events and people, research skills and the ability to quickly analyse situations; which she believes would be useful to the Board in any social responsibility initiatives it runs in the future.

Service Day Coordinator – Ms. Cathy Quinn

Cathy Quinn is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology and The Fitzwilliam Institute with qualifications in Business Operations and Human Resource Management, as well as a Diploma in Event Management and Public Relations. Cathy worked in the  telecommunications industry until her volunteer work with the Special Olympics in 2003 persuaded her to follow her passion for sport and pursue a career in that field. She worked with Basketball Ireland when she participated in the ‘Sport and the Community’ Irish Institute program in 2008. From 2009 – 2012 she worked as Operations Manager for Irish Squash Cathy has recently completed a contract with London 2012 (LOCOG) working for the Olympics as a City Operations Manager. She is currently seeking new opportunities and challenges. 

Mr Gerard Hughes

Gerard Hughes Gerard Hughes has worked as a Business and Education Consultant for the past seventeen years. He is a Director of two companies, one of which specialises in Recruitment and Production Line Management, while the other provides support to schools and universities. His specialism in education is the development and delivery of STEM initiatives from primary up to third level. Gerard has served on a number of bodies and organisations, namely; The Institute of Biology of Ireland – as a Council Member, Treasurer, Secretary, Chairperson and President, European Communities Biological Association (ECBA) – Irish representative on Practical Skills and Protocols, Royal Irish Academy – Member of the Teaching Commission, Association for Science Education – Northern Ireland Council Member, Newry Agricultural Society –Committee Member. In a previous life Gerard was a teacher and Deputy Headmaster of a Grammar school in Newry and his two main passions in life are promoting STEM Careers to young people and coaching Gaelic Football.

Washington Ireland Program Alumni Network (WIPAN) – Mr. David Gilmartin

David Gilmartin works for Irish corporate law firm A&L Goodbody, who provide legal advice to Irish and international clients through their offices in Ireland, Northern Ireland, London and three US-based offices. He is also a DCU Law graduate and an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program in 2010. David has also worked for both major U.S. political parties in Washington DC in both the US Senate and US House of Representatives; for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY).

Dr. Marcas Mac Coinnigh

Marcas Mac Coinnigh is a lecturer in the School of Modern Languages, Queen’s University Belfast, where he teaches courses on Irish Language and Literature, Folklore, Film and Narrative, and Translation Studies. He previously held the Vera Furness Research Fellowship at the University of Ulster (2003-2006) and an IRCHSS Post-doctoral Fellowship in Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, University College Cork (2006-7). In 2010-11 he was the Senior Fulbright Irish Language Scholar in the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Whilst in the US, he conducted linguistic research on Irish fixed-expressions, and taught courses on Irish Literature and Folklore. His principal research interests lie in the fields of Irish phraseology, ethnography and folkloristics, and bilingual lexicography. Recent peer-reviewed articles were published in Folklore; International Journal of Lexicography, and Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship.

Past-President – Prof. Paul O’Connor

Paul O’Connor studied law at UCD where he graduated with BCL and LL.M degrees. He subsequently obtained the professional legal qualification of Barrister-at-Law from King’s Inns and obtained a Master’s in Law specialising in Criminal Justice at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2009 he participated in Boston College’s program on trends in higher education. He was appointed Director of UCD’s Institute of Criminology in 2010 and is currently editor of the leading Irish law journal, The Irish Jurist.

Siobhan Byrne Learat

ex-Oficio President – Ms. Siobhan Byrne Learat


Siobhan Byrne Learat has been in the tourism industry since 1989 when she became Director of Sales for a Victorian Hotel in Killiney: the Bel Air of Dublin and home to Bono of U2.  She has an honours BA in Spanish & Arabic, and post-graduate degrees in business, Arabic & Middle Eastern History, and a first class MBA from the Smurfit Business School.   After managing Active Ireland, a property development company, she set up Adams & Butler in 2002, the business plan for which was her MBA thesis. Adams & Butler is an upscale tour operator specializing in customized vacations and private visits for wealthy and sophisticated clients, including many celebrities, to Ireland and Britain from long-haul markets – the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, , Mexico, Argentina, Chile Columbia & Russia.

Her true passion is Africa, and with her Kenyan Samburu husband Kasao, she launched a new company Adams & Butler Africa designing tailor-made safaris featuring intimate owner-managed camps and lodges, and authentic cultural and tribal experiences. Siobhan has also set up a charity Nalepo Educational Fund to provide basic education to the Samburu children in Northern Kenya, and to empower their mothers and other young women there with essential life skills.

Siobhan lectures part-time in Entrepreneurship and Innovation , and is the President of the Ireland US Alumni Association and a member of the Institute of Directors. She is currently studying towards Chartered Director status with the IoD, having completed the Certificate and Diploma last year. Siobhan speaks several languages. She loves to walk, hike, ski and horse ride. She is happiest when in the bush with her husband’s tribe. She and her husband Kasao have seven sons between them.

Irish Fulbright Alumni Association (IFAA) – Dr. Sarah Ingle

Dr Sarah Ingle has been a Lecturer in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in DCU since 2001. Previous to that she taught as an associate lecturer in UCD and IT,Tallaght. Her Primary and Masters degrees are in Industrial Engineering, from TCD and UCD respectively, and she has worked in Irish industry as a chartered engineer in three multinational companies.

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