IUSA Board

Elected at the  Eleventh Annual Alumni Congress on 2 February 2022, the board will serve until the next AGM in 2023.

Please feel free to contact them for further information.  If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact the board on info@irishusalumni.com

President – Chris MM Gordon CEO of the Irish Social Enterprise Network (Socent.ie) and Managing Partner of Collaboration Ireland. Chris is an Adjunct Teaching Fellow of Trinity Business School and Former Country Partner for BCorp Ireland. Chris also volunteers as Chair of Far and Wild social enterprise and is the former Director of Social Enterprise NI. Chris is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management in the UK, Social Innovation Fellow from StartingBloc in the US, a Constellations Society Fellow from France, Tällberg Pathfinder Fellow from Sweden and a US Department of State awardee on Social Enterprise and Tackling Long Term Unemployment programme. Chris is also a Member of the Institute of Directors Ireland. Chris’ passion is in outdoor facilitation, youth work, social inclusion and community development. Chris has a degree in Theoretical Physics from Queen’s University Belfast, a Masters in Business from the University of Ulster and has qualifications from the Institute of Banking, LIA and UCD.

Vice President-  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.

Siobhan Byrne Learat

Secretary – Thea Gilien

Thea Gilien is the Boston College Ireland Director of Programmes, responsible for internal operations and events, and for external relations at local, regional and national levels. She is also the local point of contact for Irish Institute alumni.

Thea oversees the Dublin Summer Internship Programme – work placements for the highly motivated Boston College students interested in developing independence, intra-personal social and professional skills, and international work experience before graduation.

As board member of the National Association of Study Abroad Providers in Ireland (ASAPI), Thea is interested in promoting the role and value of the American study abroad experience in Ireland – for both the BC college student and their host country.

Treasurer – Ian Fahey

Ian Fahey currently works as Special Adviser to the Attorney General of Ireland.

A Business & Law Graduate of University College Dublin and former Auditor of UCD Law Society, he previously worked as a Parliamentary Assistant in Oireachtas Éireann and the European Parliament.

An avid-political nerd, he organised and led UCD’s first ever delegation to the National Model United Nations Conference (NYC 2015), where he was awarded a Best Delegate Award out of 5,000 students. He sat on the US Embassy Youth Council for two terms and participated in the European Parliament Youth Event 2016, where he worked closely with youth leaders across to discuss issues facing young people across Ireland and Europe.

Ian has also helped to lead national campaigns on Marriage Equality; Mental Health; and HIV Awareness.

Ex-Officio – Kate Acheson

Kate has been a board member since 2015, holding the positions of; Event Secretary, Vice-President & President for 2020-2022.
Kate is a qualified Life & Team Coach and Kate was nominated by the U.S. Embassy as the Irish delegate on the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP); ‘Women in Politics and Social Sectors ‘, in October 2014. Kate is a Life and Team Coach, and a workshop creator and facilitator. She started her Coaching practice; Coaching Studio, in June 2020. Kate’s career spans over 13 years and has been working as a project manager, event planner, campaign coordinator, facilitator and consultant working with individuals, teams and companies across Ireland and Europe. Kate now works as a Business Operations Analyst with the American company ‘CrossCountry Consulting’ – headquartered in Washington D.C.

Press Secretary – 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.

Communications Officer – Niamh Ni Conchubhair

Niamh is Programme Manager and Producer 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. She has worked in arts and events management and production for over a decade. Recent production credits include ‘#minefield’ and ‘Charlie’s a Clepto’ by Clare Monnelly, ‘They Windy Lady’ by Pom Boyd, ‘Granuaile, Pirate Queen’ by Gabrielle Breathnach and Veronica Coburn, ‘The Hijabi Monologues’ with The British Council and The Immigrant Council of Ireland, ‘Waiting for Elvis’ by Eileen Gibbons, and ‘The Parting Glass’ (national tour, New York, Paris, Stockholm).

She has worked as co-ordinator on ‘Out of the Silence’ an Arts & Mental Health Festival and ‘Borradh Buan’ an Annual Irish Cultural Festival and as a producer on ‘Hip-Nós’ a fusion of traditional and contemporary art forms that has toured in Ireland and to New York and Cape Town.

Prior to her work with axis she worked as a freelance facilitator and project co-ordinator for primary schools and for the HSE. In 2011 Niamh participated in the U.S. State Department’s IVLP Program exploring social change through the arts, and the Intercultural Cities programme with the Council of Europe. She is Chair of the board of Arts and Disability Ireland and works with organizations such as The British Council, Youth Theatre Ireland and Foras na Gaeilge on specific projects. She is a former board member of Theatre Forum Ireland, Fíbín Teo and TEAM Educational Theatre Co. and is currently a board member of The Ireland United States Alumni Association.

She coordinated the ‘Imeall’ venues network and was on the ‘New Stream’ arts management programme with the DeVos Institute, Washington and BusinessToArts. She was awarded a bursary to participate in the Next Generation programme at On The Edge global gathering of Theatre for Young Audiences in Birmingham, and in 2017 was awarded a French Language Bursary to study at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

Communications Officer – Lye Ogunsanya

Lye Ogunsanya is a US State Dept IVLP Alumni and a former telecoms executive. He is super passionate about linking the frontiers of technology with societal benefit.

Lye is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Dídean, the first of its kind Social enterprise in Ireland now disrupting the International Protection applicant services sector. Prior to Dídean, Lye was Portfolio Manager at The One Foundation Dublin where he led change driven programs in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Colombia and the Mediterranean. The programmes disrupted the Education in Emergency sector and contributed to precedents for the UN adolescent education programme ‘Generation Unlimited’.

Lye’s work with UNICEF involved developing humanitarian programs for families, youth and children in a number of refugee camps along the Syria/ Lebanon border and the Syrian/Jordan border. The programmes involved health, education and youth/adolescent development. His work in Jordan won UNICEF’s Champion for Children Award in 2018 due to the highly innovative and forward-thinking programme strategy. In the Mediterranean (Libya-Italy) he oversaw an aerial intervention program. This aviation intervention resulted in hundreds of lives being saved. In Malawi Lye worked, in partnership with UNICEF, on the negotiations and capital investment funding for Africa’s First Humanitarian Drone and Data Academy. The goal of the Academy is to prepare and up-skill graduates to capitalise on the emerging smart workforce sector.

Lye is a published academic author on the subject of artificial intelligence and the opportunities to create employment opportunities for refugees and displaced persons using advances in technology. He co-founded and remains advisor to Dublin based Millennia Aviation, a social enterprise working to ethically inform, educate and contribute to local development of the vertical mobility workforce with a socially responsible ethos. He also co- founded the social enterprise and lifestyle brand House of Akina in 2013 as a member of the Enactus All Ireland championship winners, Dublin City University.
In 2021 Lye co-founded CENF, a think tank at the Federal Polytechnic of Ilaro Nigeria, to facilitate ethical diaspora knowledge sharing for local development in Africa’s most populous nation. He has also recently been appointed as a Board Member of the prestigious Temple Bar Galleries+Studio Dublin and currently serves on the board of the Ireland United States Alumni Association (IUSA).

Events Secretary – Paula Melvin

Paula Melvin has served as Programme Manager with the Fulbright Commission in Ireland/Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange for six years. She presented the Commission’s transatlantic activities in the U.S. to a Joint Committee of Teachtaí Dála and Senators in Dáil Éireann.

She is a proud alumna of the U.S. Embassy Dublin’s National Youth Council.

In a voluntary capacity Paula has been elected Tánaiste (Vice President) of Conradh na Gaeilge (historically known as the Gaelic League). Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish language which has branches worldwide from Hamburg to Hong Kong including several in the United States. Paula is also a member of the DCU Alumni Emerging Leaders Programme Steering Committee.

Membership Secretary – Mr. Conor Glynn

Conor Glynn is Parliamentary Assistant to former Tánaiste and Minister, Frances Fitzgerald MEP.
In his current role, Conor overseas press, communications, and has overall responsibility for Frances’ representation of the Dublin constituency. He was appointed to this position in 2019 having previously worked for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Conor is a graduate of University College Dublin holding a first-class honours degree in Science – and was an entrance scholar to UCD also. As part of his degree he studied at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for a period.
Conor is a committed European enthusiast and has a keen interest in leadership and management – as demonstrated through his work with the Rotary Youth Ireland project and participation in the Euroscola programme in 2015
Originally from Wexford, Conor is an avid sailor and is a fully qualified senior sailing instructor.

Board Member – Vincent Mc Carthy

Vincent Mc Carthy is the Co-founder & CEO of The Festival of Curiosity, which is Dublin’s annual international festival of science, arts, design & technology with over 45,000 attendees each year.

Vincent previously was the Curator of Dublin City of Science 2012 at the Irish Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser. He worked with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs as a consultant on science and technology projects in Mozambique. He was a contributor for RTE? Young Peoples on Science and Technology and features regularly on Irish radio shows.

He is also the Chair of the International School of Dublin, Director of Respond Housing Association and a member of the Smart Dublin Advisory Network.

Vincent participated on an U.S. State Department International Visitor Leadership Programme on ‘Education in the Digital Age’ in November 2014, where he visited educational institutions in Washington DC, Boston, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

Vincent has a Joint Honours BSc in Physics and Mathematics from University College Cork and an MA in International Relations from Dublin City University.

Board Member – Ms.Claire McGowan

Claire Mc Gowan is Head of Student Affairs at Boston College Ireland. Her responsibilities include the creation and management of all programming related to Boston College summer programs in Ireland, as well as for the Dublin Internship program. She works closely with faculty and staff members from across the University, and provides generous, professional and pastoral support to students. Claire is also responsible for other BCI events throughout the year, including service projects and Culture Night, as well as managing the BCI social media accounts. She is also a point for contact for both Boston College and Irish Institute alumni.

As a graduate of the UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies, Claire continues her engagement in the Irish-American study abroad sector as an executive committee member of the Association of Study Abroad Providers in Ireland (ASAPI), and also advises U.S. academic institutions on building study abroad programs in Ireland.

Board Member – Aoife Durr

TBC

Board Member – Rita Melia

Dr Rita Melia is an Early Years Specialist working with Tusla Early Years Inspectorate Quality Assurance Directorate. Rita has a background in nursing, early childhood education and care, child and youth research and adult education. A lifelong learner Rita`s passion is to support learning which supports high levels of wellbeing and involvement or engagement in the learning processes across the lifespan starting in the early years.

Rita was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Graduate School of Education Boston MA 2016-2017, where she undertook ethnographic research in Reggio inspired and Play based preschool settings for her PhD research; ‘My Self- Image and Your Interactions’: The influence of the preschool educator’s image of the child as a learner on children’s wellbeing and involvement. Rita has developed a framework, learning for Wellbeing (Melia & Forkan, 2020) which identifies the importance of autonomy supportive learning environments in supporting learners high levels of wellbeing and involvement.

Board Member – Áine Ní Shúilleabháin

Áine holds a BA International in English & French, a Diploma in Irish, and an MA in Advanced Language Skills from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has worked as a translator, project manager, and business services manager in the translation industry. She was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) at Idaho State University in 2016-17. She is currently the Irish Language Officer at Trinity College Dublin.

Tá BA Idirnáisiúnta sa Bhéarla & Fraincis, Dioplóma sa Ghaeilge, and MA in Ardscileanna Teanga ag Áine ó Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. D’oibrigh sí cheana mar aistritheoir, bainisteoir tionscadail, and bainisteoir seirbhísí gnó i dtionscail an aistriúcháin. Mhúin sí Gaeilge mar Chúntóir Múinteoireachta i dTeanga Iasachta (FLTA) in Ollscoil Stáit Idaho in 2016-17. Is Oifigeach Gaeilge í anois i gColáiste na Tríonóide, Baile Átha Cliath.

Board Member – Susan Crawford

Dr Susan Crawford is a lecturer in Sports Studies and Physical Education, The School of Education, University College Cork. Susan specialises in research and lecturing in Autism, Disability related issues and Health across the lifespan. She is the recipient of The President’s Award, Fulbright Scholar, Digital Champion and more recently Social Entrepreneur of the Year Academy member.  Susan is actively involved in addressing quality of life issues for children and adults on the autistic spectrum. She is currently developing an online programme to promote movement skills for individuals on the spectrum. Susan is a keen runner and has completed fundraising marathons and runs raising awareness of autism related issues. Susan is also a qualified nurse, midwife, sports massage therapist, Sport and Exercise Scientist and has worked both nationally and internationally in these areas.

Board Member – Ryan O’Meara

Ryan O’Meara is a former member of the US Embassy’s Young Leaders Council. He holds an Economics, Politics and International Relations undergraduate degree and a Masters of Common Law from University College Dublin.
From Tipperary, Ryan previously served as International Officer within the European Liberal Youth – LYMEC. He is currently working as a Parliamentary Assistant to a member of Dáil Éireann, and has a keen interest in working with like-minded people who are passionate about Irish-US relations and the shared culture, history and politics of both nations

Board Member – Domhnaill Harkin

Domhnaill Harkin was a member of the Washington Ireland Program Class of 2017 and was previously a member of the US embassy youth council.

Domhnaill has an interest in international development having volunteered abroad and is currently part of the overseas volunteer charity EIL Ireland’s Global Education Committee. He is also a member of the Shoutout steering committee, Shoutout is an Irish charity who organise workshops on LGBTIQAI issues across Ireland.

Domhnaill is currently studying a Masters of Social Work in UCD which he will finish in April 2022 and he works part time with a homeless charity, the Peter McVerry Trust.

Board Member – Lucy Roche

Lucy Roche currently works as a Strategic Engagement Officer with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. She’s previously worked in politics and public affairs in Brussels, Dublin and Edinburgh.
Lucy successfully lobbied the Government to provide free sanitary products to International Protection Applicants living in Direct Provision last year. She was selected to participate in the European Women’s Lobby AGORA Young Feminist Summer School in 2018 representing Ireland. Lucy was a class member of the Washington Ireland Program in 2019 where she interned with the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C. She holds a BSc in Government & Political Science from University College Cork.