Our Board

Our Board

Paul Gilligan - Chairperson

Paul Gilligan is a clinical psychologist and Chief Executive of St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, the largest independent provider of mental health care in Ireland. He is an internationally recognised children’s rights and child protection advocate and provides consultancy services to a number of child protection organisations in Ireland and Europe.

He is former Vice-Chairman of the National Children’s Advisory Council and the Children’s Rights Alliance. He is also former President of the Psychological Society of Ireland. Before taking up his current post with St. Patrick’s, he was Chief Executive of the ISPCC. He is the author of “Keeping Your Child Safe” and “Raising Emotionally Healthy Children” and is a regular contributor to T.V., radio and print media. He is a Fellow of the Psychological Society of Ireland and an Adjunct Assistant Professor Trinity College Dublin.

Catherine Byrne

Catherine Byrne’s career has included the following roles: Early years and primary teacher, Equality officer at the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation); Deputy General Secretary INTO; Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Philanthropies; Chair at the ARK (a cultural centre for children); member of the board of the Abbey Theatre; member of the governing body of MIE (Marino Institute of Education). She is currently Chair of DICE, an Irish Aid funded initiative which delivers Development and Intercultural Education to Initial Teacher Education students. Catherine holds a masters in Education and studied acting recently at the Lee Strasberg Institute in NYC. She is a qualified mediator. 

Anne Looney

Anne is the Executive Dean of Dublin City University’s new Institute of Education. From 2001 until 2016 she was the CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the agency responsible for curriculum and assessment for early years, primary and post-primary education in Ireland. She also held the position of Interim CEO at the Higher Education Authority until March 2017.

 A former teacher, she completed her doctoral studies at the Institute of Education in University College London. In 2014/2015 she was Professorial Research Fellow at the Learning Science Institute Australia, based at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.

Her current research interests include assessment policy and practice, curriculum, teacher identity and professional standards for teachers and teaching. She has also published on religious, moral and civic education, and education policy. She has conducted reviews for the OECD on school quality and assessment systems. She is a member of the boards of Early Childhood Ireland, and the Ark Cultural Centre for Children.

She tweets at @annelooney

Karen McGovern

Karen is the owner/manager of Mother Hubbards Childcare, established in 1996 now operating four services between Meath and Dublin, all services provide full time day care, sessional and after school care. Karen holds a diploma in childcare and diploma in Nursery Management from University College Dublin.

Karen has had membership with ECI (formally NCNA) since opening in 1996 and Mother Hubbards Slane road, Navan won centre of excellence on two occasions.

Pádraig Fleming

Pádraig Fleming has joined the Board as an independent director.  Pádraig has experience in various industries in the private and public sector with a strong national presence and recognised brands. He was instrumental in developing the Irish retail and wholesale energy markets and designing the Single Electricity Market between Ireland and Northern Ireland. He has contributed to high profile strategic projects, such as the restructuring of a national utilities, with expertise in negotiation, due diligence, regulation, stakeholder engagement and has also acted as an advisor to executive management team overseas.

Pádraig has attained the Directors Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Engineer. He holds an MBA with Henley Management College, Masters of Arts with Trinity College Dublin and a Batchelor of Science with Trinity College Dublin.

Dónall Curtin

An experienced board director and business leader who is a highly skilled with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. These include Green Effects Investments plc, Arts Council, European Movement Ireland, Office of Government Procurement, Health Insurance Authority, Chambers of Commerce Ireland, Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation, Irish College Leuven , as well as having serving on many board sub committees (Audit, Risk, Finance, Remuneration and Development). Founded one of Ireland’s leading accountancy practices.

An energetic, skilled and highly motivated business leader with a track record of success in reviewing and setting challenging strategic direction in a wide range of both commercial  and not for profits entities. Served as President of Chambers of Commerce Ireland, the country’s largest business membership organisation, with member chambers representing businesses throughout the island of Ireland. A strong advocate of ensuring that best practice and good corporate governance exist within the boardroom and ensuring relevant structures within businesses to facilitate adoption of organizational values throughout.

Providing consultancy and strategic advisory services to many membership organisations, he brings a unique combination of business/accountancy knowledge and a deep knowledge of the sector to the provision of solutions for many membership organisations. Dónall has been responsible for the introduction of corporate governance within many such organisations, development of business goals, introduction of robust financial processes, strategic development and implementation of fundraising/development income plans and individual mentoring, as required.

Currently, a member of Audit & Risk Committee of National Digital Research Centre, Cardiff University, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (London), Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (London), Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman (Belfast), etc.

Sharon Skehill

Sharon Skehill is a Lecturer in the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Education in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and is currently studying for a PhD in Education. Sharon is also a pre-school teacher and set up her own preschool, Newtown Kids’ Club in Galway in 2004.  This ongoing practical experience working with children aged 0-12 years, as well as their families and the staff team, informs her teaching and research work in the early years.

Liz Jackson

Liz Jackson comes to the Board of Early Childhood Ireland with many years’ experience of working in early years care and education.  She has been working with Tallaght Childcare Company Ltd. since 2003 and is currently its General Manager.  In this role, she is responsible for the management, co-ordination and development of Tallaght Childcare Centre, Millbrook and Tallaght Childcare, and Fettercairn as quality sustainable community childcare businesses.

Lee Herlihy

Lee Herlihy is an early childhood educator with over 20 years’ experience running an ECEC service, incorporating Montessori and Aistear.  She is experienced in multi-cultural and anti-bias education as well as inclusive, indoor-outdoor provision.  Lee is committed to the provision of high-quality learning experiences for children and the ongoing advancement of the ECEC sector, on both a local and national level.

If you wish to contact the Board, please send your query to:chairperson@earlychildhoodireland.ie