Our Board

Paul Gilligan - Chairperson

Paul Gilligan - Chairperson

Biography:

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.


Jillian van Turnhout

Jillian van Turnhout

Biography:

Jillian van Turnhout is a consultant providing governance, executive selection and advocacy services to companies and not-for-profit organisations. Jillian is a certified Director with the INSEAD International Directors Programme (IDP-C) and has also attained the Institute of Directors Certificate in Company Direction. Jillian van Turnhout is a former independent Senator recognised for her work to further children’s rights. In addition to her role with Early Childhood Ireland, her current Board work includes serving on the Board of The Arts Council; as Vice-Chair (Director) of European Movement Ireland and Trustee (Director) of One in Four.

She is a former Vice President of the EU Advisory body, the European Economic and Social Committee; former Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance; former Chief Commissioner of the Irish Girl Guides; and former President of the National Youth Council of Ireland. Jillian is a co-founder of the European Youth Forum. Jillian has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by the President of France and an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.


Catherine Byrne

Catherine Byrne

Biography:

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 Looney

Biography:

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 McGovern

Biography:

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.


Michele Akerlind

Michele Akerlind

Biography:

Michele Akerlind is one of the co-founders of the three Cheeky Cherubs Early Years Schools multi award winning Early Years Care and Education centres. Together with Sarah O Leary, they have created three beautiful yet individual centres where the uniqueness of each child is celebrated and supported through providing opportunities to play, explore, share and learn with their peers, while being cared for and educated by passionate, qualified and experienced teachers.

Cheeky Cherubs has the passion for the importance of quality education in Ireland, educating colleges and peers in this area. Michele has the passion for the outdoors and we opened our first urban outdoor classroom this year. Michele and Sarah are advocates of supporting high quality professionals and educators, highlighting the needs for supports in this area going forward

Cheeky Cherubs strives to ensure that children’s right to quality care and education is met on a daily basis. This is achieved through their commitment to the professional development of themselves and early years educators, researching of and implementation of best practice in inviting and stimulating environments. Michele is very passionate about children’s well being. This evident in the healthy lifestyle practices through the creche; at meal times, in the use of natural sustainable materials and the development of the outdoor preschool. 


Breda Joyce

Breda Joyce

Biography:

Breda is Manager of Frenchpark & Districts Childcare Clg, a community childcare service since 2007, providing fulldaycare, sessional and school age care in 2 settings. She successfully led the team to achieve the highest level in Siolta, Health Ireland Smart Award and Investing in Children’s membership award in 2017 and 2018. She previously worked in banking, finance and human resources in the UK.

She has a Post Graduate CIPD Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management, a BA in Business, Enterprise and Community Development and is certified to administer EQI2-0 and EQ 360 emotional intelligence assessments.


Catherine O'Brien

Catherine O'Brien

Biography:

Catherine O’Brien has been active for over twenty years in the early years sector, leading both private and community-based services. She currently works as Head of Customer Services for Co-operative Housing Ireland, an approved housing body providing approx. 2,500 co-operative social housing units on a nationwide basis. This role involves leading the provision of tenancy and asset management services. In addition, as part of the customer services offered to co-operative members and the wider community, CHI deliver quality play-centred learning opportunities for children in three locations in Dublin.

Catherine joined the Board of Early Childhood Ireland when the organisation was formed and has served on the Audit Committee and a variety of working groups. Life-long learning and the professionalisation of those working with young children is an idea Catherine is strongly committed to. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Teaching and Learning from NUI Maynooth and in History and Politics from UCD.

In 2017, Catherine was appointed to the Dublin Docklands Oversight Forum by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and is a member of the Housing Sub-Committee.

Catherine is lives in Dublin with her husband and two adult children. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, walking, and listening to live music.


Thomas Walsh

Thomas Walsh

Biography:

Dr Thomas Walsh is a lecturer and Deputy Head of Department (2019-2020) in the Maynooth University Department of Education. Tom joined the Department in 2014 having previously worked as a primary school teacher, an early years education researcher and a primary school inspector at the Department of Education and Skills. He holds a B.Ed from St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, and an M.Ed and PhD from the National University of Ireland Maynooth. His doctoral thesis focused on the development and implementation of successive primary school curricula between 1897 and 1990. His book, Primary Education in Ireland 1897-1990: Curriculum and Context, was published by Peter Lang International Academic Publishers in 2012.

Tom teaches on a range of programmes in the Department on aspects relating to his research interests, including history of education, education policy and legislation, and team teaching. He has written a range of chapters and journal articles in these areas and is involved in a number of research projects (e.g., a SCoTENS project on constructions of childhood and a Teaching Council project on team teaching). Tom also supervises the research work of PME, M.Ed, Ed.D and PhD students. A selection of his recent presentations and publications can be found at https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/education/our-people/thomas-walsh.


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