Our Board

Jillian van Turnhout - Chairperson

Jillian van Turnhout - Chairperson

Biography:

Jillian van Turnhout is Chair of Early Childhood Ireland. Also, on a pro-bono basis, Jillian is Vice Chairperson of the European Movement Ireland and Chair of Children in Hospital Ireland. She is a former Senator and a respected authority on children’s rights. Jillian is the former Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance; former Chief Commissioner and current volunteer with the Irish Girl Guides including recently spearheading the development of a new Journey Programme for the organisation.

Over the past 20 years Jillian has undertaken a number of roles on behalf of and in the Community and Voluntary Sector. She was a Board member of Women for Election; President of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI); member and Vice President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC); Secretary General of the ECB-BEC (predecessor to the European Youth Forum) and a Council member of Gaisce – The President’s Award. She was also a member of the National Children’s Advisory Council, National Youth Work Advisory Comment, and on the Management Committee of the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF). For the first part of her career Jillian work in the private sector for over 10 years.


Catherine Byrne

Catherine Byrne

Biography:

Catherine Byrne is currently Chair of The Ark, a cultural centre for children and chairs DICE an Irish Aid Programme that promotes the integration of Development Ed and Intercultural Ed in initial teacher education.

She is a member of the Governing body of Marino Institute of Education and the Development board of the Abbey Theatre. Catherine has a masters in Education, training and Development from Seffield University and a certificate in Mediation from the IPA.

She is a primary teacher and taught in the Rutland St early education project and was formerly Deputy General Secretary of the INTO and deputy chair of the NCCA.


Anne Looney

Anne Looney

Biography:

Anne has recently taken up the post of 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 held the position of Interim CEO at the Higher Education Authority until March of this year.

 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


Paul Gilligan

Paul Gilligan

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.


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 top 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.


Breda Joyce

Breda Joyce

Biography:

Breda has worked in the early years sector for the past 10 years managing a community childcare service. She previously worked in banking, finance and human resources. She has successfully led the team to achieve the highest level in Síolta, Healthy Ireland Smart Start Award and Investing in Children Membership award. Her organisation is the first early years’ service in Ireland to receive the Investing in Children membership Award.

She has completed a BA in Business, Enterprise and Community Development, QQI Level 6 Supervision in Childcare and CIPD Certificate in Personnel Practice. She is currently studying for a masters in Human Resource Management.


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 for Co-operative Housing Ireland, a national provider of social housing, as Childcare and Community Services Manager. Her role is focused around providing quality play-centered learning opportunities for children and support to parents and the wider community.

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 professionalization 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. She undertakes a wide range of CPD and is a Parents Together parenting course facilitator. 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.


Liam Fahy

Liam Fahy

Biography:

Liam Fahy is a Director of Videnda Distribution. He is a qualified professional accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Prior to Videnda, among the sectors Liam worked in were, education, arts funding, financial services, publishing & professional services. Liam lives in Dublin with his wife and 2 children.


Thomas Walsh

Thomas Walsh

Biography:

Dr. Thomas Walsh is a lecturer in the Maynooth University Department of Education. He started his professional career as a primary school teacher and worked in a number of Dublin schools. Between 2002 and 2007, he worked as a Development Officer at the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) in St. Patrick’s College of Education. While at the CECDE, he published a number of reports on early childhood education and played a central role in the development of Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.

Prior to joining Maynooth University in 2014, Thomas worked as an Inspector with the Department of Education and Skills. In addition to his work in schools, he contributed extensively to policy work within the Curriculum and Assessment Unit where he had particular responsibility around early childhood education. In Maynooth University, he teachers on a number of courses within the Department of Education and he is the School Partnership Co-ordinator with specific responsibility to build relationships with partner schools around school placement. He has also undertaken work as a research consultant, as a supervisor of research students and as an external examiner.


Design & Development