who we are
Mr Stephen Rourke, Chairperson. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Stephen has been involved in supporting a wide range of community and voluntary initiatives throughout Ireland for over 25 years. He has served as Director of the Ireland Funds and has acted as consultant to a large number of Local Development Companies and Community Development Projects. He has carried out policy development, evaluation and strategic planning work for a wide variety of clients including the International Fund for Ireland, Pobal, Disability Federation of Ireland, Barnardos, Dublin City Council, Clann Credo, Co-operation Ireland, the Franciscan Order and the Parkinsons Association of Ireland. Stephen is also a board member of Dublin AIDS Alliance and Friends of the Earth and was previously chairperson of Philanthropy Ireland and the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.
Sr Maria McGuinness RSM. Sr Maria is a Sister of Mercy qualified in general nursing, child care and social work. She worked for 17 years in a residential centre for girls with behavioural problems in London. In 1984, she was founder and director of Ireland's largest family and community centre, based in Waterford city. Sr Maria served for 3 years on the National Executive of Mercy Ireland and served on the leadership team of the Mercy Southern Province for six years. She spent 3 years as a social worker with the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, which involved working with Irish people in prisons overseas and their families in Ireland. Maria is co-coordinator of the Mercy Core Values Office in the Southern Province and is currently involved in a Mercy campaign to end child trafficking for sexual exploitation and pornography.
Fr. Michael Drennan is a Jesuit with a postgraduate degree in psychology. He worked for many years as a counsellor and spiritual director. He was Director of the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality, Manresa, Dublin, for 6 years. Later, he was Secretary General of the Conference of Religious (CORI) and currently he helps in administration in the Order.
Donal O'Brien Donal is a partner in a medium sized Chartered Accountancy practice that he founded thirty years ago. His clients include a large number of charities and not-for-profit organisations and he has a particular interest in the issues that impact on the organisations in these sectors, including the changing legislative environment for charities. Donal is a graduate of University College Dublin and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Institute of Taxation in Ireland.
Dearbhail McDonald is Group Business Editor of Independent News and Media (INM). The author and broadcaster is an Eisenhower Fellow (efworld.org) and currently serves as chair of the Irish chapter of the global leadership network. The Newry native serves on the board of Fighting Words, the national creative writing centre, and is a member of the External Advisory Board of Maynooth University Department of Law. She also serves on the board of the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival. Dearbhail holds an LL.B (Law) from Trinity College Dublin as well as a Masters Degree in Journalism from Dublin City University and has won several journalism awards.
Avila Kilmurray is an independent consultant, currently managing the Migration Learning Exchange programme with The Social Change Initiative and working on philanthropy and peacebuilding. Avila was previously Director of Policy & Strategy with the Global Fund for Community Foundations (2014-2016), having held the position of Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (1994-2014). Avila was born and educated in Dublin, completing a BA (History & Politics) University College Dublin. She received a MA (International Relations) from Australian National University, and completed a PhD (Department of Law) in Queens University Belfast, where she was later awarded a Hon. Doctorate in Social Science. She is currently a Visiting Professor with the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University. She has long been involved with a range of peacebuilding initiatives, as well as work on poverty and social need. A founder member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in 1996, Avila served on the Coalition’s Negotiating Team for the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement. Avila has written extensively on community action, peacebuilding and women’s rights. She has published a book – ‘Community Action in a Contested Society: The Story of Northern Ireland’ (Peter Lang, 2016) and ‘Conflict-Affected Environments: Notes for Grantmakers’ – (www.thesocialchangeinitiative.org).