Disability Federation of Ireland Board
Fran Brennan ChairpersonMore about Fran
Fran is a former Marketing Manager and General Manager/Director of the Irish subsidiary of a multinational corporation. During this time he also served as Board Member of the Finglas Cabra Partnership for 8 years and Chairperson of the Local Employment Services Network in that area.
He embarked on a new career in the voluntary sector in 2003 as General Manager of Living Life Counselling for 6 years followed by terms as Development Manager of the think tank TASC and Peamount Healthcare. He has been CEO of the Post Polio Support Group, an organisation that provides a range of services and supports to Polio Survivors, for the past 3 ½ years.
He was elected to the Board of DFI in July 2016. Subsequently appointed to the Premises and Finance & Audit Sub-Committees of the Board.
Michael Doyle Vice ChairpersonMore about Michael
Michael has been employed with the Irish Wheelchair Association for over 20 years. He has held several positions over that period, his current position is National Director of Assisted Living Services. The Assisted Living Services is the largest of IWA's services which provides the service of a personal assistant to individuals with physical and sensory disabilities. These PA's assist individuals in their homes and communities facilitating community participation, access to education, employment andimproved quality of life. The service is designed by the individual to maximise control over their personal service. In 2018, the Assisted Living Service provided support to over 2,300 individuals.
Michael is also the Director with responsibilty for the organisaitons' transport fleet of over 120 vehicles and the Monitoring Assesment Advice and Tuition Service, this service provides driving lessons to people with disabilities across the country in specially adapted vehicles. In 2018, they provided driving tuition to 330 students, facilitating them to commence or return to driving.
As a senior member of the Association he is actively involved in the advocacy work of the Association with a focus in lobbying on transport issues and the requirements for additional services.
Gráinne O’Leary Vice ChairpersonMore about Gráinne
Over the past 13 years Gráinne has developed, lead and implemented an ambitious Services Programme for people living with arthritis and supporting infrastructure for service delivery, including the Stanford University Self-Management Programme to over 5,000 people. She has actively participated in the growth of the organisation and the ongoing development and implementation of its long- term strategy. Gráinne has built, motivated and managed teams of staff and volunteers to deliver on the strategic goals, objectives and targets of the services.
She is a Stanford University accredited Master Trainer in the Chronic Disease and Arthritis Self Management Programmes.
Pat Clarke Board MemberMore about Pat
Pat is Vice President of the European Disability Forum and President of European Down Syndrome. He is now retired as Chief Executive Officer of Down Syndrome Ireland and is past-President of of Down Syndrome International. His son, aged 38, has Down Syndrome. He is a past Chair of the Disability Federation of Ireland. Pat served on the Board of the Children's Rights Alliance and on the governing body of the International Disability Alliance. He represents EDF at the Council of Europe and on other committees. He has presented papers at the UN in New York and Geneva on the right to vote for Persons with Disabilities as well as on issues such as employment, communtiy and education. He has been a long-time advocate for the full inclusion of people with Down Syndrome in particular, and all people with disabilities, in society at every level.
Ann Marie Ellison Board Member
Wendy Fitzgerald McCarry Board MemberMore about Wendy
MMII GRAD, BA, M.So.Sc.
Wendy has worked in both the public sector and within the Community and Voluntary Sector for over 30 years. She has worked as an Enterprise Development Officer with FAS, Lectured in Cork IT, worked as a Chief Technical Officer with Department of Foreign Affairs through the Zambian Embassy, as a Senior Training Advisor with the Irish League of Credit Unions and as a Self Employed Consultant for McCarry Training and Facilitation. Originally from Cork, she has worked in Ireland, Europe, America, and Africa through various roles and is now settled in Donegal with her five children. Wendy is the manager of the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation CLG, a charity she was involved in since 2005 when her own daughter was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay leading to both Physical and an Intellectual Disability, Wendy has a Degree in Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Ireland followed by a B.A (Hons) in Community Development and M. Soc. Sc. In Third Sector Management from UCC. Wendy has a passionate interest in governance, as well as Justice and Equality, particularly for people with Disabilities and previously sat on the National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group (DSG5) with the Department of Justice and Equality and was their representative on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Disability Inclusion Strategy Consultative Committee.
Karen Foley Board MemberMore about Karen
Karen holds a PhD; Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Management and is Head of Service Operations for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. Karen has worked in the field of acquired brain injury and disability in Ireland since 2006, managing a variety of services including residential, community, case management and respite services. Between 2006 and 2016, Karen managed services locally, advocating for and working to enable individuals with disabilities, and their supports, to maximise independence and live lives of their choosing. Since 2017, Karen has moved into senior roles, with responsibility for national management of services, development of new services, and involvement in research to demonstrate need for and effectiveness of services. Engagement with HSE and other disability organisations has been a regular feature within local and senior management roles.
Karen has been heavily involved in many research initiatives on brain injury, such as the example here, as well as participating in numerous working groups to further awareness of brain injury and the effectiveness of neuro-rehabilitation, such as NAI and the Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy Implementation group.
Karen is very passionate about her role within the field of disability, with strong beliefs in person-centredness and empowerment of choice.
Siobhan Long Board MemberMore about Siobhan
Siobhan Long has worked in the field of Assistive Technology since 1991. Siobhan's current role involved management of Enable Ireland's National Assistive Technology Training and SeatTech Services. Siobhan works with two teams of highly skilled individuals who strive to deliver innovative, person-centered AT and custom seating solutions to a wide range of individuals with differing abilities and needs. Technology is changing repidly and the goal is to ensure that those who can benefit from what it has to offer, can gain access to it in a timely manner. Another goal of Enable Ireland's AT and SeatTeach services is to influence the development of future technologies. Partnering with AT users to advocate for better Assistive Technology services, solutions and support is a key objective for our service.
Enable Ireland provides services to children and adults with disabilities and their families from 40 locations in 14 counties. Encompassing services from childhood to adulthood, expert teams work with the individual and their family on plan for each life stage. Enable Ireland's mission is to work in partnership with those who use the services to achieve maximum independence, choice and inclusion in their communities. Enable Ireland focuses on the person, not the disability. We believe that access, inclusion and equality are basic rights for all people and assert that society must recognise and accommodate individual needs.
Darragh McDonald Board Member
Peter Murphy Board MemberMore about Peter
Peter has 20 years’ experience working with neurological patient organisations and has been the CEO of Epilepsy Ireland since 2016. He joined Epilepsy Ireland in 2008 initially focusing on fundraising, communications and research and later became the organisation’s Deputy CEO. Prior to this, he worked with the Migraine Association of Ireland from 2001-2007, including four years as CEO.
Epilepsy Ireland is the national organisation supporting and representing people with epilepsy and their families in Ireland. As CEO, Peter is responsible for furthering the organisation’s vision of a society where no person's life is limited by epilepsy through support, education and training services; raising awareness of epilepsy; advocating for those with the condition; and supporting Irish epilepsy research.
He is currently a member of the Health Products Regulatory Authority Patient Forum, the International League Against Epilepsy Covid-19 task force and the Chair of the International Bureau for Epilepsy’s Professional Development committee. He is a former board member of Health Research Charities Ireland and the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.
As a board member of DFI, Peter hopes to work on behalf of people with neurological and hidden disabilities and to highlight the role and challenges of community-based member organisations.
Julie Sharp Board MemberMore about Julie
Julie joined the Bank of Ireland as Head of Group Human Resources on 14 June 2010. Julie brought a diverse HR experience to the Group, gained in several different companies including ING where she more recently worked. At ING, Julie held a number of senior management positions ranging from Regional HR Director Asia Pacific for ING Investment Managment, based in Australia to Regional Head of HR and Management Board member, ING Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. In this role she was responsible for 17,000 employees covering investment management, insurance and real estate. Prior to ING, Julie worked in senior HR Director roles Arthur Anderson, Citibank and Fairfax Media.
Julie holds and MBA in International Business Management form Charles Sturt University, having previously graduated form the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Science,majorign in Psychology.