Disability Federation of Ireland Staff


Elaine Teague DFI CEO

Elaine Teague Chief Executive Officer

Elaine Teague

Elaine joined DFI as Chief Executive Officer on Monday 20 May 2024. 

She started her career with St. Michael’s House in 1995 and has held a number of other positions within the organisation including Director of Quality and Safety, Compliance Officer, Service Manager, and Regional Training Manager.

Elaine has a proven track record in the area of quality and standards. Elaine was also involved in the development and implementation of Open Disclosure in Intellectual Disability Services nationally and in the national roll out of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act in Intellectual Disability Services.

She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Implementation Science. She also holds a Quality Management qualification, a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Training and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Social Studies.

Elaine is from Lusk in North County Dublin where she lives with her family. 




Allen Dunne DFI DF Z29 - Copy

Allen Dunne DFI Senior Executive Officer - Operational and Deputy CEO

Allen Dunne

Allen Dunne is Senior Executive Officer - Operational and Deputy CEO with the Disability Federation of Ireland. 

Dr Emer Begley DF Z5 - Copy (2)

Emer Begley Director of Advocacy

Emer Begley

Emer joined DFI in August 2022 as Director of Advocacy.

Her background in policy, research, and advocacy has cemented a strong commitment to rights-based, equality and outcomes focused approaches.

Previously Emer worked in the National Dementia Office (NDO) in the Health Service Executive for five years; most recently as acting General Manager. At the NDO she led programmes on psychosocial and community supports, including overseeing the development of Ireland’s first dementia model of care. Her roles before joining the health service centred in the community and voluntary sector, most notably as Research and Policy Manager in the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and as Senior Policy Officer in Age Action.

She holds a BA in Sociology, and MSc in Applied Social Research, a Diploma in Statistics and a PhD in social policy. 

Originally from the West of Ireland, Emer came to Dublin for university and 25 years later is still there! She lives with with her family on the northside of the city!

DFI Staff

Headshot AC Feb 2023

Aaron Browne ICT Systems Administrator

Aaron Browne

Aaron Brown is ICT Systems Administrator with DFI. 

Aaron came to DFI one day in 2003 in the company of the late Martin Naughton. The email wasn’t working and Martin thought Aaron could fix it. In the intervening years many things have broken down and DFI discovered there is very little Aaron can’t fix. 

He is certified in GPDR data protection policy, Microsoft Word, and Project Management. He is very enthusiastic about the changes and improvements that technology can bring to the working environment in DFI, especially as DFI offers hybrid working. Aaron works to keep everyone connected using the most up to date technology and software packages that are available. 

As someone who lives in a family with disability he is happy to use his skills to support DFI’s work.


Staff Member Irena Chuchuligin 2023

Irena Chuchuligin Administrator – Membership and Events

Irena Chuchuligin

Irena joined DFI in April 2023 as Administrator – Membership and Events

Originally from Bulgaria, she moved to Ireland eight  years ago with her family and instantly fell in love with the country.

During her time in Ireland, some of her achievements are QQI Level 6 in Effective People Management, Mentor in L.E.A.P. program supported by City of Dublin Education and Training Board.

Before joining DFI she worked with Facebook in Dublin, where she used her event coordinator and administrative skills.

Irena loves to spend quality time with family and friends. She also enjoys yoga and adventures and she is always ready to encourage everyone to be positive.



PJ Cleere Development Manager - Community Development Programme

PJ Cleere

PJ leads our Community Development Work team. You might expect someone in his role to be a people-person and you’d be one hundred per cent correct. PJ believes in meeting people, empowerment and cups of tea!

His methodology was honed in a long career in youth and community development work. His approach is practical and he is a highly skilled trainer who was a member of a pool of trainers with the Council of Europe and the European Commission. There he delivered long-term training projects in inter-culturalism and anti –xenophobia in EU Centres across Europe.

PJ has worked with DFI since 2004. His good humour finds expression in his part-time work as a cartoonist and he has hundreds of cartoons published in newspapers and magazines. Another passion is history, especially military history and he loves to discuss historical topics at all times.

brenda drumm profile pic

Brenda Drumm Communications Manager

Brenda Drumm

Brenda joined DFI in September 2022 as Communications Manager. She also presents The DFI Podcast

Previously, Brenda worked as Communications Officer and Digital Media Manager with the Catholic Communications Office for 22 years. She was Media and Communications Manager for the World Meeting of Families 2018 and the associated visit of Pope Francis to Ireland. Brenda also produced and presented a weekly podcast called Faithcast and led a number of innovative digital media projects. 

From 2010 - 2017 she presented two shows on KFM Radio in Kildare. 

In her spare time Brenda consumes documentaries and podcasts. She also loves photography, reading, creative writing, landscape painting and walking. 

Brenda lives in Newbridge, Co Kildare with her family. 


Lisa Fenwick Pic by Brenda Drumm DFI

Lisa Fenwick Community Development Officer

Lisa Fenwick

Lisa Fenwick is one of DFI’s Community Development Officers, based in Galway.  She joined DFI in 2019, following 13 years of working with Muscular Dystrophy Ireland.

Lisa has over 17 years experience in advocating for children and adults with physical, sensory, intellectual, neurological, and complex disabilities.

Since 1995 Lisa’s career has been solely in not-for-profit organisations in Ireland and England where she worked in a variety of community-based services including mental health, child protection and homeless services supporting children and young adults, older people and the Traveller community.

Within DFI, Lisa works with Housing and Disability Steering Groups, Access Groups, DFI’s Family and Community-Based Support Workers Forum, the HSE National Patient and Service User Forum, the Home Care Coalition and the Health Regions Integrated Service Delivery Workstream Group. She also writes submissions for DFI and jointly with others. 

Lisa lives with Crohn’s, a hidden disability, and is keen to increase awareness, empathy and understanding towards invisible disabilities.  



Alison Hillgaar

Alison Hillgaar Corporate Projects Co-ordinator

Alison Hillgaar

Alison Hilgaar is Corporate Projects Co-ordinator with the Disability Federation of Ireland. 

Marie Lynch photo

Marie Lynch DFI Neuro-Mapping Project Lead

Marie Lynch

Marie is DFI's Neuro-Mapping Project Lead. 

Cathy Mc Grath DFI DF Z4 - Copy

Cathy McGrath Health Advocacy Manager

Cathy McGrath

Cathy McGrath is Health Advocacy Manager with the Disability Federation of Ireland. 

Riona Morris photo for website

Ríona Morris Policy and Research Officer

Ríona Morris

RÍona Morris is Policy and Research Officer with the Disability Federation of Ireland. 


Martina Nicholson Corporate and Administration Manager

Martina Nicholson

Martina Nicholson joined DFI in 2015 as a Clerical Administrator and now holds the role of Corporate and Administration Manager

She works closely with the Management Team in further developing and implementing the policies and procedures within the corporate service function and leading the Administration Team in the implementation of these policies and procedures.  

She has a Bachelor of Business Studies and over 15 years of extensive and varied administrative experience. She places great value on incorporating her administrative expertise into work that makes a positive difference to society.

Outside of work she enjoys quality time with her family, getting involved in local community events and anything music/drama related.

Susan OBrien for website

Susan O'Brien Membership Development Manager

Susan O'Brien

Susan O'Brien is Membership Development Manager in DFI since January 2023. 

With twenty years' experience in the community and voluntary sector Susan brings her distinctive experience to the DFI team. 

Susan joined the Center for Independent Living in 2003 with the early years of her professional career mentored by the late Martin Naughton. Her entire career has been dedicated to working directly with both people with disabilities and grassroots organisations, to strengthen and grow the Independent Living Movement from both a strategic and operational perspective.

With a Bachelor of Commerce and MBS from NUI Galway, Susan has used her expertise to ensure organisational stability through many turbulent times in the Movement. She has a deep knowledge of the disability sector at both a functional and grassroots level and her entire work is rooted in the values of the disability movement. 



Laura O'Callaghan Community Development Officer

Laura O'Callaghan

Laura O'Callaghan is Community Development Officer with DFI.

Previous roles for Laura included working in the Anne Sullivan Centre (one of DFI's member organisations) where she was a key worker in residential and day services and later conducted research into the prevalence of Deafblindness in Ireland, which culminated in an appearance at an Oireachtas Committee hearing on the proposal to recognise Deafblindness as a separate and unique disability in Ireland.  

Laura's role in DFI is unique to local Government in Ireland. It brings together over a decade of experience working with disabled people with an in-depth knowledge of community and local authorities. She is leading the way on implementation of UN CRPD at local level and is a member of the Advisory Group member for DFI's feasibility study. 

Laura  works three days per week for Wicklow County Council facilitating their Disability and inclusion Steering Committee (DISC). 

She has a Degree in Social Science and a Masters in Management and Leadership of Public, Community and Voluntary Organisations and is currently studying Counselling and Psychotherapy and hoping to use her new-found skills to continue to support disabled people and community organisations.

Laura is a Tipperary woman and lives with her family in Wicklow.



Áine O'Sullivan

Áine O'Sullivan Community Development Officer

Áine O'Sullivan

Áine is part of the Community Team in DFI. 

Covering her native Cork and Kerry, Áine has done pioneering work with Kerry County Council. She worked with Access for All and Kerry PPN, Public Participation Network, to inform the county’s development plan.  In terms we can all understand, Áine just doesn’t like to see a person with a disability excluded from anything - from their local shop to the nearest beach.

So, she led the way on introducing beach wheelchairs. In recognition of her expertise and passion, An Taisce invited her onto the Blue Flag Jury for accessible beaches in 2018.

She has a BSc in Health, Fitness and Leisure and HDip in Facilitating Inclusion. Áine’s background has been sport from a young age representing her county at many age groups and has a few All Ireland's in her back pocket. Working as development officer for the Community Games gave her the opportunity to include inclusive sport in the organisation.

Fleachta Phelan website photo

Fleachta Phelan Policy Advocacy Manager

Fleachta Phelan

Fleachta Phelan is Policy Advocacy Manager with the Disability Federation of Ireland. 


Meredith Raley Policy and Research Officer

Meredith Raley

Dr Meredith Raley is a Policy and Research Officer with DFI. She focuses on the areas of human rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), Public Sector Duty, and equality. Meredith received her PhD from the University of Galway in 2015. Her work focused on the UN CRPD and its domestic implementation.



Pierce Richardson Diversity and Education Officer

Pierce Richardson

Pierce is our Diversity and Education Officer and has been with DFI since 2015. 

Pierce has extensive private sector sales and management experience. This combined with many years working in training and disability employment ensures a comprehensive understanding of disability in the workplace. Pierce has worked with household brands, multinationals, and public bodies on disability inclusion in the workplace. He is both a CPD Accredited and QQI Certified Trainer. Pierce also conducts accessibility audits of premises, facilities and services.

Pierce is very passionate about what he does. His desire is to help to bring about social change and help improve the quality of life for people in their local area.




India Sacre Administrator - Corporate Governance and PA to CEO

India Sacre

India is a member of our our Administration Team. She has wide ranging responsibilities such as acting as PA to our CEO and ensuring we are compliant with lobbying regulations. 

Her fluent French is a great asset in our EU work. 

She came to DFI in early 2017 having worked at the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. Her interest in administration and wellbeing took a new twist recently when she undertook a Medical Secretarial Diploma. 


Martina Schwab

Martina Schwab Operational Projects Co-ordinator

Martina Schwab

Martina is our Operational Projects Co-ordinator. Her DFI journey started with a maternity cover in corporate administration. She has a Masters in Equality Studies, for which she specialised in housing and disability for her thesis. 

Before DFI, she worked in the UK and Switzerland in a wide range of sectors. Most recently she worked as an Administration Manager in a busy Dublin school, where she utilised her German and French language skills. Today she feels she has found her niche in the not-for-profit sector, preferring the comradery and rewarding busyness to the nail-biting competition of other sectors. 

She's always ready for a laugh or smile with her colleagues, even when the day is getting away from her. Her love of books keeps her on her toes and she's always ready with a book or podcast recommendation - invited or not.