Disability Federation of Ireland Staff
John Dolan Chief Executive OfficerJohn's contact details
Allen Dunne DFI Senior Executive Officer - Operational and Deputy CEOAllen's contact details
Emer Begley Director of AdvocacyEmer's contact details
Aaron Browne ICT Systems AdministratorAaron's contact details & bio
Aaron Brown came to DFI one day in 2003 in the good 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.
Even the never ending changes in technology can’t out-run him. He is certified in GPDR data protection policy, Microsoft Word, and Project Management. He is very enthusiastic about the changes and improvement that Office 365 can bring to our working environment in DFI. Because so many of our staff work remotely keeping everyone connected is an ongoing challenge.
As someone who lives in a family with disability he is happy to use his skills to support DFI’s work.
Irena Chuchuligin Administrator – Membership and EventsIrena's contact details & bio
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 ProgrammePJ's contact details & bio
PJ leads our Community Development Work team from his Carlow base. 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 Communications ManagerBrenda's contact details & bio
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. In 2018 she was appointed 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.
Brenda loves radio and from 2010 - 2017 she presented two shows on KFM Radio in Kildare - one on the arts and one on faith.
Brenda is a cancer survivor and has been been an advocate for better support for those living with a rare disease, for better peer sharing of stories and experiences so as to take some of the fear out of a cancer diagnosis for those newly diagnosed.
In her spare time Brenda consumes documentaries and podcasts. She also loves photography, reading, creative writing, landscape painting and getting away to walk in Glendalough and to soak in the culture in Italy.
Brenda lives in Newbridge, Co Kildare with her husband and children.
Lisa Fenwick Community Development OfficerLisa's contact details & bio
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, and 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.
In her spare time she likes to read Gothic literary fiction. As her Dad said, “all that reading paid off!”
Alison Hillgaar Corporate Projects Co-ordinatorAlison's contact details
Marie Lynch DFI Neuro-Mapping Project LeadMarie's contact details
Cathy McGrath Health Advocacy ManagerCathy's contact details
Ríona Morris Policy and Research OfficerRíona's contact details
Martina Nicholson Corporate and Administration ManagerMartina's contact details & bio
Martina’s desk at DFI headquarters is one of the busiest and most organised. There is very little that happens in the Federation that doesn’t leave a trail across her desk or email inbox yet she marshals it all with quiet efficiency.
She is a proud Monaghan woman who joined DFI in 2015, but no one can remember how we managed without her. Before joining DFI she did a Business Management degree at IT Sligo and also worked at an accountancy firm. But she prefers the hectic if at times chaotic world of not-for-profits to the nothing but profit business world.
Her business and people skills are fully utitlised in DFI and outside the office she is much in demand as a singer at Church weddings.
Susan O'Brien Membership Development ManagerSusan's contact details & bio
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 OfficerLaura's contact details & bio
Laura is our Community Development Worker in the Wicklow and South Dublin area. She joined DFI in 2016 as our first ever Community Development Worker and she has been an innovator ever since.
Laura was the DFI facilitator of two ground breaking workshops in the Mansion House in partnership with the Lord Mayor of Dublin. From these consultations with people with disabilities came the #MakeWayDublin campaign and the national #MakeWayDay in September 2017.
At the beginning of 2017, Wicklow County Council agreed to support her work for two days per week. DFI miss her calm counsel on these days but are delighted to be pioneering new ways of working with local authorities. She has a BA and an MA (2010) and has user her expertise in the disability sector all her working life.
Laura loves all things music and preforming although she rarely finds time to make it onto the stage these days. She’s also a member of the local running club in County Wicklow.
Áine O'Sullivan Community Development OfficerÁine's contact details & bio
Áine is part of the Community Team in DFI.
Covering ner 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 Policy Advocacy ManagerFleachta's contact details
Meredith Raley Policy and Research OfficerMeredith's contact details & bio
Meredith is our CRPD expert that is, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She joined DFI in 2016 having completed her Ph.D in NUI Galway and worked at the University’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy. There she worked on a joint project with the University of Leeds to create an in-depth analysis of the CRPD for the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament as well as a report on the CRPD for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
She believes the Convention can and will be a force for positive change for people with disabilities in Ireland and her native USA. Meredith has a flair for bringing clarity to the CRPD when she speaks to groups for DFI.
Pierce Richardson Diversity and Education OfficerPierce's contact details & bio
India Sacre Administrator - Corporate Governance and PA to CEOIndia's contact details & bio
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 Project Manager Policy and EngagementMartina's contact details & bio
Martina is our Swiss allrounder. 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.