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Top 25: Here are Ireland’s Most Powerful Women 2018




Director and Screenwriter, Big Stories on the Small Screen; Language Communications

BIO: Dr. Neasa Hardiman is an award-winning Director and Screenwriter. She won a Best Director IFTA and BAFTA for episodes 3 & 4 of Happy Valley 2 (BBC One/Red Productions) which premiered at the beginning of 2016. Neasa was also nominated for the 2017 Best Director IFTA for episodes 4 (‘You, Me and Us’) and 5 (‘The It Girl’) of the new Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything, tracing the life of 1920s flapper, artist and writer Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, starring Christina Ricci.

Prior to Happy Valley, Neasa directed the first series of BBC One drama In The Club, penned by Kay Mellor OBE, as well as the season finale of BAFTA-nominated thriller Scott & Bailey 4. She has recently directed an episode of new series InHumans for Marvel/ABC and an episode of the second season of Jessica Jones for Marvel/Netflix. She is a graduate of the scholarship postgraduate programme at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Neasa’s PhD in Film is with Trinity College Dublin. She holds a Double First from the National College of Art and Design Ireland.



Theatre Director, Gate Theatre

BIO: Oonagh Murphy is a theatre director who has worked with companies such as the Gate Theatre, the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company in Ireland and Donmar Warehouse, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Playful Productions in the U.K. She recently directed the five-star Tribes at the Gate Theatre, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

In 2018, Oonagh’s new work The Mouth of a Shark, will premiere at a new festival co-presented by Thisispopbaby and St. Patrick’s Day Festival. Alongside her theatre work, Oonagh is involved in community organising and campaigning and was awarded the inaugural Labour Party Jo Cox Award for a young Irish female campaigner.



Rugby International Referee & Former Ireland Women’s Rugby International Captain, Irish Rugby Football Union

BIO: Joy Neville is a former Ireland woman’s rugby International Captain and current rugby International referee. As a player, Joy represented Ireland both at the 2006 and 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cups. In 2013, she was a member of the Ireland women’s team to win both a Grand Slam and the Women’s Six Nations Championship. Since taking up refereeing in 2014, she has taken charge of the Women’s Six Nations, the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Women’s Rugby World Cup, including the Women’s World Cup Final in 2017.

Joy has also achieved a number of firsts as a female referee in the Men’s professional game. Since 2016, Joy became the first female assistant referee for a European Challenge Cup, the first female to referee All Ireland League, Welsh Premier Division, British and Irish Cup, European Challenge Cup and, in February 2018, took charge of the men’s Pro14 fixture between Ulster and Southern Kings. In 2017, Joy was named World Rugby Referee of the Year and also Munster Rugby Referee of the Year.



Global Head of Service Directors, Client Experience, Asset Servicing, BNY Mellon
Nominated as: Managing Director & Global Head of Client Service and Prime Custody, BNY Mellon, Alternative Investment Services

BIO: Carol Andrews is Global Head of Service Directors, Client Experience, Asset Servicing, BNY Mellon, a leading provider of hedge fund, private equity, fund of fund administration and prime custody services. Carol was appointed to this role in 2015 and is responsible for client service for alternative clients for fund administration and custody globally. Carol was previously Head of Service delivery for fund administration services in EMEA including NAV and portfolio accounting, transfer agency and client services. She has extensive experience with major integration initiatives, regulatory issues and migration projects including the expansion of the Eastern European servicing model.

Carol is founder and steering committee member of the 30% Club in Ireland. Carol serves as CEO of BNY Mellon Fund Services (Ireland) DAC and as a Director of BNY Mellon (Poland) SP Z.O.O. Carol is a graduate of the Women’s Leadership Forum, a Harvard Business School leadership development programme. Carol is a Certified Investment Fund Director (CIFD) and holds a Diploma in Cloud Strategy (Part 1 of MSC in Business Practice) First Class Hons from the Irish Management Institute.



Director EMEA Finance, Google

BIO: Liz Cunningham is EMEA Finance Director and is responsible for developing the strategic direction and future growth of the company as it relates to finance, investment and tax planning for 100+ entities in EMEA. She sits on the Google Ireland Ltd board as well as the boards of Alphabet entities in Ireland. Liz leads the EMEA Finance Leadership Team with responsibility for risk, compliance and culture.

Liz is also the lead for the Dublin Finance team on the Dublin Core Leaders group and is very involved in site wide initiatives such as holding the position of Executive Lead for the local Women@ chapter and Executive Sponsor of Dublin Business Development. Liz joined Google in 2009. Starting out as a tax trainee with Arthur Andersen (and later KPMG), she was admitted as a Chartered Accountant Ireland member in 1997 and subsequently as a member of the Irish Taxation Institute in 1998. Liz is a graduate of DCU holding a First Class Honours degree in Accounting and Finance and a Masters Degree in Accounting.



Managing Partner, MERC Partners | Global Chair, IIC Partners

BIO: Ruth Curran is MERC Partners’ Managing Partner. Celebrating over 19 years in executive search and leadership consulting, Ruth focuses on senior executive, C-level and general management appointments across many industry sectors including semi-state, energy and renewables, media, technology, financial services, globally traded services, FMCG and pharmaceutical-biotech. Clients include Irish and international plcs, private and public organisations. She is a member of the Global Financial Services Practice Group and, as Chair, oversees all Practice Groups across many industry sectors.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Certified Accountants and holds a Master’s degree in Business and Organisational Behaviour from Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin. Originally from Galway, Ruth attended the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) where she completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She has also attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programme. Ruth is a board member of the National Maternity Hospital Foundation and was elected to the Governing Authority of The National University of Ireland, Galway in 2016 and Chairs the Academic Planning and Resource Committee. She was also the 2016 recipient of the NUIG Business and Commerce Alumni of the Year Award.



General Manager of the EMEA Digital Sales Centre, Microsoft

BIO: Lisa Dillon is General Manager of the EMEA Digital Sales Centre at Microsoft, a newly established team of over 700 people, based in Dublin. She has over 25 years of experience in a wide variety of industries & functions for well-known blue-chip companies Oracle, BT, Motorola, & Accenture, as well as being instrumental in the start-up of an international software company. She is a highly motivated senior business leader, who is used to balancing the needs of operational and sales excellence with strong business management.

She is a Board member of Enterprise Ireland, the European Executive Council of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) and the Inside Sales Directors Network (ISDN) of Ireland. Lisa graduated with an MBA, Electronic Engineering degree, and Mathematics degree from Trinity College Dublin. She also holds a Diploma in Life & Business Coaching and a Diploma in Company Direction. She was winner of the WMB Businesswoman of the Year Award 2017.



Managing Director, Winthrop Engineering and Contracting Ltd

BIO: Anne is Managing Director of Winthrop Engingeering and Contracting Ltd. She is a qualified Mechanical Engineer, and joined Winthrop in 1997. A director and shareholder, Anne has overall responsibility for all projects, whilst also performing a vital role in the day to day operations and cost management of the company. Anne has been a crucial part of Winthrop’s significant but steady growth in the mechanical, electrical and mission critical turnkey sector over the last 20 years, with the company estimated to achieve a turnover of €275m in 2018. Practising a hands-on management style with the project managers and site team, Anne plays a particularly vital role in managing high value, complex projects.

Anne is currently managing a turnkey data centre portfolio worth over €400m in value for a Private U.S Client, encompassing various projects across Europe, which commenced in 2015. Previous completed projects also include, Interxion, Worldcom, Data Electronics & Mentor Graphics. Large commercial projects are also part of Anne’s remit. Google HQ, Facebook HQ, and The National Gallery, are recent completed projects, along with current commercial projects nearing completion such as the prestigious new Central Bank of Ireland development, and Miesian Plaza.



Senior Vice President and General Manager, Technology Manufacturing Group, Intel Corporation

BIO: Dr. Ann B. Kelleher is senior vice president and general manager of the Technology and Manufacturing Group at Intel Corporation. She is responsible for corporate quality assurance, corporate services, customer fulfillment and supply chain management. She is also responsible for strategic planning for the company’s worldwide manufacturing operations. Before assuming her current position in the Technology and Manufacturing Group, Kelleher was general manager of the Fab/Sort Manufacturing organization. In that role, she was responsible for all aspects of Intel’s high-volume silicon manufacturing.

Earlier in her Intel career, Kelleher was the site manager of Intel’s Fab 11X fabrication facility in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the plant manager of Intel’s Fab 12 facility in Chandler, Arizona, as well as the factory manager of Fab 24 in Leixlip, Ireland. Dr. Kelleher joined Intel in 1996 as a process engineer, going on to manage technology transfers and factory ramp-ups in a variety of positions spanning 200mm and 300mm technologies. She holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, all from University College Cork in Ireland.



VP Public Policy and Communications EMEA and MD, Twitter Ireland

BIO: Sinéad McSweeney leads both Twitter’s Public Policy and Communications team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as serving as the Managing Director of Twitter’s operations in Ireland. Sinéad has been a key leader within the Twitter team since she joined the company in 2012. Prior to Twitter, Sinéad was Director of Communications for An Garda Síochána from 2007 to 2012 and before that was Director of Media and Public Relations for the Police Service of Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2007.

From 1996 to 2004 Sinéad held a range of political advisory positions in the Irish government including roles as Special Adviser to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, prior to that, at the Attorney General’s Office. A native of Midleton, she studied law at University College Cork and qualified as a barrister in 1993. She began her working life as a parliamentary transcriber in the Dail debates unit of the Houses of the Oireachtas.



Chief Executive Officer, FBD Insurance plc

BIO: Fiona Muldoon joined the FBD Group in January 2015 as Group Finance Director Designate and was appointed as an executive Director and member of its Board. In October 2015, she was appointed as Group Chief Executive. A Chartered Accountant, Fiona was Director of Credit Institutions and Insurance Supervision at the Central Bank of Ireland from August 2011 until May 2014.

Before joining FBD, Muldoon worked with the Central Bank since 2011 as head of banking supervision, taking the banks to task over the issue of mortgage arrears. Prior to this she was with XL Group for 17 years and held a number of senior roles with this NYSE listed Property and Casualty Insurance firm in Ireland, London and Bermuda, including 2 years as Group Treasurer until July 2010. Fiona is also a non-executive Director of the Bank of Ireland Group PLC.



Managing Director, Kuehne + Nagel Ireland

BIO: Pamela Quinn joined the global logistics company, Kuehne + Nagel, at a time when its Irish office had a total of 30 employees in 2001. Starting in accounts, Pamela then asked to set up a new HR function for the business whilst studying HR at night. Her bravery and willingness to step into the unknown paid off. Four years later, she had succeeded in firmly positioning herself as a pivotal part of the business. Her work ethic and determination paid off once again when she was promoted to the roles of Dublin Operations Director, National Operations Director and finally to her current role as Managing Director of the firm. During her tenure as MD, Pamela has overseen a growth of turnover and net profitability by a dramatic 100% in a 3 year period, firmly placing Kuehne + Nagel as the largest Freight + Logistics company in Ireland.

From the outset, Pamela has had a clear and consistent vision of where she wants the company to go, which she credits with always starting with the end in mind. Pamela truly embodies the characteristics of a motivational and inspiration leader with her high degree of emotional intelligence, questioning style, and above all her charisma. It’s this charisma or magnetism that enables her to communicate succinctly and motivate those to not accept mediocre. Her transformational style has seen Kuehne + Nagel be the first to market with a broad range of customer solutions and saw her win Image Business Woman of the Year 2016.



Country President, Sodexo Ireland

BIO: Margot Slattery is Country President, Sodexo Ireland and has corporate governance and directorial responsibility for all its operations in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where it employs 3,700 people with a turnover of €118m in 2016. Margot has grown the Sodexo business in Ireland by 11% year on year since becoming managing director in 2012 and country president in 2015.

Margot sits on Sodexo’s global LGBT+ leadership team and has been influential in ensuring LGBT+ considerations are included in Sodexo’s Global D&I strategy, and that practical guides to LGBT+ inclusion have been developed for use across the globe. Sodexo was named one of the Top Ten Places to Work for LGBT Equality at the 2016 Workplace Equality Awards.

For her work in promoting diversity and inclusion and women in business, Margot won a Trailblazer Award at the 2016 WXN Most Powerful Women in Ireland Awards and in June 2017, was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by the French Ambassador to Ireland.

Outside Sodexo, Margot sits on the council of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and is President of Appeals for the Irish Hospitality Trust. She is a lead entrepreneur with Going for Growth, a board member of Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, the Bord Bia Horticulture Subsidiary Board, Sofinsod Insurance DAC and Injuries Claims Board Ireland among others.



Chief Information Officer Europe, CRH

BIO: Marie Whelan is Chief Information Officer for CRH in Europe. In this senior position, Marie has been charged with shaping the IT strategy for CRH’s €13 billion business across over 2,000 locations in 18 countries in Europe. Marie has also led a hugely challenging programme to deliver the simultaneous IT integration of newly acquired businesses in 10 countries spanning across Europe to Brazil and the Philippines, following completion in the third quarter of 2015 of a €6.5 billion acquisition, the largest deal in Irish corporate history.

A native of Dublin, Marie started out her career in customer service and production planning in the adhesives industry in Ireland where she was given the opportunity to become an IT Programmer. She subsequently joined the consulting world for 9 years and joined Heineken Ireland from KPMG Consulting. A 22 year career followed in Heineken, 17 of which were spent abroad in Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna. Marie’s final role at Heineken, prior to joining CRH, was as Director Regional IT Central & Eastern Europe, based out of Vienna where she was responsible for IT across 16 markets and was a member of the Regional Executive Team as well as the Global IT Leadership Team.




Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Nuritas

BIO: Dr. Nora Khaldi is the Founder and Nuritas, one of the fastest growing biotech companies in the world. Nora and her team have driven Nuritas to become the first company globally to combine AI and genomics to discover natural therapeutic peptides to combat different diseases. Nuritas was classified amongst the most innovative start-ups in the world, and since its creation in 2014. Nora succeeded in attracting $28M investment into Nuritas research.

Nora’s background uniquely combines three very different area, mathematics, computer science, and life science with a PhD in bioinformatics. Nora is a highly published, award-winning scientist and entrepreneur. Previous to Nuritas, she had lead multi-disciplinary scientific teams around the world. The software she developed during her scientific career are used in over 70 countries by both academia and industry. Nora was the first scientist to show horizontal gene transfer between multi-cellular species, and in 2017, she was honoured the Woman of the Decade award in Business and Leadership by All Ladies League and the Women Economic Forum.



Founder & CEO, Budget Energy Ltd

BIO: Eleanor McEvoy is the CEO of Budget Energy Ltd, a leading supplier of electricity in the Northern Ireland market. Since 1991, Eleanor has successfully built and sold two companies: Pembroke Distributors Ltd, a vending company which was sold in 2001, and Phonecard Warehouse Ltd, which achieved a £50m turnover before being sold in 2006. Budget Energy – ‘the same electricity only cheaper’ – broke ground in 2011 by becoming the first independent low cost supplier to enter the Northern Ireland electricity market. Since then, Budget has consistently led the way in driving down the cost of electricity for local consumers and currently boasts a customer base of over 65,000 domestic and commercial users.

Eleanor, who is originally from Limerick, won the UTV Business Personality of the Year in 2013 and in the same year reached the finals of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year for the second time. She sits on the EY Alumni Board and is a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship for the University of Ulster. Recently, she made her debut appearance as a new dragoness on RTE’s Dragons Den, making substantial investments in Ecograte and Holos Skincare.



Co-Founder & Joint Managing Director, Cara Group

BIO: Ramona Nicholas is a self-made, award-winning entrepreneur who is the Joint Managing Director of the Cara Group, holding 16 pharmacies, 2 home stores and a thriving online store. The Cara Group was formed with her husband in 2002, and the group has grown to a turnover of circa €40 Million. Employing over 245 staff, their head office and distribution centre is based in Co. Donegal. A Qualified Pharmacist, she is highly skilled in Strategic Planning, HR, Aggressive Purchasing Methods, and Web Development.

Ramona reached the final 8 in the ‘Industry Section’ of the Ernst and Young, Entrepreneur of The Year 2017, competing against some of the country’s finest businesses. She also completed two series as a Dragon on the RTE Series ‘Dragons’ Den’ and was the only female and youngest person to complete the RTE Series ‘The Secret Millionaire’ in 2012. Ramona was selected as one of the ‘Top 25 Most Influential Women’ in Ireland in 2014. She was also awarded Queens University ‘Graduate of the Year’ in 2013, and ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014’ by WMN (Women Mean Business).



Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS)

BIO: Evelyn O’Toole is the Founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS), a native of Clifden in County Galway, and has been a scientist for more than 20 years. Following her graduation, Evelyn managed an aquaculture laboratory, which ended unexpectedly when it burnt down. Committed to creating a company for her and other scientists in the west of Ireland, two weeks later, at the age of 25 and using the redundancy money from that job, she set up CLS. CLS is the largest privately owned contract laboratory in Ireland and supplies microbiological and analytical testing, and fully trained analysts on contract to clients in the food, environmental, medical device and pharmaceutical industries. CLS have two facilities, employs 150 staff, and partners with leading national and multinational clients with 10% international sales and a client retention rate of 99.3%.

In 2017, Evelyn won the Industry EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Irish Tatler Business Woman of the Year award and this year she is a judge for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year. She is a WMB (Women Mean Business) Gender Diversity ambassador and is on the support centre committee for Cancer Care West. In 2016, Evelyn was awarded the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year in Galway by Network Galway and was also named WMB Business Woman of the Year.



Founder & CEO, Shabra Plastics & Recycling Group Ltd.

BIO: Rita Shah is the founder and CEO of Shabra Plastics & Recycling Limited, the first plant of its kind in Ireland for recycling, reprocessing of waste plastics and manufacturing of plastic bags from waste collected in Ireland. Rita has also recently become involved in the hospitality sector with the purchase of Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort in Kildare. Rita does endless work for charity with Shabra Charity Foundation, a charity that was co-founded with her late business partner, Oliver Brady.

To date, the charity has donated €1.3 million in new equipment to various hospitals in Ireland which will allow hospitals to carry out their own testing for gene related illnesses rather than relying on these tests to be carried out abroad. This project for the first World Class Gene Testing equipment was a promise from Rita to the late Oliver after he had spent most of his final months in the Mater hospital, Dublin, and saw the struggles the hospital staff face on a daily basis. The second phase of this project is additional equipment to fast track the validation of bloods. The Charity has also built schools in both Nigeria and Kenya providing education to empower children who otherwise would have had no access to any education or school facilities.




Co-Founder, Marketing Director, African Professional Network Ireland | Country Marketing Lead, Facebook

BIO: Tetlanyo Lekalake has worked at Facebook for 3 years and was recently appointed Country Marketing Lead for small and medium business in Africa and the Middle East. Prior to this, she worked in Facebook’s Community Operations team as an Africa Market Specialist and then as a Project Manager on the Hate & Violence Process team. Tetlanyo is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion.

In 2015, she co-founded the African Professional Network of Ireland (APNI), an organization that aims to connect, empower and foster collaboration between young professionals of African descent living in Ireland. The non-profit, which has built a following of over 3,000 people, has drawn local and international speakers, as well as corporate sponsors such as Facebook, Google, Citi, Salesforce and Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard. Events topics by the organization have ranged from entrepreneurship to coping with racism and racial microaggressions. Within Facebook, Tetlanyo co-founded the Dublin Chapter of an employee resource group called Black@ Facebook. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Business Science majoring in Marketing.




Chief Commissioner, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

BIO: Emily Logan is the first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission appointed by President Michael D Higgins on 31 October 2014, following an open competition. In the decade prior to her appointment, she served as Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children and was also appointed President of the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children, across 47 Council of Europe member states.

Prior to this, she worked in senior public administration: Director of Nursing at Crumlin Children’s Hospital and at Tallaght Hospital Dublin, following her time as Directorate Manager in Great Ormond Street Hospital London. Ms Logan graduated from Queens University Belfast with an LLM in Human Rights Law, University College Dublin with an MBA, and from City University London with an MSc in Psychology. She was awarded honorary Degrees of Doctor of Laws (LLD) from University College Dublin and from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.



Chief Executive, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board

BIO: Tara McCarthy is the Chief Executive of Bord Bia and brings with her over 20 years’ experience in the wider food industry. She was previously Chief Executive for Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency and has operated in overseas markets for 10 years including Germany, France and Belgium.

Tara holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with an MBS in Marketing from Smurfit Business School and is an affiliate of IMD Business School, Switzerland; Tara succeeded in delivering a number of instrumental initiatives for the Irish Food Industry under the ‘Pathways for Growth’ programme working in entrepreneurship and talent development. Ms. McCarthy was previously Director of the Food and Beverages Division in Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board and has led a team of Senior Executives on the development of the seafood, dairy, prepared foods; alcohol and small business sectors



Chief Executive Officer, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group | Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin

BIO: Dr. Susan O’Reilly recently retired as the CEO of the new Dublin Midlands Hospital Group from November 2014 to January 2018. Her role encompasses leading, planning and developing clinical service delivery, both acute and elective patient care, across the hospitals. Patient safety, quality improvement, clinical network development, sustainable staffing and finances, innovation and change management are key responsibilities. Collaboration with community health services, especially primary care, and working with other HSE Divisions and Hospital Groups is an essential element. Trinity College Dublin is the academic partner for the Hospital Group.

She is a Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin. Previously, she was the Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), Ireland, in September 2010. She led the planning and implementation of the National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland, across the spectrum of prevention, screening programmes, Surgical Oncology, Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology, as well as the development of national treatment guidelines and performance management.

Dr. O’Reilly qualified in medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, and completed postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at Trinity College and University College Dublin. She sub specialised in medical oncology in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her clinical practice and research in medical oncology in Canada focused on lymphomas, breast and gynaecological cancers.




Founder, Pieta House | CEO, Solace House | Senator, Seanad Éireann

BIO: Joan Freeman is an Irish psychologist and politician who has served as a Senator since May 2016, upon being nominated by the Taoiseach. She is the founder of the Pieta House suicide prevention charity. An organisation that deals with the intervention of suicide and self-harm. The service has provided free therapy to over 30,000 men, women and children and is one of the most loved and respected charities in Ireland. Joan has won many national awards for her work for the Irish people.

In 2015 she brought this life saving service to New York. At first, thinking that she would be serving the Irish in New York, the service has supported and counselled many people from different nationalities. Joan is married to Pat and they have four adult children.



Independent Senator, Seanad Éireann

BIO: Lynn Ruane is an independent senator serving in Seanad Éireann, a former President of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union. She left school early as a single mother at the age of fifteen. She returned to education through a programme for young mothers in An Cosán, a community education project in Jobstown. Following her time in An Cosán, she began a diploma in addiction studies at the age of 17 in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght. At the age of 18, she started developing addiction programmes in west Dublin.

After fifteen years of community and addiction work, she responded to the devastating impact and injustice of austerity cuts on the sector by deciding to progress further with her education. She gained access to Trinity College through the Trinity Access Programme, an initiative designed to improve access to the university from disadvantaged and minority groups in 2011. She began a degree in Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Economics as a mature student when she was 27.

In 2015, she ran for the presidency of the college’s students’ union on a platform of equality, access and inclusion and was elected, becoming the first female president in a decade and the first mature student president since the 1990s. She announced her decision to run to represent Trinity graduates in the Seanad in November 2015 and five months later, she was elected to Seanad Éireann at the age of 31.


The women above were awarded their place in the Top 25: Ireland’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). For more information on WXN Ireland visit

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