Our Board

Dóchas is governed by its members, through an Annual General Meeting, which elects a Board to manage the network on behalf of the members.The Board is assisted by a Secretariat which is responsible for the day-to-day business of the organisation.

The following are full members of the Dóchas Board:

  • Tearfund Ireland: Ms Sharan Kelly (Chairperson)

    Sharan is the current Chair of the Dóchas board. She also serves as Vice-Chair of EU-CORD Administrative Council, the European Network of Christian Relief and Development NGOs. Prior to taking up the post of CEO with Tearfund Ireland, Sharan Kelly led the development of ‘the Base’, the flagship project of the EU/NDP URBAN II Programme in the Republic of Ireland (2000-2006), a €6million capital build project and multi-disciplinary service working with children and young people. Sharan has over 18 years’ senior management experience working with NGOs supporting the most marginalised and vulnerable in Ireland and overseas. She has made representations on behalf of those most affected by poverty and injustice at various national and European levels and fora. Sharan holds an MBA (International Marketing) and a Bachelor Degree in Business Management.

  • Concern Worldwide: Ms Olive Towey (Vice Chairperson)

    Olive Towey is Head of Advocacy for Ireland and Europe at Concern Worldwide. Based in Dublin, she manages a small team and coordinates with advocacy colleagues in the UK, the US and Concern’s countries of operation to deliver on a wide range of advocacy activities.  Olive has been working in the field of advocacy for ten years.  She was Chair of the Brussels based policy network Eurostep for 5 years and is Chair of the Advocacy Group of Alliance2015 – a strategic network of 7 EU NGOs which was founded in 2000 with a commitment towards achievement of the MDGs and, since 2015, a renewed commitment towards the SDGs. Olive has been a member of the Board of Dóchas since 2012.

  • Camara: Mr John Fitzsimons

    John Fitzsimons is the CEO of Camara Education, a social enterprise that uses technology to deliver 21st century skills and, as such, improve education in disadvantaged communities around the world. John has an engineering and IT background, having worked in Ireland and abroad including two years in Tanzania. Prior to Camara, John ran a consulting business in Dell. John has a Degree in Electronic Engineering from University College Dublin and an MBA from Smurfit School of Business and for two years has been a board member at Dochas, the umbrella organisation for International NGOs in Ireland. In addition John is a board member at CyberSafe Ireland.

  • Gorta Self Help Africa: Ms Isabella Rae

    Isabella Rae (Ph.D.) is Head of Policy and Research with Gorta-Self Help Africa. Prior to GSHA, she worked with FAO, Bioversity International, and WFP. She has experience in the design and management of technical assistance programmes, with emphasis on Central and Western Africa, and with policy analysis and development. She is Peer Reviewer with the Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law, New York, and is a visiting lecturer in International Human Rights Law.  She has held training courses in food security and international law for parliamentarians and the judiciary in Uganda, Mali, Senegal and Togo. She has published in areas of women rights, food security and the right to food. She is a member of Dochas Board of Directors since June 2015.

  • Plan Ireland: Mr Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien is CEO of Plan International Ireland. With a career spanning 30 years in development and humanitarian work he has lived and worked in a number of developing countries, including: Kenya, Sudan, Liberia, Bangladesh and Tanzania.   A senior leader in Ireland’s NGO sector for the last 14 years Paul still travels extensively in his work with Plan International Ireland. Paul has served on the Board of ICVA, (the International Council for Voluntary Agencies) the global network of non-governmental organisations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.  He was elected Chair of the ICVA Board by membership from March 2009 to March 2012. 

  • Misean Cara: Ms Heydi Foster-Breslin

    Heydi Foster is the CEO of Misean Cara. She leads the organisation in its support for the development work of missionaries around the world. She manages staff and financial resources, accounts to the Board and funders, develops relationships with members and promotes internal and external communications and networking to highlight the value and impact of members’ work. Heydi is a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission, and also chairperson of Common Purpose Ireland. Heydi has led non-profit organisations in a number of countries. She holds a Masters in Non-profit Management and a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

  • Oxfam Ireland: Ms Niamh Carty

    Niamh Carty joined Oxfam Ireland in 2005 where she is now the Director of International Programmes. In 2000, she was appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Irish Aid Advisory Committee where she led inter-agency work on NGOs and Capacity Building. She has also served in a variety of roles within the Oxfam International Confederation including the governance body that oversees Oxfam’s work in the Horn, East & Central Africa and in the global Gender Justice Working Group. Niamh graduated from Trinity College in 1989 with a BA in music. She also holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of Hull (1997). She has worked for Irish Aid in Zambia and subsequently for Christian Aid in Dublin. She has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Irish Consortium on GBV and led the consortium’s strategic planning process in 2012. She has also served as a member of the monitoring group established to oversee the implementation of Ireland’s 1st National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.

  • Sightsavers International Ireland: Catrina Sheridan

A native of Cavan, Catrina Sheridan has over 26 years’ experience in commercial management with a focus on strategy and marketing. Her early career years were spent in the US and UK where she worked for Macy’s Retail, Unilever/Best Foods as well as IPSOS research. On return to Ireland, she led on Strategy and Marketing for British Telecommunications, internationally and in Ireland and was Vice-President Product and Marketing for dotMobi, a global start-up which established standards around the global mobile internet technology. She was Chief Operating Officer and part owner of Blueface, a voice over internet telephony start-up. After serving as Board Volunteer in the NGO sector for 7 years she joined Trócaire’s senior leadership team and was appointed CEO Sightsavers in September 2016. She is an Enterprise Ireland mentor to Irish start-ups and is passionate about driving high performance in the NGO sector and also how we can ensure that future development in disability inclusive. She holds a B.Sc. and MA from Trinity College, Dublin and an M.Sc in Executive Leadership from University of Ulster and Boston College.

  • Habitat for Humanity: Vinnie Cunningham

    Vinnie Cunningham is CEO of Habitat for Humanity Ireland, part of the international NGO Habitat for Humanity that helps families build strength, stability and independence through shelter. Vinnie was a board member of Habitat for Humanity Ireland prior to becoming CEO in 2013. Vinnie is also principal of Vinnie Cunningham & Co, a general services accountancy practice, specialising in accounting, tax and business solutions. He trained in-practice and has held a number of senior positions in multinational financial services companies.  Vinnie is a fellow of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, holds an MBA from Smurfit Business School at UCD and an honours B.A. in Accounting and Finance. Vinnie played international rugby for Ireland and toured with the British and Irish Lions. Vinnie joined the Dóchas board in 2016.   

  • External Member: Mr Gerry Egan

    Gerry is Company Secretary of Coillte. He has held a number of roles during his time with the company including Group Director, Strategy and Governance and Head of Corporate Affairs. He is also Chairman of Moylurg Rockingham Ltd, operator of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Director of a number of joint venture wind energy companies and Director of Dochas, the Irish association of non-governmental development organisations. Gerry holds a M.Sc. (Management) degree from Trinity College / IMI and is member of the Institute of Directors Ireland where he is currently participating in the Chartered Directors’ programme.