The Wheel's Board

Posted on 18 Jul 2018 Last updated on 14 Jul 2021

Inez Bailey – Elected in June 2017

Inez is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Centre For Effective Services, having previously been the CEO of NALA, the National Adult Literacy Agency, for over 20 years. She is also Chair of the Southside Partnership, Chair of the Mounttown Neighbourhood Youth and Family Project, Chair of the Rockford Manor Secondary School and Member of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Local Community Development Committee. Previous board memberships include: CORU, the Health and Social Care Professionals Regulator; the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs; Dublin & Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board; the Education Finance Board; the National Consumer Agency; the Citizens Information Board; the Information Society Commission; and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland.

Sarah Benson – Elected in June 2020

Sarah currents serves as CEO of Women’s AID Ireland, having previously served as CEO of Ruhama and recently stood down from the board of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. She has over two decades’ experience working for Community and Voluntary organisations (18 years at senior management/CEO level). Her work at Board and Executive level has also given significant direct experience of both fundraising and working and  collaborating with vulnerable, marginalized communities and individuals, particularly; victims/survivors of violence and abuse, and members of minoritised ethnic groups including migrants.

In 2019 Sarah completed a Master’s in Business Studies in Business practice with the IMI/UCC, receiving first class honours in each component category of study: Executive Coaching, Strategy and Innovation,and Leadership – also receiving the overall course award for final thesis (RIA) She has also completed studies through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Leadership of Not for Profit Organisations.

Áine Brady – Elected May 2018

Áine currently serves as CEO of Third Age, having previously served as a Government TD, and Minister of State for Health Promotion and Older People, as well as an assistant primary school principal. Consistently active in the community and with a particular interest in promoting the interests of vulnerable older people, Áine’s current memberships of boards/committees include: Council of Patrons; Special Olympics Ireland; Meals On Wheels Clane CLG; Soroptimists International North Kildare Branch.

Jonathan Buttner – Appointed in November 2017

Jonathan is a senior business executive with extensive commercial knowledge and experience gained over 25 years in Ireland and the UK.  As a former member of the leadership team in Ulster Bank (part of the global UK bank RBS), he led specialist Corporate, SME and Commercial Real Estate business divisions with responsibility for both ROI and NI markets.   Senior member of Ulster Bank governance committees including Risk Appetite, Credit Risk Policy, Assets & Liabilities and Corporate Banking Division Management committee.   Jonathan provides strategic business advice to companies in Ireland and the UK helping with commercial growth strategies, organisational change, finance, risk management and governance.  Jonathan also co-founded a start-up venture in the alternative lending space seeking to address the SME funding gap in Ireland by providing affordable flexible funding solutions.   

Mary Doyle – Co-opted in November 2018

Mary was Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education and Skills from 2012 until her retirement in April 2018.  As Deputy Secretary she led the Higher Education and Quality Division in the Department. Previously, she worked as Director General in the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Prior to that she was the Assistant Secretary in the Department of the Taoiseach. She served as a member of the National Economic and Social Council and of the National Statistics Board, and a Forum Member of the Economic and Social Research Institute. She holds a degree in European Studies from the University of Limerick and a Master’s in Public Service Management from Trinity/Irish Management Institute.

Sharon FoleyElected in June 2020

Sharon currently serves as CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation since 2011, having previously spent 6 years as a management consultant at One2One Solutions, and prior to that CEO of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, and Director of Health Promotion for the East Coast Area Health Board. She sits on the board of Loreto Dalkey Secondary School, and has previously been Chairperson of the Family Support Agency, as well as a board member of Age Friendly Ireland and CORU. As CEO of a charity which derives most of its income from charitable sources, she understands the nonprofit sector and the needs of larger charities where fundraising is a key activity. Her interests lie around advocacy and how to influence the national policy arena so that policy towards C&V sector is informed and supportive. having secured state support for many key initiatives.

Maria Heneghan – Elected May 2018

Maria is a retired public servant who previously served with Teagasc as Rural Development Specialist (1989 – 2012) and Agriculture Development Officer (1973-1989). Highly active in local issues, Maria currently serves as Voluntary Secretary to Green Sod Ireland Board as well as Voluntary Secretary & Director to Ballyglunin Station Restoration Company, both of which are local environmental / community development initiatives. Additionally, Maria was previously a board member of GMIT (representing Teagasc) from 2005 – 2012 and Chairperson of the Project Evaluation Committee - LEADER Clare (2005 – 2012). She also served on the Member Advisory Committee on Rural Development for five years and spent three years as a sub-committee member of Western Development Commission.

Karen Horgan – Elected May 2018

Karen has 21 years’ experience in the community and voluntary sector, both as CEO and as Board Member and Trustee of various charities. She has been CEO of Age & Opportunity since July 2014 and leads the senior management team, driving the development and implementation of the organisation’s vision, mission and overall strategy.  She previously worked in the area of social housing and homelessness for 14 years as the Director of Drogheda Homeless Aid. Karen has also worked in the Institute of Public Administration as Acting Course Co-ordinator and Lecturer on the MA in Criminal Justice course. Karen is currently a member of the Charity Appeals Tribunal. On The Wheel’s board, she Chairs the Staff and Employment Sub-group and is also a member of the Governance and Remuneration Sub-groups of the Board.

Karen is also currently a Board Member and Charity Trustee of Anvers Housing Association, and a member of their Finance, Governance, HR and Risk Committee. Previously, she has also served as Trustee on the Boards of the Irish Council for Social Housing, Tuath Housing Association, Don Bosco Services, Drogheda Job Initiative, Drogheda Community Training Centre and Calipo Theatre Company. She holds a Degree in Business and Law from UCD, an MA in Public Management and Criminal Justice, a Professional Certificate in Governance from the Institute of Public Administration, and an Advanced Diploma in White Collar, Corporate and Regulatory Crime from the Honorable Society of Kings Inns.

Vincent Keenan (CHAIR) – Elected May 2014

Vincent is Chief Executive of North and East Housing Association since 2014. North & East was incorporated in 1993 having been established by a small number of volunteers. Having been run as a small-scale, mainly voluntary organisation it is now a well-established housing provider with a proven track record in the delivery of high-quality homes, comprehensive housing management services and tenant supports. Vincent worked previously for Co-operative Housing Ireland (formally NABCO) for 12 years as Executive Director with responsibility for housing and community services. Vincent has 25 years’ experience in housing, homelessness, housing development, management and social and community service development. He has participated in negotiation of social partnership agreements and was appointed by the Minister of Housing to the National Homeless Consultative Committee on which he served 7 years. Vincent has also served as non-executive director on a number of not for profit organisations.

Cherif Labreche  – Elected July 2021

Cherif currently serves as CEO of New Communities Partnership, having previously been CEO/Founder of both Flower Childcare Early Learning Centre and Hanine Media Development Agency. He has over two decades of board and management committee experience including as founder of the Africa Centre. In his work in New Communities Partnership, he represents and empowers new communities in Ireland, as they strive to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise for people building a new life in Ireland. Cherif has also established the Ethnic Media Development Project a social enterprise programme supported by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland where the focus is to provide EMLOs with the media and Intercultural communication skills to take a lead role in addressing inequalities that they experience. He holds a BA in Journalism and MPhil in International Peace Studies.

Brendan O’Brien – Co-opted December 2016

Brendan is CEO with ThinkSmarter Analytics. With over 20 years’ experience in international sales and marketing, he has previously been EMEA MD with US digital marketing company Search Optics,  Global Software Sales Director with Cisco based in California, CEO of ThinkSmart (acquired by Cisco) and held senior roles in Accenture and IBM.  He has been a guest lecturer in UCD and International Universities and hold a BSc, an MSc, a PhD in Business and Adv Dip in International sales. Brendan is also a very active participant in outdoor sports and has served on various boards, both commercial and voluntary, including Chairperson of a National Sporting Governing body and founding board member of a US based Alzheimer’s charity.



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