Gary Owens - CEO
Gary Owens is our Chief Executive Officer. Gary is overseeing a new Strategy and Vision for the organisation, which represents 3,500 people with Down syndrome and their families.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (01) 4266500
Member Support Team
Nicola Hart - Member Support Team Leader
Nicola Hart is an experienced Speech and Language Therapist who has worked for over 20 years with people who have Down syndrome and their families. She has been working for Down Syndrome Ireland since 2010, first in a local branch, then in a national capacity.
Nicola became full time team leader for the Member Support Team in 2017. She continues to offer advice, training and support as National Speech and Language Advisor and has given up her direct Speech and Language Therapy work with the local branch in Kildare in order to concentrate on her national role.
Nicola believes strongly that research should inform practice, and represents Down Syndrome Ireland annually at the European Down Syndrome Research Forum. She is active in disseminating
Fiona McGrane - Research Nurse
Fiona McGrane (CNM11, RNID, RCN) was appointed as research nurse in Down Syndrome Ireland in July 2010. She is based at Trinity College Dublin, Department of Paediatrics National Children’s Hospital Tallaght. This post is supported by Down Syndrome Ireland. Fiona is a qualified paediatric nurse and also an intellectual disability nurse. She holds a diploma in social care awarded by Stockport University. Fiona has a broad experience in acute paediatric nursing and also with children and adults with an intellectual disability. Her role is to provide support and education and to conduct research in the area of Down syndrome. Fiona is available from Monday to Friday to provide advice, up-to-date information and education in relation to any medical queries that you may have
Fidelma Brady - Education Officer
Fidelma Brady is our Education Officer and is available to support you and your child in their journey through school from primary, post primary and special school.
She will also provide advice and information at each stage of educational transition and when difficulties arise.
Fidelma will also be available to provide support, information, advice and training for schools and teachers to assist them in the provision of appropriate education for children and young people with Down syndrome.
The development and delivery of conferences, workshops and training at regional and national level for parents and education professionals will also be a key focus for Fidelma.
A key component of our Member Support Team, she will continue to research, collect and disseminate current
Aoife Gaffney - National Employment and Projects Officer
Aoife Gaffney (née Wemyss) works with employers to provide training and meaningful employment opportunities for adults with Down syndrome.
Aoife can be contacted through our national office on (01) 4266500 or by email at email@example.com.
Helena Connors - Adult Advocacy Officer
Helena Connors joined us in January 2018 in the new role of Adult Advocacy Officer. Helena has worked in various roles supporting people with disabilities for the past twenty years. She recently returned to college and completed an LLM in Disability Law and Policy. In addition to studying Irish Disability Law and Policy there was a strong focus on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
As Adult Advocacy Officer, Helena supports adults with Down syndrome and their families to have their voices heard and to act as a voice for people who don’t yet have the skills to do so. Helena can be contacted through our national office on (01) 4266500 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regional Resource Officers
Our Regional Resource Officers help people with Down syndrome and their family’s access support locally.
Regional Resource Officers provide vital support and a point of contact for new parents as well as families who need help and support at local level at every life stage.
Irene Walsh - Regional Resource Officer - Galway Branch
Irene Walsh is the Regional Resource Officer for the Galway branch since September 2016.
Irene’s involvement with the Galway branch began almost 10 years ago with the birth of her daughter, Maeve who is the youngest of four girls and whose diagnosis of Down syndrome was unexpected. When introduced to the concept of this being a “journey” Irene was a bit sceptical about what was in store, however the voyage has shaped her family’s views, attitudes, and values in so many positive ways.
Irene’s role as resource officer is part-time. The Galway branch has over 280 members, with membership increasing every year. It involves sourcing and providing information to members, signposting to appropriate agencies and referring to the Member Support Team where an
Eithne Garvey - Regional Resource Officer - Kerry branch
Eithne Garvey is Resource Officer for the Down Syndrome Ireland, Kerry (DSK) branch and works part-time.
Eithne’s work in adult education as an IT tutor was the stepping stone towards her work in community development. She has been working in Community Development in Kerry now for the last ten years focusing in the areas of social inclusion, advocacy and education.
DSI’s Kerry branch has over 217 members spread throughout the county and almost 200 are under 40 years old. This has determined the work that Eithne is presently focusing on such as; Individualised Funding/Supports, organizing information sessions on Early Intervention supports, advocating on behalf of our members or just being a support through rough times, co-ordinating the training and employment initiative of the
Mike Egan - Regional Resource Officer - Louth Meath Branch
Mike Egan started working with the Louth Meath branch of DSI as a part-time Regional Resource Officer in November 2016, having had over 10 years front-line and management experience in adult learning disability services.
His role in the Louth Meath branch is to act as an information and support officer for the members and committee, helping to ensure they are aware of their full entitlements and rights to get all the services and opportunities that they need. Where such services are not readily available, Mike works with the branch and DSI National Team to campaign for additional and improved services for members of all ages.
He has a particular interest in the possibility of individualised funding/personal budgets for people with Down syndrome to
Central Support Team
Down Syndrome Ireland’s Central Support Team supports members, branches and the professional community connected by Down syndrome.
Annette O’Neill - Member Support Officer
Our Member Support Officer is Annette O’Neill. Annette provides support services to our members as well as with our branches around the country. Annette is also involved in organising and delivering our information events, conferences and our annual AGM. Other duties include the management of the membership database and liaison for Garda Vetting. Annette also handles Numicon inquires and liaises with our Numicon Trainers to deliver Numicon training which takes place regularly in branches, schools and education centres around the country. Numicon has proved to be an extremely effective tool in teaching Maths to people with Down syndrome. Annette can be contacted at email@example.com or (01) 4266500
Anne-Marie Dolan - Senior Administrator
Anne-Marie Dolan is Senior Administrator and receptionist at our national office.
Anne-Marie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (01) 4266500.
Ross O’Neill - Junior Administrator
Ross O’Neill is our Junior Administrator. Ross has been working at DSI for 12 years and plays a central role at the National Office. His jobs include distributing in-coming post and ensuring that the post book is signed daily, issuing requests for 'student packs', photocopying and ensuring photocopier paper trays are filled, assisting with mailouts, greeting and looking after visitors to National Office and ensuring Visitor Book sign-ins. Ross also takes responsibility for setting up for meetings and conferences and clearing up after same. He takes in all deliveries and puts away as required. Ross weighs, franks, sorts and bags all out-going post and laminates posters and signs, as well as binding documents and publications. Ross also assists at fundraising events and assists all members
Payroll and Human Resources
Willie Lewins - Payroll and Human Resources Manager
Our Payroll and Human Resources Manager is Willie Lewins. Willie takes care of all salaries, wages and HR enquiries at national and branch level. Willie can be contacted at email@example.com or (01) 4266500
Communications and Lobbying Team
Our Communications and Lobbying Team manages communications with the media, our members, professionals, the general public and the various teams within our organisation both locally and nationally. The team also compiles the Down Syndrome Ireland magazine, e-newsletters and manages the content of our website and social media channels. The team also highlight national issues which impact on people who have Down syndrome and their families in order to influence Government policies.
Cathy Gray - Head of Communications and Public Affairs
Our Head of Communications and Public Affairs is Cathy Gray. Having spent a number of years working as a journalist on both a local and national level, Cathy decided to apply her expertise and knowledge to the charity sector.
Since then, she has worked for a number of charities in marketing and communications roles. With a Masters in Journalism and Public Relations, she is passionate about helping people tell their story and empowering them to have their voices heard.
Cathy joined Down Syndrome Ireland as Head of Communications and Public Affairs in March 2016.
Cathy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0860463702.
David Oglesby - Digital Communications Officer
David Oglesby is our Digital Communications Officer, he brings a number of new skills to the role and to the communications team. David has a background in videography, digital/graphic and print design, his career so far has seen him work for a number of non-profit organisations, working on a number of high profile digital health campaigns. David can be contacted via email: email@example.com or 0864144487
Down Syndrome Ireland has a very small but very active fundraising team. 88% of the money needed to run services has to be raised through fundraising. Meet our team:
Mark O’Doherty - Head of Fundraising and Retail
Our Head of Fundraising and Retail is Mark O’Doherty.
Having spent twenty years’ working in the private sector with companies specialising in branding, advertising and marketing communications, Mark decided to apply his experience and skill set to the non profit sector. In 2010, he applied for and won a much coveted place on the Vodafone Foundation’s World of Difference Programme. Since then, he has worked in Fundraising and Communication roles with a number of charities. Mark believes in leading by example and has participated in two parachute jumps and two Camino walks to date for charity.
He recently completed a Masters in Management: Community & Voluntary Services. Mark joined Down Syndrome Ireland as Head of Fundraising and Retail in March 2016.
Kathleen Fitzsimons - Corporate Fundraising Manager
Our Corporate Fundraising Manager is Kathleen Fitzsimons.
For the past 15 years, Kathleen has been working in the Charity Sector. In Tesco Ireland HQ she introduced and ran the Tesco Charity of the Year and helped to raise over 4.5million for national charity organisations. She has worked directly for a number of charities for the past 10 years and joined Down Syndrome Ireland in 2012 and introduced a number of new fundraising initiatives.
Kathleen is very passionate about the work she does and really enjoys working to support people with Down syndrome and their families.
Kathleen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and (01) 5632456 / 087 418 0175.
Alison Kelly - Fundraising Manager
Our Fundraising Manager is Alison Kelly. With over 18 years in the financial services sector and an extensive background in operations, planning and event management, Alison decided to apply her experience and knowledge to the not-for-profit sector. In 2017, she began a new career in the charity sector, working in a fundraising role with an animal welfare charity. Alison joined Down Syndrome Ireland in November 2018. Alison can be contacted at Alisonk@downsyndrome.ie or by phone on (01) 5632457 /086 4145412.
Down Syndrome Ireland has a growing number of Charity Shops which are an integral part of our annual fundraising activity as they provide much needed sustainable income on a regular basis.
Barbara McCarthy - Charity Shop Manager
Barbara joined Down Syndrome Ireland in July 2017. She brings over 20 years experience working in retail in the charity sector to our shops in Kimmage and GPO where she is Manager. Barbara enjoys working with her dedicated team of volunteers as they work together to develop a strong customer base, all the while promoting the values of Down Syndrome Ireland. She can be contacted at email@example.com or 086 0274178.
Marian Kane - Charity Shop Manager
Marian is the Retail Manager of our Clondalkin, Finglas and Kilbarrack shops. She joined Down Syndrome Ireland in March 2016 after spending over a decade working in the private sector and another decade running her own successful floristry business. During this time Marian also enjoyed volunteering for a number of charities. Marian has opened 3 new shops along with relocating one. Having studied Human Communications in UCD she loves all the challenges of her role, working with fantastic teams of volunteers and especially meeting customers from all walks of life and all with a story to be told. Marian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 086 046 3582.
George Oliver - Projects Manager
George previously worked in the life and pensions industry where he held a number of roles including Head of Operation and Customer Services.
He is currently working on a number of key projects for DSI including the Champ (DSI member database) system, compliance and insurance review.