Deirdre Saul - interim CEO
Please welcome our interim CEO, Deirdre Saul. Our interim CEO Deirdre Saul has a long history in finance, with a wide experience in practice and industry in both audit and corporate governance experience. She has served as a government appointee with financial experience on the boards of IHSAB (replaced with HIQA) and ten years on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). Deirdre also brings to the role her vast experience in the volunteer sector with over twelve years on the board of Heritage Credit Union and a local scout group. Deirdre has a strong passion for the charity sector and she looks forward to engaging with you, our members, and our many stakeholders in the next few months in her role as interim
Our interim CEO Deirdre Saul has a long history in finance, with a wide experience in practice and industry in both audit and corporate governance experience. She has served as a government appointee with financial experience on the boards of IHSAB (replaced with HIQA) and ten years on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). Deirdre also brings to the role her vast experience in the volunteer sector with over twelve years on the board of Heritage Credit Union and a local scout group.
Deirdre has a strong passion for the charity sector and she looks forward to engaging with you, our members, and our many stakeholders in the next few months in her role as interim
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 - Head of Employment and Projects
Aoife Gaffney is our Head of Employment, she previously worked with the Waterford & South Kilkenny Branch of DSI in 2016/17 and has worked in our National Office since July 2017. Aoife has over 10 years experience working with children & adolescents with Autism, Down syndrome & other disabilities. Aoife works on our Ability Programme, securing partnerships with employers and providing training and support to ensure meaningful employment opportunities for adults with Down syndrome. She also works hands on with adults with Down syndrome, delivering intensive pre-employment training, prior to them beginning work, and providing ongoing support while at work. Aoife manages our Beauty in all its Forms Programme, which is a joint initiative with Alfaparf Milano and provides training to adults with Down syndrome,
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 mobile 086 4649 408 and by email at
Lisa Martin - Head of Adult Education
Lisa Martin is our Head of Adult Education and coordinates our Adult Education Programme. Lisa is a secondary school teacher and her career has focused on students’ literacy skills. Lisa has written our work skills adult education course which forms a key part of the Ability programme. She has also taught the Latch On literacy and technology programme in our Limerick branch for four years. She supports adults who wish to progress to further education or would like training in order to enter the workforce. Lisa can be contacted through our National Office on (01) 5632450 or by mobile 086 0126 669 and on email at email@example.com
Olive Buckeridge - Early Years Specialist
Olive Buckeridge has recently joined the Members Support Team as our Early Years Specialist. Olive is also an experienced speech and language therapist with a particular interest in early year’s development. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings and has most recently worked in Down Syndrome Ireland’s Limerick branch where she developed and provided specific intervention programmes. She has also provided specific training to preschool and primary school teachers to promote children with Down syndrome’s successful transition from preschool to primary school. Olive works with children and families to support them throughout their early years up to and including their transition to primary school. She is available to provide advice and support to parents from early development, early intervention services and early childhood
Gavin Mc Donnell - See & Learn Project Leader
My name is Gavin Mc Donnell and I have recently joined the team at Down Syndrome Ireland in the role of See & Learn Project Leader. My core responsibility is to roll out of See and Learn to pre-schools around the country, as well as providing training to early years educators on the programme. Over the course of the year, I will carry out research and evaluate the impact of the programme so we can lobby the Government to have See and Learn rolled out nationwide, within local branches and creches. My background to date is in Psychology, I have completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge and I am now currently in the process of completing my masters at
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.
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
Maura Dolan - Regional Resource Officer - Galway Branch
Maura Dolan is Regional Resource Officer for Down Syndrome Ireland, Galway Branch and works part-time in this role. Maura has for many years worked in various roles supporting people with disabilities, both on the front line and in management roles. Maura also works as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist and brings these skills with her, offering support and information to members of DSG across the life span. An important part of the Resource role is supporting and connecting members with appropriate services and extra support from our National Member support team when needed. The role also involves making and strengthening links with other agencies and services within the community and working together to deliver the best service for our members. Presently Maura is working
Mary Frances O’Dwyer - Regional Employment Officer for Dublin
Mary Frances O’Dwyer is the Regional Employment Officer for Dublin. She works to bring together adults with Down syndrome that are looking to gain meaningful employment with employers who can provide such opportunities, across a range of sectors in the Dublin area. Mary Frances has a background in drama, and for over a decade has been working to support adults with disabilities, in various settings. She has worked in third-level institutions with students who have diverse needs, both in the classroom and in library support. She has taught classes in drama and literacy to groups of adults with intellectual disabilities in day services around Dublin, including guiding groups toward achieving QQI certificates in drama. For Down Syndrome Ireland, Mary Frances has previously worked with the
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. 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 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on (01) 4266500 or mobile 083 4031 817
Anne-Marie Dolan - Senior Administrator
Anne-Marie Dolan is Senior Administrator and receptionist at our national office.
Anne-Marie can be contacted at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (01) 4266500
Deirdre Saul - Chief Financial Officer
Deirdre joined Down Syndrome Ireland in December 2019 as the Chief Financial Officer. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland. Having spent a number of years working in American international companies, she has now decided to bring her skills and expertise to the charity sector. She has volunteered with a number of charities and is involved in her local Credit Union and Scout Group. Deirdre can be contacted at email@example.com or 01 5632454.
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
David Oglesby is our Digital Communications, he brings a number of digital marketing and design 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 marketing campaigns. David can be contacted via email: email@example.com or 086 414 4487
Down Syndrome Ireland has a very small, but very active fundraising team. 86% 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.
Aidan McAuliffe - Corporate Fundraising Executive
Aidan McAuliffe recently joined the fundraising team as the Corporate Fundraising Executive. Having worked in the private sector for 10 years, he gradually moved into the non-profit sector in 2017. He has volunteered extensively with children’s charities and development education groups in Ireland and abroad. As the Corporate Fundraising Executive, he is working with existing corporate partners as well as developing new partnerships, ideas, and initiatives that will ultimately support Down Syndrome Ireland’s large network of members. Aidan can be contacted at email@example.com or (01) 5632458.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 086 0274178.
Gerry Moore - Charity Shop Manager
Gerry joined Down Syndrome Ireland in March 2015 as a Charity Shop Sales Assistant, after many years in the Retail and Hospitality sectors. Applying skills learned in both areas helped him attain the Shop Manager’s position, first as part-time, but now as a full-time Manager in our Finglas and Kilbarrack shops. Ensuring customers are happy and returning is what keeps Gerry going, whilst hopefully increasing sales and building awareness about Down syndrome with the general public. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on 086 411 2603.
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.
Down Syndrome Ireland receives valuable support to fund two team positions through the Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community & Voluntary Sector (SSNO).