Alfred Abolarin
Alfred Abolarin
Chair, Migrant and Minority Ethnic Council & The African and Caribbean Leaders Consortium.

Alfred Abolarin works as a Strategic Partnerships Manager, leading a Policy, Strategy and Communications team for the Supporting People Programme.

Alfred has an academic background in social policy and criminology and has spent over 20 years in various leadership positions pioneering a number of initiatives, projects and organisations, some of which include Interact NI, ACSONI, African & Caribbean Chamber of Commerce NI, MME Think Tank, and the O2G Foundation. He is the current Chairperson of the think tank MME. In recognition of his contribution to civic life in Northern Ireland, Alfred was invited by HRM, the Queen, and the late Duke of Edinburgh, to a Commonwealth leaders’ event in Buckingham Palace. He has been credited with several community awards for his contribution to race relations, equality, diversity and inclusion in Northern Ireland.

Cllr Ben Mallon
Cllr Ben Mallon
Director, MCE

Ben Mallon is a DUP Councillor on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and a Director of MCE, a strategic communications and public affairs agency.

With experience working at European, Westminster, and Assembly levels, in addition to being a Lisburn & Castlereagh City Councillor between 2014–2019, Ben has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the political and legislative processes across these islands. Prior to joining MCE, he worked for a consultancy firm in the Middle East, advising both government and civil society organisations in conflict transformation. Ben sits as a Board Director of Intercomm Ireland and is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program for Service and Leadership, working with the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC. He is married to Emma, and they have three young children, Annie, Isaac and Matilda.

Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA
Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA
Member of the Legislative Assembly for East Derry/ Londonderry

Dr Caoime Archibald graduated with a BSc in Molecular Biology and PhD by research from Queens University, with a DARD studentship.

She also completed a PGDip in Management & Corporate Governance from the Ulster University. Caoimhe was elected as an MLA for East Derry in May 2016 and re-elected in March 2017 and May 2022. She is formerly Chair of the Assembly Economy and AERA committees. Caoimhe is Sinn Féin Spokesperson for the Economy and prior to being elected in May 2016, she worked in applied horticulture research, highlighting her strong belief in the importance of investment in R&D and SMEs to enable local businesses to compete in a global market.

Charmain Jones
Charmain Jones
Women Spaces Co Ordinator, Northern Ireland Rural Womens Network

Charmain Jones is employed as Women Spaces Co-ordinator (Rural) funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Charmain brings a wealth of experience to her role, having worked for over 20 years in the field of Good Relations, Peacebuilding, Community Development and Youth Development. She has worked at a grassroots level for many years and has represented rural communities at local, regional and international level. Charmain is very well known within the sector and is held in high regard, highlighted recently in 2019 by winning the prestigious Community Relations Council Exceptional Achievement Award in Good Relations.

Conleth Burns
Conleth Burns
Senior Associate, More in Common

Through his role at More in Common, Conleth Burns helps leaders and organisations from across politics, business, and civil society to navigate tricky, divisive and challenging issues by better understanding the public’s values and starting points (particularly those of less engaged groups) on a range of issues – from climate to culture wars.

Conleth an alumnus of the University of Oxford, where he studied law, and the Washington Ireland Programme. He is a trustee of the local community development association in his homeplace of Armoy.

Diane Forsythe MLA
Diane Forsythe MLA
Member of the Legislative Assembly for South Down

Diane Forsythe is a newly elected MLA for South Down area of Northern Ireland. Diane’s career spans the public, private, and third sector, notably as a senior finance manager, law graduate, and chartered account, while being a mother of three.

Her greatest achievement was taking a huge step out of her comfort zone for the benefit of Northern Ireland’s future, running a challenging election campaign alongside all of her responsibilities and delivering an excellent result which transformed her life and career by becoming a newly elected politician earlier this year. Overall, Diane is committed to delivering the best for her constituency and shaping Northern Ireland’s successful future.

Doire Finn
Doire Finn
Senior Constituency Manager, Matthew O’Toole MLA

Doire Finn is a 27 year old from Newry and studied International Politics and Conflict studies in Queens University Belfast.

From university Doire went on to lead the Northern Irish branch of Our Future Our Choice, a young people’s anti Brexit organisation. Since 2020, Doire has been working for the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Opposition Leader Matthew O’Toole MLA, holding the role of Senior Constituency Manager in his South Belfast office.

Don McCann
Don McCann
Strategy Manager, Invest NI

Don McCann is the Strategy Manager for Invest Northern Ireland, responsible for the development and implementation of Invest NI’s corporate strategy and research.

Don has worked in business and economic development for over 25 years, holding roles in international trade and internal operations across a range of industry sectors including tourism, construction and business services. His previous roles include working in DfE and as a business consultant, providing advice to a range of public and private sector organisations. Don holds qualifications in Marketing, Finance and Leadership, as well as a MA in Business Strategy (with Distinction) from Ulster University.

Eoin Bradley
Eoin Bradley

Political Strategy Advisor, Scottish National Party

Born, and still living in Derry City, Eoin Bradley attended Oakgrove Integrated College before studying at Trinity College Dublin. Eoin has previously worked as a researcher and political adviser in various roles including in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the BBC.

Since 2018, he has worked for the Scottish National Party, initially working on Brexit as well as devolved and constitutional affairs, before taking up a political advisory position in the leadership office. He currently serves as the party’s political strategy adviser at Westminster.

 Gina Savage
Gina Savage
Vice Principal, St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick

Gina Savage is Vice Principal in St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick, with 27 years’ experience in education. Having managed her school through the pandemic and cancellation of public examinations, Gina is experienced in leading through complex circumstances.

She has worked tirelessly throughout her career to put her school at the heart of the local community and open doors for pupils in the humanities, leading the school to its specialist status in English Literature. She is actively committed to shared education initiatives and passionate about student voice, ensuring in decision making that young people are heard and listened to.

Cllr Hannah Irwin
Cllr Hannah Irwin
Research and Constituency Officer, Nuala McAllister MLA

Hannah Irwin sits on Ards and North Down Borough Council as the Alliance representative for Bangor West. Hannah graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2019 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and following a brief stint in financial services, worked as Support Services Officer for the Alliance Party.

Having worked in Alliance Party Headquarters during the 2022 Assembly Election, she has recently begun working for Nuala McAllister MLA as the Research and Constituency Officer. Hannah is passionate about social justice, combatting the climate crisis and fighting for equality for all.

Jamie Warnock
Jamie Warnock
Head of Policy and Engagement, Law Society of Northern Ireland

Jamie Warnock is Head of Policy and Engagement for the Law Society of Northern Ireland, working to promote access to justice, uphold the rule of law, and shape the future of the legal profession in Northern Ireland.

As a Finance graduate, Jamie began his career in the investment industry before moving into the public sector. As a civil servant working in The Executive Office, Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Office, Jamie delivered policies and legislative reforms at both Stormont and Westminster on issues such as Legacy, Good Relations, Renewable Energy and Skills.

Jonathan McAdams
Jonathan McAdams
Chief of Staff, NI Fiscal Council

Jonathan McAdams is a senior civil servant, setting up and leading the staff of the newly established NI Fiscal Council, a New Decade New Approach Agreement commitment between the NI Executive and UK Government.

Jonathan was previously a senior civil servant in the Department of Finance and the Northern Ireland Office during the absence of the Executive. Before joining the senior NICS, he held policy and delivery roles in four different NICS and Whitehall departments. He is also a director on the Board of Action Mental Health, a leading Mental Health Charity with over 240 employees and an annual budget of over £7m.

Joy Ferguson
Joy Ferguson
Economist, Department of Economy

Joy Ferguson is an Economist in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Joy has worked in The Executive Office and The Department for Economy, developing and scrutinising business cases for value for money.

In The Executive Office she worked on a range of capital projects including delivering Good Relations in deprived areas, and with ex-prisoners’ to support integration in a post conflict society. Graduating with a Masters degree from Glasgow University, she has also worked in marketing with a focus on brand driven growth. Overall, Joy desires to see a shared society and opportunity for all.

Karen Smyth
Karen Smyth
Head of Policy and Governance, Northern Ireland Local Government Association

Karen Smyth has worked for the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) since 2002 and has been Head of Policy since 2008, taking a particular interest in planning.

Karen has a background in Environmental Health and worked as a local government EHO for 10 years prior to taking up her post at NILGA. Previously a Non-Executive Director of Sustainable NI and Building Change Trust, she was recently appointed as an Assistant Local Government Boundaries Commissioner. Karen holds a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Health, a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and is a Fellow of the RSA.

Michael McConville
Michael McConville
Engineering Manager, NantHealth

Michael McConville is an Engineering Manager at NantHealth, a technology company which empowers the creation of integrated healthcare delivery networks.

Prior to joining NantHealth Michael worked primarily in Financial Services for 16 years, spending most of that time between Citi and TP ICAP. He graduated from Queens University Belfast in 2006 with a degree in Computer Science and in 2011 with an executive MBA. Outside of work he has been married to Catherine for 10 years and we have two young children, Alice and Conor.

Nuala Murphy
Nuala Murphy
Director, Diversity Mark

Nuala Murphy is an impassioned advocate for diversity & inclusion with a commitment to creating workplaces and communities where every person has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard.

A strategic thinker, Nuala has deep expertise in D&I issues both locally and globally, with experience building and leading communities and networks that empower and connect people across divides.

Nuala Toman
Nuala Toman

Head of Policy, Communications, Information, and Advocacy

Nuala Toman is the Head of Policy, Communications, Information, and Advocacy at Disability Action. As a deaf and disabled person, Nuala has worked to close the gap between decision-makers and Deaf and Disabled People.

She is the author of “Progress Towards the Implementation of the UNCRPD” and “The Pedagogy of Lifelong Learning”, as well as a Board member of the NI Museum Council, CnaG, and the Human Rights Consortium. Nuala is also a Council member of CCMS, Vice Chair of Thrive, and a member of the UK UNCRPD Civic Society Steering Group, Reclaim the Agenda and the Women’s Policy Group.

Pádraig Delargy MLA
Pádraig Delargy MLA

Member of the Legislative Assembly for Foyle

Pádraig Delargy is a Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle. Having previously worked as a primary school teacher, Pádraig is passionate about education and building better opportunities for young people.

Since becoming one of the youngest MLAs at the age 25, his top priority is improving mental health services. He currently chairs the All Party Group on Mental Health, aiming to take this work forward as a legislative priority.

Dr Patricia O’Lynn MLA
Dr Patricia O’Lynn MLA

Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Antrim

Dr Patricia O’Lynn is a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Northern Ireland. Patricia is most known as the first woman, in the history of Northern Ireland, to be elected to the constituency of North Anrtim.

Prior to becoming an MLA, she served as an academic researcher, political activist, education consultant, experienced leader, and local government representative. Patricia specialised in the field of school exclusion and recently published a thesis called ‘Mainstreams, Margins and the Spaces In Between: Youth Experiences of School Exclusion in Northern Ireland.’ She also holds peer reviewed publications in the discipline of Children’s Rights. Patricia has a PhD in Education, a Masters in Criminology and a Degree in Law. She is also a Chartered Manager, Regional Representative for the Chartered Manager Institute, and an Executive Level Coach.

Phillip Brett MLA
Phillip Brett MLA

Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Belfast

Phillip Brett is a DUP MLA for North Belfast, having served as the party’s Group Leader on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council since 2014.

First elected in 2013, Phillip holds the record as the youngest Councillor ever elected to Newtownabbey Borough Council. He has worked for the DUP in both London and Belfast, and before his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in May, worked for DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. Outside of Politics, Phillip served as a non-executive director of both the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Public Health Agency.

Cllr Ryan McCreedy
Cllr Ryan McCreedy
Councillor, Derry City and Strabane District Council

Ryan McCready is an elected Councillor, representing the Faughan district electoral area on the Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Ryan is also a Commissioner of the Londonderry Port & Harbour Commission, appointed by the Minister for Infrastructure. He has previously served 20 years within the Ministry of Defence as a regular and now holds a Commission within the Army Reserves. In a business capacity, he is a Counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) consultant within the Defence & Security sectors. Ryan has recently ventured into the eco-tourism sector featuring off-grid and renewable sustainment operating models. He is married with three children.

Stephanie O’Rourke
Stephanie O’Rourke
Deputy Director, Springboard Opportunities

Stephanie O’Rourke is Deputy Director of peacebuilding organisation Springboard. With over 15 years’ experience in cross-community youth work, Steph has spearheaded the design and delivery of successful interventions within and across divided communities in Belfast.

She has significant experience of supporting marginalised groups having also worked within a substance use treatment centre and various homeless projects. A native of Kells in County Meath, Steph has lived in Belfast since 2007 and is a graduate of Queen’s University and University of Ulster. She is committed to contributing positively to youth and community development and is a passionate advocate for youth participation and harm reduction.

Cllr Stephen Donnelly
Cllr Stephen Donnelly
Councillor, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

Stephen Donnelly is 27 years old from Clanabogan in West Tyrone. Since 2019, Stephen has represented Omagh on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and in 2022 he was elected as Chairperson of the Alliance Party and nominated to the Board of the Education Authority.

He sits on the Board of Directors of Omagh Enterprise Company and is a political representative on both Fermanagh and Omagh PCSP and Omagh Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership. He also serves on the Board of Governors of Drumragh Integrated College. Stephen’s interests include rural development, regional equality, good relations, and the environment.

Tara Grace Connolly
Tara Grace Connolly
Researcher, BBCNI

Tara Grace Connolly works for BBC Northern Ireland and served as Ireland’s UN Youth Delegate for the 2020/21 term. Tara Grace is a member of the All-Island Women’s Forum, and an Adult Advisor to the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, having previously served as Chairperson, as well as being Chairperson of the Belfast Youth Forum.

She is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Programme and is a member of the US Embassy Youth Council and works with World’s Youth 4 Climate Justice. In 2018, Tara Grace co-founded “Our Future, Our Choice NI,” a UK-wide campaign calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit.