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ECNI

Our structure

Biographies and organisation chart
 

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is governed by a board of Commissioners consisting of a Chief Commissioner, a Deputy Chief Commissioner and up to eighteen other Commissioners all appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

As public office-holders, Commissioners' behaviour and actions must be governed by the principles set out in this Code of Conduct (pdf)  - see register of interests (This is a scanned document in pdf format. Please contact Edel Anderson if you would like a copy of this in another format, email: eanderson@equalityni.org)



Commissioners set the overall strategic direction for the organisation, set the policy framework and oversee the delivery of the planned work.  With the exception of the Chief Commissioner all Commissioner are part time and are appointed for a three year term.

The current Commissioners are:

 

Geraldine McGahey OBE (Chief Commissioner)

Geraldine McGahey
Geraldine McGahey was appointed the Chief Commissioner for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in March 2020, having served as a Commissioner from 2015. 

Prior to this Geraldine was a former Chief Executive of Larne Borough Council and SOLACE gender champion. She represented local government on various regional fora including the Good Relations Panel, Flags Forum, 
Social Investment Fund and the Review of Public Administration. Geraldine has served as a Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission from 2016 through to 2020 and as a Non-Executive Director of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust from 2016 to 2020.

Geraldine is a graduate of the University of Ulster and the University College of Estate Management.

Geraldine was awarded the OBE in 2015 for services to local Government and the Community.

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2025
 

Neil Anderson (Deputy Chief Commissioner)

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson was formerly the Head of NSPCC in Northern Ireland.  Neil has a career history of general management and HR across a variety of organisations and sectors.


Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023
 

June Best MBE

June Best
June Best is a retired head teacher with extensive experience in disability rights. Advocate for Guide Dogs for the Blind and ambassador for Disability NI. She was awarded an MBE in 2018 for services to people with a disability.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Dr Theresa Donaldson

Theresa Donaldson
Dr Theresa Donaldson, former local government Chief Executive. Currently Chair Belfast Harbour Commission, Vice Chair Eirgrid, and member of Health and Social Care Board.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Duane Farrell

Duane Farrell

 

Duane Farrell has been working in the Community and Voluntary sector in Northern Ireland for over 20 years. During that time, he has worked within the LGB&T community, as well as with older people and children and young people. In these roles, he has developed services, led campaigns and worked to influence legislation and policy. Currently he is the Chief Executive of Relate NI. 

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023

 

Helen Ferguson

Helen Ferguson

 

Helen Ferguson has 40 years’ experience in the community and voluntary sector as a volunteer, trustee and paid worker. She was born in Belfast and studied social policy at QUB. She has worked in Liverpool, Buckinghamshire and Greater Manchester, supporting volunteers and community organisations and promoting user and carer engagement.  She was Director of Carers Northern Ireland for nearly 20 years and is a former Commissioner with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Helen is Head of Policy and Influencing Northern Ireland with the National Deaf Children's Society. She has worked as Policy and Campaigns Officer with the National Deaf Children’s Society. A strong believer in collaboration, Helen is an active member of voluntary sector networks including the Coalition on Deafness and the Children with Disabilities Strategic Alliance.

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023

 

Hazel Francey

Hazel Francey
Hazel Francey spent most of her working life with Belfast City Council and led its Good Relations Unit where she had responsibility for equality, community relations, race relations and diversity. Her previous roles within the City Council included community development, policy development, corporate planning and public consultation.
Hazel is a member of the Board of Trustees of National Museums NI and Chairman of its General Purposes & Finance Committee. She is the Chairman of the Board of the Artsekta arts charity and social enterprise organisation.  She is a former member of the Inter-Cultural Committee of the Bryson Charitable Group and a former Board member of the Community Relations Council. She brings equality and social inclusion experience and management skills to the body. She has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Jarlath Kearney

Jarlath Kearney

 

Jarlath Kearney is a strategy advisor in the public sector. In 2018, Jarlath was appointed as a National Expert for the European Commission’s TAIEX Programme in relation to public institutional transformation and legislative reform in the Balkans.  Currently a regular columnist with The Irish News, he has previously served as a Board Member of the Arts Council NI (2015-17), as Special Advisor to the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure (2012-14), and as a Ministerial Policy Advisor in the NI Assembly (2007-11). Jarlath is also a former Board Member of the Community Relations Council and a former Chief Political Correspondent at the Belfast Media Group. He holds Master's degrees in Journalism Studies and in Human Rights Law, respectively. Jarlath is a former Sinn Fein party member.

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023

 

Deepa Mann-Kler

Deepa Mann-Kler

 

Deepa Mann-Kler is an exceptionally experienced public, private and charity sector Chair and Non-Executive Director, having served on 11 Boards across the UK over the past fourteen years. As Chief Executive of Neon and Visiting Professor for Immersive Futures with Ulster University, she specialises in use of immersive technologies for health. As a TEDx speaker and thought leader she regularly keynotes on the intersection of digital transformation, technical innovation, inclusion, ethics, bias, data and AI. Deepa is author of the first report on race discrimination with policy recommendations for the public sector in Northern Ireland "Out Of The Shadows." As an artist Deepa has a strong focus on public art light installations, notably Light Up Leicester 2020, Lumiere Durham 2019, London 2016 & 2013 in Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture.

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023

 

Stephen Mathews OBE

Stephen Mathews
Stephen was Chief Executive of The Cedar Foundation, retiring in 2021 after over 30 years service. Cedar supports over 3000 individuals and families across NI living with disability, autism and brain injury to live the lives they choose. He led Cedar to wide recognition as an EFQM European Excellence Award winner, in 2021 maintaining certification as an Investor in People Platinum organisation. Stephen was appointed OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to people with a disability. A graduate of the Universities of Ulster and Birmingham he is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Stephen is a past Chair of CO3, The Association of 3rd Sector Chief Executives in Northern Ireland. He is NI volunteer advisor to UK grant giving charitable foundation The Henry Smith’s Charity.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Carmel McKinney OBE

Black Silhouette

 

Carmel has held a number of senior roles in education, including Chair of the Belfast Education and Library Board. She is currently Chair of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Board and an independent member of the Policing Board.

Appointed 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023

 

Joseph McVey OBE

Joseph McVey
Joe McVey has recently taken up the post as the Chief Executive of Brain Injury Matters (NI). Prior to this he was the managing partner of Blueprint Development Consultancy Ltd established in 1999. He is also currently a Trustee of the VSB Foundation, a Board member of the Golden Thread Gallery Joe was awarded an OBE for services to the Voluntary Sector in 2010.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Dawn Purvis

Dawn Purvis
Dawn Purvis is Head of Corporate Affairs at Choice Housing. She is the former NI Director of Marie Stopes International and previously served as a MLA and Leader of the PUP.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 

Dr Katy Radford MBE

Katy Radford
Dr Katy Radford is a social anthropologist employed at the Commission for Victims and Survivors. She currently holds one other public Commissioner appointment on the Electoral Commission. She is a member of the Executive Council of the Belfast Jewish Community and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for her contribution to Community Relations.

Appointed 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2022
 
 

 

Staff in the Commission

 

The Equality Commission's senior management team is led by Chief Executive Dr Evelyn Collins CBE (pdf) view the Commission's organisation chart (pdf)   and senior staff register of interests (This is a scanned document in pdf format. Please contact Edel Anderson if you would like a copy of this in another format, email: eanderson@equalityni.org )

 
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