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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) 

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.

Geraldine McGahey's Register of Interests (pdf)

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.

Neil Anderson's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 March 2023
 

Maureen Brunt

Maureen Brunt
Formerly employed with Ulster Bank, Maureen Brunt has over 25 years’ experience in community development. She currently works as a development consultant and freelance life coach. Passionately interested in the needs of people with disability, chronic conditions and chronic pain, Maureen has recently completed BSc (Hons) Psychology with University of Derby where she won Futures Award Student of the Year 2021.  She is an active volunteer with Integrated Care Partnership and Trillick Enterprise Centre as well as an accredited Methodist local preacher.

Maureen Brunt's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022
 

Lisa Caldwell

Lisa Caldwell
Lisa is Independent Chair to the Interdepartmental Working Group on Historical Clerical Child Abuse. She is also Non-Executive Director with the Fundraising Regulator.  Previously, she was  Director of External Affairs at Belfast City Council and Head of Communications and Engagement at the Social Security Agency, Northern Ireland. She is a Fellow at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and has twenty years’ experience across private, public and voluntary sectors with a range of corporate and consumer brands, working in and alongside government both nationally and internationally.  A Fulbright Scholar, she has researched transactional and transformational digital interventions enabling change. Lisa previously acted as Secretary for Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland and for five years was a member of CIPR Northern Ireland Committee acting as Treasurer.

Lisa Caldwell's Register of Interests (pdf)


Appointed 1 March 2023
 

Siobhan Cullen

Siobhan Cullen
Siobhan has been Head of Department of Law, Public Service and Education at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Donegal for 5 years and, prior to that, was a law lecturer for 17 years. She is currently on sabbatical leave and is employed as a law lecturer with Open University Belfast.

Siobhan previously practised as a legal aid Solicitor in London and is an accredited mediator who holds an MSc in Equality Studies (UCD) and is undertaking doctoral studies in Education and Social Justice. As well as being a Board Member with Donegal Women’s Centre, Siobhan is an assessor with Athena Swan Ireland and is a Mental Health Commission (Dublin) Tribunal Lay Member. 


Siobhan Cullen's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 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 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 Duane is the Secretary and Chief Executive of The Honourable The Irish Society and prior to this, he was the Chief Executive of Relate NI.

Duane Farrell's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 March 2023

 

Ellen Finlay

Ellen FinlayEllen, serving as the Policy and Development Manager at Samaritans Ireland, has over 25 years of extensive experience within the community and voluntary sector. Her expertise spans project management, strategic visioning, and community consultation. Trained as a social scientist, Ellen is deeply invested in promoting social inclusion, equality, and shaping government policy.

Throughout her career, Ellen has been a staunch advocate for various critical issues, including women's participation in policy-making, alleviating child poverty, addressing food insecurity and holiday hunger, advocating for early years investment, and advancing mental health initiatives. Additionally, she is the founder of Policy360: Unplugged, a podcast where she engages with policymakers and experts to disseminate insights on how the third sector can effectively influence policy agendas.

Ellen Finlay's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022

Monica Fitzpatrick, MBE (She/her)

Monica Fitzpatrick
Monica is a retired Civil Servant with extensive experience working in Equality and Social Inclusion Policy in Central Government. She has been Equality Advisor in Department of Justice, Social Inclusion LGBTQI+ Policy Lead in Department for Communities and Equality and Human Rights Advisor in OFMdFM (now TEO). Monica has been Ally Rep on the NICS LGBT Network Committee,  co-authoring the Network's LGBT Language Guide 'Let's Get Better Together' and the earlier Guide to Human Rights for Public Authorities 'Get in on The Act'.

Monica Fitzpatrick's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022

Colin Kennedy

Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy is Chief Executive of 'Jordan's Gift' (a NI Charity assisting young people living with disability). Prior to taking up his current position he has been Chief Executive of the Mary Peters Trust and Chief Executive of Lenken Healthcare (Ireland) Ltd.

He also spent 14 years in the finance industry. He served as Chairman of the General Dental Council Complaints Panel and as Northern Ireland representative on the NHS Pay Review Board as well as a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practice) and locally as a Commissioner on the Parades Commission.

Colin is currently a member of the Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland and also the Appeals Tribunal. He is Chairman of the Northern Ireland Football League. Non-Executive Board Member at the Department of Justice and Chairman of the Departmental Audit and Risk Committee for the Department of Justice.

Colin Kennedy's Register of Interests (pdf)


Appointed 1 June 2022

Stephen Mathews OBE

Stephen MathewsStephen was Chief Executive of disability organisation The Cedar Foundation, retiring in 2021, completing over 30 years’ service. At Cedar he oversaw the development of a range of innovative, award winning, services based on community engagement, participation, and inclusion. Most recently these included Supported Community Living for people with complex needs. He was appointed OBE in 2010 for services to people with a disability. 

A graduate of the Universities of Ulster and Birmingham he is Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualified and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Stephen is a former Chair of 3rd sector leadership organisation CO3, establishing their Health and Social Care Special Interest group during his tenure. Stephen was appointed to the Dept of Health, Patient and Client Council as a Council Member in October 2022, he is an active member of the Council’s Business Committee.

Stephen Mathew's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 March 2023
 
 
 

John McCallister

John McCallister
John McCallister is a land mobility manager for the Young Farmers Club of Ulster and Board Member of the Community Relations Council. He is a former member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

John McCallister's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022
 
 
 
 

Jim McCooe

Photo to follow
Jim McCooe is currently a non-executive director and Chair of the Audit Committee at the Department for Health Northern Ireland. He also holds the Business Improvement Director position at Healthy Kidz. Formerly he was a senior executive at Lloyds Banking Group and held a number of board positions including Trustee of Halifax Foundation and Marlay Trust.


Appointed 1 May 2024
 
 

Sheena McKinney

Sheena McKinney
Sheena  McKinney was  a senior nurse manager with over thirty years’ experience within the public sector. Sheena has extensive experience of governance and accountability both as an operational and strategic leader. Alongside her professional qualifications  she holds the Institute of Directors Certificate in Company Direction and post graduate qualifications in Governance, Leadership, Management,  HR, Audit and Risk. Sheena is deeply committed to working with and through community and voluntary groups to encourage others to apply for roles within public life.  She hopes that her success as a Boardroom Apprentice will act as a catalyst for others to step forward and apply. Alongside her role as an Equality Commissioner for Northern Ireland , Sheena is also a Governing body  member of the Belfast Metropolitan College. 


Sheena McKinney's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022
 

Preeti Yellamaty

Preeti Yellamay
Preeti Yellamaty has over 15 years' experience of working in range of charities in Northern Ireland. Preeti has worked as a therapist for both young people and adults within addiction services in Northern Ireland and currently works as a coordinator in a drugs and alcohol service.  A great believer in helping individuals reach their full potential through collaborative work.  Preeti is also an independent member of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership for Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. 

Preeti Yellamaty's Register of Interests (pdf)

Appointed 1 June 2022
 
 

 

Staff in the Commission

 

View the Equality Commission's  organisation chart (pdf)  

 

 
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