Alison Cowzer, Chair

Alison Cowzer is co-founder of East Coast Bakehouse – a new large scale food manufacturing business based in Drogheda Co Louth,  producing a range of cookies and biscuits for the Irish, UK and European markets.

As an investor and Dragon, on RTE’s Dragon’s Den series, she has made investments in a number of start-up enterprises. A co-founder of The Company of Food, Alison also works with small group of High Growth Potential Irish Food SME’s, aiming to generate significant return for both the entrepreneurs and investors through equity investment, mentoring and sharing of food industry expertise.Alison is also a Director of Elivar, a high potential Irish start-up focussed on the sports nutrition market.

Alison also spends some of her time on marketing, branding and strategy projects with a number of NGO’s:  she is passionate about increasing the number of women in politics in Ireland (currently at only 22% in Dail Eireann), and is a board member of Women for Election, a non-partisan organisation that provides training, mentoring and support to women interested in getting involved in political life. She is also a director of the Ronald Mc Donald House Charity, supporting families of seriously ill children.


Clare Duignan

Clare Duignan has over 25 years CEO and senior leadership experience, and has served on the boards of both public and private organisations.

During her career in RTÉ, she worked in a variety of production and management roles across radio and television, culminating in her appointment as Managing Director RTE Radio, which included responsibility for the RTÉ Performing Groups.

Clare is currently a board member of a number of organisations including The Irish Times, the Digital Hub Development Agency, ShinAwil Media, and Business to Arts. A former member of the Arts Council, the Advisory Council of the Abbey Theatre, and the Governing Body of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, she is a member of the Institute of Directors and received the Diploma in Company Direction (Dip IoD) in July 2013

Clare has a strong track record in supporting female leadership and promoting gender balance in the workplace. She has provided consultancy services to the European Broadcasting Union, mentors female start-up entrepreneurs and emerging social entrepreneurs for Enterprise Ireland, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and others, and is a regular ‘External Expert’ on top level interview boards.


Niamh Gallagher

Niamh is Co-Founder & Board member of Women for Election. Before Women for Election Niamh worked as Research and Policy Analyst at the Children’s Rights Alliance in Dublin. There, she was lead researcher and author of the Alliance annual Report Card to Government and represented the organisation at Social Partnership and at Eurochild, the European level network of children’s rights organisations, where she was Chair of the Policy Steering Group. Before that Niamh was a researcher at Demos, one of the UK’s leading think tanks, where she co-authored a series of influential reports.

Niamh is a member of the Science Gallery Leonardo Group. She also sits on the Steering Group of ‘The People’s Conversation’ a national conversation about citizenship driven by The Wheel, the umbrella body of voluntary organisations in Ireland. She was previously a Board member of We the Citizens, a member of the Advisory Council to European Movement Ireland and a member of the Independent Monitoring Board at Pentonville Prison in London. Niamh has been nominated for the Women Mean Business Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the Tatler Social Entrepreneur of the year with Michelle O’Donnell Keating. You can watch Niamh speaking at the 2014 TEDx Dublin event here.

Niamh holds a Masters Degree in Politics from the London School of Economics, a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin and an Executive MBA from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business.

Follow her on Twitter @niamhagallagher


Daire Keogh

Daire Keogh is Cregan Professor of History and Deputy President of Dublin City University.

He has served as President of St Patrick’s College Drumcondra since 2012, prior to which he was Senior Lecturer in the College’s History Department. He has published extensively, on the history of popular politics, religion and education in Ireland. A former Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellow, he is currently Principal Investigator of an Irish Research Council funded project to publish the extensive correspondence of Cardinal Paul Cullen.

Daire is a founding member of the European Quality Assurance Register Committee, the body charged by EU Governments with monitoring quality assurance in higher education across the continent. He is a Chartered Director and is a member of the following Boards: Women for Election; Centre for Cross Border Studies; Edmund Rice Schools Trust; and Dublin City University’s Governing Authority. He is Chair of the Board of St Patrick’s BNS in Drumcondra and Marley Grange NS in Rathfarnham and a member of the board of Management of Clongowes Wood College. He is a member of the Irish Association of the Order of Malta. He recently completed a term as a Council member of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Professor Keogh is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Trinity College, the Gregorian University in Rome and Glasgow University. He has a strong profile as a historian and an educationalist. He has lectured widely at universities in Europe, America and Australia.


Caroline Kirrane

caroline kirraneCaroline Kirrane is a finance lecturer and CFA Charterholder. She holds an undergrad in Business from DCU and an MBA from Trinity College Dublin. She was the co-ordinator of Women for Election’s successful #MoreWomen crowdfunding campaign which raised close to €60,000 for Women for Election in 2017


Deirdre Mortell

Deirdre has built Social Innovation Fund Ireland from the ground up and is also CONNECT’s Social Entrepreneur in Residence. She has twenty years’ experience of changing the world one step at a time. Sometimes by leading and sometimes by contributing in a team setting to delivering high growth or a step change in impact in Ireland’s leading non-profit organisations.

Deirdre has been CEO of ONE Foundation, where she managed €80 million in social change grants over 10 years to 2013, and has held senior roles in fundraising & communications in Oxfam and Barnardos, and held multiple Board directorships.  Uniting all this is Deirdre’s passion for social change, both globally and locally in Ireland, and the power both of philanthropy and the ordinary citizen to change things – often faster than we think.

She especially loves doing start-ups, having done 7 in the last ten years, including Jigsaw and Women for Election.


Lynn Ruane

lynn ruane senatorLynn Ruane is an independent senator serving in Seanad Éireann, a former President of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union.





Susan Shannon

susan shannonSusan Shannon is an experienced international public affairs professional with extensive experience in public policy, advocacy and communications across Europe. Detailed knowledge of EU decision making process with a particular focus on climate, energy and mobility issues.



Margaret Kavanagh, Company Secretary

Margaret has a BA in Economics and Politics from UCD and an MBA from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. She is an AITI Chartered Tax Adviser and has extensive experience in the taxation field, particularly in the financial services area. Margaret held the role of Corporate Tax Director with AIB, with responsibility for corporation tax issues for the banking group. She also held directorship roles in a number of AIB subsidiary companies. Margaret has authored course material for specialist certificate courses in banking and leasing taxation for the Irish Tax Institute. She is a Qualified Financial Adviser. .

Margaret held the position of Chair of Women in Banking and Finance in Ireland from 2012 to 2014. She also served on the committee of Network Dublin for a number of years.