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Our Team

Orla O'Connor
Director

Orla O Connor

Email: orlaoc[at]nwci.ie

Orla O'Connor is Director of National Women’s Council (NWC), the leading national women’s membership organisation in Ireland, with over 190-member groups. She was Co-Director of Together For Yes, the national Civil Society Campaign to remove the 8th Amendment in the referendum. For her role in Together for Yes, Orla was recognised as one of the 100 Most Influential People by TIME magazine in 2019. Orla holds an MA in European Social Policy, and after starting out in local community-based projects, has worked in senior management in non-governmental organisations for over 25 years. Orla represents NWC in a wide range of national and international fora. Orla is a feminist, and an expert in the policies needed to progress women’s equality in Ireland. She is an accomplished public speaker, with a strong analysis of public policy. Orla has led numerous high level, successful campaigns on a wide range of issues on women’s rights, including social welfare reform, pension reform and for the introduction of quality and affordable childcare. Orla is passionate about ensuring access to women’s reproductive rights; about ensuring more women are in leadership positions; about ending violence against women; and increasing women’s economic equality.

Sarah Clarkin
Communications and Social Media Coordinator

Sarah Clarkin

Email: sarahc[at]nwci.ie

Sarah's work involves the implementation of communications strategies, with particular regard to NWC's media and press work. Sarah manages NWC's active social media presence, and develops key social media campaigns in line with NWC's Strategic Plan. Sarah has also led on NWC's work with young women, including the high profile #FemFest events. Prior to working at NWC, Sarah completed her MA in Public Affairs and Political Communications, and holds a BA in History and Political Science.

Anne Gibney
Head of Finance and Operations

Anne Gibney

Email: anneg[at]nwci.ie

Anne oversees the co-ordination and overall management of the Finances, office policies and compliance at NWC. She is a member of the Management Team and has worked in senior management roles over 20 years in the non-governmental and private sector. Anne is a graduate of Griffith College Dublin and a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Mary Hayes
Women’s Health Officer

Mary Hayes

Email: maryh[at]nwci.ie

Mary is NWC’s Women’s Health Policy Officer and works towards the improvement of health provision, access, and outcomes for all women in Ireland, in line with the NWC Every Woman strategy. Mary has a particular interest in women’s mental health and helps to coordinate the Women’s Mental Health Network with St Patrick’s Mental Health services. She holds a MSc. in Equality Studies from UCD and a BA in Communications Studies from DCU.

Catherine Lane
Women in Local, Community and Rural Development Officer

Catherine Lane

Email: catherinel[at]nwci.ie

Catherine works to ensure that that women’s equality is placed at the heart of local government reform and alignment processes. She supports women’s participation and representation in local life and works in collaboration with the membership and key stakeholders to take collective action to ensure that the voices of marginalised women are represented in decision making structures locally and nationally. Before joining NWC, Catherine worked for nearly eight years in community development with a local development company.

Emma DeSouza
Women's Leadership Co-ordinator

Emma DeSouza

Email: emmad[at]nwci.ie

Emma DeSouza is a citizens rights campaigner known for reaffirming the birthright provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and achieving substantial legislative changes to domestic UK immigration law. As founder and lead of the WeAreIrishtoo campaign Emma worked in collaboration with Irish, British, European and American politicians to lead the campaign to a successful conclusion. Her areas of expertise are International and European law. She sits as the Vice-chair and Northern Spokesperson for votingrights.ie and is a writer for publications such as the Irish Times.

Sandra Conway
Legal and Policy Officer

Sandra Conway

Email: sandrac[at]nwci.ie

Sandra is NWC's Legal and Policy Officer. She is a solicitor with expertise in public, administrative, regulatory and information law matters. Sandra is a qualified barrister (non-practising) and completed an EMa in Human Rights and Democratisation. She has worked previously in research and advocacy roles in inter-governmental and non-profit organisations in Ireland and overseas. 

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn
Head of Policy

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn

Email: jennifermf[at]nwci.ie

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn is Head of Policy with the National Women's Council of Ireland, leading the development of NWC policy and advocacy work. Jennifer has a background in women’s transformative community education and development, including international development and has been a senior manager in the NGO sector for over 25 years.

Susan McCormack
Administrator

Susan McCormack

Email: susanmcc[at]nwci.ie

Susan’s work with NWC includes Personal Assistant to the Director along with providing support to the Head of Finance and Operations. Susan is the Disability Access Officer for NWC ensuring that all our members and guests can participate in meetings in our building and online. Prior to working with NWC , Susan had worked in Financial Services and more recently with numerous non – governmental organisations.

Sandra McCullagh
Women's Economic Equality Co-Ordinator

Sandra McCullagh

Email: sandramcc[at]nwci.ie

Sandra is Women’s Economic Equality Coordinator with NWC, leading policy and campaigns to address the economic inequalities experienced by women. Her work focuses on the areas of gender and equality budgeting, the care economy, social welfare, taxation and investment as related to women’s economic equality. She has worked in policy, research and advocacy roles in national organisations in the NGO sector for 15 years. Sandra holds an MA in Social Justice and Public Policy.

Helen Mullarkey
Membership Liason

Helen Mullarkey

Email: helenm[at]nwci.ie

Helen liaises with our 180 Group and Individual Members to ensure that their interests within women's equality remain at the heart of our organisation's strategy. With a background in Digital Marketing and PR, she is a keen supporter of Girls & Women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM), partnering up with Business, Organisations and Government.

Hayley Mulligan
Violence Against Women Officer

Hayley Mulligan

Email: hayleym[at]nwci.ie

Dr. Hayley Mulligan is NWC’s Violence Against Women Officer responsible for developing policy positions, submissions, presentations, briefings and information materials on all aspects and forms of violence against women with a particular focus on ensuring the proper implementation of the Istanbul Convention. Hayley holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (Law), a Masters in International Human Rights Law, Bachelors in Public and Social Policy and has nearly 8 years’ experience working in the NGO sector specialising in sexual health education.

Silke Paasche
Head of Communications and Membership 

Silke Pasche

Email: silkep[at]nwci.ie

Silke leads on NWC’s communications and membership work. This includes developing effective Communications and Membership Strategies in line with NWC’s Strategic Plan and overseeing their implementation and integration into NWC’s work overall. Silke previously worked in different roles for homelessness organisations at national and European level. She holds a double Masters degree in Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin and Sciences Po Paris.

Laura Pakenham
Digital Communications and Fundraising Officer

Laura Pakenham

Email: laurap[at]nwci.ie

As Digital Communications and Fundraising Officer, Laura’s work focuses on managing NWC’s digital presence, including social media management, email communications, website & content development, and digital fundraising. Laura holds a BB in Digital Marketing and Sales from IADT, and a BA in Design from NCAD.