Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Our Board

Mr. Pat Rabbitte – Chairperson

Mr. Pat Rabbitte has served as a public representative for 30 years. He is a former Irish Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from 2011 to 2014, Leader of the Labour Party from 2002 to 2007 and Minister for State for Commerce, Science and Technology from 1994 to 1997.

As a member of the Cabinet from 2011 to 2014 serving as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources he held responsibility for key State, commercial and utility companies and major employers including the ESB, Eirgrid, Bord Gais and Bord na Mona.

As Minister for State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment with responsibility for Commerce, Science and Technology during his tenure as a junior Minister, Mr. Rabbitte was involved in enacting legislation which extended the role of the credit union movement.

Mr. Rabbitte was Chairperson of the Cabinet Sub Committee on the Misuse of Drugs which established the National Drugs Strategy in 1997.  In 1993 he was the Chairperson of Dublin County Council.

He is currently a member of the Council of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). Mr. Rabbitte was appointed Chairperson of Tusla by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone. He tenure commenced on the 1st January 2019.

Ms. Avril McDermott - Deputy Chairperson

Avril is a Human Resource and Organisational Strategist with extensive experience across multiple sectors.  Avril was HR Director of Hewlett Packard for over 15 years where she had responsibility for both the Irish and International business units across Singapore, USA and EMEA. 

Previously she held various managerial roles in An Post including Communications, Training and Head of Employee Relations.  She is a Fellow of the CIPD and holds a Postgraduate Qualification in Corporate Governance from UCD.

Currently she is Managing Director of AMHR+ Consultancy which offers bespoke services for small medium and large scale organisations.  She is the current Vice Chairperson of the Board of Clúid Housing, which is Ireland’s largest housing association.  

Professor Anne O’ Gara

Professor Anne O’Gara has had a long and distinguished career of service in Irish education. She was appointed President of Marino Institute of Education (MIE) in August 2006, having previously worked as a Primary Inspector with the Department of Education and Skills and as Assistant National Coordinator of the Home-School-Community Liaison Scheme. Early in her career Anne taught in national schools on the northside of Dublin for more than twenty years. She retired from her role as President of MIE in August 2018.

Anne’s academic qualifications include a B. Ed (1978), M. St. in School Leadership (1999) and Ph.D. (2005). She successfully completed a number of leadership programmes including the Institute of Public Administration, Leadership Challenge Programme and the Innovation Academy Trinity College Dublin, Executive Breakout 2015. In February 2014, Anne was awarded the title of Adjunct Professor in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in recognition of her experience and leadership in the field of teacher education in Ireland.

Anne holds and has held a number of representational positions. She served two terms as a member of The Teaching Council and was a Director of the Central Applications Office (CAO) from 2009 to 2018. She is the Irish Universities Association representative on the Qualifications Advisory Board (QAB) for the Early Learning and Care (ELC) Sector since March 2020.

Anne was appointed to the Board of Tusla in September 2018 and appointed as Deputy Chair in December 2018.      

Mr. Liam Irwin

Liam spent most of his career in Revenue. He served in various roles including Collector-General, Deputy Secretary / Accountant General and for almost 10 years, until his retirement in January 2018, as Revenue Commissioner. He represented Revenue in a range of external engagements, including at EU, OECD and World Customs Organisation and with business and professional bodies in Ireland. He was appointed to the Board of Tusla in 2018.

Mr. Sean Holland

Seán qualified as a Social Worker from Ulster University in 1986 and is a qualified Social Work practice teacher and has a LLM in medical law. He worked in a variety of residential and childcare posts post qualification, before becoming a Senior Social Worker in the Down & Lisburn Trust.  In 2001 Seán was seconded to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to work on the development of a 20 year public health strategy A Healthier Future which set out the vision for health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.

In 2008 Seán moved to the Department of Health’s Social Services Inspectorate as the Assistant Chief Social Services Officer, before being promoted to Chief Social Services Officer in 2010.  Seán was the Chief Social Work Officer/Deputy Secretary over Social Services Policy Group in the Department of Health Northern Ireland, from 2012 to 2022.  In this role he was the lead official for adult and children’s social care and mental health services.

In addition to his work in Northern Ireland, Seán has also undertaken work on child care social work in the Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Jordan and Iceland.

Seán is a Trustee of Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).  He is also a member of the Advisory Group for the International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) and a member of the Programme Advisory Board for the UK Centre for Evidence Implementation for Adult Social Care. In January 2021 he was made a CBE.

He is currently visiting Professor in Social Work at Ulster University.

Mr. Charles Watchorn

Charles has a career background as a senior finance, accounting and operations executive with extensive experience in the U.S. computer software multinational sector.  At Synopsys, Inc., a leading global company in electronic chip design automation, Charles was International Controller for 17 years where he was responsible for subsidiaries in 23 countries across Europe, India and Asia, including Japan.

Prior to this Charles served in senior finance and operations positions in other US multinational companies based in Ireland, notably, for 12 years at Lotus Development Ireland, which had the distinction of being the first of many American software companies to establish operations in Ireland.

Charles graduated with a first class honours BA from Trinity College Dublin and holds a Master’s Degree in Management Science, also from Trinity and in association with the Irish Management Institute.  He is also a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Having served a number of years on the board of St. John of God Community Services clg Charles was appointed Chairperson in 2021.

Charles was appointed to the Board of Tusla in 2020 and is Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Ms. Patricia Doherty 

Patricia Doherty has extensive experience in health and social care service delivery and has held a series of senior management and board roles.

She is a former CEO and Deputy CEO of St. Michael’s House (SMH) one of Ireland’s largest voluntary organisations for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Currently Director of the Voluntary Healthcare Forum (VHF), she supports the Chairpersons and Board members of Ireland’s voluntary hospitals in their collective leadership contribution to health policy, strategy, reform, funding and governance.

She is a board member of Coolmine Therapeutic Community and chairs of the Audit and Risk Committee. She also served as a board member of the National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers and chaired the HR Sub-Committee.  

Patricia has substantial experience in healthcare leadership and management, strategic planning and implementation, corporate and clinical governance, risk management and regulation and building a high performing professional workforce.  

She has developed particular expertise in organisation development, change management and the development of strong cultures of high-quality care.

Patricia has a robust academic background.  She holds professional qualifications in a number of disciplines—clinical, management, organisation psychology, change management and corporate governance – from UCD, Bristol University, Trinity College Dublin, the Irish Management Institute and the Institute of Directors.

She has also trained with Dannemiller Tyson in the US on accelerating large scale organisational change.  Patricia is co-author of Woman-Up, an action plan for female leadership.

Sean Quigley

Sean’s professional background is as a chartered accountant. He has held a number of senior financial roles in large complex organisations, including the Courts Service and Trinity College. He has Masters degrees in Organisational Behaviour and in Executive and Team Coaching. He also has a Professional Diploma in Corporate Governance.

He also has a track record of strategy development and has implemented numerous successful transformational projects. He has developed a long-term strategic vision for the reform of the courts system.

His experience as a board chair and member, as well as audit and risk committee and investment committee membership spans a number of sectors. His experience as a senior leader and expert in corporate governance enable him to add real value to the operation of boards and committees.

Teresa McDonnell

Teresa McDonnell has over 25 years’ experience as a parent advocate. She is co-founder and chair of Sharing the Journey, a national parent to parent support network.

She has significant advocacy, leadership, management and chairing experience locally, nationally and internationally.

Teresa is currently serving a second term on the board of the National Disability Authority (NDA) where she is a member of  the Audit and Risk and the Strategic Planning Committees. 

Teresa has served on the board of St. Michaels House (SMH) as a parent representative and on the board of Down syndrome Ireland.

A family carer for over 30 years Teresa brings lived experience to her work, and has given a parent voice to many national consultations including the Disability Participation and Consultation Network; the Irish Sign Language Review Advisory Group; HSE Pathways for Children who are Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Working Group; the HSE - Task Force on Personalised Budgets, Advisory Group; and two terms as a member of the National Council for Special Education Consultative Forum

Teresa’s professional experience includes I.T. and Business Systems Consultant and Family Centred Early interventionist.

Internationally, Teresa is a Co-chair of the Global Parents of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children (GPODHH) and an advisor to the FCEI International,  Family Centred Early Intervention.

Susan Bowman

Susan BowmanSusan Bowman is a Senior Executive and Technology Strategist that specialises in leading high-growth Digital organisations. She has experience working in Ireland and the US and has worked with some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies including Dell and Novartis.

Susan has worked with organisations to develop strategies that deliver optimised, measurable business improvements through technology transformations from applications to infrastructure that achieve their long-term business objectives.

Susan has held roles as Director of EMEA Service Operations and Managing Director of IT Services delivering 24/7 operations in over 32 countries. She has also acted as a specialist consultant delivering select programs in IT security and Supplier transitions reporting at the managing board level, underpinned by corporate governance, risk and financial management. Her board experience is in the Irish health charity sector and in the private international corporate sector.

She has an undergraduate degree in Economics & politics from UCD, a post graduate in Business and IT from Smurfit School of Business and most recently a graduate from the Institute of Directors Chartered Director program. 

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