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.

Professor Anne O’ Gara - Deputy Chairperson

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 regularly invited to contribute at conferences and educational colloquia. Her research interests include education and the law, inclusive education, partnership with parents in education and leadership and change management.       

Mr. Paul White

Paul A. White, is a founding member of Ireland’s largest indigenous ICT company DCC Technology, he has held Group, Board and Senior Executive roles for DCC Plc in France, the UK, and Ireland, he has worked with Plc’s, established companies and start-up businesses, focusing on business development, mergers, acquisitions and business restructuring.

Paul is a graduate of the postgraduate Diploma in Corporate Governance from UCD Michael Smurfit Business School, he has achieved Chartered Director (C Dir) status with the IOD (UK & Irl).

He is a founder member of the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland (CGAI), a member of the Institute of Directors (Irl & UK), the Institute of Management Consultants and Advisers (IMCA) and a Fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland (FMII)

Currently employed as a Corporate Governance adviser with Governance Ireland Ltd, Paul is a SWiFT 3000 Corporate Governance Assessor, A lead QMS auditor for (ISO 9001), a Non-Executive Director, business adviser, investor and mentor, he currently specialises in board effectiveness reviews, mediation and Corporate Governance services.

A former Board and Audit Committee member of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, he is currently the Chair of the Children’s Medical Research Foundation Crumlin and an Audit Committee member at the Office of the Attorney General.

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 is currently the Chief Social Work Officer/Deputy Secretary over Social Services Policy Group in the Department of Health Northern Ireland, a post he has held since 2012. In this role he is 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.

Ms. Avril McDermott

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.  

Mr. Charles Watchorn

Throughout his 17-year tenure at Synopsys, Inc. Charles Watchorn built a reputation for execution excellence.  During this period, Synopsys grew from being an $800m company to having global revenue of $2.9bn, more than half of which came from outside North America.  Growth was enhanced by a highly acquisitive strategy such that Synopsys is now the global market leader in the field of semiconductor electronic design automation software.  Watchorn was integrally involved in all the international acquisitions which numbered between 2 and 5 annually over the period.  He was recognised for his work on M&A by being a recipient of the annual CFO Award.

Reporting to the Corporate Controller, his core responsibilities covered finance and accounting in 23 countries across Europe and Asia, along with Shared Services centres in India, which provided a range of accounting services globally including to the Corporate HQ in Mountain View California.  Watchorn was the key executive responsible for implementing and building a shared services function in the company; he successfully hired the leadership team and staffed up the function while migrating the various accounting functions from their home countries and executing the required restructurings thereby fulfilling the mission to build efficient, scalable and sustainable processes.  Charles is Chair of the Tusla Audit 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.

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