2022 Board Nominations

April 7, 2022


Get ready to vote

We are delighted that we received the following 16 nominations to our Board. As you will see, they have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and most importantly a common believe that literacy is a human right.

As there are only eight places available for director positions, there will be an election at our AGM. So, have a read of this information and get ready to vote.

Please note: To be eligible to vote, you need to be an active member of NALA at least one month before our AGM, that is, by 30 March 2022. Please contact our Membership Officer, Margaret Murray if you want to check your membership, at mmurray@nala.ie.

Margaret Kelly


Margaret Kelly retired from the Department of Education and Skills in 2012. Her work there included responsibility for policy, funding and monitoring of programmes aided under the European Social Fund, (1989 -1998), Further and Adult Education, (1998-2003) and more recently, curriculum policy and developments at first and second level education. During the 1990s Margaret was the Principal Officer with responsibility for a major expansion of Further Education and Training – Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), Youthreach, Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) and adult literacy provision, and the introduction of the Back to Education Initiative.

As the number of candidates is not more than the number of positions vacant there will be no election for Chairperson.

Pat Ayton

Honorary Secretary

Pat Ayton has been involved in adult literacy since 1980 and worked as an Adult Literacy Organiser with responsibility for adult literacy provision in the Coolock-Darndale area. Pat holds a BSc in Education and Training and an MSc in Education and Training Management from DCU and has lectured on the Education and Training degree programme in DCU. She has been committed to adult literacy and improving services offered to adults returning to education in order to improve their skills and their life chances for 36 years. On retirement her passion has not waned and it is for that reason that she continues to be actively involved in NALA.

As the number of candidates is not more than the number of positions vacant there will be no election for Honorary Secretary.

Directors – 16 nominations for 8 vacancies


Aoife Foley

Aoife Foley is the National Education Worker with National Traveller Money Advice and Budgeting Service (NTMABS). Before joining NTMABS she worked in adult and community education and has a background in human rights law. Aoife is a passionate advocate for literacy, numeracy and digital skills and has worked as a voluntary literacy tutor in Kerry and Dublin.

Dr Daithí Ó Murchú began his teaching career in the 1970s and up to 2022, he has been elected, appointed and contracted to numerous positions nationally and internationally. Since retiring in 2014, he has had the privilege of leading, coordinating and facilitating National, European and International teams, projects and initiatives in all areas of 21 Century teaching, learning, inclusion, disadvantage, diversity, disruption, multiliteracies, STREAMS education, sustainability, biodiversity, wellbeing, consciousness, innovation and transformation in Digital and Green environments. He also acts as an EU expert consultant in Digital and Green literacies and is coordinator of the Government’s Summer literacy camps and creative clusters in disadvantaged schools.


Dr Eleanor Neff has worked in adult education for 21 years with a focus on literacy work for the past 14 years; beginning as a voluntary literacy tutor with Kerry Education and Training Board (KWETB). As a tutor with KETB, she delivered a wide range of literacy courses and worked on the Refugee Resettlement Programme.  In 2020, she worked with NALA’s Distance Learning team and on NALA’s Marking Progress project. Eleanor joined the Literacy Development Centre in Waterford Institute of Technology in August 2021. She would welcome the opportunity to join the NALA board and support their valuable work.

Elma Teahan is a director in the Financial Services Audit department in KPMG. A chartered accountant, Elma also holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University College Cork (UCC). She has 12 years’ experience providing audit, assurance, accountancy and advisory services to clients in insurance, investment management, banking and other sectors. Elma is an advocate of education and inclusion and diversity. She was co-opted to NALA’s Board in December 2020 to make a difference in education by supporting adult literacy and numeracy in Ireland. Elma is also a member of the Audit, Risk and Finance sub- committee of the Board.

Frances Ward

Frances Ward has been involved in Adult Literacy since 1977. She set up one of the first VEC supported Adult Literacy services in Crumlin College as part of the night school. In 1994 she was appointed fulltime Adult Literacy Organiser for Dublin City South West. This allowed the service to move out into the community. Frances believed that adults coming back to improve their literacy skills deserved the best and, to ensure the quality of tuition, was involved in developing and constantly improving the Tutor Training Course delivered to Volunteer Tutors. She was active in setting up the Adult Literacy Organisers Association and was Chair of NALA from 2003-2007.

Helen Walsh is a Literacy Resource Worker with Kilkenny Carlow ETB since 2007, and was previously a part-time tutor. She holds an Honours Degree in Business, is CELTA trained and has completed a range of modules from the WIT Literacy Development Programme. She has been involved in the co-ordination of ESOL for Sudanese, Syrian and Ukrainian Resettlement; general ESOL and family learning and literacy training. She has co-facilitated workshops for NALA, Féilte 2021 and national home school co-ordinators and was the lead worker in a project shortlisted for Aontas 2022. She has served on school board of management and was a director of a community development company.

Helen Walsh

Jacqueline Carroll works part-time with early school leavers aged between 16 and 21, in a Community Training Centre in Nenagh.  She was a mature student in Waterford Institute of Technology where she studied and qualified in Literacy Development and gained a degree in Education and Training. She is also trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language; Train the Trainer; Administration and has a thorough knowledge of and experience in QQI. She has sat on Boards of Management in the past and if successful, she will commit fully to the role as she has the drive and the time to do so.

Karl Quinn has worked in the area of further education and training since 2000.  He is part of the Adult Literacy team with Limerick and Clare ETB. He has worked as an Adult Literacy Organiser, resource worker and ESOL tutor.  He has worked on Refugee Resettlement Projects, organised ESOL programmes for refugees, asylum seeker and migrants and was chair of Clare VEC Professional Development Committee for 10 years. He taught on the Waterford IT literacy development programme from 2003 to 2013.  In 2016, he was called to the Bar of Ireland and commenced practice as a Barrister in 2017.  He continues to work part-time with Limerick and Clare ETB.


Kieran Lynch has worked in social care for the last six years. He has a background in psychology and counselling. During his time as a social care practitioner, he worked with a variety of people with different needs and aspirations in life but a common goal was educational pursuits and the betterment of themselves. During his time as Neuro-rehabilitation in Headway he assisted clients in IT needs and they used NALA’s online educational platform on a daily basis and he was in awe on how they flourished during that time. In his latter career as a housing support worker he used the platform to help clients who never had the opportunity of formal education.

Laura Sahm is the Vice Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Acting Head of Clinical Pharmacy Practice, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, Director of the MPharm Programme and Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Committee. From 2018-2021, Laura was appointed to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) by Ministerial Appointment (Simon Harris TD) as a lay member of the Board. She has served as a member of the Education, Training and Standards Committee, Audit and Risk Committee as well as The Fitness to Practice Committee of the NMBI.

Maurice Sammon

Maurice Sammon knows all about the fear and stigma around having unmet literacy needs. He left school early and went straight into work without the ability to read or write, and spent the next forty years hiding that fact. Since returning to education in Waterford ETB he has never looked back and now works to raise awareness of services and supports available nationwide. He has taken part in national literacy awareness campaigns and has done countless interviews with the Irish media to promote the benefits of literacy learning. He is currently a member of NALA’s student subcommittee.

Mike Gogan is a writer and editor at one of Ireland’s banks. He is its advocate for plain language, translating “bankspeak” into more human and natural language. Mike has received two of NALA’s awards for his work in plain language and brings years of skill to promoting financial literacy. The NALA Board will have a safe pair of hands as Mike is an experienced board director.

Trish nolan

Patricia (Trish) Nolan has worked in the public library service for over 30 years and has an active interest in adult literacy. During her time in Kilkenny Library Service she worked as a volunteer tutor and brought these skills to the workplace. Projects she developed include the Six Book Challenge and Storysacks initiatives – both of which were shortlisted for Aontas Star Awards. Currently she works as Executive Librarian with Carlow County Library Service, and is very active in her role as Right to Read Coordinator. She is currently managing the Literacy-Friendly County Carlow research project which is due to launch in May 2022.

Stephanie Kirwan holds a M.Sc. in International Development, a Post Grad in Programme Design and Validation for Further Education, a B.Sc. in Public Health and Wellbeing, a Certificate in Recognition of Prior Learning and other qualifications in community development. She is the Senior Education and Training Manager with Meath Partnership responsible for the development and management of a range of social inclusion, rural development, volunteering, business development and human resource management programmes. Stephanie is responsible for overseeing Meath Partnerships Erasmus+ projects, QQI programmes and Development Education programmes. Stephanie has practical experience in inter-agency co-operation, educational development, program implementation and evaluation.

Tom O'Mara

Tom O’Mara is Head of Digital Education in University College Cork. He manages the Centre for Digital Education, which provides support to staff around the best application of technology to learning. An educator for over 27 years, Tom has worked as an English language teacher at third level in Thailand, Egypt and Ireland; Lead Instructional Designer in elearning companies; Series Editor, Instructional Designer in TV production; and Distance Education Co-ordinator for nine years with NALA. Tom led the design and development of www.writeon.ie, supported development of 14 prime time TV series about literacy on RTÉ, and managed a team of 30 literacy tutors.

Tracey Reilly is a member of the Traveller community. Tracey was an early school leaver but continued in education through different routes, going to third level education as a mature student and successfully completed her degree with a First-class Honours. She completed a Batchelor Degree in Community & Youth Work in Maynooth University. She previously worked in a number of jobs, including with Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre. Tracey is currently a full-time Education Development Worker in Pavee Point.  She is passionate about human rights, equality, and education and as a Traveller woman sees the importance of education in progressing the rights of Travellers.

Tracey Reilly

Can’t attend?

If you cannot attend our AGM online, you can:

  1. Nominate someone, known as a Proxy, to vote on your behalf at the AGM, or
  2. Send us your votes and nominations by completing a Proxy form.

You must complete and return the Proxy form to us by 11am on Thursday 28 April 2022.

What to do next?

  1. Register for the NALA AGM by 22 April 2022
  2. If you cannot attend the AGM, return the Proxy form by 11 am on Thursday 27 April 2022.

Do you have a question or need help or documents?

If you have a question, need help or want documents posted to you, please contact Margaret Murray, NALA Student and Membership Officer. Margaret’s phone number is: 01 412 7928 or you can email Margaret at mmurray@nala.ie.

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