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NALA Board

NALA’s Board meets seven times a year and is made up of the following members:

Margaret Kelly, Chairperson

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 and up to 2003 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, the Adult Educational Guidance  Service and the appointment of Community Education Facilitators. She was the education representative on various inter-Departmental Committees on tacking poverty and unemployment, homelessness, childcare, and meeting skills needs.

Maria O'Gorman, Vice Chairperson

Maria O’Gorman is from Listowel in County Kerry. For many years she worked as an accountant for a manufacturing company. She does a lot of work in the adult education sector and represents adult learners on a variety of committees and she is on the board of Kerry Education and Training Board (ETB). Maria is also on the board of Irish Rural Link, which is the national network representing rural communities.

Pat Ayton, Honorary Secretary

Pat Ayton has been involved in adult literacy since 1980 when she completed tutor training with the City of Dublin Adult Literacy Service. She worked as a volunteer tutor and later as a group tutor, delivering classes in literacy and numeracy in Colaiste Dhulaigh , Coolock. In May 1991 Pat was appointed Adult Literacy Organiser on a fulltime basis, with responsibility for adult literacy provision for the greater Coolock/Darndale area. She continued in that role until November 2016, when she took early retirement from the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB), in order to pursue other things. Pat holds a BSc in Education and Training and an MSc in Education and Training Management from DCU. Pat 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 at all and it is for that reason that she continues to be actively involved in NALA.

Ciaran Casey, Honorary Treasurer

Ciaran Casey is the Head of Digital Channels at AIB where he has responsibility for Mobile and Internet Banking, iBusiness Banking and Group Websites. Prior to this he held a number of roles across the Products and Propositions functions with his most recent previous role being Group Head of Deposit and Current Account Products. Ciaran is a Chartered Banker and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder. Ciaran joined the Board of NALA in March 2020.

Members of the Board

Anna Tuohy Halligan

Anna Tuohy Halligan has been a member of Tipperary Education and Training Board (ETB) for 17 years and a member of NALA for four years. For the past 12 years she has been a Community Development Worker in a Family Resource Centre. The centre is in the middle of a Local Authority Housing Estate and Anna’s role is to provide help and support to residents and organise training and education. The centre enables people to be more self sufficient and gain self-esteem.  She is also Secretary to her local Credit Union and Chair of the Board of Management of her local ETB school.

Catherine Devlin

Catherine Devlin is an adult literacy student from Buncrana in County Donegal. She worked in a shirt factory from the age of 15 years having left school early after struggled daily at school. Catherine started back to education in 2013 on the ‘Learning for Living’ programme with Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB). She worked her way to doing the Junior Certificate through day, night and summer classes. She really enjoyed learning this second time around.  She found that tutors had kindness, patience and an understanding of pupils who had struggled at school from an early age. This made going back to education a pure joy for her. In 2017, Catherine gave a talk at an ETB event in Letterkenny and then joined NALA’s Student Subcommittee. She is currently vice-chairperson of the Subcommittee. She looks forward to being the link between the Student Subcommittee and the Board and learning more about all NALA’s work.

Celia Rafferty

Celia Rafferty is an Adult Education Officer (AEO) with the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB). Her work involves the management of adult literacy, community education, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), adult education guidance, skills for work and various basic education programmes delivered by the Adult Education Service. Prior to being an AEO she was an Adult Literacy Organiser (ALO) and literacy tutor with CDETB. She has in excess of twenty-five years of experience in the field of adult literacy and community education. She is a former member of the NALA executive where she represented NALA on two different EU Grundvig Projects: one on Family Literacy and another on Dyslexia. She would very much welcome the opportunity to join the Board and help further the work of NALA.

Elma Teahan

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 has held roles in initiatives such as the Junior Achievement Ireland programme and, more recently, KPMG and Children’s Books Ireland’s ‘Bold Girls’ programme. The ‘Bold Girls’ programme is delivered through a series of workshops and aims to break down societal barriers and to instil confidence in girls by showing them female characters in children’s books with passion, power and opinions.

Elma was delighted to join the NALA Board in December 2020 to continue making a difference in education by supporting adult literacy and numeracy in Ireland. Elma is also a member of the audit, risk and finance committee of the Board.

Frances Ward

Frances Ward has been involved in Adult Literacy since 1977. At that time, she was employed as a Remedial teacher by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (CDVEC) and, responding to local demand 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. In 2005, Frances completed a Masters in Adult and Community Education in Maynooth which looked at accrediting the learning from lifeworld experiences of adults attending Adult Literacy Services. Frances retired in 2015 and since then has been involved as a volunteer tutor in the Barnardos WOW programme which helps children in 1st and 2nd classes in Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) schools to improve their reading skills.  She is currently chair of Turas Training, a day programme in Bluebell which supports adults in recovery from addiction.

Gwen Redmond

Gwen Redmond volunteered as an adult literacy tutor in the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (ETB) Adult Education Service in Crumlin in 2003 and since then has been involved with the service as a Tutor, Tutor Trainer and Adult literacy Organiser. She has a degree in Psychology, and a Higher Diploma and a Masters in Adult and Community Education. She has an interest in policy making and recently undertook a Professional Certificate in Evidence Based Policy Making in UCD and currently sits on the NALA subcommittee for policy making. Gwen is interested in the Capabilities Approach, advocated in the Literacy for Life document by NALA, and sees the new Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Skills strategy as an opportunity to integrate this approach. Gwen is also an executive member of the Adult Literacy Organisers’ Association (ALOA) and has a keen interest in advocating for the profession itself.

Hazel Cryan

Hazel Cryan is a chartered accountant and she is currently a Director in KPMG’s Corporate Finance practice, which specialises in advising on transactions of national and international significance. She holds a Business degree and a Masters in Accounting from UCD. She has been a guest speaker at many conferences and events including Going for Growth, National Digital Week and Cork IT’s cryptocurrency forum. She was also a judge and mentor for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is an Adult Literacy Organiser in Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB). He has previously worked as as a literacy, numeracy, computer and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tutor. He has liaised on various projects with NALA over the years and has frequently given workshops at NALA conferences. He has also helped with NALA’s Student Days and helped to organise GRETB and NALA radio advertisements featuring local learners. He was also involved in literacy and numeracy research projects with NALA and on Erasmus+. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law and Economics from National University of Ireland Galway, a postgraduate diploma in post-primary education from Hibernia College, Dublin and a Certificate in English Language Teaching. He has also completed literacy modules at Waterford Institute of Technology. He wishes to see more collaboration between NALA and the ETBs and is looking forward to the opportunity to foster further co-operation through his role on NALA Board.

Lynne Keery

Lynne Keery has worked in Adult Education since 1995 when she began teaching with Co. Louth VEC, and she now works as Adult Education Officer with GRETB.  Throughout her time in Adult Education, she has taught many learners across various services – Literacy, BTEI, VTOS.  She has seen how in life people face many barriers when participating in society, accessing education, or getting a job and sometimes the barrier caused by literacy difficulties can be the most restricting.  It can stop people from considering applying for a course, it can impact on individual confidence in short it can prevent people from achieving their potential.  Ensuring that every person that needs literacy help can access that at a time that suits, in a place that suits and in a way that suits is one of Lynne’s fundamental beliefs and it is important that this work is supported.

Mary Maher

Mary Maher is Director of the Dublin Adult Learning Centre (since 1993). She has over 30 years of experience in adult and community education. She started her career working with the Travelling community and spent 5 years working with early school leavers and has working in the north inner city for 27 years in her current position. She was chairperson of NALA for 6 years (1997-2003). She is passionate about adult and community education and its role in combatting inequalities and exclusion. She believes it has a huge role to play in breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. DALC strives to put the learner at the centre of all its work, which is underpinned by values of inclusion, social justice and transformation. Lifelong learning for sustainability and digital literacy are central themes in DALC’s current Strategic Plan.

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