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Board of Directors

Leadership and Governance

GOAL’s Board is committed to maintaining a high standard of corporate governance and is collectively responsible for ensuring delivery of GOAL's mission, setting its strategic direction and upholding its vision, mission, and core values.

GOAL's Board meets regularly and is advised by a series of advisory committees which are chaired by board members and include external experts to ensure GOAL continues to operate at the highest level of effectiveness.

A message from our Chairperson Barry O'Connell

I am deeply honoured to chair the humanitarian agency GOAL, an organisation that has transformed the lives of countless millions of the most vulnerable people across the globe over the last 40 years, and continues to be guided by its core values of Humanitarianism, Courage, Integrity, Respect and Partnership.

Our mission is to help communities respond to and recover from humanitarian crises, and to assist in the development of sustainable solutions to mitigate poverty. Now more than ever the world needs organisations like GOAL as we face the immense challenges presented by Covid-19, conflict and climate change.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to our supporters, donors, partners and our courageous teams who work in the most challenging of circumstances everyday. Your ongoing support, commitment and passion ensures we can continue to positively influence the lives of millions.

Thank you,

Barry O’Connell


Board Members

The Board, all of whom are non-executive directors, is collectively responsible for leading and directing GOAL’s activities.

Barry O’Connell

Board Member & Chairperson

Barry O’Connell is a senior business executive with global experience in driving growth and transformation in emerging and mature markets across Ireland, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia/Singapore.

Barry brings in-depth experience across senior strategic roles to the GOAL Board, along with a proven track-record delivering ambitious business outcomes, while ensuring long-term commercial, social and environmental sustainability. He is passionate about building organisational capability to create value, from talent development, to infra-structure and digitalisation.

Alison Cowzer

Board Member

Alison Cowzer is co-founder of East Coast Bakehouse, and Managing Director of The Company of Food. As an investor and Dragon on RTE’s Dragon’s Den series, she has made investments in a number of start-up enterprises. Alison is also a director of Women for Election and The Ronald McDonald House Charity.

Jemma Houlihan

Board Member

Jemma Houlihan is an experienced non-executive director and finance executive with over 20 years’ experience in growing and managing businesses. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Charted Accountants in Ireland and a member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland qualifying as a Chartered Director.

Jemma was previously Finance Director and founder of Shared Access, a developer of multi- operator telecoms infrastructure and Finance Director and founder of Easy-Cash, bringing the in-store ATM concept to Ireland

Kieran Kelly

Board Member

Kieran Kelly is a Chartered Accountant who worked for 37 years with Ernst & Young where he served on the Irish leadership team, and was a member of the firm’s European Governance Board.

He has significant experience in leadership, driving transformational change and managing complex projects. As a Partner with EY, he had responsibility for clients across a wide range of sectors, including regulated institutions and charitable organisations. Kieran is currently serving as a council/board member to a number of educational institutions.

Mary J Jennings

Board Member

Mary Jennings is an international consultant with 30 years experience in policy, practice and aid management.

Mary’s areas of particular interest include institutional development, aid effectiveness, decentralization, civil society, gender equality and gender mainstreaming, and food and nutrition security.  She has experience of working with a range of  donors, central government, national implementing institutions, local authorities, and NGOs.

Saad Houry

Board Member

Saad Houry is a former senior staff member of UNICEF. Mr. Houry joined UNICEF in 1978 and served in different capacities at country, regional and global level. He was appointed Senior Advisor to the Executive Director in June 2011, after serving as Deputy Executive Director, Programmes.

Since retiring in 2012 Mr. Houry has been helping UN organisations, NGOs and Foundations active in the development and humanitarian assistance fields.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry from the American University of Beirut and a Master of Science in Neurobiology from the University of London.

Sean Fitzpatrick

Board Member & Company Secretary

Sean is currently Group HR Director for John Sisk and Son, Ireland’s largest construction company. Sean joined Sisk in 2016 from Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) where he spent almost six years as the HR Director for the business.

Previous experience includes HR Director roles in the Energy, Financial Services and ICT sectors. Prior to joining the private sector, Sean spent 16 years in the Defence Forces in a variety of positions.

Sean holds a Masters in Human Resource Management and a Diploma in Executive Coaching, both from UCD Smurfit School of Business. Sean is married to Ann and has two adult children, Eoin and Orla.

Tim O’Connor

Board Member

Tim O’Connor is a former senior diplomat who spent most of his career in the Department of Foreign Affairs working on the Northern Ireland Peace Process.  He also served as Secretary General to the President of Ireland, Africa Director, and did a number of overseas postings.

Since his retirement from the public service in 2010 he has combined running his own advisory business with several not-for-profit positions. He was Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Gathering Ireland 2013 and Vice Chairman of Limerick National City of Culture 2014.

Edel Briody

Board Member

Edel Briody is currently Head of Corporate Security, Risk and Compliance at Vodafone Ireland having worked in various roles for Vodafone for the last six years. She has more than 20 years of security experience, during which she primarily worked in the telecommunications industry.

Edel’s qualifications range from Business, Legal, Investigations and Risk Management and she is currently completing the Chartered Directors Programme for directors and strategic business leaders.

Edel is married with two children and enjoys countryside living, reading, walking and catching up with friends.

Brian Fitzgerald

Board Member

Brian FitzGerald joined Simply Blue (a leading Blue Economy Project Developer) in March 2021, as Director of External Affairs and Stakeholder Liaison (Irl).

His position immediately before joining Simply Blue was Officer Commanding Naval Operations and Second in Command of the Naval Service of the Department of Defence, where he has worked in since 1982.

In 2017, Brian planned and coordinated the rescue of over 3,000 migrants during a major humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean Sea, and coordinated and led the search and recovery surrounding the loss of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter and its crew. Brian holds a Masters Degree in Marine and Maritime Law and a Bacheolor's Degree in Law from UCC.

Brona Kernan

Board Member

Brona, an experienced and dynamic leader with a proven track record in leading and delivering complex business and IT transformation initiatives in both start-up and large global organisation, is currently IT Director at Zurich Ireland

Brona is skilled in Strategy, Operational Excellence, Digital Transformation, Data and Analytics, Change Management, Business Process, Enterprise Software, E-commerce and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and in 2012 was awarded a Fellowship by the Irish Computer Society and invited to join the Institute of Directors. Previously in 2005, she was awarded ICT Professional of the Year by the Irish Computer Society.

Brona was appointed to GOAL’s Board of Directors in November 2022 and is already a member of GOAL’s Technology Advisory Board.

Tavengwa Tavengwa

Board Member

Tavengwa Tavengwa is a Partner with EY with over 25 years’ experience advising technology leaders in understanding and appropriately managing IT risks inherent in the digital transformation journey. He has supported large PLCs in managing the IT risks associated with large ERP systems implementation and the implementation/review of IT internal control frameworks.

Tavengwa’s journey began in a low-income suburb in Zimbabwe, where he witnessed first-hand the transformative impact of non-governmental organisations on local communities. This formative experience ignited a lifelong passion for empowering individuals and communities to unlock their fullest potential. Tavengwa also sits on the Board of an educational organisation which provides Senior Leadership training programmes that focus on diversity of leadership styles.