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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

Vice Chairperson

Alison Cowzer is GOAL's Vice Chairperson, 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.

Chris Clinch

Board Member and Company Secretary

Chris Clinch was founder and CEO of GSLS, a highly successful Irish cash logistics company serving a broad range of industries including retail, hospitality, financial institutions and the public sector. Selling the business in 2018, Chris joined the GOAL Board in 2019, bringing a wealth of business experience and knowledge with him.

Jemma Houlihan

Board Member

Jemma Houlihan is an experienced non-executive director and finance executive with over 20 years’ commercial experience in growing and managing businesses. She is non-executive director of Vilicom, a wireless consultancy business in Ireland and the UK, and also sits on the Chartered Accountants Members in Business Committee.

Jemma was previously Finance Director and founder of Shared Access, a developer of multi-operator telecoms infrastructure.  Jemma is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Jimmy Deenihan

Board Member

Jimmy Deenihan is a former Kerry footballer and Government Minister who served as Minister for Arts, Heritage and The Gaeltacht;  Minister for Rural Development and Food and Minister for The Diaspora during his political career.

Before entering politics in 1983 he taught physical education, history and geography at Tarbert Comprehensive School in Co. Kerry. He played Gaelic Football with his native Kerry at all levels from 1970-1983. He continues to coach underage football teams, and serves on the Boards of a number of voluntary organisations.

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.

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.

Brian Fitzgerald

Board Member

Brian has worked since 1982 in the Naval Service of the Department of Defence where he has had a mix of operational and more strategic assignments. His most recent position is Officer Commanding Naval Operations Command and Second in Command of the Naval Service. In 2017, Brian planned, organised 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.