Board of Directors

Marie Cowan, Chair of Integrated Education Fund’s Board of Directors Marie Cowan (Chair)
A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, with a PGCE from Queen’s and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Education and an MA from the University of Ulster, Marie Cowan began teaching in 1968 in St. Cecilia’s college Derry. She became Head of History, Head of Careers and Curriculum Coordinator and also had responsibility for Education for Mutual Understanding.

She was seconded to WELB from 1985-1988 as 11-16 Curriculum Advisor with special responsibility for History and was also a member of the Northern Ireland working party set up to look at revising the syllabus for GCSE History.

Marie became a member of Foyle Trust for Integrated Education in 1990. In 1992 she was appointed Founder Principal of Oakgrove Integrated College, successfully developing the college from a small beginning of just 78 students to an 11-18 college for 850 students. She also oversaw the building of a brand new school which opened in 2004. Both her children attended Oakgrove Integrated College and would firmly believe in the value of integrated education. Marie retired in August 2006. She is a member of the Department of Education Working Party, Towards a Culture of Tolerance in Education.

Marie is also a Director (secretary) of a local Credit Union which works to help alleviate the debts associated with high interest rate credit cards and money lending. Marie is currently a member of the Boards of Governors of three integrated primary schools: Groarty, Oakgrove and Roe Valley.

 

Dr Andrew BiggartDr Andrew Biggart
Andy Biggart is a Lecturer and a Deputy Director of the Centre for Effective Education, School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast. He is originally from Belfast, but spent over 10 years studying and working in universities in Scotland and the North of England, before returning to Northern Ireland in 1999.

His academic background is in educational sociology and social policy. His main research interests and publications focus on issues relating to educational disadvantage, low attainment, early school leaving, young people’s transitions from education to the labour market and comparative European studies. He has conducted research for a wide variety of funders, including the European Commission, the Scottish Executive and the Leverhulme Trust and has served as an advisory board member for a number of Joseph Rowntree Foundation research projects. Recent research includes a baseline study of the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic children in the southern area of Northern Ireland, a major evaluation of an after school literacy programme in West Tallaght (Dublin) and a large comparative study of educational governance and disadvantage across eight European countries.

Andy has two children and has been a governor of Mill Strand Integrated Primary School, Portrush, for over 10 years where he currently serves as Vice-Chair.

 

Ken CathcartKen Cathcart
Ken Cathcart spent most of his working life as an Administrator and Manager in the Electricity Industry. Since 2003, he has worked as a self-employed mediator, trainer and consultant specialising in Conflict Resolution and Community Relations. He worked on a range of issues such as youth justice, disability discrimination, neighbourhood and family disputes and contentious cultural issues within Northern Ireland such as parades and bonfires. He has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies from the University of Ulster and a Master in Business Administration from the Open University. Ken is an Accredited Family Mediator and an Approved Mediator with the UK College of Mediators.

Ken and his wife were founder parents of Braidside Integrated Primary School which opened in Ballymena in 1989. He served as the first Chair of the school’s Board of Governors and was also a Director of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education at this time. His daughters were educated in integrated nursery, primary and post-primary schools. When the family moved to Derry, he became involved in the Parents’ Council at Oakgrove Integrated Primary School and went on to serve as Chair of the Board of Governors at Oakgrove Integrated College for five years – during which time the College moved from temporary accommodation to a brand new school building.

Originally from Enniskillen, Ken now lives in Derry and spends much of his spare time in Donegal. He enjoys Derry’s excellent offering of concerts and plays and welcomes the opportunity to listen to music and radio podcasts while commuting regularly to Belfast.

 

Grainne Clarke web

Gráinne Clarke
Gráinne Clarke, BA Hons, MSc, is a graduate of both Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster. Grainne is a Campaign Manager at Amnesty International UK where she is responsible for developing and managing AIUK’s campaign activity, including public affairs, policy and legislative work, public relations and media in Northern Ireland. Grainne has also managed Amnesty’s interests in Judicial Review on Human Rights matters.

Grainne is a lobbyist and senior communications professional who has worked on a range of local, national and international issues. Her experience spans the Human Rights, Social Economy, Education, Community and Voluntary sectors.Outside of Amnesty, Grainne is a former Vice Chair of Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group and has sat on several management boards where she advised on communications and political advocacy.

 

David Cooke

David Cooke
David was born and educated in Belfast. He studied law at Dublin University before taking his professional exams in Manchester and completing his articles in London. David spent the best part of his legal career in private practice with a short spell in industry at 3i. He has been a partner with both Maclay Murray and Spens LLP and Watson Farley and Williams LLP. David’s practice was mainstream corporate finance with a particular emphasis on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) where his clients were drawn from a number of industry sectors and were both UK and internationally based. He retired from private practice at the end of 2012.

David’s early charity fund raising work began with Co-operation Ireland. In June 2002 he became Chairman of the IEF’s London Fundraising Committee and was a founder member of the Campaign Council when it was formed in November 2008.

For much of his working life he lived in London but now spends his time moving between his homes in Wiltshire and Killyleagh. He is married to Anne and together they share an interest in golf and sailing. David is also a keen fisherman.

 

Roderick DownerRoderick Downer
Roderick Downer was born in County Down, educated in Campbell College and qualified as a chartered surveyor (FRICS), having studied with the College of Estate Management (University of Reading).  He finished his long career in commercial estate agency as a director of Colliers International in Dublin and a member of the Colliers EMEA – (Europe, Middle East and Africa) board.  This involved considerable work and travel internationally.  Much of his time was acting for numerous multi-national companies wishing to establish in Ireland and thus gain a foothold in Europe.

For five years he chaired the disciplinary committee of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute which dealt with a wide range of complaints, either from the public or from other members.  Separately, he was often appointed, mainly by the Law Society, as arbitrator, to settle property related disputes.

Now retired, he is living back in County Down with his wife Nuala and their son.  His interests include fishing and painting and cross-community initiatives.  He is an active member of Lecale and Downe Historical Society.

 

Barry Gilligan Barry Gilligan
Originally from Fermanagh and now living in Belfast, Barry Gilligan has spent most of his working life in the commercial property sector. After graduating in Economics from Queen’s University, Belfast he joined the accountancy profession and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. His property development career began at Ewart Plc where he rose to the position of Chief Executive, playing a key role in major redevelopment and regeneration projects in Belfast and throughout the UK. He went on to set up his own company specialising in urban residential development.

Barry has also contributed significantly to the public and voluntary sectors throughout his career, acting as a board member or as an adviser to numerous public and private bodies and has served as Chairman of Groundwork NI and the Colin Glen Trust. He was one of the founding independent members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, on which he served for almost 10 years. During this period he was unanimously elected to the position of Vice Chairman and subsequently Chairman of the Board.

 

Errol LemonErrol Lemon
Errol Lemon is originally from Banbridge. He was educated at Banbridge Academy and obtained a degree in English and History from Queen’s University, Belfast. His first teaching post was in Newry Grammar followed by three years in Mungwi Secondary School in Zambia. On his return to Northern Ireland, he was appointed Head of History in Brownlow High School where he remained for the rest of his career, until his retirement in 2006. From 1994 – 2006 he was school Principal.

Errol fully supported the transformation of the school to integrated status in 1991 and played a significant role in the debates leading to the change of status. He is convinced that transformation is a viable and desirable option for many schools. In the wider educational sphere Errol has been President of the Armagh/Craigavon branch of the NASUWT, has served on various committees and working groups within the SELB, and has been a member of the Board of Directors of NICIE.

Errol played hockey for Irish Universities, Ulster and Banbridge Hockey Club of which he is a Past President. His main hobbies now are hill-walking and reading.

 

Richard Lemon OBERichard Lemon OBE
Richard retired in November 2016 after 42 years in the civil service, 35 of which were in the Northern Ireland Office. He has a broad range of experience in policy development, Ministerial Private Office and Press Office. As Private Secretary to two Ministers and two Secretaries of State, he has worked closely with Ministers and senior policy advisers at pivotal times in Northern Ireland’s history, including in the lead up to the Belfast Agreement, and at the subsequent political talks at Hillsborough Castle and St Andrews.

In October 2016 Richard was awarded an OBE for services to the Northern Ireland peace process.

He has an Honours Degree in Public Policy and Management and a post graduate diploma in Journalism Studies from the University of Ulster. Richard’s hobbies include family history, walking, listening to music and photography.

 

Paddy McIntyrePaddy McIntyre OBE
Paddy joined the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a Trainee Manager in 1971 initially based in the Bogside. He saw at first hand the early days of the troubles, Free Derry, Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman. He moved to work with NIHE IN Belfast in 1978 and held a range of senior posts including Regional Director, Director of Housing and Regeneration, and Chief Executive (a post held from 1999 until his retirement in 2010).

During his period as Director of Housing and Regeneration he led out the organisation’s first Community Relations Strategy in 1998. The Housing Executive was one of the first organisations to set out its response to the Good Relations part of the NI Act 1998. He also led out NIHE’s Community Involvement and Safety Strategies. He was responsible for the delivery of multi million pound new build, stock modernisation and maintenance programmes and projects.

As Chief Executive he had overall responsibility for the leadership and management of an organisation of 3000 plus with spend of £1bn annually. He took a particular interest in developing the approach to Community Cohesion including the Shared Housing And Neighbourhood Programmes. He was a member of a number of Ministerial/Department groups working on Shared Future Strategies.

During his employment with NIHE he carried out assignments in Palestine and Bulgaria for NICO. He Is a Member of The Chartered Institute of Housing by examination and a Graduate of Henley Senior Management College and of The Federal Institute Charlottesville Virginia USA. He was awarded the OBE in 2010 for services to housing

He is a former part time lecturer at UUJ from 2010 to 2013, and has just finished a period as an External Examiner at Northumbria University. He is Chair of Blackmountain Shared Space Project, a Board member of Intercomm, and a former Governor at Strangford Integrated College. He is currently a Samaritan volunteer where he is also Deputy Director for Outreach Work including schools.

 

Michael McKernanMichael McKernan
Michael is an economist by training and has 25 years of experience working in Government, North and South, in the Irish energy sector and in strategic communications.  He has a BSSc (Economics) and MSSc from Queen’s University, Belfast  and a range of other qualifications including a postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Statistical Methods from Trinity College, Dublin.

He is founder of BMF Business Services, an independent Northern Ireland communications consultancy/ publishing house.  BMF offers event management and communications consultancy services and publishes a number of regular titles including ‘AgendaNI’ public policy magazine.

In his earlier career Michael was a professionally qualified Housing Manager in the NI Housing Executive.  He subsequently joined the Department of Finance in Dublin where, after a spell in Public Expenditure Division, he became an Irish Government trade negotiator in Brussels and Geneva and a Director of the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).  He later returned to Northern Ireland to become Interconnector Business Manager for Northern Ireland Electricity during which time the existing North/South electricity Interconnector was restored (after a long outage) and the NI interconnector with Scotland was built.  He subsequently spearheaded NIE’s entry into the Southern Irish electricity market, lobbying intensively in Dail Eireann and elsewhere to create the legal and regulatory conditions under which the company’s new independent Power project could succeed.  Since then he has advised many energy organisations and has written extensively on energy and other areas of public policy.

In more recent times Michael stepped outside BMF when invited to serve as Special Adviser (SpAd) to Northern Ireland’s Social Development Ministers (Margaret Ritchie/Alex Attwood) and later Environment Ministers (Alex Attwood/Mark H Durkan).  He has had the experience of attending Stormont’s Executive meetings for almost 6 years.

Outside of work Michael pursues a strong interest in early Irish heritage.  He has 3 children and lives in Lurgan, Co Armagh

 

Ellen McVea
Ellen McVea has recently retired as vice principal of Shimna Integrated College, having taught English there since the school’s foundation in 1994.  She has also served three terms as staff governor.  She previously taught in Methodist College in Belfast and Enniskillen Collegiate School.  She was a member of the founding group of Erne Integrated College and was a member of All Children Together from the mid-seventies.

Ellen attended Friends School, Lisburn, the University of Durham, Liverpool University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Ulster and has held school teacher fellowships at both Oxford and Cambridge universities.  She was previously an active member of Women in Education and the Women’s Development Network.  She comes from Whitehead and lives in Newcastle, County Down.

 

David ThompsonDavid Thompson
David Thompson has had extensive involvement in community and cross-community organisations and has experience in the funding and financial management of such groups.

He was a secondary and further education teacher (science, maths and technology) before joining the national programme of in-service teacher training (Microelectronics in Education Programme, Department of Education and Science; and then National Electronics and Microelectronics in Education Centre, Southampton University). He is also a Radio Amateur (Radio Ham), GI8JOA.

He is the business manager for a GP practice in which his wife is one of the full-time GP Partners. He is a self-employed Chartered Electrical Engineer and a Certified Mediator with the Mediators Institute, Ireland (Workplace and Organisational).

David devotes a significant amount of his time and expertise to voluntary community work in a variety of spheres. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of NICIE and the Council of the Mediator Institute Ireland and founding member and former Chairperson of Little Oaks Pre-school Playgroup. He is currently Vice-Chairperson of Bridge IPS Board of Governors, Chairperson of Killicomaine Junior High School Board of Governors and a Policy Council Member of the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation, Wicklow.

 

Dorothee WagnerDorothee Wagner

Dorothee Wagner moved from Germany to Northern Ireland in 1990 and worked as PA to the Managing Director of a major printing company in West Belfast.

She is a qualified English/German interpreter and translator. She obtained her Masters in Business Administration Degree, MBA with Distinction, in 1999 and in 2000 was awarded the Guinness IMI Sir Charles Harvey Award. In 2004 she studied at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and completed the Leaders for Tomorrow Programme.

Dorothee was employed by PROTEUS NI Ltd for 16 years and was programme manager for the Peace II Programme. She is experienced in programme development, assessment, evaluation, monitoring and verification, and has a wide knowledge of the European Union funding landscape. She furthermore promotes Open Space Technology as a tool for interactive conferences and events, and is also licensed to train users of the RickterScale®, a motivational assessment and evaluation tool measuring soft outcomes.

In 2008, she joined the Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting (CAR) Team at the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), where she is responsible for co-ordinating a wide variety of team activities in relation to computer-based assessments in literacy and numeracy for primary pupils and for supporting primary schools in recording progress of pupils and reporting to parents.

Dorothee is currently a Governor of Malone Integrated College, Belfast, a member of the Carrickfergus, Antrim & Newtownabbey (CAN) Peace III Partnership and chairs the IEF’s Grants Committee.