Twenty-four political, business, and civic leaders selected for Fellowship Programme

Twenty-four leaders from politics, the business community and civic society across Northern Ireland gathered at Parliament Buildings today for the launch of the Fellowship Programme.

The Fellowship Programme is designed to enhance Fellows’ skills and expertise, with a focus on navigating complexities encountered in leadership in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Backed by some of the most successful businesses in Northern Ireland including Allstate NI, Camlin Group, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, NIE Networks, and Ulster Carpets, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish American Partnership, the Fellowship Programme is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in partnership with distinguished academics and practitioners along with institutions, including Oxford University and the Royal Irish Academy.

Now in its third year, the six-month programme will see the Fellows undertake workshops, seminars and training in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Dublin and Oxford, which will include media training sessions in a newsroom environment, workshops on climate, energy and sustainability, as well as conflict management and negotiation skills. This year’s cohort of leaders will have the opportunity to engage with academic and business leaders, public figures and policymakers to learn how to tackle some of the most pressing social, political and economic issues in Northern Ireland.

Speakers at the announcement of the new Fellows included Head of the NI Civil Service, Jayne Brady, Fellowship alumna Diane Forsythe MLA, economist and author Michael O’Sullivan, as well as Ulster University Professor Karise Hutchinson.

John Healy, Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“The Fellowship Programme which runs each year is a unique opportunity to gather ambitious leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop their own leadership and spark new conversations for progress and innovation in Northern Ireland”.

“In the absence of a functioning government here, a programme like the Fellowship is vital for a time like this as it encourages leaders to have difficult conversations and overcome obstacles together. We need to invest in the game changing potential of our leaders and the Fellowship is a purposeful way of doing just that”.

“It is heartening to see more leaders come forward with a desire to engender change in Northern Ireland whether that be in the political, business or civic sphere, and I am looking forward to watching each Fellow develop and grow over the next six months”.

Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Vice-Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, added:

“This is a programme that this fills me with great optimism for Northern Ireland’s future. Despite our current political stalemate, I am excited to watch this year’s cohort learn from each other’s unique experiences and work together to envisage and imagine solutions and progress for this place that we call home. The Fellowship is a prime opportunity to put our differences aside, form unlikely friendships, and recognise a greater agenda where we can all work towards a shared goal. I am proud to be supporting the launch of this year’s cohort alongside my esteemed colleagues on the Advisory Board”.

The 24 participants of the 2023 CDPB Fellowship programme include:

  • Cllr Rachel Ashe Councillor for Comber DEA (APNI), Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Lisa Beers, Head of Social Value Unit, Strategic Investment Board
  • Cllr Cheryl Brownlee, Councillor for Carrick Castle DEA (DUP), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
  • Jason Bunting, Parliamentary Advisor for Sinéad McLaughlin MLA (SDLP)
  • Cllr Sarah Bunting, Councillor for Balmoral DEA (DUP), Belfast City Council
  • Dorinnia Carville, Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Audit Office
  • Anne Clarke, Finance Business Partner, NIE Networks
  • Beverley Copeland Director, Organisation Development, Ulster Carpets
  • Gareth Edwards, Vice-President, FinTrU Ltd
  • Deborah Erskine MLA, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA (DUP)
  • Martin Fisher, Head of Northern Ireland, Irish League of Credit Unions
  • Chloe Ferguson, President, NUS-USI (National Union of Students UK in Northern Ireland)
  • Ciarán Fox, Director, Royal Society of Ulster Architects
  • Amy Gribbon, Project Manager, Forthspring Inter Community Group
  • Chris Leech, Community Transformation Coordinator, Emmanuel Church
  • Cllr Tierna Kelly Councillor for Rowallane DEA (APNI) Newry, Mourne & Down District Council
  • Martin McAuley, Director of Communications, Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • Christopher McConnell, Head of Programmes, Engagement & Impact, Department for Communities
  • Paula McKernan, Barrister-at-Law, The Bar of Northern Ireland
  • Adriana Morvaiova Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Sensata Technologies
  • Eileen Mullan, Chair, Southern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Áine Murphy MLA, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA (Sinn Féin)
  • Janet Schofield, CEO, CAN (Compass Advocacy Network Ltd)
  • Roísín Wood, CEO, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland