Board of Directors
Jacqui Browne – Chairperson
Jacqui is Chairperson of DESSA. She has over 30 years' experience working at local, national, European and international levels as a disability equality activist and consultant. She is a former member of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, whose 1996 report, A Strategy for Equality, remains a blueprint for disability rights in Ireland.
Jacqui was recently appointed as a member of the Disability Advisory Committee on the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, regarding the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. She is also a board member of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Irish Thalidomide Association. She is also actively involved as a patient advocate in I.P.P.O.S.I. – the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry and is a Fellow on E.U.P.A.T.I., The European Patient Advocacy Training Initiative.
Brian Miller – Treasurer
Brian Miller B. Comm. M.Sc. Dip. Counselling, N.D.I.R.S. has considerable experience of managing and organising services and supports for people with disabilities. Previously, he worked for 24 years as a Regional Manager on the National Rehabilitation Board, with responsibility for training and employment of people with disability. He was also a Senior Policy Adviser on Training and Employment with the National Disability Authority and Disability Manager with the Health Service Executive, with responsibility for residential, day and home supports services for people with disabilities.
Susan Carton, St. Angela’s College, Sligo Programme director B.A. (Health and Disability Studies) and B.A. (Disability Equality Studies). Susan Trained as a nurse for people with intellectual disabilities in Scotland in the late 1980s. On her return to Ireland, Susan worked for the Daughters of Charity in Dublin where she undertook a B.A. in Health Service Administration with the Institute of Public Administration. This was followed by an M.Sc. in Intellectual Disability Studies at the University of Birmingham.
Susan moved to the School of Nursing in Cregg House in 2002 and has been working in St. Angela’s College, Sligo, since 2003. In 2009/2010, in Partnership with Peter and DESSA Susan worked on the first Disability Studies degree - B.A. (Health and Disability Studies) which is a three-year, full-time course.
In 2014 the same team developed the B.A. (Disability Equality Studies) which is a four-year online, part-time programme. St. Angela's also deliver a one-year level 7 Certificate in Disability Studies and are in the process of having a Master's programme in Disability Studies approved.
As well as membership of the DESSA board, she is also involved in the Irish Disability Studies association, the Sligo Disability Network and the Leitrim Disability Equality Network.
Martin is a member of the Board of Vision Sports Ireland (V.S.I.) and the National League of the Blind and also the N.L.B.T.I. Martin is involved at a local level with N.A.G. (Newbridge Access Group) and represents the disability wing on Kildare's Social Inclusion Steering Group which is linked to the C.K.L.P. and the local Authority P.P.N.
Geraldine is an Autism Specialist, Advocate, Transition Coordinator and Trainer, with a long involvement in the areas of awareness, support, education, transition coordination, and training.
Geraldine has many years experiences of working with parents and young people on the autism spectrum, policymakers, educators, health professionals and government agencies.
Geraldine delivers the A.B.C. of Autism Course in the B.F.E.I., and designs and delivers bespoke workshops for parents, parents, educators, healthcare professionals and employers.
Geraldine regularly consults parents, educators, healthcare professionals and schools to support children and young people on the autism spectrum.
Geraldine was awarded a certificate in Management in the Community & Voluntary Sector from National College of Ireland in 2000, a Masters in Equality Studies from U.C.D. in 2005, a Higher Certificate in Advocacy Studies from Sligo I.T. in 2010 and received her trainer certificate in 2013 from the Hibernian Institute.
At present, Geraldine is involved with AsFan (Autism Spectrum Family Advocacy Network). AsFan is a not for profit group that works in partnership with families, schools, service providers and state bodies.
AsFan provides information, advice, advocacy, support and skills training for families, for professionals and social care workers and assists parents, students and schools in transition planning and coordination from school to adult life
Anne Colgan is an independent management consultant, with extensive experience in the field of disability policy, strategy and service provision. Anne's key skills and experience include organisational development, strategic planning and stakeholder engagement. Anne has wide experience in the disability field, having worked as a senior manager in several roles in the former National Rehabilitation Board.
Anne was advisor to the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. She worked as a consultant on several major service development programmes including New Directions, The H.S.E. programme for restructuring of adult day services, Time to Move on from Congregated Settings, and a number of Department of Health programmes, including the 2001 Health Strategy.
Anne has worked with a wide cross-sections of disability service providers on the design of structures for service-user involvement, quality management, organisational strategy and research.
Pat Wylie worked as a Higher Principal Officer in the Dept. of Justice and Equality. In the course of his career he served as Secretary of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities and Chair of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Establishment of a Third Level Institute for people with a learning disability in Trinity College. At European level he was a participant in the E.U. HELIOS Programme to promote the social inclusion of people with disabilities. He was also a member of the E.U. High Level Group on Disability and Chair of the Council of Europe Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.
Alice Griffin, a Social Science graduate, is Manager of DESSA. She has over 25 years’ experience working in community development and disability rights and has considerable experience in the design and delivery of human rights training. Alice has worked with many families experiencing disability, especially in the area of advocacy and rights and has delivered the DESSA Empowering Parents programme to more than 1,300 parents throughout Ireland.
Linda has been DESSA office manager since 2007. She has worked in the community and voluntary sector for over 20 years. Before working with DESSA, she spent 11 years in School Street Family Resource Centre where she was involved in various administration roles. Linda likes keeping fit and reading.