Self Help Africa is governed by an independent Board of Directors. This board directs policy and strategy for the organisation, as well as providing operational and financial oversight.
The Board of Directors are skills based, and serve the organisation in a voluntary capacity.
CHAIR: TOM KITT
FORMER GOVERNMENT MINISTER
He served as a Fianna Fail TD for the Dublin South constituency from 1987 to 2011. He also served as Government Chief Whip from 2004 to 2008.
In 1992 Kitt was appointed Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for Arts, Culture and Women’s Affairs. In 1993 he became Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs. In 1995 he became Fianna Fáil spokesman on Labour Affairs. In 1997 Fianna Fáil returned to power and Kitt became Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
In 2002 he was appointed to the Department of Foreign Affairs as Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights. Following the Cabinet reshuffle in 2004 Kitt became Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defense.
Since his retirement from politics in 2011 Mr. Kitt has served on the boards of Self Help Africa and Partner Africa, in his spare time he is a keen musician.
Finance & Audit
Between June 1989 and December 2014, David served as Director of Finance /Chief Operating Officer in three CGIAR Institutes. He was Director of Finance and Administration at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington DC from November 2001 to December 2014.
During that period IFPRI’s annual revenues grew from $21M in 2001 to $160 M in 2014. Staff increased from 220 to 530 in the same period. David chaired IFPRI’s Committee on regional decentralization which resulted in IFPRI opening eight offices in Africa and Asia over a period of 12 years and taking over the operations of ISNAR a separate Dutch headquartered international development institution.
He also established IFPRI’s risk management strategy in 2005 guiding the institute as it entered an era of large multi-year programs. From January 1996 to September 2001, David was Director of Finance and Chief Operating Officer at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka. IWMI has program offices in Africa and Asia.
From June 1989 to January 1996, David was Director of Finance at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), headquartered in Nigeria with a mandate for agricultural research for development in sub Saharan Africa. Prior to embarking on his international career in 1989, David worked with Pricewaterhouse in Dublin as a senior manager. He also spent two years in Zambia with Peat Marwick Mitchell. He served as a nonexecutive Director of the Association of International Agricultural Research Centers ( AIARC) from 2007 to 2014.
retirement from business in 2017.
He co-founded the ATS Group, where he worked for 20 years, providing facilities management and catering services to the mining industry in Africa for 20 years, before selling the group in 2017.
In his earlier career Martin worked with the Ministry for Rural Development in Zambia. He has also
various senior positions in agri-business in Ireland, and has worked in the hospitality, timber and furniture sectors in Africa. At one time he was the owner of an Irish bar in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
A former member of the Council of Gorta, Martin Ryan was appointed to the Board of Directors of
Partner Africa in 2017. He will soon assume the role of chairman of Partner Africa.
Martin graduated from University College Dublin in 1970 with a B Agr. Sci (Hons) degree.
He is married to Esther and has six grandsons.
In this role Rowena has provided economic and statistical analysis for IFA elected representatives, steered development of IFA policy in in response to current events such as changes to EU fiscal rules and reform of CAP.
Rowena has also been the lead author of IFA pre-budget submission and post-budget reports, as well as the IFA Farm Income Review and the IFA taxation proposals.
Rowena is also the IFA principal contact with the banking sector in her role as the Executive Secretary to the IFA Farm Business Committee.
Prior to her work with the IFA, Rowena was a consultant at Price Waterhouse Management Consultants. Rowena has also previously worked with the Ministry of Education Ghana as an Economist.
Rowena has a Postgraduate Certificate in Financial Management from the Institute of Public Administration. She also has a Master’s Degree in Public Economics from York University and a BA in Economics from Trinity College Dublin.
He graduated from UCD in 1984 with a B.Agr.Sc (Econ) and M.Agr. SC in 1986. More recently he completed an M.Sc. in Economic Policy Studies in Trinity College.
He has worked with Teagasc for 28 years in a variety of roles including farm management specialist, software development manager, business planning and corporate governance officer and as Assistant Director of Advisory Services.
Pat is a member of the Food Security Committee in Teagasc which aims to support agricultural development in developing countries. He has recently been involved in supporting Irish Aid initiatives to support Agricultural Knowledge Systems in Tanzania through the improvement of research, extension and farmer education systems.
He was involved in development projects to support the agricultural extension services in Poland and Hungary in the early nineties.
Legal & Communications
She was called to the Bar in 2003 and works primarily in Dublin. Prior to taking up a career in law, she was a journalist. She began her career with the Irish Press where she covered news and agriculture.
She travelled extensively during her career covering events in Northern Iraq, Bosnia and throughout Africa. Her interest in Gorta-Self Help Africa began on a trip to Ethiopia and Eritrea in the days following the fall of the Mengistu regime in 1991.
Following the closure of the Irish Press, Mairéad spent a year on the prestigious Journalists in Europe programme in Paris and returned to become News Editor of Ireland on Sunday.
She later covered politics for the paper. While studying law at the Kings Inns, Mairéad worked as the Irish correspondent for Niall O’Dowd’s publication in America – the Irish Voice and as an investigative reporter with Magill magazine in Dublin. She was also a regular contributor to Time magazine.
Jim currently holds a number of directorships in companies including its two bio-refineries, Three Rivers Energy in Ohio and Plymouth Energy in Iowa, and is a member of the US Grains Council Ethanol Advisory Team.
He is also a board member of the Marine Renewables Energy Association.
He previously worked with SWS (a diversified agriculture cooperative/energy business in Ireland) and was head of Flemming Energy, a wind and ethanol business in Ireland.
Jim holds a Bachelor Degree and Masters Degree in Agricultural Science from University College Dublin in Ireland and an MBA degree from University College Cork in Ireland.
The company develops place and citizen based initiatives which aim to diversify the economic base of the area and improve the quality of life of citizens; this also includes social enterprises and transnational initiatives.
One such initiative was Partners in Learning, which is a development approach that links a community in Ireland with a community in a developing country to share experiences and knowledge towards mutual gain.
Ballyhoura Development was the lead partner in an EU Commission Article 6 project to develop a model to harness rural capital to deal with the challenges of restructuring in the agriculture sector and the Agri-food sector.
Carmel was a member of Trocaire’s Programme Review Committee, of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) and of the Teagasc Authority and has significant experience of local, social inclusion and rural development issues, including agriculture.
She has worked with Kerry Group plc, the IFA, in national politics and was Director of We Belong, a
civic group that was instrumental in the EU ‘Vote Yes’ Lisbon II campaign.
She has authored and contributed to many reports from the Cost of Doing Business to The Future of
Irish Exports. She has addressed the MacGill Summer School on ‘Ireland’s Industrial Policy in A
Turbulent World’ and the National Economic Dialogue on the future of tax policy and its impact on
small Irish businesses. She holds a B.Sc. (Management) TCD and a Diploma in Innovation and
Strategy (Smurfit Business School).
Catherine currently provides technical assistance to Kenya’s National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) and the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in the implementation of its Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) providing cash transfer payments to the extreme poor.
Catherine is also an adviser on disaster risk financing initiatives with the World Bank’s Finance and Markets Global Practice unit.
Prior to becoming a consultant Catherine was Programme Quality and Design Director at Save the
Children UK (Kenya) and as Head of Operations for Save the Children (Ethiopia).
She is a critical thinker with frontline experience of the issues facing poor communities in Africa.
Catherine has recently been appointed to the Board of Partner Africa.
Marion was seconded in 1996 to ADM/Pobal, an organisation established by the EU and Irish Government to manage programmes on behalf of these authorities. There were a number of key functions carried out by the company.
One of these was the provision of developmental and strategic supports to beneficiary organisations in thematic areas such as the establishment of partnerships, community development, access to the labour market, promotion of social enterprise, and the development of strategies to address issues faced by rural smallholders.
Other functions included the appraisal of proposals and the allocation funds, financial management and auditory responsibilities. Performance monitoring, reporting to the relevant bodies and influencing mainstream provision were also central. Marion was responsible within the organisation for eight programmes, reporting to six departments and agencies with an annual budget of over €70 Million. These programmes had wide ranging foci including local socio economic development in both rural and urban areas, initiatives to address educational disadvantage, tackle rural transport deprivation, and promote inclusion for people with disabilities and assist in the integration of immigrants into Ireland.
A hands-on and motivated HR professional, Sheila has a broad range of experience across many
sectors including; software, telco, publishing, healthcare and not-for-profit. She strongly believes that
the provision of meaning and purpose within the workplace results in engaged employees who live and
breathe the behaviours that support sustained business success.
Sheila holds a MBS in Business Practice from University College Cork, is an accredited Life Coach &
Lifeskills Consultant and is an associate member of CIPD.
Sheila currently sits on the Board of Self Help Africa UK.
Self Help Africa’s work is overseen and supported by a number of sub-committees, including a Programmes & Advisory Committee, Audit & Finance Committee, and Fundraising & Communications Committee. These committees are comprised of board representatives and external specialists with professional expertise,