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: Geoff Meagher
Geoff is an experienced professional in the commercial and not-for profit sector. He served as Group Finance director of Glanbia plc from 1992 to 2005 at which point he took on the additional role of Deputy Group Managing director until his retirement in 2009. He has a broad range of experience covering business operations, acquisitions and disposals, investment appraisal, banking arrangements/negotiations, IT and shared services and general management. In the not-for-profit sector he served as National President of the Society of St Vincent DePaul from 2012 to 2017.
Geoff is a Certified Public Accountant having trained with PwC in Kilkenny. He currently self-employed consultant providing commercial and financial advice to mainly medium sized businesses. He is a director of several companies including Enterprise Ireland as well as being chairman of the boards of Bord na Mona and Bon Secours Health System.
Mary Robinson is the Chair of United Purpose and has been a UP trustee since 2018. She is an independent consultant in the NGO/international development sector, specialising particularly in NGO management and programme evaluation. She has worked with many UK and international clients including INGOs, foundations, donors and governments.
Mary was a Director of GCPS Consulting, a small consultancy in the UK specialising in child protection and safeguarding, from 2014-2022. Prior to becoming a consultant she was Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International. She has been a school governor and a member of prison Independent Monitoring Boards for 15 years. Until recently she was an independent panel member for the Judicial Appointments Commission, chairing panels for the recruitment of judges in England and Wales.
She was a trustee and Co-Chair of Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre from 2016-2022. She has a degree in French and German and postgraduate qualifications in information science.
Business in Africa
A native of County Wexford, Martin Ryan lived and worked in Africa for many years until his
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.
Jim has an excellent blend of agriculture, Africa, research and third level education experience and is well known to the organisation having previously served on the boards of SHDI and SHA. He is the Professor of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development and Head of the Agribusiness and Rural Development Section in the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.
Jim began his career as a volunteer humanitarian worker in Ethiopia and Somalia in the mid-1980s and later as an agricultural development worker in Tanzania and Kenya. On returning to Ireland in the early 1990s he completed his PhD on farm household decision making processes. Since joining UCD in 1995 he has lectured on: sustainable agriculture and rural development; communications; agricultural extension; social farming; project planning; and strategies for development. He took a sabbatical in 2001-3 and worked as Development Specialist with Irish Aid in Zambia.
His current research work encompasses rural livelihoods; agricultural extension and innovation; social farming; and social capital. As well as his teaching and administrative roles he supervises PhD and MSc studies related to knowledge transfer and on-farm innovation in agriculture.
She is a Zambian national and has worked for over twenty-five in the private, state enterprises and non-governmental organisations at senior management level. She has worked extensively on rural agriculture, environmental, community development, and infrastructure development programmes in Zambia and across the continent.
Previously, she was the Country Director for Self Help Africa in Zambia, and was the organisation’s first woman CD.
Kalongo is a firm believer in the empowerment of women particularly in their role as custodians of food security at household level and agriculture in general. Her thesis from her master’s degree was subsequently published and she is the author of the book “Farming as a business: An examination of the gender perspective”.
In 2016, Kalongo Chitengi was nominated one of CEO Global Africa’s ‘Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards’ for Southern Africa.
Hadi has directed international development and emergency management initiatives across Central and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa with the Aga Khan Development Network and International Medical Corps. He has a background in organisational development and project management with KPMG which he has worked to integrate into the many charities he has supported.
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.
Joe Healy is a dairy farmer from Athenry and recently finished his terms as President of the IFA (Irish Farmers Association) which ran from 2016 to 2020 and Vice President of COPA (European Farmers Association) from 2017-2020
He has been involved in farming politics since the early 1990s and is a former President of Macra na Feirme, former Vice President of the European Young Farmers Association, and a member of the milk quota appeals board and the Farm Apprenticeship Board. He also served on the boards of Bord Bia, FBD Insurance and the Agricultural Trust. Joe was chairman of Athenry Co-Operative Livestock mart from1998-2004and served as Manager of the mart from 2004-2005.
Currently he serves on the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels and is on the board of Gurteen Agricultural College.
He is also a former honorary president of IASTA (Association of Agricultural Science Teachers) and has served on the IFA Farm Business Committee.
Joe was Livestock Markets reporter for Farming Independent from 1999-2015. During his tenure as a President of the IFA, Joe visited Self Help Africa programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya.
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.
Chinyere Almona is the head of the Africa Corporate Governance Advisory Program of the International Finance Corporation.
She is also the serving Director-General/Chief Executive at Lagos Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria. Chinyere is a governance professional with extensive global experience in establishing standards.
She is a Cognitive Reflex Conditioning Practitioner, is a board advisor and trainer. She is the author of a number of books, including ‘Corporate Governance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in African Economies,’ ‘Boards of the Future’ and ‘Divine Direction: Experience the Power of Looking in the Right Direction.’
Sinéad Kilkelly is an experienced business leader who is the Executive Director of People and Organisation Development at ESB, Ireland’s electricity board.
She worked formerly as Vice President of People Services at Ethiad Aviation Group and was Chief People Officer at Bus Eireann, Ireland’s state-owned transport company. In her career Sinéad has also worked with Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Intel.
She holds an MBA from Trinity College Dublin, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and graduated in Sustainability Business Management from Cambridge University.
In her career Sinéad Kilkelly operates strategically at the interplay between business and culture. She is passionate about making a difference in areas of social change, primarily through the workplace.
Ray Coyne is the former Chief Executive Officer of Dublin Bus, serving as CEO of Ireland’s state-owned bus operator and largest private transport operator. He was employed with Dublin Bus for over 30 years, and stood down as Chief Executive after his seven year term, in 2022.
Ray currently works as an independent business consultant advising a New York Stock Exchange listed transport and technology corporation.
In served formerly the Operations Manager and as Human Resources/Industrial Relations Service Manager at Dublin Bus.
Ray Coyne holds an MBA from UCD Smurfit Business School and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Programme for Leadership Development.
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,