Board of


OUR Board

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.



Tom Kitt is a former politician and former Irish Minister for Overseas Development.

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

David Governey is an internationally experienced financial and operations professional, and a Chartered Accountant (1974).

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.




Michael is a director at leading animal nutrition company Devenish Nutrition. He trained in general agriculture with emphasis on livestock nutrition and has worked in this area throughout his career.  After college Michael worked as a farm manager on a large-scale pig unit before volunteering and working for 6 years on general agricultural projects between Uganda and Nigeria from 1986 to 1992.

On his return to Ireland Michael worked for Provimi before joining Devenish Nutrition as Director of their swine division.

He is responsible for a development project in Hoima, Western Uganda which includes a multi species feed mill and a model pig farm which supplies improved breeding stock to progressive pig farmers.

Michael also owns and manages two integrated pig units in Cavan, and is a former National Chairman of Irish Farmers Association Pigs Committee and currently Chair of the North Eastern Region pigs committee.




Rowena Dwyer is the Chief Economist at the Irish Farmers Association and she has held this position for 8 years.

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.



Pat Murphy is Head of Environment Knowledge Transfer at Teagasc (The Agriculture and Food Development Authority).

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.


Mairéad Carey

Legal & Communications

Mairéad Carey is a barrister, practising in employment, criminal law, childcare and judicial review.

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. 



HR & Organisational Development

Eimear Kenny has over 20 years experience working in high growth international environments.

She is part of the executive team at one of Ireland’s largest and most successful PLC’s, UDG Healthcare.

She is also an executive member of the Board Remuneration Committee where she provides an in-depth knowledge of appropriate governance requirements for PLCs (listing on Irish, UK and NASDAQ exchanges), and an adviser to the Board Nomination and Governance Committee.

Eimear has previously worked at GE Capital Woodchester and ICON PLC. At ICON, Eimear was the Executive Vice President of Human Resources and lead a team of approximately 130 people and supported an employee base of over 10,500 employees operating from 77 locations in 38 countries across the world.

She had global responsibility for all aspects of strategic human resources management, including talent acquisition, staff engagement, training and leadership development.

Eimear has a proven track record of developing and aligning human capital strategies to achieve business objectives while delivering maximum performance across operations.



Carmel Fox is the former Chief Executive of Ballyhoura Development, the Local Development Company covering the geographic area of North East Cork and South and East Limerick, which manages and delivers a range of national and EU programmes.

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.




Michael Hoevel is the Founder-Director of Marchmont Communications.

He specialises in developing creative, results-oriented communications strategies for his clients around the world.

Before setting up Marchmont, he worked as Deputy Director of Agriculture for Impact under the leadership of Sir Gordon Conway at Imperial College London.

He previously ran a London-based communications agency overseeing all aspects of the business – from strategic insights, planning and advocacy to creative product development, tailored media outreach and social media management.

His client work has taken him to 30 countries on five continents. He has worked in a number of sectors, including agriculture, food, nutrition, healthcare, quality assurance, oil/gas, corporate governance and sustainable development.

He has worked with the private sector, various United Nations organisations, national governments, agricultural research organisations and non-governmental organisations.

His client work has been recognised eight times at various industry awards ceremonies, including from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, European Excellence Awards, International Green Awards, Digital Communications Awards, Digital Impact Awards and PRCA Awards. Michael has an M.Sc. in Sustainable Development from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in History from Yale University.


Claire Fourel

Legal & International Development

Claire-Marie Fourel is senior associate and International Pro Bono Manager at law firm Ashurst LLP, with responsibility for the development and coordination of pro bono practice in London, continental Europe, and the Middle East.

Claire  has extensive experience in structuring and implementing complex pro bono projects, and advising leading global non-profit organizations, charities and NGOs on a range of human rights, development and governance issues.

Her recent research and case work has included research on the relationship between Sustainable Development Goal 2 on hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture and the law for an SDG legal guide commissioned by Advocates for International Development and Oxfam, and family reunion cases assisting unaccompanied minor refugee children to be reunited with relatives in the UK.

Claire holds an MSc in International Development Management from the London School of Economics, a Masters 1 in European law from the University of Rennes I, an LLB in comparative English and French law from Exeter University and an LPC from BPP University of London.

She has also held positions as a consultant lawyer for AgDevCo, a not-for-profit company that assists small-holder farmers access innovative financing and infrastructure solutions, and a volunteer legal researcher at GrupoFaro, an NGO based in Ecuador. She has also carried out consultancy work as part of her studies for the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

marion byrne

Community Development

Marion Byrne is a qualified social worker whose early career was in the Probation and Welfare Service of the Department of Justice where she operated at a senior management level within the Dublin and South Western Regional areas.

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.


jim galvin

Agriculture advisor

With over 15 years of international experience in developing renewable energy businesses across Europe and the US, Jim Galvin is CEO and Director of Lakeview Energy, a biofuels manufacturing, commodities trading, agribusiness and wind energy company based in Chicago.

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.

Advisory Committees

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,