Board of Directors

The role of the Board of Directors is to shape the strategic direction of Educate Together in the long term, to guide and support management performance and to monitor progress towards agreed objectives. It is fundamentally a governance role and is at a remove from the day-to-day running of the organisation.

Directors are elected by members and these elected members may co-opt two more. The term of office for elected members is three years and there is a system or rotation whereby a number of directors come to the end of their term of office each year. The Chairperson of the Board is also elected for a three-year term. Persons co-opted to the Board of Directors are co-opted until the following AGM, and usually have specific skills (e.g. financial, marketing, legal, social science, human resources, development/fundraising, etc).

The Dublin-based national office is responsible for carrying out Educate Together’s role as a patron and a management body.

Emma Lane-Spollen


Emma Lane-Spollen joined the Board of Educate Together in April 2019. She became Treasurer in 2020, Vice Chair in 2021 and Acting Chair in 2022. Emma’s youngest is in Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School, previously all three children went to Midleton ETNS (Cork). Emma is an independent consultant and has extensive experience in strategy, advocacy, organisational development, planning and finance. Currently, national coordinator for the Ukraine Civil Society Forum. Prior roles include CEO of the Tomar Trust and Deputy CEO of the One Foundation. Emma is a qualified management accountant and has extensive Board experience, currently also serving on the Board of Friends of the Earth.

Niamh Cullen

Niamh has worked in Educate Together since 2006 and is firmly committed to promoting the ethos across the education network. Niamh is the principal of Grace Park ETNS. She holds a Masters’ Degree from UCD and is a qualified primary and post-primary teacher. She also holds a certificate in coaching for school leadership. Niamh was seconded to the Teaching Council in 2015 for 2 years where she worked on national policy for induction and professional learning. She also works part time with the National Induction Programme for Teachers supporting schools undertaking the Droichead process.

John Collier

John has worked in UCD as a researcher and lecturer and has led research and development teams in a range of multinational companies. John holds a PhD, an MBA, MSc in Marketing, MSc in Innovation and Strategy, and is certified Project Manager. John is a consultant providing support to companies in product design, marketing and grant applications for many organisations. John has two children. One is in an Educate Together primary and the second in an Educate Together secondary in Cork. John currently sits on the board of management of the secondary school.

Richard Woulfe

A practicing solicitor until he retired in 2019, Dick set up a focused employment law department in his former firm which he lead for ten years and which became one of the two largest employment law teams in the country. For nearly ten years prior to retirement he headed up a team focused on intellectual property and social media litigation. Dick was for many years on the Board of Management of Griffith Barracks Educate Together National School. He joined the Educate Together Board as co-optee in 2017 and again in 2019. He was elected as director at the 2020 AGM and is also now the company secretary. Dick is chair of the Board’s International Development Sub-committee.

Doris Abuchi-Ogbonda

Doris was an inaugural board member of Esker Educate Together National School, Lucan as parents’ representative until 2011. She is on the board of St. Andrew’s National School, Lucan as a community representative from 2015 to date; and a director on the board of The Rights Platform since 2014. She has cross sectoral experiences in Legal practice; Community Development and Youth work. She also worked in child protection. Culturally versatile, Doris coordinates the Migrant Access Programme-MAP. MAP provides support for the inclusion of, and access to the labour market by migrants.

Theresa Burke

Theresa became a director of Educate Together in November 2020, after joining the board’s Finance Sub-committee in March of that year. Head of Governance and Finance with the Children Rights Alliance since 2018, Theresa qualified with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 2005, becoming a fellow in 2010. She has worked as audit manager in accountancy practice, gaining extensive experience across many areas in the public and private sector dealing with small, medium and large organisations. Theresa also brings significant experience in the charity sector to the role, with up to date knowledge of the Charities Governance Code, and charity financial reporting requirements including Financial Reporting Standard 102 Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP).

Matt Wallen

Originally from Colorado, Matt graduated from St Olaf College in Minnesota with a degree in Fine Arts and Elementary Education.  He taught in elementary and middle schools for 5 years before relocating to Ireland in 2002.  He completed an MA in English Language Teaching and then began working at Limerick School Project.  Over the course of 11 years working in the school, Matt took on roles as support teacher, SNA, class teacher, dance teacher and principal.  During those years, he completed a PhD in Education and Applied Linguistics at University of Limerick.  He has published in academic journals and lectured at conferences and teacher training colleges on the topics of multilingualism, intercultural education and continuing professional development for teachers.  Matt became the principal of Knocknacarra Educate Together NS, a developing school in Galway City, in 2014.

Lesley Byrne

Lesley Byrne is principal of Clogher Road Community College which is a DEIS school in Crumlin under the patronage of CDETB and in partnership with Educate Together. Lesley also works with Maynooth University on the Turn to Teach programme, which aims to promote diversity in the teaching profession through a series of social-justice orientated widening participation initiatives. Prior to her current role, she was deputy principal in Belvedere College with special responsibility and a particular passion for the Social Diversity Programme. Lesley is currently a PHD candidate with Maynooth University and her particular area of research is how marginalised communities are represented in current and historic educational policy.

Miriam Hurley

Miriam Hurley has been principal of Dalkey School Project (DSP) for 13 years. She is a committed member of Educate Together network since joining the teaching staff of Monkstown ETNS in 1999. Miriam brings a broad range of educational knowledge and community building skills. Miriam was a founding and committee member of the first LGBT teachers’ group in Ireland through the INTO from 2004-2011. She has delivered workshops at ethos and equality conferences. Promoting restorative practices and student voice is central to her vision for building strong communities who change the world in positive and inclusive ways.

Deirdre Duffy

Co-opted in 2023, Deirdre brings her experience across various roles in the public and civil society sectors. Formerly a Special Adviser to the Government, Deirdre has over 15 years’ experience working to advance human rights and equality. She worked as Deputy Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties for 10 years, was Campaign Manager for Together for YES during the 2018 referendum on the Eighth Amendment and served as the human rights expert member of the DNA Database System Oversight Committee. She is a former Co-Chair of Comhlámh and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Victims’ Rights Alliance, Dublin Well Woman Centre and LGBT Ireland. Deirdre holds an LLM in Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law from the University of Edinburgh  and an MSc in Human Rights and Politics from UCD. Deirdre was called to the Bar in 2005 and currently works with Community Foundation Ireland as Director of Impact, Grants and Donor Care. Deirdre’s children attend Broombridge ETNS.