Mental Health Reform Board of Directors

Chairperson of Mental Health Reform: Professor Agnes Higgins

Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, was appointed Chairperson of Mental Health Reform in December 2016.  Prof. Higgins is a qualified mental health nurse, general nurse and nurse tutor. She holds a primary degree from UCD, an MSc from DCU and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Prof. Higgins’ research interests are in the area of mental health recovery, service user involvement, gender and sexualities. She has completed studies on service users’ recovery journeys, impact of different models of recovery on users’ and family members’ experiences of recovery, factors influencing recover-oriented education, impact of peer-support on recovery outcomes, sexualities and LGBT mental health. She is widely published in her areas of expertise and is co-editor of the book ‘Mental Health in Ireland: Policy Practice and Law’ published by Gill and Macmillan in 2014, and co-author of ‘Narratives of Recovery; the role of peer support’ published by Rutledge in 2016.  She is originally from Galway, but now lives with her husband Jim in Dublin.

Ali Rochford is the Community Development Worker with Gateway Mental Health Association. She has worked in the area of community mental health for several years, and also has personal experience of significant mental health challenges. Ali has a particular interest in advancing community approaches to mental health, and as well as pursuing this through her development work in Gateway she also regularly delivers WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) training.

Anne Ellis is a mental health advocate from Finglas in Dublin. She has advocated across a range of local and national media on behalf of her son, who has a diagnosed mental health condition. Anne has campaigned for improvements in mental health services for many years, particularly access to 24/7 crisis mental health services across the country. Anne is a tireless fundraiser and is the founder of the annual Walk of Hope, which takes place in several communities across Dublin.

Conor Daly is an independent business consultant specialising in commercial strategy within regulated network industries.  He has over 20 years experience of building, leading and advising companies in the telecommunications and technology sectors worldwide. He has been a mentor on the client assistance programme of the Dublin Business Innovation Centre.  Conor is multilingual. He has a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of California Berkeley, and a Diploma in Applied Finance from the Irish Management Institute.

David Keegan has a decade of experience in the Arts, Cultural and Mental Health sectors, a background in business/audience  development, marketing & communications. David co-founded First Fortnight; a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through cultural action. Every January, a particularly challenging time of year, First Fortnight programme a high quality, large scale national mental health festival disrupting civic dialogue, breaking down stigma and raising mental health awareness with support from the HSE and their mental health & media partners. In 2013 First Fortnight became a mental health service provider delivering free creative therapies to homeless adults and children across Dublin and hosted Europe’s Mental Health Festival in communities across Ireland January 2019.​

Elizabeth Coganis a barrister. She attended Dublin University and King Inns where she obtained the degree of Barrister-at-Law in 2001. In the course of her practice at the bar, she specialised in public and administrative law and acted in many cases concerning human rights and constitutional law issues. In her current role as a lawyer with the Central Bank of Ireland she advises the Enforcement division in respect of the regulation of financial service providers. She has an interest in the improvement of mental health service provision, particularly for children.

Dr Joseph Duffy is the CEO of Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. A Clinical Psychologist by training, he has worked in the area of mental health for the last 25 years. He worked initially as a clinician with the Department of Justice/ Irish Prison Service. He has managed and led services in institutional and community settings. Since 2011 he has held a number senior roles in Jigsaw. He holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (TCD), an MBA in Health Services Management (UCD) and is a Fellow of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).

Laurence Malone is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Cathx Ocean Limited, a technology company involved the development and manufacture of subsea lighting and imaging systems. Laurence has over 20 years’ experience in business, accounting and finance from indigenous SME’s and Multinational Companies in the Technology, Pharma and Food sectors. Laurence has prior non-profit experience and was recently served as a Non-Executive director of the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic. Laurence is a graduate of UCD holding a Bachelor of Commerce and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Laurence joined the Board of Mental Health Reform in June 2018 as Expert Director (Finance).

Lochlann Scott holds a BA in Psychological Studies (NUI Galway), a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (Open University)  and a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Psychology (University of Ulster). He was also the winner of the ‘One to Watch’ Social Entrepreneur SCCUL Awards in 2011 and the 2016 runner-up in the same category. Lochlann worked in Social Care for many years in the HSE West in residential and long-term family support; he also developed and piloted Galway City Social Work department’s first parenting programme for male caregivers during his time there. Previous to his time with the HSE he held multiple management roles in the retail and hospitality sectors. Lochlann founded Helplink Support Services in 2012 as he saw there was a need to be more innovative in how we provide mental health and conflict resolution services to our communities both at home and abroad.

Mark Kennedy began his career as a certified accountant (ACCA) and has held senior management roles in Ireland, the U.S. and Eastern Europe. His commercial experience has spanned industries including airlines, manufacturing, banking, food and human services. Mark joined MQI in 2007 as Head of Finance & IT, progressing to Head of Day Services in 2012 and Head of Residential & Counselling Services in 2017. Mark has a keen interest in mental health and research within the drug & alcohol field, attaining a Social Science Master’s Degree in Drug & Alcohol Policy from Trinity College in 2014, he also has a UCD Certificate in Drug Counselling and Intervention Skills and a HDip in Psychology. Marks interests include triathlon, meditation, podcasting, League of Ireland football and yoga.

Michele Kerrigan is the Chief Executive Officer of GROW in Ireland. Prior to this, Michele worked as Deputy CEO of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland with special responsibility for the MS Care Centres. Michele was involved at both European and International level representing MS Ireland. Michelle holds a diploma in Health and Social Care, Business Computing and Supervisory Management and an Honours Masters Degree in Management in the Voluntary and Community Sector. Michele is also an Associate member of CIPD.

Pádraig Love is an Independent Consultant who specialises in recruitment/selection, public administration, civil service reform, ethics and probity in the public service. He was a career civil servant for 40 years who worked in a variety of departments/offices and played a key role in the establishment and development of the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in Ireland. He was seconded to the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in Brussels for a number of years to help drive a modernisation programme through all aspects of EPSO’s business. As a senior manager with extensive experience in public service recruitment and selection he is a recognised expert in this area. Pádraig is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also holds a Master of Science Degree in Innovation Management in the Public Service, from the University of Ulster/Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

Robert McCafferty


Expert Advisors to the Board

Dr. Mary Donnelly is a Senior Lecturer in the Law Faculty at University College Cork.  She works in the areas of mental health and human rights and is especially interested in issues of consent and capacity.  She is the author of Healthcare Decision-Making and the Law: Autonomy, Capacity and the Limits of Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Consent: Bridging the Gap Between Doctor and Patient (Cork University Press, 2002) as well as  international and Irish articles and book chapters in relation to aspects of mental health law.

Mary is the legal and academic expert advisor to the MHR Board.

Dr. John Owens is a former Chairperson of the Mental Health Commission. He is a Consultant Psychiatrist and former Clinical Director of the Cavan/Monaghan Mental Health Service. Dr. Owens has been to the forefront of innovation in mental health service delivery with the development, under his leadership, of the home-based treatment model in the Cavan-Monaghan service.

John sat on the MHR Board from October 2010 to April 2013 and has since become the mental health expert advisor to the MHR Board.


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