Our Board Members

Our Board Members

Our Board of Directors plays an important role in supporting and advising the direction of the organisation. The dedicated group of experts in areas such as leadership, communication, policy, and finance volunteer their time to set the strategic direction of the organisation and oversee its implementation and governance.

The Board of BeLonG To won the prestigious ‘Board of the Year Award 2020’ at the Charities Excellences Awards.

Dominic Hannigan, Chair of the Board (he/him)

Dominic Hannigan is Head of Public Transport Regulation at the National Transport Authority.

He served as Teachta Dála (TD) for the Meath East constituency from 2011- 2016. During that time he chaired the Good Friday Agreement Committee and was Chair of the EU Affairs Committee. He was a Senator for the Industrial & Commercial Panel from 2007 to 2011. From 2004 to 2007 he was a Councillor on Meath County Council. Dominic was one of the first two openly gay people elected to Dáil Éireann in 2011. Dominic brings significant experience in public policy and campaigning to the Board.

Ciaran McKinney, Vice-Chair of the Board(he/him)

Ciarán McKinney is Manager of the Engage programme, promoting Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship at Age & Opportunity.

Ciarán has extensive experience in policy development and delivering services to meet the needs of groups often distinguished by the experience of social exclusion, including people living with HIV, sex workers, lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and IV drug users.

Maria Afontsenko, Treasurer (she/her)

Maria Afontsenko is currently a Director of FS Audit in Grant Thornton Ireland. She is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and has extensive financial services experience and expertise, particularly in risk management, corporate governance and internal financial controls.

Dr Brian Melaugh, Director (he/him)

Dr Brian Melaugh is a lecturer in the Department of Applied Social Studies Maynooth University. Before taking up an academic position he worked extensively in the area of drug practice and drug policy and was CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project in Dublin. Brian holds professional qualifications in community work and youth work, social work, Masters in Systematic Organisation and Management, Masters in Organisational Consultancy, and a Doctorate in Health

Liz Harper (she/her)

Liz has over 30 years of experience working with young people and with youth services. She managed youth training projects in Tallaght for over a decade and subsequently has supported many locally based management groups and provided external supervision for youth workers in several settings. Liz holds a MSc in Equality Studies from UCD.

Lucy Ní Raghaill (she/her)

Lucy’s professional background is in Human Resources and Recruiting, with leadership roles across start-ups, SMBs and multinational enterprises. She has been a Scout Leader for 11 years with Scouting Ireland – a national youth organisation dedicated to the development of life skills for young people. She is a passionate LGBTQ+ rights advocate and ally.

Dermot Ryan (he/him)

Dermot has over 25 years of experience working in key advisory roles with political and campaigning organisations. Dermot returned to Ireland in 2017 after seven years in Australia, where he served as Head of External Affairs with Amnesty International and as Chief of Staff with the Transport Workers’ Union. As Principal of Dermot Ryan Advisory, Dermot now offers a range of services to organisations, helping them to implement their vision. In 2022, Dermot was appointed Chair of the Board of the award-winning Agency Alice Public Relations.

Aisling Gannon (she/her)

Aisling is the proud mother of two teenagers, and stepmother of three young adults. She is the mum of a trans young person, Steve. As a Board Member of Belong To, Aisling strives to ensure that the services best reflect and support the needs of LGBTQ+ young people across Ireland. Last year Aisling was appointed to the Dublin District Coroner’s Court as Senior Counsel. She previously practiced as a Solicitor for over 25 years, and was a Senior Partner in the Dublin office of a global law firm.

Patricia Carey (she/her)

Patricia has over 30 years’ experience in the public service and not for profit sector. Most recently as CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, previously Patricia was Director of the St Vincent De Paul charity for 13 years. She is a founding board member of Outhouse. Patricia has worked with many not-for-profit organisations both as a volunteer and in senior staff roles since the 1990’s.

Valerie Maher (she/her)

Valerie is Principal of Holy Child Community School, a post-primary school in Sallynoggin. Valerie is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students. Over the past five years, Valerie and her team have created a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ students. Previously Valerie worked with the National Behaviour Support Service as Assistant National Coordinator, working with schools around Ireland to promote and support a culture of positive behaviour.