6 May 2022

AONTAS, the National Adult Learning organisation announces that Dr Niamh O’Reilly is stepping down as CEO

AONTAS, the National Adult Learning organisation has announced that Dr Niamh O’Reilly will be stepping down as CEO, after over 6 years in the role and 17 years’ service with the organisation. Niamh will take up a new role as Chief of Staff at the President’s Office of Maynooth University for President, Professor Eeva Leinonen.

Speaking about her resignation Dr Niamh O’Reilly said: “With a heavy but grateful heart, I share the news that after much consideration, I have decided it is the right time for my departure as CEO of AONTAS.”

It was a difficult decision to make, as it has been a privilege to lead and serve this wonderful organisation with our inspiring Chairperson and Board, incredible staff team, and passionate members and learners. However, I believe the organisation is in a perfect position to develop over the course of the next strategic plan.”

Niamh joined AONTAS in 2005 and held positions of Head of Membership Services and Head of Strategic Development before her appointment as CEO in 2016.

Speaking about her key achievements as CEO, AONTAS Chairperson John D’Arcy said: “During her 6 years of leading the organisation Niamh has increased our funding and staff by almost 70%. Her strategic focus led to a tripling in EU projects and the completion of a successful organisational review, rebrand of AONTAS, and improved internal communication and compliance processes.

“As Chair of the government’s Mitigating Education Disadvantage Working Group, Niamh advocated to secure the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund, an annual fund of €10 million for community education, an amount equal to the annual SOLAS budget for community education.”

“Furthermore, Niamh and AONTAS will be honoured at the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame later this year. This award honours leaders in the field which is supported by the University of Oklahoma. This is a fitting tribute to Niamh and all that she has achieved during her time as CEO. We wish Niamh all the very best for the future and thank her for her outstanding passion and commitment in championing adult learning in Ireland, ensuring that it is valued and better resourced within the education sector.”

Speaking about her time as AONTAS CEO, Niamh said: “AONTAS is a community of shared learning and collective action. It has been very fulfilling work in AONTAS and I am so grateful to have learned from committed educators and stakeholders across the field of lifelong learning.”

I am so deeply thankful to have worked with such a talented, passionate and hard-working staff team. I have been inspired by the resilience and knowledge of adult learners, who drive our collective efforts to make educational equality a reality for all adults.”

 “I will always remain a strong supporter of adult learning and look forward to cheering on the great work of AONTAS into its next chapter.”

Next Steps

Speaking about the next steps John D’Arcy said: “The AONTAS Board will undertake a recruitment process for a new CEO of AONTAS to build on the excellent foundations that Niamh has created. Our priority as an organisation is to ensure that we continue to serve our members, work with our partners and funders and the adult learning sector across Ireland.”