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AONTAS Announces Appointment of New CEO

AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, has appointed Niamh O’Reilly as Chief Executive Officer, with effect from 1st January 2016. The appointment was made following a competitive open recruitment process, with applications received from a wide range of national and international candidates.

Niamh O’Reilly will take over the role from the current CEO, Berni Brady, who is stepping down from the organisation next month, after 23 years at the helm. Niamh currently serves as Head of Strategic Development at AONTAS, and has been a member of the senior management team for seven years in the roles of Head of Membership Services and Head of Strategic Development.

Commenting today (11.11.15) on Niamh’s appointment, Elizabeth Waters, Chairperson of the AONTAS Executive, said: “Niamh came through a very competitive recruitment process to be appointed to this role, and we are confident that she will do an excellent job.  She has a huge passion for lifelong learning and a strong commitment to learners. She is also a creative leader and has an in-depth knowledge of the sector and the issues and challenges facing it. 

“While welcoming Niamh’s appointment, we would also like to acknowledge the enormous contribution that Berni Brady has made to AONTAS during her 23 years as CEO. Over that time, Berni led highly ambitious processes of change and development, and established AONTAS as the leading voice for lifelong learning in Ireland. We wish her well in the next phase of her life.”

Niamh O’Reilly said her priorities as CEO include: increasing membership involvement in advocacy activities; strengthening AONTAS’s position as the National Coordinator of the European Agenda on Adult Learning; and broadening the debate on the wider value and benefits of adult and community education. Niamh has emphasised AONTAS' continued commitment in keeping learners at the heart of all we do.

Niamh holds a number of qualifications, including a Higher Diploma in Adult Education from UCD, a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics from Trinity College Dublin, an MSc in Biological Science, also from Trinity College Dublin, and a BSc Hons in Biological Science from the University of Dundee. She is currently undertaking a PhD at NUI Maynooth, exploring the value of non-formal adult education for increasing diversity in higher-level education. She is also an elected board member of the European Association for the Education of Adults since 2011 and acts as a guest lecturer at NUI Maynooth.