Meet the Staff &Board

Cara McCann


Cara is from West Belfast and has a degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Gender Studies.  Her main area of research is lesbian motherhood. Cara has many years experience in the community development field and has also taught Sociology, Social Policy and Gender studies at Queens University. Cara is mum of a son, lives in Belfast with her wife, dog and cat. In her spare time she loves to play guitar, harp, sing and read.


Danielle Roberts

Senior Policy and Development Officer

Danielle has a background in law and Human Resources, qualifying as a solicitor in 2009 before completing a PgDip in Human Resource Management in 2013. For the past few years, Danielle has been working on a PhD project at UU researching barriers to PUL women’s political participation, and teaching politics and social policy. Danielle is also involved in feminist activism with Belfast Feminist Network and Alliance for Choice, and co-organiser of the annual Reclaim the Night Belfast march against street harassment and gender based violence.

Tracey McDowell

Finance & Admin Manager

Tracey has many years experience in finance/admin, with a background in banking and in the voluntary sector.  In her spare time she enjoys running, travel, reading and watching old movies.  She lives in West Belfast with her partner, their two daughters & her dog.


Grainne Gibson

Family Support Officer

Grainne has a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies combined with almost 20 years of experience of working with children aged 0 to 11. For the past 7 years she has worked with young children & families in a family support role. Grainne has designed & delivered programmes for groups as well as one to one sessions, working in partnership with parents to help children to reach their full potential. She has delivered programmes such as “The Nurturing Programme” & “Cook it!”. Grainne has 3 fabulous children who, as she puts it, are her greatest achievement & she loves to spend time with them. Grainne also enjoys reading & baking & has recently taken up sewing.

Mary Ellen Campbell

Coordinator LGBT Heritage Project

Mary Ellen has a background in Community Development working with organisation across Belfast.  In recent years she completed Genealogy courses with University of Strathclyde and University of Limerick, she ran her own family research consultancy business for 8 years, she also assisted a local historian with his Written in Stone series. She is from North Belfast and enjoys cooking, reading and making small craft items using resin and some candle making.

Amanda McGurk

LBTI women’s support officer

Amanda works between HERe NI and Cara-Friend. Amanda works on the gendered violence project supporting women who have experienced or at risk of sexual and domestic violence.  Amanda has a degree in Sociology.  She is originally from Bellaghy but now lives in Belfast with her wife.

Board Members

Martina Hanna


Martina retired from the Northern Ireland Civil Service after 38 years. She worked, before retiring as a Policy Lead on Gender and Sexual Orientation as well as Disability Equality. She worked on a variety of projects including supporting an EU funded programme on Gender Equality in Macedonia. She spent eight years as a member of the Board of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB). KNIB is an environmental charity whose mission is to inspire all sectors of society to take responsibility for creating cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities. Martina is passionate about equality for all.

Alison McDowell


Alison is a barrister specialising in family law with a particular emphasis on same sex families, surrogacy and equality issues. Alison is also a member of Lawyers with Pride. Outside of work Alison is a member of a local choral society and loves spending time with her family.

Geraldine McParland


Geraldine is a psychologist with extensive experience of working in the NHS and the public sector. She also has significant experience of research and has managed research projects. Geraldine has experience of serving on several boards.

Dr Danielle Mackle

Danielle is a lecturer in Social Work at Ulster University and has a wealth of practice experience working in the fields of mental health, with refugee and asylum seeker children and families as well as working with young people living in the care system. Danielles research interests span evidence based practice, research on the human development and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community, fertility treatment for lesbian women as well as the area of Female Genital Mutilation.

Sally Bridge

Sally and her partner, Catherine, started Dykes With Babes, the first lesbian parenting group in Northern Ireland, in December 2000 and their 2 young sons were founder members. She has since worked on the Love Equality campaign and her Master’s research looked at school libraries in NI and how they support the information needs of their LGBT pupils. Sally works as a Librarian in Queen’s University Belfast and is the co-chair of the staff LGBT network, PRISM.

Keira McCormack

Keira ran the charity Gender Essence Support Services, stepping down recently to concentrate on other parts of the charity. She currently works for a Domestic Abuse charity as an IDVA, helping to set up their LGBT specific services. Keira has significant experience working in the women’s sector in particular the Rape Crisis centre and Women’s Aid on developing groups. Keira co-founded Essence Arts, delivers training and is a qualified Counsellor.

Karen Ritchie

Karen is a Mum of two. Karen has experience in learning consultancy and HR. She enjoys mountain and marathon walking, gardening, art, cooking and is a vinyl record collector.

Helen Coburn

Helen has 15 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector with a focus on youth arts, community development, building resilience and tackling prejudice. She has a professional visual arts background and is a qualified youth and community worker. Helen is passionate about equality and the transformative effect of creative expression.  Areas of practice include mental health, governance and event management. 

Emma Campbell

Emma is completing her practice-based PhD addressing photography as an activist tool in the movement for abortion rights and is also part-time co-convenor of Alliance for Choice, meaning she was part of the team who helped decriminalise abortion access in NI and is still working towards widespread service delivery. Whilst in London Emma was a picture editor and campaign manager for The Times and The BBC, as well as photographing for music festivals, award ceremonies and drag shows. Emma has exhibited her work in solo shows in Belfast, Dublin & Berlin and in group shows in London, Liverpool, Donegal, Dublin, Belfast, Stockholm, and Bangkok as well as through street art and online.

Lauren Killen

Lauren is a Marketing Executive for a global law firm, and previous Chairperson of the employee LGBT+ Network (2018-2021). Lauren is passionate about working with local charities, and planned the last ‘Out on the Roof’ event – raising £15,000 on the night for The Rainbow Project and SAIL NI. Lauren recently completed her Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Level 6 Diploma, and holds a MSc in Marketing and a BSc in Psychology. While completing her MSc Lauren lived in Suzhou, China on a British Council Business Scholarship. Her MSc area of study was Corporate Social Responsibility.Lauren lives in East Belfast with her partner and their dog Reuben.

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