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

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


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.

Dr Richard O’Leary

Coordinator LGBT Heritage Project

Richard has a PhD in sociology from Oxford University and was previously employed as Lecturer in Sociology at Queen’s University. He is currently also a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of History at Queen’s specialising in LGBT history. Richard has been in involved in LGBT activism for three decades and has taken a number of successful legal challenges against discrimination. He was co-founder in 2007 of the faith pro-LGBT group Changing Attitude Ireland. Richard moved to Belfast from Cork in 1988 and hasn’t lost his Cork accent. He enjoys foreign language movies and BBC Radio 4.

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

Dr Danielle Mackle

Danielle is a HERe NI Chairperson. 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.

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.

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.

Stephanie George

Stephanie is a qualified social worker from Belfast. She has extensive experience working in children’s services as well as the voluntary sector with addictions. In her spare time she enjoys reading and 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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: