Management & Programme Contacts


Age & Opportunity is governed by a Constitution.

The Board of Trustees are committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance. We are fully compliant with The Governance Code: a Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland' and our various funders’ governance requirements.
Trustees, all of who are non-executive and independent, and are drawn from diverse backgrounds and bring a broad range of experience and skills to the Board of Trustees deliberations.

There are clear distinctions between the roles of the Board of Trustees and the executive management team. The Board of Trustees are responsible for providing leadership, setting overall strategy and monitoring budgets and outcomes of the organisation. The Board of Trustees are also responsible for identifying the risks affecting the organisation and ensuring procedures are in place to reduce and manage the major risks identified. The Board of Trustees are committed to working effectively, behaving with integrity and being transparent and accountable. There are eleven Trustees. The Trustees bring to the Board of Trustees their significant business and decision making skills gained in their respective fields together with a broad range of experience and views.

The day to day management is delegated to the CEO. The CEO prepares and presents policies, business plans and annual financial budgets and management accounts for consideration and approval to the Board of Trustees. There is a schedule of matters reserved to the Board of Trustees for decision and a schedule of matters delegated to the CEO.

Age & Opportunity held six Board Meetings in 2016. We also held four meetings of the Finance, Governance & HR Committee and two meetings of the Audit Committee.

The Board also contribute to an ethos of empowerment within Age & Opportunity which means that, as an organisation, we seek equality, not charity, promoting the participation of older people as decision-makers and active participants.

Age & Opportunity's board members are:

  • Ita Mangan (Chair)
  • Sarah Bowman
  • Mairead Egan
  • Fionnuala Hanrahan
  • Mary Kelly
  • Catherine Marshall
  • Tony McCarthy
  • Shane McQuillan 
  • Paul Murray
  • Helen O'Donoghue
  • John O'Brien


Karen Smyth, CEO

Karen became CEO of Age & Opportunity in July 2014. She leads the Age & Opportunity senior team, driving the mission of the organisation, implementing the overall strategy and representing Age & Opportunity at national and international events. Karen has a particular interest in ensuring that appropriate services and programmes are available for the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society. Karen previously worked in the area of social housing and homelessness for 14 years, as Director of Drogheda Homeless Aid, a voluntary housing association providing accommodation and support for homeless people. Karen has also worked as Acting Co-ordinator and Lecturer on the MA in Criminal Justice in the Institute of Public Administration. 

Karen has served on the Boards of the Irish Council for Social Housing, Tuath Housing Association, Don Bosco Services, Drogheda Job Initiative, Drogheda Community Training Centre and Calipo Theatre Company. Karen has been a member of Drogheda Rotary Club since 2002, and was the Club's Community and Vocational Officer for 10 years. She holds a Degree in Business and Legal Studies from UCD, a Masters in Public Management and Criminal Justice, and a Professional Certificate in Governance from the Institute of Public Administration.

If you would like to contact Karen, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7735.

Senior Management Team

Tara Byrne, Manager of Arts & Culture

Tara Byrne

Tara, as Manager of Arts & Culture, has responsibility for all of Age & Opportunity’s arts activities and events, including acting as Festival Director for our flagship project, the Bealtaine arts festival. She has built a strong reputation over the past 15 years as a curator, an independent arts and cultural manager and researcher, working freelance on research, advocacy, cultural policy and management projects for both the arts, public service and university sectors. If you would like to get in touch with Tara, please email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call +353 (0)1 805 7713.

Michael Foley,  Manager of Policy, Research & Development

Michael Foley

Michael’s role in Age & Opportunity is to develop principal strategy and reporting documents as well as to help the programme managers to develop new ways of achieving the organisations overall goals. He is also working on evidence-based outcome measures so that donors and sponsors of Age & Opportunity can see the tangible results of what we are achieving.

Michael’s work, prior to Age & Opportunity, focused on accessibility in print, which included creating Plain English texts and Easy to Read material for people with intellectual disabilities or low literacy, as well as audio recording for training material or for contributing to on air items for RTÉ Radio. He is also a qualified librarian, working for a number of years in the public sector as a research librarian in the subject area of disability. If you would like to get in touch with Michael, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 853 5128.

Mary Harkin, Manager of Go For Life

Mary Harkin

Since 2003, Mary has managed Go for Life, the national programme for sport and physical activity for older people. Working in close partnership with the Irish Sports Council, the Local Sports Partnerships and the HSE, Mary has directed the expansion of Go for Life into a full national programme which operates in every county, creating volunteer leadership in physical activity at a local level. She has also developed a Grant Scheme which now reaches over 1,000 groups. She has commissioned research on older people and physical activity in Ireland, and has developed targeted initiatives which reach otherwise disadvantaged groups. Mary is also a member of the Dublin City Sports Network and the Get Ireland Walking Initiative. Prior to working in Age & Opportunity, Mary worked as a producer and director in television, working specifically on education programming. If you would like to contact Mary, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7732.

Ciaran McKinney, Manager of Active Citizenship and Lifelong Learning

Ciaran McKinney

Ciarán McKinney has been at Age & Opportunity since 2009 and is Manager of Active Citizenship and Lifelong Learning. Ciaran leads the organisation's Get Engaged programme, encouraging people to engage with local authorities around ageing issues and Older People's Councils. Ciaran delivers training and facilitation to the public, private and the community and voluntary sectors in age awareness, group work skills and Ageing with Confidence. He is currently a member of two Task Forces at AGE Europe (Social Inclusion and Minimum Income) and represented Age & Opportunity on two European projects, Minimum Income for a Dignified Life in Older Age and Active Senior Citizens for Europe.

Ciaran has worked in the NGO sector since 1984, both in Ireland and the UK. He worked for many years in sexual health services in London. On returning to Ireland, he was a member of the National AIDS Steering Committee for four years and worked with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network as Director of Gay HIV Strategies. He continues to have an interest in sexual health and LGB inclusion and delivers training in these areas. If you would like to contact Ciaran, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 853 5181.

Margaret Roe, Office Manager, HR Manager, Membership Officer

Margaret Roe

Margaret is the Office Manager and HR Manager for Age & Opportunity. She manages the administration team across all strands of the organisation. Her role includes the updating of internal policy on HR issues, overseeing systems that provide for the smooth running of the organisation as well as coordinating recruitment and processing contract staff. Prior to joining Age & Opportunity in 2004, Margaret worked as a sales executive with British Steel Corporation and subsequently ran her own small business in the hospitality industry. To contact Margaret, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 853 5121.

Coordination and Administration Team

Kim Chew, Administrator

Kim Chew

Kim works as a Receptionist and Administrative Support. She also supports the Cultural Companions programme run by Age & Opportunity, which encourages older people to form local networks interested in Arts and Culture that will accompany each other to events. Kim is often people’s introduction to Cultural Companions and she handles queries on how the programme works, what is coming up and even, at times, providing directions to venues. To contact Kim, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7713.

Ciara Dawson, Go for Life Administrator

Ciara Dawson

Ciara is a member of the Go for Life team providing administrative support for all aspects of the Go for Life Programme and liaising with Local Sports Partnerships, FitLine mentors and Go for Life Trainers to deliver a national service. Ciara deals with queries from the large numbers of people who are interested in getting more physically active as we age.

Ciara has a background in administration/sales support in various industries, ranging from financial organisations to a paper merchants. To contact Ciara, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7733.

Sue Guildea, Go For Life Assistant Manager

Sue Guildea

Sue began working for Age & Opportunity in September 2007.  She works closely with Mary Harkin on the development and delivery of Go for Life, maintaining the partnerships needed to ensure that Go for Life continues to reach significant numbers. She has always had an interest in health and fitness and has a BA in Leisure Management. 

Prior to Age & Opportunity, Sue was a manager of a fitness facility in Dublin. Having begun as an administrator for Go for Life, she became assistant manager of the programme  in 2013. Her principal interests are in promoting greater opportunities for larger numbers of older people to become more active and involved in sport. To get in touch with Sue, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7784.

Fiona Holohan, Active Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Coordinator

Fiona Holohan

Fiona is the Active Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Coordinator, who works with the Manager of Active Citizenship & Lifelong Learning. She manages planning, scheduling and budgeting of a wide range of our programmes including Get Engaged, Creative Exchanges, AgeWise and The Community Effect. She also provides event management services for Age & Opportunity.

Fiona has over 20 years of experience in training administration & training management. Prior to Age & Opportunity, she held training management & senior administrative roles in the Royal College of Surgeons, the Irish Management Institute, Horizon Technology Group, Concern Worldwide and Holiday Inn Worldwide in Brussels.  She is also proficient in French. To contact Fiona, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +353 (0)1 805 7798.

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