Board and Staff of UCDVO

Board of Trustees

James O'Brien, Chairperson

James O’Brien is the Executive Director of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum). Prior to joining Forum he worked for VSO Ireland and volunteered with them in Rwanda and Uganda.

Dr. Helen O’Connell, Deputy Chairperson

Helen currently works as a Senior Clinical Psychologist, in the School of Psychology in UCD and also in an older adults mental health service in the HSE. Prior to training as a psychologist, Helen worked in the international development sector, both in Ireland and overseas, for ten years.

Ian Harding, Treasurer

Ian is a graduate of both UCD and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. He volunteered with the UCDVO in 2020 as a Team Coordinator for the Church of Uganda, Kisiizi Hospital Project and has returned as a Team Coordinator in 2021 with the Nurture Africa Project, Uganda.

Paul Cahill, Governance Officer 

Paul is the Finance and Corporate Services Manager of the National Adult Literacy Agency  (NALA).  Prior to joining NALA he worked for VSO Ireland and VSO International, during which time he completed finance and operations audit assignments in Uganda, Lesotho and South Africa. Prior to joining VSO, he has held senior finance roles in the Textiles, Aviation and ICT sectors. Paul is a Certified Public Accountant by profession and holds an MSc. (mgmt) in International Business from TCD Business School.

Dr. Ellen Regan

Dr Ellen Regan is a primary school teacher with an MA and PhD from UCD. Her doctoral research topic was Irish women as missionaries and volunteers in education and health settings. She has been involved in international development since 2007, volunteering in education projects in Malawi, India, and Haiti. She was Group Leader for UCDVO Delhi in 2011. She has facilitated pre-departure trainings and de-briefing sessions for Comhlámh and UCDVO.

Andrea Whelton

Andrea is a UCD Business and Law graduate. She volunteered in Ruaha, Tanzania with UCDVO as a general volunteer in 2017, and returned as a student leader in 2018. During her time in UCD, Andrea held the positions of Secretary and Vice-Auditor of the UCDVO Student Society. Andrea joined the Board in 2020.

Dr. Brona Fullen

Brona is an Associate Professor in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. Outside of the UCDVO Programme she has volunteered as a physiotherapist in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ananya Ramesh 

Ananya is a postgraduate student in biomolecular sciences at UCD. She has been an active member of UCDVO since the start of her degree and now is the current auditor for the society. She was also the president of the OISCA International Youth Forum back in her home country (India). 

Dr. Jacob Eisenberg

Jacob joined UCD in 2003 and is an Associate Professor in the Smurfit Graduate School of Business, lecturing in the areas of organisaitonal behaviour, cross-cultural management and creativity. He has travelled extensively and worked in several countries.

Ruth Fox

Ruth is a 4th year BSc physiotherapy student in the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science in UCD. She has been an active member of the UCDVO student society since 2018 and was a healthcare volunteer with the Nurture Africa health team on the  2020-2021 programme.  She is passionate about contributing to sustainable development in healthcare and working towards the goal of global healthcare equity.

Dr. Sunita Kaistha

With more than four decades experience in teaching and research, Sunita has also been actively involved in the development field. She is the founder of The Society for Working Life (SWL-2002) which has been working for the girl child and has partnered with UCDVO for the last two decades for its student volunteer program in New Delhi, India.

Rory Wasylyk

Rory went away with UCDVO to Assam in 2019, was a student leader on a virtual project in Tamil Nadu in 2020, and has been involved with the UCDVO Student Society for the last 3 years. He is in his final year of his BSc in Politics and Social Justice.


Hilary Minch

UCDVO Manager 

Hilary joined UCDVO as Manager in July 2019 following four years as Senior Desk Officer for the Syria response in Irish humanitarian organisation GOAL. Hilary has over 13 years’ experience in the humanitarian and international development sector. She has worked in Darfur, South Sudan and Palestine and in Ireland as Middle East Regional Liaison Officer with Trócaire; Programme Officer with Aidlink; Project officer roles in Comhlámh and Dóchas.

Prior to her career in international development, Hilary worked in marketing and business development and spent three years teaching English in Japan. Hilary has an MSc in International Development; a Higher Diploma in Business Studies and a BA in English and Philosophy – all from University College Dublin.

Zoe Liston

Programme and Education Officer  

Zoe originally comes from a broadcasting background, having worked in television for 11 years as both a Researcher and Producer on live television. She retrained in 2009 with an MA in Development Studies from Kimmage Development Studies Centre. Since then she has worked with Aidlink - a development NGO, and has worked with UNHCR Ireland in their Communications Department  and Amnesty International in their Human Rights Education Department. Zoe joined UCDVO in 2013. Zoe also produced the radio documentary 'The Girls of Kajiado' as part of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund and participated in the Tanzania Morogoro Project in 2016 as Team Coordinator.

Zoe has an MA in International Development Studies (KDSC) Postgraduate in Arts Administration (UCD) and a BA in Fine Art: Sculpture. (Edinburgh College of Art).

Grace O'Hara

Programme Assistant 

Grace initially volunteered with UCDVO in 2013 – when she took part in an education project in Tanzania. After completing a BA in Psychology from UCD, Grace went on to work in a charity, Headway Brain Injury Services, and completed a Masters in International Public Policy and Diplomacy in UCC. She has since worked as a Refugee Caseworker in the Irish Red Cross (IRC) on the Syrian crisis response and Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI). Grace re-joined UCDVO in 2019 as Programme Assistant, and led UCDVO’s pilot virtual volunteering project with our Tanzanian partner in 2020.