The Children’s Rights Alliance staff is based at our office in Dublin:

Tanya Ward - Chief Executive

Tanya Ward is the Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance since 2012. Previously, she was the Deputy Director at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) where she worked for eight years. She has also worked with the Irish Centre for Migration Studies, the Irish Refugee Council, the Curriculum Development Unit and the City of Dublin VEC. A former lecturer in human rights on the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD and the Masters in Equality Studies in the UCD School for Social Justice, she is a former board member with Campaign for Children and played a major role in the children’s referendum of 2012. She was also a former Vice President for the International Federation of Human Rights (2008-2011). Tanya has graduate and post-graduate degrees from UCC and a LLM in Human Rights from Queens University Belfast as well as a Certificate in Managing Community and Voluntary Organisations from the National College of Ireland. She has a keen interest in international human rights monitoring and lectures widely on this topic and has authored several reports on a wide range of issues including garda, judicial and criminal justice reform, equality law, education, anti-racism, separated children and children’s rights.  

Tanya is currently the Chair of the National Advisory Council for the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. She is also a board member of the Law Centre for Children and Young People Board and a member of the Oversight Board for the Childcare Law Reporting Project.

Julie Ahern - Legal and Policy Manager

Julie joined the Children's Rights Alliance in September 2013 and is the Legal and Policy manager. Prior to this she has worked in various roles across the Alliance and led the establishment of the Access to Justice Initiative and projects such as the annual Report Card and the Children’s Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Prior to joining the Alliance she worked on the children's rights referendum campaign with the ISPCC and NASC (The Irish Immigrant Support Centre). Julie is a qualified barrister having been called in 2018. She holds a BL from the Honourable Society of King's Inns, a BCL (Clinical)(Hons) and an LLM in Child and Family Law both from University College Cork. Julie sits on the board of management of Ballyfermot Star and is a long-time volunteer with Childline.

Emma Archbold -  Campaign Lead - Online Safety

Emma joined the Children’s Rights Alliance after working for over two years as an Account Manager at Persuasion Republic, a communications and social marketing agency that works exclusively with not for profits. She has assisted in local and national public awareness, advocacy and media campaigns and the development of communication strategies for leading not for profits in the sector. Emma holds a BA in English Studies (Trinity College Dublin) and a MSc in Politics and Communication (London School of Economics) and last year completed a Certificate in Public Relations with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland. Working closely with children’s charities over the past two years, Emma developed a keen interest in children’s rights in particular around issues of education, poverty and mental health. This year she was also selected as one of Ireland’s Youth Ambassadors for the One Campaign. 

Saoirse Brady - Head of Legal, Policy and Public Affairs 

Saoirse joined the Alliance in August 2016. Prior to taking up the role, she held positions in a number of leading rights organisations including the Alliance, the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and Front Line Defenders and was an independent consultant for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, CORU and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Early in her career she interned with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and was a paralegal with the Ryan Commission. Saoirse studied law at UCD and the University of Padova and holds a Masters Degree in European Studies from the Dublin European Institute. In 2014, she completed a professional fellowship sponsored by the US State Department and Boston College with a particular focus on juvenile justice. She is the former Chair of the Board of EQUATE.

Theresa Burke - Head of Governance and Finance

Theresa joined the Children Rights Alliance in April 2018 as Head of Governance and Finance with approximately 15 years’ experience in finance. Theresa qualified with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 2005, becoming a fellow in 2010. She has worked as audit manager in accountancy practice gaining extensive experience across many areas in the public and private sector dealing with small, medium and large organisations. She brings significant experience in the charity sector to the role, with up to date knowledge of charity reporting requirements including Financial Reporting Standard 102 Statement of Recommended Practice.


Naomi Feely - Senior Research and Policy Officer

Naomi Feely joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in May 2021. Naomi is an experienced social researcher and policy analyst with over 15 years experience working in the public, private and community and voluntary sectors in Ireland. During this time she worked for a number of national not-for-profit organisations including Barnardos and Start Strong. Naomi holds a BA in Public Administration and an MA in Sociology both from the University of Limerick, along with a second MA in Political and Public Communications from Dublin City University.

Edel McDevitt - Membership Officer

Edel joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in 2019 bringing with her experience both in the not for profit and the corporate world. Having previously worked with the Irish Cancer Society as their Community Fundraising Manager, together with a fundraising team and a network of incredible volunteers all over Ireland, Edel successfully implemented campaigns such as Daffodil Day, Relay For Life, Pink Ribbon Day and Jersey Day. Edel also spent time working overseas with Goal in Sierra Leone, Malawi and India. Edel is passionate about children’s rights, in particular with regard to disability, inclusion, education and mental health. 

Emma McKinley – Head of Communications and Development 

Emma joined the Children's Rights Alliance in 2008 and loves working in her communications and development role. She has a BA (hons.) in Philosophy and Classical Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in Globalisation from DCU. She also has Certificates in Child Law (Law Society), Constitutional Law (DIT) and in Non-Profit Leadership and Management (National College of Ireland). She was external expert for the European Economic and Social Committee for an opinion on preventing child sexual abuse. Previously, Emma was Communications Officer at the ISPCC where she worked on all campaign and advocacy initiatives covering many areas of children’s rights.


Mary Nicholson – Social Policy Analyst 

Mary joined the Children's Rights Alliance in January 2020 and is a Social Policy Analyst leading on Child Poverty and Early Years. Mary has over 20 years' experience working in the area of child protection and children's rights in both service provision and policy/advocacy. Mary was most recently a Senior Manager in the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service with repsonsibility for a number of Family Centres, Assessment Centres and a Domestic Vioence Service. Prior to this, Mary worked in the ISPCC in a number of roles, including Head of Policy and Public Affairs. 



Steven Silke - Communications and Events Assistant

Steven joined the Children's Rights Alliance in July 2019. He has completed his final year of studies in Civil Law in NUIG. Since joining the Alliance, Steven has assisted in a wide variety of projects including the Know Your Rights campaign, Report Card 2020 and the Access to Justice programme. He has played a key role in ensuring that events held by the Alliance have worked successfully in a new online environment.