Governance Structure

The day-to-day operations of The Undergraduate Awards are managed by a small Executive Team based in Dublin, Ireland. The UA Board of Directors oversees the Executive Team, and maintains legal and fiduciary responsibility for the organisation. The Academic Advisory Board consists of representatives from UA’s Partner Institutions, who meet annually to advise on the academic rigour of the awards programme.

Executive Team

Dr Brenda Cullen, Executive Director |

Dr Samantha Gordine, International Development Executive |

Bella FitzPatrick, Operations Manager and Judging Manager |

Lara Coyle, Communications & Brand Manager |

Aifric Ní Chriodáin, Communications Coordinator |

Tess Basquel Fahy, Communications Intern |

Ed O’Brien Hogan, Accounts Manager and Judging Coordinator |

UA Global Summit Team

Declan Meehan, UA Global Summit Manager |

Clare Ní Cheallaigh, UA Global Summit Speakers’ Coordinator |

Board of Directors

Jim Barry | Chair

Jim Barry is Chief Investment Officer of Blackrock’s Renewable Power Group and Co-Head of Global Infrastructure Debt.
Jim has been with Blackrock since 2011.  Prior to this role, he was Chief Executive of NTR plc from 2000, having previously served as Assistant Chief Executive and General Manager of Development.  Before joining NTR in 1998, Jim worked with Bain and Company and in the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley International.  Jim has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University College Cork and a Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.  Jim is on the Council of Patrons of Special Olympics Ireland and is a board member of The Ireland Funds. He also sits on a number of Advisory Boards related to activities in University College Cork and Harvard Business School.

 Louise Hodgson

Louise joined UA in April 2010 as Programme Manager, becoming Executive Director in January 2011 until January 2017. Prior to UA, Louise spent her career in management positions within the publishing sector. As editorial manager of Business & Finance Media Group, she led the Client Publishing department and was editor of many titles, including Who’s Who in Irish Business. She is currently a Board Member of the independent publisher Tramp Press, and in 2013, she edited the book New Thinking, New Ireland, featuring contributions from young Irish high-achievers. She currently works as Strategic Projects Communications Lead at Allied Irish Bank.

Oisin Hanrahan

Oisin Hanrahan was one of the initial founders of The Undergraduate Awards in 2008. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Handy, the leading on-demand home services platform. Oisin’sidea is changing the way people receive and provide home services. Prior to founding Handy, Oisin founded MiCandidate, a service that provided real time political content to media companies in 25 European countries. He also founded Clearwater Group, a real estate development business in Budapest, Hungary.


Rachael Naughton

Rachael is Director of The Naughton Scholarships, a program established in 2008 to promote the study of engineering, science and technology at third level in Ireland. She is also on the board overseeing the Naughton Fellowships, a Graduate Student Exchange Program in Science and Engineering between the University of Notre Dame, Indiana and Ireland. Rachael graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in History. Previously Rachael qualified as a Solicitor with the Law Society of Ireland and spent a number of years practicing as a financial services lawyer with Dillon Eustace solicitors. She also serves as a Director of Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin.

Ruairí Quinn 

Ruairí is is a former Irish Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Education and Skills from 2011 to 2014. Before entering public life, Ruairí was an architect and town planner. His depth of experience and political acumen is extensive, having served as a Minister in six different Departments, including as Minister for Finance from 1993-1997.  He was director of elections for Mary Robinson’s Presidential Campaign in 1990 and is recognised as being one of the most reforming Ministers for Education since the foundation of the state.



Terence O’Rourke

Terence has been Chairman of Enterprise Ireland since August 2013, a director of Hibernia REIT plc since its flotation in December 2013, and joined the board of the Irish Times Limited in May 2013. He was previously Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland until his retirement from the firm in April 2013. From 2007 to 2013, he was also a member of KPMG’s Global Board, Global Executive Team and EMA Board. Terence is a Fellow, and was President in 2004/05, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. A former member of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board, he is currently Chairman of Enactus Ireland, President of the Advisory Board of Kinsale Capital Management, and a member of the boards of the Irish Management Institute, the Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin City University and the Irish Film Institute. Terence graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in Economics and History.

Academic Advisory Board


Prof. Abdul Rahman Bin Obeid Alyoubi

Vice-President for Educational Affairs, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia

 Tom Boland

Higher Education Authority, Republic of Ireland

 Prof. Alan Dearle

Dean of Science, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Bob Jacobsen

Dean for Undergraduate Studies, University of California Berkeley, USA

Lise Laporte

Director of International Learning, Western University, Canada

Judith Shaw

Head of Higher Education Mobility at Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland

Ben Wildavsky

Director of Higher Education Studies, Rockefeller Institute of Government, USA

Barry Sheehan

Head of Design, Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Taylor Eighmy

Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

Colleen Dube

Chief Executive Officer at Uversity

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