Kate holds the post of Director since April 2013 within RCN having previously worked as a Rural Enabler (Institutions) within the Rural Enabler Programme working with the Orange Order, the GAA, Churches and others to address issues of sectarianism and racism. She continues to work to build peace across NI, and to represent the interests of community groups on issues relating to Brexit, NSEW relations and balanced regional development.
Kate is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, with a BSc in Agricultural Economics and Management and an MSc in Rural Development. She has a strong background in creative thinking techniques, facilitation skills, research techniques, and supporting groups in the areas of project development and implementation. Kate has tutored on the MSc in Rural Sustainable Development for the past ten years and also co-ordinates, designs and teaches on the NUI Galway Community Development Practice Diploma course.
In the past, Kate has been a mentor for the International Fund for Ireland’s Community Leadership Programme and was Vice Chair of Rural Community Network and a member of the Joint Community and Voluntary Sector concordat. She sits on the DARD Monitoring Committee and the Equality sub group for the Rural Development Programme. She is a strong advocate for the community and voluntary sector in NI and is passionate about issues of the development of new leadership and succession planning in the sector.
Kate’s particular interests are partnership co-ordination and development, peace building, networking and supporting community led local development.
Policy & Public Affairs Officer
Aidan took up the post of Policy and Public Affairs Officer in 2010 although has been with RCN since 2007 as Community Development Officer (Learning and Skills). He has responsibility for developing, managing and co-ordinating RCN’s work on policy and research, advocating for sustainable change and contributing to RCN’s role as an effective voice for rural communities.
Aidan is from Derrytresk in East Tyrone and grew up on a small farm. He graduated from Queen's University with a BA in Economic and Social History. He then continued his studies at NUI Maynooth where he undertook the Higher Diploma in Community Development. Aidan was previously employed as a community development worker with Lenadoon Community Forum in Belfast.
Membership & Skills Officer
Conor McGale joined RCN in July 2016 as Membership Support and Skills Development Officer. He is responsible for the promotion and delivery of learning, sharing and development of rural community development skills and practice, as well as supporting the RCN membership in building their capacity to undertake rural community development activity. Conor also works with groups in measuring their impact and calculating their Social Value using the Social Value Engine.
Conor has over 25 years’ experience working in the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland. This has included managing an Advice Centre, project management of a large community facility capital build project, co-ordinating of a cross border training programme, and the delivery of a multimedia oral history project based on the border and in rural areas of NI. He has extensive experience in fundraising, impact measurement, social media, project management, staff/volunteer management, project evaluations, strategic & business planning, and group facilitation. Conor graduated from the University of Ulster with a BSc Hons in Occupational Psychology and has achieved the Diploma in Community Development Practice, PRINCE 2 Project Management Qualification, ILM Level 5 in Management and a Diploma in Digital Marketing.
Senior CSI Officer (Cohesion, Sharing and Integration)
Charmain Jones joined RCN in December 2010 as the Community Development Officer for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration. Since May 2021 she is the Senior CSI Officer. Charmain’s role involves co-ordinating, designing, implementing and disseminating rural community development support initiatives to address social need, social exclusion, social cohesion and community capacity in rural communities at a regional level She has varied experience in the voluntary sector since 2000, in a paid and voluntary capacity, very much at a grass roots level, as Project Co-ordinator for the PLACE Initiatives, Youth Leader in Charge of Goal Line Youth Centre, Community Development Officer for Carleton Street Community Development Association.
She is a graduate from the University of Ulster, Jordanstown with a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Studies and a Masters Degree in Marketing Management. She also has a Diploma in Conflict Management and Politics from Queen’s University and has recently qualified from Queen’s University with a Certificate in Management Practice. She has undertaken other pieces of training and certified courses in History and Culture, Community Capacity Building, Good Relations, Civic Leadership and Community Leadership. In 2019 she was awarded the prestigious Community Relations Council’s Exceptional Achievement Award alongside Marion Jamison from REACT.
NLHF Project Coordinator
Emma McAleer joined RCN in May 2021 as Project Coordinator on a National Lottery Heritage Fund project. She will be responsible for enabling and supporting member groups in the development of heritage focused projects. She will work closely with member groups and board members to build and develop a strong connection with the heritage sector across Northern Ireland.
Emma has over 9 years experience working on community engagement projects with a wide range of groups from children and young people to women’s groups and older people. She brings a wide range of experience from the heritage sector where she has worked for National Museums NI in numerous roles and at the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum. Emma is a graduate of Kings College London receiving a Masters in Education In Arts and Cultural Settings and at Ulster University Belfast with a BA Hons Degree in Fine and Applied Arts specialising in textile art. She has extensive experience in project delivery, event management, digital engagement, volunteer management, project evaluation and in facilitating group work. She is passionate about engaging and encouraging communities to explore and engage with their local heritage through creative and digital engagement.
Finance & IT Officer
Kathryn graduated from the University of Ulster in Education and Maths and worked in Belfast and London before returning to Northern Ireland in 1992 to take up a post in Rural Community Network.
Kathryn has worked in many roles within the organisation - her current role is that of Finance & IT Officer with responsibility for the day to day finances and financial procedures of the Network including payroll and pensions. Kathryn also assists with the organisation of Board meetings and oversees the organisation’s biennial elections. Kathryn is also responsible for maintaining the Network’s IT system and the website. She is a member of the Corporate Management Team.
John has been the Chair of RCN since 2019 and has a long involvement in local rural community development. He is a founding member of the Poyntzpass Community Regeneration Company Limited and currently holds the position of Secretary. He has been active in a number of projects which have led to the regeneration of the village. John is a Board member of the Rural Housing Association. He has a keen interest in the social and economic regeneration of rural areas through the development of social enterprise at a local and regional level; and in building positive community relations. John has taken partial retirement in the Rural Affairs Division of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. John is married with two adult children and four grandchildren and his main recreational pursuit is angling.
Noelle Donnell has with on RCN Board since January 2017. She has over 20 years’ experience as a volunteer and as a worker within the rural sector in Northern Ireland, mainly across the North West.
This has included working as a project co-ordinator on various community development and Good Relations projects. She has been a committee member of a number of organisations, including local farmers’ groups, village groups and as part of umbrella groups like The Villages Together. She is a Director of Hummingbird (NI) CIC, a rural based Good Relations and Community Development company, with specific experience in flags, emblems, identity and symbolism. She is currently a social partner on Derry & Strabane LAG. She served on District Policing Partnerships as an independent member from inception in 2003 until 2008, serving as Vice-Chair for two years.
She has a Masters Degree in Sustainable Rural Development with Queen’s and graduated with a commendation in 2011. Her dissertation focused on Gender Inequality on the Family Farm, looking specifically at women, their gendered roles and identity on an intergenerational basis.
Frances Spence lives in Ardess, Co Fermanagh and is actively involved in her local Ardess Community Association and is a member of St Mary's Ardess Church of Ireland Select Vestry. In 2002 Frances, along with other local community representatives, started up a charity, Orphan's Hope. The main aim of this Charity is to provide workers and teachers for local orphanages in China and pay for children to be fostered out of the orphanages by local Chinese people. They also support the Dawn Project which creates a family where children can be fostered while they are in transition to find adoptive families and who have a medical need that requires care beyond what an orphanage can provide for them. Frances is Assistant Guide Leader with North Fermanagh Rangers, Assistant Guide Leader with 1st Magheraculmoney Brownies and she is on the Fermanagh Executive Committee of the Girl Guide Association as the International Advisor and represents Fermanagh at Ulster level. In her spare time she enjoys going to concerts and walking. Frances is married and has two grown up children and two grandsons and has been the Administrator for Fermanagh Rural Community Network since 1998.
Arnold is a former Councillor on ArmaghBanbridgeCraigavon Council and former President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA)
He is currently chairman of Loughgall and District Improvement Association and serves on several other community organisations including TADA, Lough Neagh Partnership, Craigavon Industrial Development Organisation, Portadown 2000, and the Rotary Club of Portadown.
Arnold is a former member of the SELB and still has an interest in education being a Governor currently on three local schools in Portadown.
Ian was elected to the Board of RCN in November 2020 and represents the community sector in Co Armagh.
Patsy has been active in community development since 1991 when he worked towards the foundation of Middletown & District Dev Assoc and was involved with RoSA from 1992 until 2006, where he was a Board member. He has served on RCN Board for many years and was also on the South Armagh Tourism Initiative and a member of the Cross Border IT project and the cross border Development of Infrastructure People’s Programme involving 4 halls in the North and 4 in the South. He represents Middletown on the Community Forum of NIHE and also the Ulster Canal. Patsy enjoys sports and supports his local sports club and all activities in the Middletown and district locally. He is presently Secretary of Middletown & District Dev Assoc and has always shown a great commitment to community development throughout Armagh and Monaghan. Patsy’s greatest asset is his willingness to gather and disseminate information to ensure the spread of ideas and encourage local and regional networking.
Gus was elected to the Board of RCN in November 2020 and represents the community sector in Co Derry / L'Derry.
Philip was elected to the Board of RCN in May 2019 and represents the community sector in Co Derry / L'Derry.
Karin was elected to the Board of RCN in May 2019 and represents the community sector in Co Derry / L'Derry.
An experienced community organiser with particular skills in community building and community relations, partnership work and teambuilding and the support & management of volunteers.
Rosemary is the Co Fermanagh community sector representative on the RCN Board
Nick Moore is the Chair of County Down Rural Community Network having been a board member of the organisation since 2008. Nick has several years’ experience working with rural community groups and has previously served as an RCN board member since 2011. He has worked in the science research and education sectors for over 25 years, and is also active in the early years and childcare sector as he and his wife Jill are directors of Chirpy Chicks Playgroup Ltd, a not-for-profit preschool playgroup based in the Ards Peninsula.
Eimear is Project Manager for NIRN (Northern Ireland Resources Network) and is responsible for developing the Reuse & Repair Network in Northern Ireland to establish a membership base targeting community and third sector organisations. She is active in a number of community organisations including Techno Tyrone Ltd, an organisation which focuses on rural regeneration of Mid and West Tyrone and management and development of a community based business park - The Milestone, and Mid Ulster Community & Arts Trust, an organisation which promote heritage, culture and arts in rural Tyrone.
Liam was elected to the Board of RCN in November 2020 and represents the community sector in Co Tyrone.
Liam Campbell, lives outside Plumbridge in the Sperrin Mountains in Co. Tyrone and is originally from Inishowen in Co. Donegal. He is a founding member and chair of Aghabrack and District Community Association and a board member of Rural Area Partnership in Derry. Liam is the Built and Cultural Heritage Officer with Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership, having previously worked as a television producer on programmes such as Lesser Spotted Ulster for some 20 years before returning to academia. He has published and lectured widely on heritage and environmental issues, especially about the Northwest of Ireland. His new work Room for the River has just been published. Holding undergraduate degrees from NUI Maynooth and masters degrees from both Queens’ University Belfast and Ulster University, he completed his PhD at Ulster University in 2011 on the cultural heritage of rivers. He is a visiting lecturer at East Tennessee State University where he spent a year as Basler Chair for Integration of the Arts and Sciences in 2018. He is married to Ann and they have four daughters.
Aidan Bunting represents the community sector and was nominated from Omagh Forum.
Ruth is Business Development Manager at Rural Housing Association. In her role as Business Development Manager, she is responsible for overseeing the delivery of Rural Housing’s Shared Neighbourhoods work as well as co-ordinating community relations initiatives in isolated rural communities across Northern Ireland, with the aim of building vibrant, connected rural communities. Ruth also works alongside the NI Housing Executive to deliver Rural Housing Need Tests, with the aim of identifying hidden need for social housing in rural communities. Ruth has an MSc in Communications, PR & Advertising from the University of Ulster and is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Denise is the farming representative nominated by the Ulster Farmers' Union.
Raymond Craig has been involved in rural community development for over 10 years and has been on the Rural Community Network Board for 6 of those years. He has also contributed to collaborative working particularly in early years, primary and post primary education and has a deep understanding into the vital role of schools within rural communities. As an advocate of the community planning process, he feels it is important to develop positive partnerships in order to create a future that enhances the quality of life for all within rural communities. In his role as Adult Community Education Officer with North West Regional College he has been proactive in assisting rural community groups to become learning venues delivering a range of subjects including ICT. This ensures that students are offered door step learning opportunities regardless of where they live. He also has a keen interest in Third World Politics, debating and social inclusion issues.