Our Board

We are governed in our work by a voluntary Board of Directors made up of medical and business experts who ensure that our activities are consistent with our mission and objectives. None of the Board members receive fees for their time or contribution to the Irish Heart Foundation, nor reimbursements for any expenses incurred.

Professor Emer Shelley, Chair

Professor Emer Shelley is Chair of the Irish Heart Foundation. A public health expert with a special interest in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, Prof Shelley is a Fellow and currently Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. She is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health in the UK.

Prof Shelley is a retired specialist in public health medicine and also served as Clinical Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She completed her Masters in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

With a strong background in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention, Prof Shelley has had a long association with the Irish Heart Foundation. She served as Project Leader of the Kilkenny Health Project, a demonstration project which aimed to reduce death and disability from heart disease in Ireland and subsequently served as Medical Director of the Foundation.

Prof Shelley also served as a member of the Cardiovascular Health Strategy Group which produced a report entitled Building Healthier Hearts in 2000. She was Chair of the Steering Group of the National Acute Stroke Register and served as public health lead for the HSE’s Clinical and Integrated Programmes for Older People.


Kevin Cardiff

Mr Kevin Cardiff is a former senior civil servant having served as Secretary General at the Department of Finance from 2010 to 2012. Kevin joined the Department of Finance in 1984 and had a number of roles there, including responsibility for the taxation and financial services division and tax policy. In March 2012, he was nominated as Ireland’s representative at the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg for a six-year period.

Kevin currently serves as an independent non-executive director of KBC Bank Ireland, has served in several audit committee roles, and provides occasional consultancy services in the public and private sectors. He is also a published author. His memoir “Recap: inside Ireland’s Financial crisis” was published in 2016.


Jeanette Codd McDonagh

Jeanette Codd McDonagh qualified as a solicitor with the Law Society of Ireland in 2005.  Having first worked in the areas of commercial property and commercial litigation, she joined the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) in 2008 as a legal adviser to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) working in the areas of Public Private Partnerships and the procurement of other national projects.

In 2010 she took the role as Procurement Manager/Legal Adviser for the NTMA central function covering all the agencies under the aegis of the NTMA, including the State Claims Agency (SCA), NDFA, National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and, the then, National Pension Reserve Fund, now, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and NewERA.

Jeanette then moved to NAMA’s legal department in mid-2013 to establish a procurement function, set policy and establish a legal structure for major investment projects such as the development of the Dublin Docklands area and the more recent Glass Bottle site in Sandymount by way of a joint ventures with the private sector. She currently holds the position of Head of Procurement and State Aid within NAMA.

Jeanette is also a member of NAMA’s Green Committee, a CEDR Accredited Mediator and has been a member of the Law Society of Ireland In-House and Public Sector Committee since 2017.


Dr Catherine Conlon

Dr Catherine Conlon is a Senior Medical Officer in Public Health with special interests in health protection, nutrition, sustainability, social and commercial determinants of health.

Formerly, she was a lecturer in UCC teaching students in Public Health, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood where she led a team of experts on building the evidence base to support nutrition policy in Ireland before being redeployed to the HSE Public Health Department, in St Finbarr’s Hospital May 2020 to help in the early stages of the fight against Covid-19.

Catherine has been an integral part of the fight against obesity by being a member of the board of Obesity Prevention Steering Group in Northern Ireland, the Special Advisory Group on Obesity Policy in the Republic of Ireland and the RCPI Obesity Specialist Group. She is a former co-chair of the All-Island Obesity Action Forum.

Catherine’s interest in cardiovascular disease is displayed through her research on the causes of heart disease and causal hypotheses with particular focus on chronic infection and socioeconomic group in aetiology of angina.

She graduated from University College Dublin in 1987 with a Degree in Medicine and Surgery and later with a Masters in Public Health in 1992. Catherine has also undertaken higher specialist training with Faculty of Public Health, RCPI, and became a Member of the Faculty of Public Health in 1997.

She is a regular contributor to media in relation to public health, climate, and biodiversity issues. She is the editor of three non-fiction books on public health and climate issues; Modern Culture and Wellbeing: Towards a Sustainable Future (Veritas, 2020), Saol; Irish Thoughts on Life and Living (Collins Press, 2014), and Sonas; Celtic thoughts on Happiness (Hachette, 2009).



Dr Walter Cullen

Dr Walter Cullen is a GP and Professor of Urban General Practice at University College Dublin (UCD).

As the head of General Practice at the UCD School of Medicine, Dr Cullen is responsible for teaching and research in general practice. Prior to his appointment at UCD, Dr Cullen was the Foundation Professor of General Practice at the Graduate Entry Medical School at the University of Limerick.

Dr Cullen qualified in medicine from UCD and is a member of both the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK.

He also currently works as a GP in Dublin and has a special interest in mental health and in the health of vulnerable groups including drug users and people living in socio-economically deprived areas.

David Dempsey

David Dempsey is Senior Vice President and former Country Leader and General Manager at Salesforce Ireland, a cloud-based software computer company with almost 3,000 employees in Ireland.

David is one of the Co-founders of Salesforce EMEA, bringing Salesforce to Europe in 2000. Under his leadership the EMEA division of Salesforce has grown from a three person Irish start up to a pan European business with offices across Europe with more than 17,000 employees across the continent.

David is passionate about the impact which business can make on society and is actively involved as an advisor to Salesforce EMEA’s sustainability, inclusion and impact investing focus and initiatives.

A certified member of the Institute of Directors, David has previously held senior executive positions in Oracle in the UK and Ireland and served as a member of the Oracle Ireland Executive Management team.

He has an MBA (2005) and DBA (2015) from Waterford Institute of Technology and recently co-authored a book ‘Industry Trends in Cloud Computing’, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018 .

Professor Francis Finucane

Professor Francis Finucane is a consultant physician in endocrinology and general internal medicine at Galway University Hospitals and an Honorary Personal Professor in Medicine at  NUI Galway.

A graduate of RCSI, he subsequently received an MD from Trinity College Dublin for research on obesity and related metabolic disorders in young people.  He completed and MRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge which examined the influence of exercise on metabolic health and cardiovascular risk in older people.

Prof Finucane has extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of obesity.  Since returning to Ireland in 2010, he established a regional bariatric service in the West of Ireland for patients living with severe and complicated obesity. He established the country’s first masters programme in obesity at NUIG. He has published widely on obesity policy and practice.  He is a member of the scientific committee of the European Diabetes Epidemiology Group and is a council member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Professor Joe Harbison

Professor Joe Harbison is a consultant in medicine for the elderly and stroke medicine at St James’s Hospital in Dublin and Associate Professor of Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Harbison initially trained in Dublin and then received his higher specialist training in North East England. He worked as a consultant physician and senior lecturer in Yorkshire before coming to Trinity College Dublin in 2006. Between 2009 and 2017 he served as the HSE National Clinical Lead for Stroke in Ireland.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the Royal College of Physicians of London and the European Stroke Organisation. He is also Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Harbison’s research and clinical interests are around stroke and cerebrovascular disease and he is also interested in the causes of cognitive impairment, fatigue, and psychological distress in people with stroke, as well as post-stroke fatigue and anxiety disorder, and atrial fibrillation.


Joan O’Brien

Joan O’ Brien is a chartered certified accountant with considerable experience in retail banking, life and pensions, and international banking. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin with an MSc in Business Administration and MPhil in Women and Gender Studies. Joan is a member of the Institute of Directors and completed the diploma in Company Direction in 2016.

In 2019 Joan established herself as an independent consultant with f-stop consulting where she supports clients in Financial Services to enhance their risk management and financial control practices.

She has a deep appreciation and knowledge of risk management, corporate governance and regulatory compliance following a long career in regulated industries. Joan also has a strong commitment to and involvement in diversity and inclusion as a critical aspect of corporate culture.


Dr. Anne Marie O’Flynn

Dr Anne Marie O’Flynn is a consultant cardiologist at Mallow General Hospital (MGH) in Mallow Co Cork.

A graduate of UCC, Dr O’Flynn has a PhD from the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology in UCC which focused on nocturnal hypertension and subclinical cardiovascular disease. She has authored several peer reviewed research publications.

Dr O’Flynn has a keen interest in cardiovascular disease prevention and chronic disease management. She has particular interest in the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in the diagnosis and monitoring of hypertension.

Dr O’Flynn is also interested in health service management and quality of care. She sits on the senior management team of MGH and chairs the hospital quality, safety and risk committee.



Brian O’Sullivan

Brian O'Sullivan Headshot - Board Member 2024

Brian O’Sullivan is formerly a Senior Executive Director with International Investment and Underwriting.  While at IIU, he directed a number of significant investments including the development of Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados and GBE Technologies, a Dublin-based betting software developer where he served as CEO and Executive Chairman.  Prior to IIU, Brian was an Associate Director at DCC plc and worked at General Electric in Ireland and the US.

Brian graduated from UCD with an honour’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1985. He then went on to complete a Masters in Business Administration at Boston College.

He is former Chairman of Machakos Project Committee – a Blackrock College project funding and developing a secondary school and technical college in Machakos, Kenya.  This project has raised €1.2m over 10 years to complete the buildings and the colleges now have over 600 pupils enrolled.  Brian also served on the Board of University, a charity providing scholarships to mature student to enable them to enrol full time to earn a Bachelors’ Degree.

In his spare time, Brian cycles with the Willow Wheelers Cycling Club. He is an active member of Woodbrook Golf Club and plays 6-a-side soccer weekly. He is a keen rugby supporter and is a member of UCD RFC and Blackrock College RFC.


Wally Young

Wally Young is a public relations consultant and media trainer who provides a mix of public relations consultancy, advocacy and media interview training to a select range of clients. He specialises in crisis media planning and execution. He is the former Head of Media Relations for the Defence Forces. He retired in 1996 to establish Young Communications.

Mr Young was engaged as communications adviser to the anti-tobacco organisation ASH Ireland for 20 years up to 2017, after which he was appointed to the board of ASH Ireland. He advised both ASH Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation in the lead up-to and introduction of the workplace smoking ban in 2004.

Mr Young was engaged as a media adviser (part-time) over an eleven-year period to both President Michael D Higgins and President Mary McAleese. He advised President McAleese in her 1997 election campaign and President Higgins in his recent re-election campaign.


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