Members of the Council

CCEA's Council consists of a Chairperson and 13 other members appointed by the Department of Education (DE) and includes representatives from education, industry and commerce as well as having government assessors. The Council was re-constituted in February 2021 with a new Chair and 6 new members being appointed.

The newly reconstituted Council membership is as follows:


Mr Thomas (Tommy) O’ReillyMr Thomas (Tommy) O’Reilly

Tommy O’Reilly was appointed CCEA Chairperson in January 2021. Tommy was previously a senior civil servant, holding positions in several departments including CEO of the Social Security Agency and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education where he was responsible for education policy and children services. He was previously Vice Chair of the Ashton Community Trust, Belfast and he brings to the Council significant experience in governance, strategic decision making and leadership.

In April 2024, Tommy was also appointed to the Northern Ireland Policing Board by the Minister of Justice.

Council Members

Mrs Paula LeitchMrs Paula Leitch

Mrs Paula Leitch is a former Assistant Principal of the Belfast Model School for Girls and former member of the Belfast Education and Library Board. She is currently a Director of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council and a professional associate with CCEA. She brings to the Board experience of governance as a school governor, and leadership as a current Board Member of Stranmillis College.  Mrs Leitch has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Brian WilsonMr Brian Wilson

Brian is currently employed by the UK Home Office Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), leading the MAC Secretariat’s work in Northern Ireland. Mr Wilson was also a member of the Governing Body of the Belfast Metropolitan College. Mr Wilson brings to the Council experience of promoting good governance, holding teams to account, financial and risk management and influencing opinion and developing networks.

Mrs Donna Marie O'ConnorMrs Donna Marie O'Connor

Currently the Interim Director of HR with the NI Fire and Rescue Service responsible for building organisational capability, organisational design and development and driving business performance. She brings to the Council experience in governance including staffing and financial and risk management, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. Donna is the ARAC Chair and holds a number of academic, coaching and leadership qualifications and is a Chartered Member of CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Mrs O’Connor currently holds one other non-remunerated public appointment as a school governor of St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick.

Mrs Teresa Anne KingsleyMrs Teresa Anne Kingsley

A professional support lawyer (a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales) specialising in local government law including Education, Judicial Review, Local Authority governance and other Public law issues. She works for Lexis Nexis UK. Mrs Kingsley is Chair of CCEA’s Regulation Committee and brings to the Council experience in governance through having served as the Chair of Governors of a primary school; on the governance committee of a local youth football club and on employee strategic review forums. She has experience of strategic decision making and making an impact with others in both in a professional and voluntary capacity.

Professor Philip (Phil) HannaProfessor Philip (Phil) Hanna

A senior academic at Queen’s University Belfast (Dean of Education for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences). He brings to the Council experience in governance through his work as a member of the Education Implementation Strategy Group, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. He led work in developing assessment arrangements during the current pandemic.

Mr Hugh Edward McCarthyMr Hugh Edward McCarthy

Principal of Killicomaine Junior High School for 23 years until his recent retirement. He is a former Chief Examiner, writing the first GCSE paper in Science. He established a school Community Service group whilst teaching in North Belfast which addressed disability and continued community activities throughout his career. He brings to the Council experience in governance, strategic decision making and making an impact with others.

Ms Jackie BartleyMs Jackie Bartley

Former Principal of St Genevieve’s High School, Belfast, Jackie is currently seconded as President of the National Association of Head Teachers in Northern Ireland (NAHT - NI), the school leaders’ union. She was a teacher for the past 33 years and a school leader for 13 years and has been a member of several Department of Education Practitioner Groups. She has been the post primary Chairperson of the National Executive of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and has recently taken up the role of President. Ms Bartley has a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and qualifications, was formerly a co-opted Principal CCEA Council member and has worked closely with the CCEA Director of Education and her Team.

Dr Michael Johnston MBEDr Michael Johnston MBE

Dr Michael Johnston MBE is a former Chief Executive of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland. He is a former visiting Professor to the Ulster University Business School and Chairman of CAFRE’s College Advisory Group, a former Board member of the European Milk Forum and former Chairman of the International Dairy Federation’s Standing Committee on Marketing. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Dr Johnston is a Board member of Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health.

Ms Sheila McClellandMs Sheila McClelland

Ms Sheila McClelland is currently Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Professional’s Council, CORU, and is the former Chief Executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. She is also CCEA’s Finance Committee Chair, Board member of Cooperation Ireland and a member of the Governing Body of Maynooth University. She was previously Director of Corporate Services at CCEA and was Chairperson of the Board of the Consumer Council (CCNI), a Board member of NI Co-operation Overseas (NICO) and was a NI committee member on the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Professor Susan MorisonProfessor Susan Morison

Professor Susan Morison is Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professor of Healthcare Education at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). Formerly she was Director of Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Education, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Deputy Director of the QUB Dental School and Director of the DEL-funded, Centre for Excellence in Interprofessional Education (IPE). As Honorary Professor she undertakes unremunerated activities for QUB including PhD supervision, admissions interviews and contributes to healthcare education research projects. She has also been an Education Associate of the General Dental Council and served on a number of education-related committees.

Ms Máire ThompsonMs Máire Thompson

Ms Máire Thompson is currently principal of Hazelwood Integrated College. Newtownabbey, and formerly principal of Malone College, Belfast. She is an Associate Assessor with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) and an Associate of the Association of Education Advisers (AoEA). She is a member of various educational stakeholder groups, including the CCEA Curriculum and Assessment Principals’ Group, the Excluded Lives Advisory Group and the A Fair Start Stakeholders’ Reference Group. Maire is also CCEA’s Education Committee Chair. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for services to Education by Ulster University in 2022, the same year that Hazelwood College won TES UK School of the Year. She was awarded the Pearson UK Principal of the Year in 2017.

CCEA Officers

Gerry Campbell
Chief Executive

Miss Noleen Kennedy
Manager, Council Secretariat, Chief Executive's Office