Dr Niamh O’Reilly joined Maynooth University as Chief of Staff in 2022. As a member of the University Executive leadership team, she works directly with the President to advise on and manage her representational role, execute a multi-stakeholder strategy and ensure effective and streamlined day-to-day operations are maintained across the University’s strategic priorities.
Niamh has worked in the lifelong learning field for over 20 years in a range of leadership roles. She served as CEO of AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, where she led advocacy activities that resulted in the annual Mitigating Educational Disadvantage (renamed REACH) fund for community education (circa €10 million). In 2020, she chaired the Irish COVID-19 Tertiary Education Response Working Group on Mitigating Educational Disadvantage for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science.
Niamh was appointed to two Irish State Boards: Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) (2018-2022) and SOLAS (the Further Education and Training Authority (2019-present). She served as the past Chairperson of the SOLAS Strategic Planning Committee and is currently the Chairperson of the SOLAS Audit and Risk Committee. In 2022, she was elected by the Governing Authority of Maynooth University to the NUI Senate.
Niamh has established national and regional networks of educators and learners, including the Network of Adult Learning Across Borders (Ireland, UK & N. Ireland), and she has written extensively on adult learning advocacy. She has also guest lectured on adult learning and served as the past Chairperson of the Adult Learner Journal.
Her work at the European level includes acting as the designated national coordinator of the European Agenda for Adult Learning in Ireland (2016-2022), serving as an elected board member of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) (2011-2017), member of the editorial board of Andragogical Studies, and acting as keynote/speaker at over 30 national and international conferences, including for the European Commission; and served as the national delegate of the UNESCO global conference, CONFINTEA. In 2022, she was honoured as a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame for her contribution to adult learning advocacy.
Niamh holds a BSc (Hons) in Botany from the University of Dundee, an MSc in Botany from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) as a Walsh Fellow, a PgDip in Statistics from TCD, an HDES from University College Dublin (UCD), and a PhD in Adult and Community Education from Maynooth University.