Ark Housing Board

Debbie Donnelly


Throughout her career, Debbie has been involved in high profile and often contentious areas of public sector policy. Latterly, she has worked on major programmes of public sector reform on policing, criminal justice and the wider public sector. She has a long history of working on equality and human rights issues and is currently a Commissioner with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Recently, Debbie has been working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland and as an adviser to the European Union on women, peace and security strategic plans and evaluation.

She has been a member of the Board of Ark Housing for six years and is into her fourth year as Board Chair. During that time, she has contributed to the positive change within the organisation which now has in place an ambitious programme and target for growth supported by robust governance arrangements.

Ian McAvoy


After graduating in Economics, Ian studied Accountancy, holding the role of Finance Director and then CEO for over 16 years for a leading Irish brand. Ian has a wealth of expertise in Strategic Planning, Transformation, Marketing and Finance. He has held several non-executive positions: Chair of Playboard, Vice Chair of Sport NI and Disability Sport NI. Currently, Ian is also a Board Member of Extern, Ulster Community Investment Trust and North Belfast Business Centre.

Ian has a passion for sport, especially rugby football, firstly as a player and now as a manager, selector and administrator. He is President/ Chairman of Queens University Belfast (QUB) Rugby.

Nicole Mulholland

Board Member

Nicole Mulholland has 25 years management and leadership experience. She helped over 80 young entrepreneurs start their own businesses during her time with Shell LiveWIRE before moving on to a cross-border economic development role with Co-operation Ireland where she managed a number of tourism initiatives. Nicole was the first Secretary General of the Association of Irish Festivals and Events, based in Galway. On her return to Northern Ireland Nicole was responsible for leading economic development and regeneration initiatives in East Antrim before becoming a founding Director of Leading Governance Limited. Nicole currently works in Queen’s University in a project management role, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Ashton Community Trust.

Nicole is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing

Deborah Reynolds

Board Member

Deborah Reynolds has over 20 years’ experience in the public sector within Northern Ireland and has extensive experience across the fields of planning, performance, governance and financial management.

She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors and has been a Board Member since 2016.  Deborah currently sits on both the Governance & Audit and Compliance & Risk Committees.

Tom Doran

Board Member

Tom is a professional manager with over 30 years’ experience in the Utility/Energy sector.
Running his own consultancy business specialising in business change, business restructuring, stakeholder engagement, risk management and management development. As part of his consultancy, Tom is a recognised Chartered Manager and Independent End Point Assessor.
Dedicated to supporting and building on existing skills, giving managers the focus and support they need to take them and their business to the next level in professional management. Tom is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute Management, Chartered Institute Consultants and the Assessors Guild
Tom holds a CMI Level7 Diploma in Leadership Coaching and Mentoring

Sarah Corrigan

Board Member

Sarah is a Dual Qualified Solicitor, currently working as a Development Officer at the Public Interest Litigation Support Project. Prior to this, Sarah worked at Housing Rights, for nearly 10 years. As the in-house Solicitor, Sarah acted for a number of tenants experiencing difficulties in maintaining or accessing tenancies, challenged Public Bodies and worked hard in the fight to prevent homelessness.

Sarah has an LLB and LPC, awarded by Northumbria University, holds a first-class honours in an LLM in Human Rights Law, from Queens University Belfast and a Certificate from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Belfast. Sarah is also a qualified legal mediator in Civil and Commercial matters, accredited by Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Belfast and the Law Society of NI.

Kevin McElroy

Board Member

Kevin has over 10 years’ experience in Financial Services focused on Credit Risk management, Real Estate Finance and Restructuring.

Currently, a Senior Manager in FinTrU Ltd, Kevin is responsible for delivery of Regulatory and Risk Management projects for Investment Banks and development of all staff. Prior to this, Kevin was a Portfolio Manager with NAMA, Dublin and Allied Irish Bank.

Kevin has an MSc in Financial Services, awarded by University College Dublin and holds a degree in Business Studies from University of Ulster. Kevin has also achieved Chartered Banker status with the Institute of Bankers in Ireland.

Denise Burns

Board Member

Denise has over 15 years’ experience working in the public and third sectors, focusing on governance and risk.  She is a qualified Company Secretary and is currently the Corporate Governance Manager for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, managing audit, risk, corporate governance, and grants functions as well as the Office of the Mayor.  Prior to this, Denise worked in social housing for over 10 years.

Sara McClintock

Board Member

Sara McClintock has over 18 years’ experience devising and delivering complex stakeholder communications strategies, nationally and internationally. She currently runs her own communications consultancy agency, specialising in the energy sector.

Sara started her career working in technology PR in London, then moved to Brussels and a broader communications and event management role, working for a European trade association. Moving back to Northern Ireland in 2004, she took up the post of Communications Manager at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – the world’s largest environmental organisation.

Catherine Blackbourne

Board Member

Catherine has over 20 years’ experience as a qualified accountant and currently holds a number of consultancy positions, specifically within a Social Enterprise, Property companies and a Facilities Management company. She has previously held roles in the transport industry, mechanical and electrical contracting, property investment and development, and corporate banking.

Catherine has a Master of Arts in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants Ireland. She sits as a Parent Governor at Ballyclare High School and is a member of the Finance and the Premises Sub-Committees.

Ward Erwin

Board Member

Ward’s housing career began in the Housing Executive’s Housing Division – initially, developing performance management systems and delivering Learning and Development strategies. Following a period as a local District Housing Manager, he was responsible for the development of Tenant/Community participation strategies and community consultation standards. Successfully applying for Lottery funding, he was the Project Manager for a multi-sectoral consortium, delivering a regional environmentally led regeneration programme in social housing communities. Seconded to the Northern Ireland Office, he held several senior strategic/ policy posts encompassing community safety.

Returning to the Housing Executive, he developed Excellent Service Standards in delivering housing services and introduced evaluation services appraising external investments and housing policy development.

Subsequently, as a Social Investments Manager, he developed the Social Housing Enterprise Strategy which led to investments in local community enterprises, enabling communities to be more self-sufficient. As a result, he was instrumental in developing the innovative Social Value Agenda for the Landlord Services Divisions.

Ward has a degree in Public Policy from the University of Ulster and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management from the Institute of Management. He  has sat on a range of Boards and Strategic Committees and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Michael Shiel

Apprentice Board Member

Michael currently works for Triangle Housing Association as a support worker and has been appointed to the Ark Housing Board as part of the Boardroom Apprentice scheme. He is really looking forward to understanding the practicalities of being a Board Member as well as how to apply these skills in the most effective way.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Alison, and their beagle, Roxy as well as watching rugby, reading, geocaching and engaging with people.