The Children’s Rights Alliance staff is based at our office in Dublin:

Tanya Ward - Chief Executive

Tanya Ward is the Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance since 2012. Previously, she was the Deputy Director at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) where she worked for eight years. She has also worked with the Irish Centre for Migration Studies, the Irish Refugee Council, the Curriculum Development Unit and the City of Dublin VEC. A former lecturer in human rights on the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD and the Masters in Equality Studies in the UCD School for Social Justice, she is a former board member with Campaign for Children and played a major role in the children’s referendum of 2012. She was also a former Vice President for the International Federation of Human Rights (2008-2011). Tanya has graduate and post-graduate degrees from UCC and a LLM in Human Rights from Queens University Belfast as well as a Certificate in Managing Community and Voluntary Organisations from the National College of Ireland. She has a keen interest in international human rights monitoring and lectures widely on this topic and has authored several reports on a wide range of issues including garda, judicial and criminal justice reform, equality law, education, anti-racism, separated children and children’s rights.  

Tanya is currently the Chair of the National Advisory Council for the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. She is also a board member of the Law Centre for Children and Young People Board and a member of the Oversight Board for the Childcare Law Reporting Project. You can reach Tanya at or on +353 1 860 5569.

Julie Ahern - Legal, Policy and Services Director

Julie joined the Children's Rights Alliance in September 2013 and is Legal, Policy and Services Director. Prior to this she has worked in various roles across the Alliance and led the establishment of the Access to Justice Initiative and projects such as the annual Report Card and the Children’s Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Prior to joining the Alliance she worked on the children's rights referendum campaign with the ISPCC and NASC (The Irish Immigrant Support Centre). Julie is a qualified barrister having been called in 2018. She holds a BL from the Honourable Society of King's Inns, a BCL (Clinical)(Hons) and an LLM in Child and Family Law both from University College Cork. Julie has also completed the Leadership Development for Transition and Change programme with the Social Intelligence Associates. Julie sits on the boards of Ballyfermot Star and One in Four. You can reach Julie at or on +353 1 860 5563. 

Emma Archbold -  Campaigns and Communications Director

Emma joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in August 2018 and is the Campaigns and Communications Director. Prior to this, she worked in various roles across the Alliance including Membership, Communications and Campaign Lead on our 1,2,3 Online Safety Campaign. Before joining the Alliance, Emma worked at Persuasion Republic, a communications and social marketing agency that works exclusively with not for profits. She has assisted in local and national public awareness, advocacy and media campaigns and the development of communication strategies for leading not for profits in the sector. Emma holds a BA in English Studies (Trinity College Dublin) and a MSc in Politics and Communication (London School of Economics) and has completed the Certificate in Public Relations with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland and the Leadership Development for Transition and Change programme with the Social Intelligence Associate. In 2022, Emma won the Emerging Leader award at the Charities Institute Ireland Excellence Awards.  You can reach Emma at or on +353 1 860 5561.

Theresa Burke - Governance and Finance Director

Theresa joined the Children Rights Alliance in April 2018 as Head of Governance and Finance with approximately 15 years’ experience in finance. Theresa qualified with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 2005, becoming a fellow in 2010. She has worked as audit manager in accountancy practice gaining extensive experience across many areas in the public and private sector dealing with small, medium and large organisations. She brings significant experience in the charity sector to the role, with up to date knowledge of charity reporting requirements including Financial Reporting Standard 102 Statement of Recommended Practice. You can reach Theresa at

Margaret Gallagher - Legal and Policy Manager

Margaret Gallagher joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in September 2022 as Legal and Policy Manager. Prior to this she worked in various roles in the NGO and international law sectors. During the last two years Margaret has worked for the Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), REDRESS UK notably on the Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe case, and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Margaret has also completed pro bono work for CHILD USA, the Transnational Legal Clinic (UPenn), Lighthouse Relief Greece, the International Refugee Assistance Project, Hazara Research Collective, Article 33 Institute (as International Criminal Law fellow), presented research to UN Women on the Women Peace and Security Agenda on its 20th anniversary, and assisted on a public interest brief for the Supreme Court of Nepal on human trafficking for the Centre for Migration and International Relations. Margaret holds an LLM in International Law with distinction from the University of Pennsylvania with a specialism in Global Security, Sustainability and Human Rights having been awarded a Dean’s Scholarship to the University. Margaret completed her BCL with French Law in UCD as an entrance scholar finishing 3rd in her year with a first class honours, and holds a Diploma in European Union Law from Université Toulouse 1 Capitole. You can reach Margaret at

Dr Naomi Feely - Senior Research and Policy Officer

Naomi Feely joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in May 2021. Naomi is an experienced social researcher and policy analyst with over 15 years experience working in the public, private and community and voluntary sectors in Ireland. During this time she worked for a number of national not-for-profit organisations including Barnardos and Start Strong. Naomi holds a BA in Public Administration and an MA in Sociology both from the University of Limerick, along with a second MA in Political and Public Communications from Dublin City University. You can reach Naomi on or on +353 1 8605565. 

Karla Charles - EU Programmes and Know Your Rights Project Manager 

Karla joined the Alliance in October 2022 as the EU Programmes and Know Your Rights Project Manager. Karla has been working in the children’s rights and human rights sector for over 15 years. She holds a Masters in Laws (LL.M London) in Human Rights Law, with a focus on children’s rights. She completed her graduate studies at Trinity College and postgraduate studies at the King’s Inns. She has previously worked as Policy Manager for EPIC (Empowering People in Care), the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), the EU FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency), the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), the Children’s Commissioner for England, amongst others. She is passionate about rights focused policy and equality, loves the sea and mountains, and plays the violin. You can reach Karla at 

Edel McDevitt - Grants and Membership Development Officer

Edel joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in 2019 and is the Grants and Membership Development Officer. In this role, Edel leads on funder and membership liaison, grants management and the implementation of the organisation’s sustainability strategy. Prior to this, Edel worked for the Irish Cancer Society as their Community Fundraising Manager and with Goal Ireland as their Development Education Manager. Together with amazing colleagues and volunteers from all over Ireland, Edel managed some of the largest fundraising campaigns in the country including Daffodil Day, Pink Ribbon Day, Jersey Day and more. Edel holds a BA (Hons) in English and French from NUIG and has post-graduate qualifications in Child Psychology (QQI) and the Early Bird Training Programme (National Autistic Society, UK.). Edel is a passionate advocate for children’s rights, especially inclusion and children with additional needs. Warmly welcoming new members, if you would like to join the Children's Rights Alliance as a member, please contact Edel at or on +353 1 8605564.

Mark Smith - Legal Information and Support Officer 

Mark joined the Children's Rights Alliance in October 2022 as Legal Information and Support Officer. He works on our information helpline to provide information and support to Children's Rights Alliance service users and assists in the overall delivery of the Alliance legal and information strategy on children and young people's rights and entitlements. Mark holds a Bachelor of Laws from Maynooth University and is current completing a LLM in Children's Rights and Family Law. 

Karen O'Brien - Operations Lead

Karen is joining the Alliance with over 15 years professional experience in sales, finance, people management and operations. She spent most of her early career working in commercial utilities and sales, specialising in account management and customer retention. After becoming a parent, and campaigning in recent referenda, Karen pivoted in her career path and moved to the non-profit sector in order to closer align to her personal values. Karen began working with the Soar Foundation in 2017 looking after the operations and finance of the organisation until moving to the Alliance in 2023.She has studied part time throughout her working career, obtaining diplomas in HR, Sales Management and Business and Law from DBS. Karen is passionate about all aspects of human rights with a particular emphasis on bodily autonomy, gender and social equality and young people knowing their rights and having a platform to use their voice.