Our Board Members and Senior Management Team

Our Board

Our Board has responsibility for our overall strategy and future direction. As an open and accountable organisation we publish a record of all our Board meetings on our website.

Chief Charity Commissioner

Mr Thomas McGrath


Mr. McGrath worked as Regional Director for Marsh Ltd for 34 years. He was previously Chair of the NI Tourist Board (2003-2008), the NI Business Education Partnership (2004-2006) and the George Best Memorial Trust (2006-2007). He served as a Board member of Tourism Ireland (2003-2008) and the Probation Board NI (2000-2003). He was Director of the Ireland Funds (1998-2007) and previously served as a Committee Member of Princes Youth Trust and NSPCC Special Appeal. Reappointed Chief Charity Commissioner on 1 June 2014 for a five year term of office. Remuneration £5,750 per annum.

Deputy Chief Charity Commissioner

Mr Walter Rader


Mr. Rader was formerly Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland. He is a Member of the NI Funders Forum and has previously held positions on the Queen's Golden Jubilee Ministerial Advisory Committee, the Review of Youth Services Policy in the Department of Education and the Youth Council for NI. He was previously Chair of the Police Community Relations Branch Review Panel and Honorary Secretary of the Princes Trust NI. Appointed Deputy Chief Charity Commissioner for five years from 7 May 2013. Remuneration £2,000 per annum. 

Legally Qualified Charity Commissioner

Ms Rosemary Connolly   


Ms Connolly is the principal Solicitor in a specialist employment and equality law practice in Warrenpoint, Co. Down. She has 25 years experience as a serving solicitor. She was appointed to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland for the period from 1999-2003. Other positions include Chair of Newry & Mourne Local Strategy Partnership (1995-1998), Chair/Secretary of Burren Community Forum (1995-date), Director of NI Family Care Society (2006-2008) and Member of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (1995-date). Reappointed Legally Qualified Charity Commissioner for three years from 2 November 2012. Remuneration £2,000 per annum.

Charity Commissioners

Mr Philip McDonagh


Mr. McDonagh has recently retired as a senior management consultant and chief economist with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is a member of the NI Statistics Advisory Committee and was previously a member of the Board of Visitors, Belfast Prison and Trustee of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. Reappointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 1 June 2012. Remuneration £2,000 per annum.    

Mr Norman Bennett


Mr Bennett was Director of Finance at the former Royal Hospitals Trust until 2000 and then moved to undertake the same role at Queens University Belfast from which he retired in October 2010. He is currently a self employed Financial Management Consultant. He has been involved in a number of charities, and also served as a governor of the South Eastern Regional Board and a member of the Audit Committee for the Eastern Health and Social Services Board. He is currently a Trustee of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and a member of the church Executive Board. Appointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 1 September 2012. Remuneration £2,000 per annum. 

Ms Brenda Maitland

Brenda Maitland

Ms Maitland was formerly a Senior Human Resources Business Partner in BTNI. She is currently a committee member for the Saintfield Development Association, an external assessor for the Western Education Library Board and the Council for Catholic Maintained School, a school governor and a council member of the Pharmaceutical Society NI. Appointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 7 May 2013. Remuneration £2,000 per annum.

Ms Geraldine Donaghy

Geraldine Donaghy

Ms Donaghy was formerly Chief Executive of the Confederation of Community Groups, Newry & Mourne. She is currently a self employed voluntary sector consultant and a Trustee and Board member of the Community Foundation NI. She is also a Non Executive Director of the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority (RQIA) and a Non Executive Director of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority. Appointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 7 May 2013. Remuneration £2,000 per annum.


Our Senior Management Team

The Senior Management Team makes decisions involving our day-to-day operation. This team is led by the Chief Executive and includes the Head of Corporate Services and Head of Charity Services. Our Senior Management Team implements the programmes and policies arising from our Board's decisions to ensure we deliver effective services.

Chief Executive

Ms Frances McCandless 


Frances McCandless was appointed to the Commission in April 2010 as its first Chief Executive. Prior to taking up this post, Frances was employed as Director of Policy at NICVA, an umbrella body which provides advice, information and policy analysis to the 5,000 voluntary and community organisations in Northern Ireland. Frances' career in the voluntary and community sector goes back 20 years and she has worked with young people, women returning to work, in housing, with older and disabled people and as an international volunteer in Prague with the YMCA.  She has also been a board member of organisations working in the areas of environment, ethnic minorities, reconciliation, community arts, audience development, mediation and physical activity.

Head of Charity Services 

Mrs Punam McGookin


Punam McGookin was appointed to the Commission in February 2011 as Head of Charity Services. The role will develop and manage the registration, policy and legal function including the granting of consents. Prior to taking up this post, Punam was seconded to the Commission as Deputy Chief Executive from Big Lottery Fund.

Punam was employed by Big Lottery Fund as a programme manager working on a variety of programmes assessing and managing funding to a wide range of voluntary, community, educational and public sectors bodies. Punam's career working with and for charitable organisations dates back to 1983. She has worked with organisations focusing on the arts, communities, young people, older people, education, environment and heritage, and still volunteers for her local sports club.

Head of Corporate Services

Mr Aubrey McCrory


Aubrey was appointed as Head of Corporate Services in March 2011. He is tasked with delivering the corporate functions of the Charity Commission and, ultimately, helping to ensure the Commission achieves its core aims and objectives. Aubrey’s team is responsible for strategy in relation to finance and human resources, corporate governance, ICT, remuneration, procurement and audit issues. From March 2011 to October 2013, during transitional arrangements, Aubrey led the development of compliance work with deemed charities in Northern Ireland, covering investigations into the mismanagement of charities as well as interim annual monitoring.

Aubrey has over 15 years experience covering service provision and performance improvement, as well as regulatory roles in statutory policy development, transparency and information rights.

Head of Compliance and Enquiries

Mr Myles McKeown

Myles McKeown

Myles McKeown was appointed to the Commission as Head of Compliance & Enquiries in October 2013 and is responsible for leading compliance work with charities in Northern Ireland, covering investigations into the mismanagement of charities and annual monitoring.

Myles has over 15 years experience of audit and investigation work, gained in the Northern Ireland Audit Office and the Department for Social Development. Most recently he was employed within the Business Development Directorate of the Child Maintenance Service, aiding in the development of policies and procedures relating to Child Maintenance Reform. Myles is a member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CMIIA)

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