Ifrah Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors whose principal responsibilities are strategic direction of the organisation, monitoring compliance while ensuring the efficient and effective use of resources. The Board of Directors meets at least 6 times per year and is made up of a variety of pertinent skills to the compliment the delivery of the Foundation’s mission. The Foundation’s board of Directors operates sub-committee as needed and currently has two: Governance and Finance sub-committees. No remuneration is paid to Directors for their services on the Board. Directly incurred expenses are reimbursed if claimed. Ifrah Foundation’s Directors are required to declare any conflicts of interest at the start of every Board meeting.

In November 2018 the Charities Regulator launched the Charities Governance Code, which sets the minimum standards, which everyone on the board of a registered charity, should ensure their charity meets in order to effectively manage and control their organisations.

The Charities Governance Code consists of six principles of governance. These are:

  1. Advancing charitable purpose

  2. Behaving with integrity

  3. Leading people

  4. Exercising control

  5. Working effectively

  6. Being accountable and transparent

The six principles are linked to the legal duties of charity trustees. The Code specifically aims to help charity trustees to put good governance systems and processes in place which will assist them in meeting their legal duties under charity law.

Good governance minimises the risk of fraud and other damaging practices – ensuring a charity is managed in a professional, transparent, and accountable way. This also serves to give confidence to funders and donors.

Charities will be expected to report on their compliance with the Code by end 2021. Ifrah Foundation is working through compliance with the Irish Charities Regulators Charity Governance Code which has 6 principles. Ifrah Foundation is currently compliant with 3 of the 6 principals (July 2021) and will compete the code by October 2021.



Professor Chris Fitzpatrick

BA, FRCPI, FRCOG, FRCS (Ed), Dip GUMed, Dip Tropical Med
Professor Chris Fitzpatrick is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist (and former Master/CEO) of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine, University College Dublin. His special areas of interest include urogynaecology, medical education and training, medicine and the arts, and global women’s health. “Standing next to Ifrah Ahmed in a Dublin mosque, as a Muslim cleric issued a fatwa on FGM, it struck me that this truly remarkable African-Irish woman could change the world”. Professor Chris Fitzpatrick

Caroline Keeling

Caroline Keeling is the CEO of Keelings. Keelings is a 100% Irish-owned family business which started producing fruits and salads on their farm in the 1930’s supplying produce to local Dublin markets. Keelings are focused on growing and sourcing the best fresh produce from around the world.

The Company has expanded to its current size with 4 divisions – Keelings Retail, Keelings Select, Keelings International and Keelings Knowledge. Keelings is headquartered in FoodCentral, Co. Dublin, Ireland but has operations in Ireland, the UK, Europe, South & Central America and Asia. Keelings employs over 2,000 people.

Keelings launched its branded range of produce into stores in 2010 and since then it has gone from strength to strength. Kantar Worldpanel recently disclosed the Top 100 FMCG brands in Ireland, ranking Keelings at #15 this year. As well as the standard range of punnets, the brand has also released a number of innovative products including the family platter, the twin pack and the Snack Pot range.

As well as fresh produce, Keelings has developed produce-specific ERP software solutions, consultancy and management services. Keelings Knowledge supplies a suite of software and services that provides industry focused solutions in procurement, stock management, warehouse and production planning & management, as well as sales and quality assurance.

Caroline has a BSc (Chem) & MSc in Food Science which she obtained from University College Dublin (UCD). Caroline started her career with Green Isle Foods, going on to join Keelings as Technical Manager in 1994. Caroline is a Board Member of Bord Bia, the National Maternity Hospital, The Ifrah Foundation, Valid Nutrition and SEI. She is Chair of the Consumer Foods Board of Bord Bia, the Dublin Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committee, and a member of the Export Trade Council.

Samantha Leslie

Sammy Leslie, Guardian of Castle Leslie Estate. The Castle Leslie Estate, Co. Monaghan is one of only a small number of the Great Irish Estates still in the hands of its founding family. The estate was first established in 1665. Sammy Leslie returned home to Ireland to run the estate with her siblings in 1991 at the age of 24. In 2001, she took over the castle's full ownership and established it as a Trust.

The business has evolved into a multi-award winning country house estate hotel, complete with a world-class equestrian centre, a converted lodge complete with accommodation, spa, bar and restaurant and self-catering cottages on the Estate.

Sammy first initiated the concept of the Leslie Foundation in 2012 as a vehicle to protect and share the natural and built heritage of Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough village and the surrounding region. She has acted as a Trustee of Birr Castle for the past 20 years and the Irish Heritage Trust for 10 years.

It was her sister Antonia’s support of Pamela Izevbekhai and her daughters that made Sammy aware of the plight of those living with or fearing FGM. With her experience in the non-profit sector, she was able to offer her support in setting up the Ifrah Foundation and to help support Ifrah's goal of ending FGM for good.

Ifrah currently lives with Sammy when she is in Ireland and they enjoy sharing recipes and cooking Somali and Irish foods. Ifrah makes a mean pancake. Sammy has been on voluntary boards for 20 years. Sammy is a founding board member of the Ifrah Foundation.

Mary McGuckian

Mary McGuckian has been producing, writing and directing independent feature films for over twenty years. Her most recent film, A Girl from Mogadishu, based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed, marks her twelfth independent auteur film.

Mary’s films have been presented at festivals worldwide both in and out of competition on many occasions including Sundance and Tribeca in the US, Locarno and Venice in Europe, and Edinburgh, London and Galway in her home countries.

She was the 2009 the recipient of the Annual Achievement Award from the Women's International Film and Television Awards in Los Angeles and many of her films have received ‘best film’ awards from a numerous American feature film festivals.

Collaborating actors on past pictures include Orla Brady and Vincent Perez in The Price of Desire, (2015); Donald Sutherland in Man On The Train with and Larry Mullen Jr. (2011); The Amorality Trilogy Plus One (2006-2010), four films with an international ensemble cast included Lothaire Bluteau, Donna D’Errico, Colm Feore, Rupert Graves, Ian Hart, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jordi Molla, Andie MacDowell, Bill Patterson, Amanda Plummer, Jennifer Tilly, John Sessions, and Sarah Stockbridge; and her current director’s cut project, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005) with Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, The Polish Brothers and F. Murray Abraham, is in the works.

The opportunity to work at home in Ireland on a story as compelling as Ifrah’s with a cast as diverse and inclusive as Aja Naomi King, Barkhad Abdi, Martha Canga Antonio and Maryam Mursals supported by Orla Brady, Pauline McLynn and Stanley Townsend also afforded Mary the opportunity to engage with Ifrah’s foundation in a meaningful way. Her hope is that with the profile of a feature film based on Ifrah's life story, will come a commitment to the level of funding required to implement and sustain the National Action Plan Ifrah’s foundation has been developing since 2016.

Cormac O'Ceallaigh

Cormac O'Ceallaigh is the principal of Cormac O'Ceallaigh & Co Solicitors, a general law practice with a specific focus on charity law, advising charities and not-for-profits. Cormac has 20 years experience in this area and has acted in the setting up of Irish based charities and international charities that have established operations in Ireland. He has served on the board of various charities and is the former chairperson of the CBM Ireland, an NGO involved in international development. He has dealt with charities from the legal set up stage, to mergers, change of legal structure, winding up of trusts and advice following the establishment of the Charity Regulatory Authority and the new changes it has brought in. He has lectured at the Law Society of Ireland on their certificate in Charity Law, Trusteeship and Governance programme.

Paul Mee

A chartered accountant with more than 20 years' taxation experience, Paul joined Mazars in 2007 from HC Tax and Business Services Limited where he was managing director. Paul leads Mazars Galway team of tax professionals in providing advice on property development and investment, development and agricultural land sales, tax planning for owner managed businesses including succession planning, and general tax planning services. Paul also specialises in film finance (section 481), corporate reorganizations and due diligence and transaction support. Paul's in-depth knowledge of the Galway business community is an invaluable asset to our clients in the region.


Sabina Coyne Higgins

Sabina Coyne, now Sabina Coyne Higgins, was born in Cloonrane on the Galway/Mayo
border and went to school in Ballindine and Claremorris, Co. Mayo. She was the sixth of
seven children of John and Mary (nee Kilkenny) Coyne.

Sabina moved to Dublin where she worked in the Land Commission. She studied
Speech and Stage Craft at the Brendan Smith Academy. When Deirdre O’Connell came
from the Actor’s Studio in New York and founded the Dublin Stanislavsky Studio Drama School in 1963, Sabina was one of her first students – she was later Deirdre’s
bridesmaid when Deirdre married Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. In 1967, they founded Dublin Focus Theatre with Tom Hickey, Timmy McDonald, Declan & Mary Elizabeth Burke Kennedy, Dick Callanan, Joan Bergin and others. Sabina was prominent in the public performances of the Stanislavski Improvisation Theatre and later the Focus Improvisational Theatre.
Focus productions were modern classics from around the world – Ibsen, Strindberg,
Chekhov, Anouilh, Camus, Beckett, Hellman, Sorayan, Millar, and T. Williams etc.
Sabina met Michael D. Higgins in 1969 at a party in Dublin, in women’s journalist
Mary Kenny’s home. In 1974 they were married in Dublin’s Haddington Road Church.
Sabina moved to Galway. There, in addition to working as a partner with Michael D. in
every campaign and in public life for over thirty years, she maintained her involvement
with Theatre and Community Arts, and with Womens’ Groups. Sabina was also very
active in community initiatives in Galway and in particular in education. She was very
involved in the setting up of Parents’ Councils on a local and national level to promote
parents as partners in education. She was chairperson for a time of the Parent’s
Council of the Jesuit –The Jes– Secondary School.

Sabina has a BA in Arts and an MA in Theatre from NUI Galway. Sabina and President Higgins have four children, one daughter, Alice Mary, and three sons, John, Michael Edward and Daniel.

Ifrah Foundation has signed up to the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images & Messaging. We are in the process of completing the Charity Regulators Governance Code

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