Advisory Group

Jess Blair

Jess Blair is Director of the Electoral Reform Society in Wales, and Northern Ireland Co-Ordinator.  Previously Jess was Policy and Projects Manager at the Institute of Welsh Affairs, a leading Welsh think tank where she was also Acting Director during 2016.

Prior to that Jess worked in the National Assembly for Wales, writing policy for a political party. She also worked in Brussels with Regional Governments on lifelong learning policy. Jess holds a Masters in Welsh Government and Politics from the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University.

Lynn Carvill

Lynn Carvill is Chief Executive of WOMEN’STEC, an organisation specialising in the delivery of skills training and the promotion of opportunities in sectors and careers where women are typically under-represented.

Lynn is convenor of the Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group and has a keen interest in gender equality issues in relation to women’s labour market participation and economic position. Lynn has held a number of policy and advocacy roles in the women’s sector. In 2010 she developed a project which culminated in the publication of the seminal research report ‘The Northern Ireland Economy: Women on the Edge?’

Roslyn Fuller

Dr Roslyn Fuller is a leading expert on applying the original principles of Athenian Democracy to 21st century states and organisations. Based on over a decade of academic research, her ground-breaking book, Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose, has redefined the modern theory of democracy.

As Director of the Solonian Democracy Institute, Roslyn’s work focuses on enhancing the role of the citizen in modern decision-making processes.

Having lectured in International Law in Ireland, Roslyn is now a regular commentator in leading international publications including Salon, The Nation, the LA Review of Books, the Toronto Star and many more.

Cathy Gormley Heenan

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan is the PVC for Research and Impact Ulster University. Cathy is responsible for developing and leading research and impact strategies. She is a Professor of Politics with research interests in the areas of political elites, peace processes, the politics of divided societies, public policy and governance. Cathy holds a first class honours degree in politics from Queen’s University, Belfast and an MPhil in Modern Middle East Studies with Arabic from Oxford University before becoming a UK Kennedy Scholar in the J.F.K. School of Government and Public Policy at Harvard University, USA. She also holds a PhD in History and International Affairs from Ulster University.

David McBurney

Dr David McBurney is Coordinator of the Northern Ireland Open Government Network

David has a D Phil & BA Hons Degree from Ulster University. Before joining the NI Open Government Network, he worked for 25 years in media training and project management.

He is interested in politics, economics and democratic innovation; and he is an advocate for open government and deliberative citizen engagement.

Paul Nolan

Dr Paul Nolan is an independent researcher, best known for his work in monitoring the Northern Ireland peace process. He produced the first three Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Reports for the Community Relations Council, establishing a framework for the  measurement of change.

He continues to research issues that relate to cultural contestation in post-conflict societies, and is interested in the different forms of citizenship engagement in politics. Outside of his research interests Paul is a member of the NI Policing Board, and is active in the organisation Belfast, City Of Sanctuary.

Jamie Pow

Jamie is a PhD student based in the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. His research experimentally examines how a citizens’ assembly could potentially strengthen the quality of democracy in post-conflict Northern Ireland. In 2017 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra.

Prior to pursuing doctoral study at Queen’s, Jamie completed a Master’s degree in Political Science at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. As Deputy Editor of Northern Slant he is a regular commentator on the politics of Northern Ireland and further afield.

Gráinne Walsh

As Head of Consultancy with Stratagem, Gráinne has been supporting organisations to shape the political and policy landscape in Northern Ireland for over fifteen years.

Gráinne, a native of Dublin, has worked across all government departments and with every party over the lifetime of three assemblies, as well as extensive engagement at Westminster, Whitehall and local government. Gráinne is a member of the Institute of Directors, Association of Professional Political Consultants, an Associate of the Consultation Institute, Chair of Housing Rights Service and a former member of the NI Chamber of Commerce Council.  Gráinne has Bachelor of Arts (BA) International, History and Politics from University College Dublin; an MSSc in Irish Politics from Queen’s University Belfast and studied comparative politics at the University of Bergen.

Robin Wilson

Dr Robin Wilson is an independent researcher. He was the co-initiator of the Opsahl Commission, a ‘citizens’ inquiry’ into ways forward for Northern Ireland, which reported in 1993 and provided the template for the Belfast agreement. He was director for 11 years of the think tank Democratic Dialogue, which he established after the paramilitary ceasefires. He is the author of The Northern Ireland Experience of Conflict and Agreement: A Model for Export? (Manchester University Press) and Meeting the Challenge of Cultural Diversity in Europe: Moving Beyond the Crisis (Edward Elgar).