Meet the Alice Academy Activists

Introducing the Activists

Over the last few months, we received nearly 80 applications for the first-ever Alice Academy for Activists, a free residential bootcamp for aspiring activists to learn campaign skills from leading campaigners and communications professionals.

A big thank you from #TeamAlice to everyone who applied. It was inspiring to hear from people across Ireland with the same passion for and commitment to positive social change that we have here at Alice.

We had the very difficult task of selecting just 21 participants. And today, we can share them with you. Get ready to be inspired as we introduce you to this year’s activists.

Abdulai Mansaray

Abdulai lives in Dublin but originally from Freetown Sierra Leone. He lived in Direct provision for over 3 years. Abdulai is the founder of Kingdom Heritage Foundation Sierra Leone - Supporting less privileged children in Sierra Leone through Education and Advocacy. He is currently a full-time Law student, and a Community Link Worker, providing support to Ukrainian and IPAS families, young people and children in the North Inner City Dublin, linking them with the various services in the NIC, and advocating on their behalf. Abdulai is an ardent Activist - advocating for Refugees’, Asylum Seekers’ and Migrants’ rights to be respected, protected and promoted.

Abdulai has received numerous awards and recognitions including the National ‘Activist of the Year Award’ 2023 at the Black and Irish B.I.G Awards Gala, an event powered by RTE.

Aishling Silke

Aishling has spent over 15 years advocating for high-quality, affordable and accessible Early Childhood Education and Care. She is a union member who continues to fight for caregivers, be they early years educators, home caregivers, or community caregivers, to receive a wage that reflects their professionalism and their essential contribution to sustaining our society. She says that people in the community have a lived experience that needs to be heard and has decided to run for local elections to connect communities with local politics and local politics to the national political arena.

Andrea Reilly

Andrea Reilly is a 21-year-old student who spent eighteen years in foster care. Despite the challenges of growing up in care itself she also has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, a condition often overlooked in Ireland. Andrea has been on the EPIC Empowering People in Care Youth Council for over a year and contributed as a youth research advisor and participant research on the experiences of children in care and care leavers with disabilities. In the past 12 months, Andrea has engaged with influential decision-makers, including ministers and government agencies. Her passionate advocacy focuses on securing better support for children in care with additional needs.

Becky Long

Becky Long is passionate about children’s and young people’s culture, especially the narratives that are produced for them and about them – every child and young person has the right to be a reader, and to express themselves creatively through stories. She holds a BA in English Studies, an MPhil in Children’s Literature, and a Doctorate in Irish Children’s Literature from Trinity College Dublin. She has worked with Children’s Books Ireland in various capacities, including as a Book Doctor, since 2016, and is now their Education Outreach Manager. Becky has a background in youth facilitation and outreach work.

Briana Fitzsimons

Briana grew up in Yonkers, New York and has lived in Ireland since 2017. She has been working in the area of anti-racism in education since 2021 and one of her main goals is to empower teachers and young people with the tools they need to make sure that everyone is seen and heard and feels a sense of belonging in all educational spaces in Ireland. Briana joined the Black and Irish team in 2021 and this year published the book of the same name that she co-wrote with colleague Leon Diop. She lives in Co. Kildare with her partner and two children and is proud to call Ireland home.

Caitlin Breen

Caitlin Breen is the Youth Activism Officer for Airfield Estate. As part of this role, Caitlin supports members of Airfield’s Youth Board to become young activists and future leaders in the space of food sustainability, sustainable agriculture and climate action. Having completed an MSc in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and a BSc in Botany, Caitlin is passionate about climate justice and sustainable food systems. Justice is integral to all of Caitlin’s activism, including a Just Transition for all people involved in sectors which will have to adapt as we lower our carbon emissions.

Christine Meehan

Christine is one of the founding members of Thriveabetes. Christine was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006 when she was 34 years old. In 2015 realising the value and importance of peer support while living with Diabetes she and her friend Gráinne (fellow person with T1) began planning the first conference to provide inspiration, information and motivation for people with Type 1 Diabetes. Christine is currently employed as a Community Engagement Specialist at Co-operative Housing Ireland and has a BA in Community and Family Studies from the University of Galway, a certificate in Addiction Studies from Maynooth University and a Diploma in Life and Business Coaching from the Irish Lifecoach Institute.

Claire O Sullivan

Claire has worked for many years with those experiencing homelessness, men, women and families. Since joining Tinteán 7 years ago, she is passionate about the experiences of mothers in particular and the invisibility they feel when they are separated from their children. Claire wishes to give them a voice, help them to feel visible in the world and their community, reduce the shame and stigma they feel, and also create a system in homeless services where we talk about issues such as this, and where we are skilled in supporting women to see their children where at all possible, empower them to self-advocate for their rights, and acknowledge the grief and loss within.

Clíodhna Ni-Pheadair

Clíodhna is a dedicated activist and active volunteer. With a master’s in international Peace Studies, they are passionate about a wide range of issues but and particularly food poverty. Clíodhna is the Food Poverty Campaign and Programme Officer for the Children’s Rights Alliance and works to bring about policy changes in the area of food poverty in Ireland. As a volunteer, they have been volunteering with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) for over four years and are currently the Main Arbitrator of the organisation.

Darren O Connor

Darren O’Connor is an Activist, Artist and recent Architecture Graduate based in Cork. His passion revolves around advocating for inclusive housing solutions and rights for marginalised communities, specifically focusing on addressing dereliction, the housing crisis, and advancing LGBTQ+ rights. Dereliction and inadequate housing significantly impact vulnerable populations, leading to homelessness and perpetuating cycles of poverty. By advocating for policy changes and community initiatives, he hopes to combat dereliction by promoting affordable, safe, and accessible housing options for all and to ensure that these housing solutions are inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Latisha McCrudden

Latisha McCrudden is 19 years of age. She is member of the Irish Traveller Community and is currently studying Law at the University of Galway. Latisha‘s involvement in activism has made her want to run in the elections for the Dáil in the future. She is a member of a variety of national organisations and bodies. The social issues that Latisha puts a lot of time into advocating for is domestic abuse being a survivor of domestic abuse as a child. She also advocates for mental health awareness and reducing the stigma around mental health, trying to gain equality for the Travelling community and all other minority communities Latisha holds a first Dan black belt in karate and has involved in the sport from the age of four and is passionate about female participation in sports.

Leon Diop

Leon Diop is a mixed-race man from Tallaght, Dublin. He is the Co-Founder & CEO of Black and Irish. He attended Maynooth University where he received a degree in psychology and also served as Students' Union president for two years. In 2020, he founded the organization Black and Irish alongside two friends which is now working on behalf of the black community in Ireland. He is the host of the black and Irish podcast on RTE and recently won the a post book of the year in the teen category for the black and Irish book.

Liliana Fernandez

Liliana is a migrant activist originally from Venezuela, living in Ireland since 2013. Previous a Trainer and Integration Officer at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, she is deeply passionate about migrants' political rights and migrant integration in Ireland. She delivers training to raise awareness about the importance of voting and getting registered to vote within migrant communities. She provides mentorship and guidance to candidates from a migrant background into Local Elections in Ireland. Liliana is currently the Programme Manager at Common Purpose Ireland, overseeing the planning and implementation of Leadership training to Senior, High Potential and young people in Ireland.

Mairead Loughran Ryan

Mairead is a qualified mental health nurse and established campaigner working with local government, schools and those at the forefront of adversity in society. She worked on the MyStoryYourStory steering group, a campaign launched in Northern Ireland on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement to address how young people viewed mental health services. She went on to represent Ireland at the European Advisory Youth Network in Barcelona, and at the UN 70th anniversary Community Enrichment Project. Mairead won the Royal College of Nursing ‘Student Nurse of the Year’ in the UK for her voluntary work alongside her studies. Following the success MyStoryYourStory brought to both the young people involved and society, she established an independent social enterprise to continue outreach called Voicing the Void.

Nuria Zyden

Nuria Zyden, an advocate with over a decade of experience in international corporations, is deeply committed to addressing the Uyghur atrocities. With a background in International Business and Entrepreneurship, and a Master’s in Business Risk Management, she focuses on bridging cultural divides and highlighting human rights issues. Living in Ireland for more than ten years, Nuria uses her expertise to foster connections and cultural exchanges, advocating for a world where justice and equality prevail.

Raevynna El Messaoudi

Raevynna El Messaoudi is a neurodivergent, biracial transwoman from South Africa. Professionally, she works in the areas of Digital and Business Transformation as well as Diversity & Inclusion. She is a senior ambassador for The Shona Project, a former Board Member for Transgender Europe (TGEU), and a facilitator for Trans Limerick Community.

Sam Galvin

Sam Galvin is a student at the Cork Centre for Architectural Education, and the 2022/23 Fundraising Officer for UCC Students’ Union. Sam is a union member and advocates for employment rights, particularly working conditions, security and pay for young people and those on the minimum and new living wage.

Sara Hurley

Sara Hurley is a global citizenship education facilitator based in Dublin. She is a founding member of a collective of activists, educators, creatives and innovators working on climate justice issues. At Electric Picnic ’23, they hosted a gamified climate justice educational activity exploring climate change, wealth inequality and forced migration. A key aspect of her work is to highlight the intersectional impacts on most affected communities and the environment. Sara wants to tackle the issue of local environmental impacts in climate mitigation and adaptation in Ireland, in solidarity with communities facing similar challenges globally due to mining, deforestation and pollution.

Sorcha Killian

Sorcha is co-founder and Head of Finance and Operations for Hygiene Hub. A national charity tackling hygiene poverty. Sorcha’s background includes social impact research and advocacy, venture capital and fund management. With a notable track record of leading projects in partnership with the European Commission and international governments, Sorcha's expertise extends to shaping innovative public policies that specifically address the needs of vulnerable populations. Sorcha was recently a recipient of the EU Next Generation Fund Impact Fellowship, and Social Entrepreneur Impacts programme, recognising her work developing innovative social care projects internationally. Believing strongly in the power of collaborative impact, Sorcha works closely with fellow social enterprises and charitable organisations to deliver comprehensive support services.

Tanya Kearns

With a background in Community Youth Work, Tanya is an experienced facilitator in community arts, social action and peacebuilding initiatives. She is also an activist, using her voice to promote positive social change in a post-conflict context. From the North, her campaign starts in Belfast, focusing on anti-violence against women and LGBT+ folk in the nighttime entertainment industry.

Tracey Mc Ardle

Tracey has been working in the youth and community sector for 15 years in a range of areas including mental health education, sexual health relationship education and consent, and leadership and community action projects. As a youth worker, a socialist, and a feminist, she feels passionately about many causes and issues. Through this training Tracey wants to gain insight and skills to raise awareness of gender based-violence, challenge gender stereotypes, and promote healthy communication as well as addressing the issue of period poverty. She believes that class, gender and other factors are intertwined, so positive change must be achieved through an intersectional approach.

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