Voices of Impact: Women Leaders Shaping Global Change

“Voices of Impact: Women Leaders Shaping Global Change”

Women’s Leadership Symposium at World Meeting of Families 2018

A symposium dedicated to the global impact of women's leadership will be held, for the first time, in conjunction with the World Meeting of Families. 

Saturday, August 25 from 8:00 to 11:00 am 

A series of dynamic conversations and interviews with women leaders will be held at the Royal Dublin Society Center (RDS).

Women change makers from around the globe will engage in dynamic conversations on unique initiatives and solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. 

Co-chaired by Irish broadcaster and entrepreneur Norah Casey and US business executive Susan Ann Davis with keynote speaker General Kristin Lund, the symposium themes will include:

  • Women’s leadership in driving global growth and reducing poverty  
  • Peacekeeping
  • Sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Girls’ education
  • Violence against women
  • The needs of refugees
  • The challenges of the homeless and people with special needs.

Tickets for the symposium are free of charge and are accessible HERE.
Tickets are limited, subject to venue capacity.


8:00  Opening  Norah Casey and Susan Ann Davis
Welcome  Anne Griffin, General Manager, World Meeting of Families
8.10 One to One Interview  Monique Morrow
President & Co-Founder, The Humanized Internet
8.20   The Trailblazers Panel
Monique Morrow President & Co-Founder, The Humanized Internet,
Caroline Dowling. President, Integrated Network Solutions, Flextronics
Ruth McCarthy, CEO, FEXCO Corporate Payments
Sinead McSweeney, VP, Public Policy & Communications, EMEA, Twitter
8.50   The Story of Me  Aoibheann Mangan, EU Digital Girl of the Year
9.05   The Transformers Panel
Caroline Keeling, Managing Director & CEO, Keelings
Jacqueline O’Donovan, Managing Director, O’Donovan Waste Disposal
Breege O’Donoghue, Chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland
Iseult Ward, Co Founder & COO, Food Cloud
9.45   The Story of Me  Leanne McDonagh, Artist & Traveller
10.00   One to One Interview  Sister Jane Wakahiu 
Director, Catholic Sisters, Conrad Hilton Foundation
10.10   The Motivators Panel
Sister Jane Wakahiu, Director, Catholic Sisters, Conrad Hilton Foundation
Major Gen. Kristin Lund, Chief of Staff, UN Truce Supervision Organization
Louise Phelan, Vice President, EMEA, PayPal 
Lieutenant Cdr. Marie Gleeson, Human Resources Officer, Irish Navy
10.50 The Story of Me  Joanne O’Riordan, No Limbs No Limits
11.05   Closing  Norah Casey and Susan Ann Davis

Speakers overview

Norah Casey (Co-Chair)

Broadcaster and publishing entrepreneur Norah Casey was formerly a Dragon in the popular television series Dragons’ Den and is a well-known radio and television personality. The 2nd Edition of her book Spark! was published by Penguin in 2017 and her TEDx talks The Cure for Grief and The Courage to leave have been watched by thousands. Her digital learning platform Planet Woman seeks to empower women through workbooks, videos, podcasts and animations. Much of her work can be viewed on her YouTube Chanel and at norahcasey.com. Her vodcast 10 Steps to Startup Success is widely used to help budding entrepreneurs start their own business.
As well as owning Harmonia Publishing Ltd, which is engaged in magazine publishing, digital media, events and creative communications, Norah also owns Harmonia Investments (home to a range of diverse investments in both the UK and Ireland). A journalist and former nurse, Norah received a Woman of the Decade Award from the Women’s Economic Forum in Delhi, India in May 2018. She is currently Ireland’s 2018 Philanthropist of the Year, has been Publisher of the Year no fewer than five times (and is the current Publisher of the Year having won it again in December 2017).
She has served on numerous boards and is currently a member of the London-based Women's Irish Network and The International Women's Forum. She also serves on the European Board of Vital Voices established in 1997 by the then First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, following the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to promote the advancement of women. She is a former Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year. Norah is Ambassador for Dublin Honours Magdalenes and is also a member of a team helping to facilitate the Papal visit to Ireland in August 2018 at the World Meeting of Families which will be hosted in Dublin.

Susan Ann Davis (Co-Chair)

Susan Ann Davis is Chairman of Susan Davis International (SDI), a global strategic communications consulting firm headquartered in Washington, DC with 74 agency partners worldwide. She is internationally known for her expertise in reputation management, market entry and expansion, crisis communications and public affairs. A lifelong advocate for social entrepreneurship, democracy building and leadership development for women, she is Chair Emeritus of Vital Voices Global Partnership, the leading global accelerator that identifies and invests in emerging women leaders dedicated to economic empowerment, human rights and public and civic participation.  Davis was the first President of the International Women’s Forum and is Board Chair of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, educating 600 girls in rural Afghanistan. Along with Prince Charles and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Davis received the Global Empowerment Humanitarian Award in the United Kingdom and is listed amongst the “75 Most Influential Irish American Women” and “Top 100 Outstanding International Irish Business Leaders.

Major General Kristin Lund

Major General Kristin Lund is Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). She is the first woman to lead the UN Peacekeeping Forces. Since joining the Norwegian Army in 1979, she was the first female officer to be promoted to the rank of Major General in the Norwegian Army, before becoming the first female Force Commander in a United Nations peacekeeping operation, while serving in Cyprus. She is an advisor at the Norwegian Defence University College in Oslo and in 2017 became a UNWOMEN Champion.


Caroline Dowling

Caroline Dowling is president of Integrated Network Solutions at Flextronics (NASDAQ: FLEX), San Jose, California, a $30B, industry-leading, Fortune Global 500 electronics manufacturing services provider with more than 200,000 employees and operations in 30 countries. She leads an international team focused on design, manufacturing and services providing end to end solutions world-wide for the telecom, networking, server and storage markets. Caroline began her career with Flextronics in 2000, originally responsible for the Global Sales aspect of the business. For over 20 years she has commuted 5000 miles from Cork to California ably juggling family and business life across two continents.  The Millstreet native has had an inspirational journey to the top having left school at 15 when she became pregnant, working as a housekeeper and cleaner to make ends meet when her daughter arrived. She returned to school in her early 20s, the same day as her daughter, and subsequently graduated from Harvard.

Marie Gleeson

Lieutenant Commander Marie Gleeson made naval history when she took command of the LÉ Aoife, one-woman commander to another, in 2013. Lt Cdr Gleeson joined the Navy aged 19 in 1998 just three years after women were first admitted joining the ranks of the female officers. Having served on a UN mission in Chad she was second in command of LÉ Niamh when the vessel was involved in the largest drugs haul in Irish history. During her time in the Navy she’s received awards and gained degrees along the way, helping to train cadets and lecturing at the National Maritime College. She is currently Human Resources officer with the Irish Navy which now has proportionally more female captains than any other navy in Europe.

Anne Griffin 

Anne is an Event Industry awards winner, with over 20 years’ international experience of senior and executive management. As General Manager of World Meeting of Families 2018, Anne is involved in all aspects of planning, coordinating & managing the single largest public event in Ireland for 500,000 people this year. Working to Fr Tim Bartlett, Secretary General for World Meeting of Families 2018, she manages over 60 staff & 10,000 volunteers across the entire event. With extensive experience in the coordination of international large-scale & outdoor events, she was previously General Manager for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012) in Dublin, Consultant Operations Advisor to the IEC2016, in the Philippines & continues to work overseas in a consultancy role for the Pontifical Committee for IECs globally. Previous events include international conferences across many locations around the world, Dublin’s NYE Festival, the IHLTA European Games & Special Olympics. WMOF2018 is record-breaking, with the highest number of people registered to attend the Pastoral Congress at the RDS, the highest number of international pilgrims attending from over 115 countries & a higher percentage of children & young people attending than any of the eight previous WMOFs.

Caroline Keeling 

Caroline Keeling is the Managing Director and CEO of  the fruit grower and distributor Keelings, a 100% Irish-owned family business begun in 1896.  Keelings is  now operating throughout Ireland UK, Europe and Asia with more than 2,000 people and annual sales exceeding €300 million.  Globally recognized as an innovator and leader in food sustainability and ethical trade, Caroline has been at the helm of her family’s fruit production and food distribution company since taking over as Group Managing Director in 2006 and as CEO in 2012.  She began her career with Green Isle Foods in 1992, before joining Keelings in 1994.  A member of Ireland’s Export Trade Council, she is Chair of the Horticultural Board (Bord Bia) and the Dublin Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committee.  Caroline is an Ambassador for The Women’s Fund for Ireland and  was the IMAGE Business Woman of the Year in 2013. She also serves on the boards of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, the Ifrah Foundation, and the National Maternity Hospital Foundation.

Aoibheann Mangan

A mere eleven years of age, Aoibheann Mangan of Hollymount, County Mayo is the EU Digital Girl of the Year in the 11-14 category.  This global Ambassador for coding and STEM for girls has spoken at the European Parliament and is the youngest person to run workshops at MozFest in London.  Aoibheann has made four websites to date, winning awards such as People of the Year and Pride of Ireland, as well as three Eir Junior Spider awards and a Tech Week National Scratch award.  Last year, her major project sought to use technology to help children in hospitals.  Using conductive threads, she augmented a doll so it could be used to animate medical experiences such as receiving an injection or x-ray.

Ruth McCarthy

Ruth McCarthy is the CEO of FEXCO Corporate Payments, a company founded by her father. More than 30 years after he started FEXCO, based in Killorglin, Kerry, it has developed into one of the country’s largest homegrown financial services companies. Employing 2300 people with offices from Sydney to Sao Paulo and Dubai , FEXCO processes over $10 billion transactions annually. Ruth trained as a solicitor with Arthur Cox in Dublin working in compliance before taking up a commercial role. She is an active member of the Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland and is on the board of Goodbody stockbrokers. 


Leanne McDonagh

Leanne McDonagh is a young Traveller woman born in 1990, 5th of ten children.  She grew up on halting sites, with first hand experience of the prejudices and misconceptions society has about Travellers.  Against the odds she became one of the few Travellers to go on to third level education at Crawford College of Art & Design in 2007. Five years later she graduated with an Honours degree in Fine Art as well as a Higher Diploma in Art & Design Education. She is the first artist to portray life from within the Traveller community and her work now features on the walls of Government buildings.  She is passionate about preserving the history and traditions of the community through teaching young children

Sinéad McSweeney

Sinéad McSweeney is Vice President of Public Policy and Communications, EMEA at Twitter and Managing Director, Ireland. Since taking the helm at Twitter Ireland, the forward-thinking MD has been committed to progress, as always, propelled by her idealism and belief in the power of imagination and change. Ms McSweeney joined the company in 2012, following her role as  director of communications for An Garda Síochána from 2007 to 2012. Prior to that she held a similar role with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.  She has also held a number of political advisory positions in the Irish government, serving as special adviser to two attorney generals, David Byrne and Michael McDowell. Ms McSweeney is a qualified barrister, and studied law at University College Cork

Monique Morrow

Monique Morrow is a humanitarian, technology pioneer and one of the most influential women in technology worldwide.  She is the President and Co-Founder of the Humanized Internet, a non-profit organization headquartered in Switzerland which focuses on providing digital identity for some of the most underprivileged in society.  A leading expert on and advocate for blockchain, she is a former senior executive of Cisco and presently serves as an advisor to technology companies around the world.  Her greatest success has be in infusing a big picture perspective that helps engineers and business leaders understand how existing and future technologies align with the needs of business, government and society.  Passionate about promoting women in technology and engineering, Monique recently published “Internet of Women, Accelerating Culture Change”, showcasing the stories of female technology innovators across the world.

Breege O’Donoghue

Retail and design champion Breege O’Donoghue was one of the first women to sit around the table of global corporate boardrooms. Currently serving as the Chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, Breege was the only female director of global retail brand Primark, having launched the high-street brand in the US, Britain, Germany, Spain, and further afield over her 37 years with the company. A multiple award recipient, she now serves as a brand ambassador spearheading women’s empowerment projects including supporting women farmers in India. Breege is a Non-Executive Director of C&C Group plc, Real Word Analytics, Chair of the Remuneration Committee as well as a Member of the Nominations Committee, Non-Executive Director of Shaw & Sons Ltd, and a member of the Outside Appointments Board (Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour).

Jacqueline O’Donovan 

Jacqueline O'Donovan is the Managing Director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, one of London’s leading independent waste management companies, with more than 160 employees and a turnover in excess of £19 million. It is a leading pioneer in sustainability and safety across the sector with the company often recognised as one of the industry’s environmental champions.The multi award-winning, family-run business provides a comprehensive waste management service, working with some of the country's iconic construction businesses.  Thrust into leadership at age 17 when her father passed away suddenly at the age of 51, she became MD at  age 19.   Jacqueline has been recognised with multiple awards including from the President of Ireland and many industry organisations.

Joanne O'Riordan

Joanne O'Riordan is a criminology student and one of seven currently living with a rare physical disability known as Total Amelia. This means she was born without all four limbs. She famously addressed the UN and challenged the most advanced minds in the world at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Apple to build her a robot (which is well underway). This inspirational young woman uses technology to enhance her abilities in education and in her daily life and she has overcome enormous challenges to achieve all that she has, including receiving numerous awards and accolades as Young Person of the Year and Junior Chamber International (JCI) Outstanding Young Person of the Year. The story of her early life features in the documentary No Limbs No Limits.

Louise Phelan

Louise Phelan is Vice President, Western, Central and Eastern Europe, Ireland, Middle East and Africa. She was recently appointed to this role following her tenure as VP of Global Operations Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She has responsibility for growing revenue and customers for PayPal in more than 100 countries across the region.Louise joined PayPal from the senior management team of GE Money in 2006, when PayPal had 200 employees in Ireland. She oversaw significant growth and expansion with employee numbers currently at more than 2,600 in Dublin and Dundalk and is on track to grow to 3,000 by 2018. In addition to her PayPal role, Louise is a non-executive Director at Ryanair, sits on the Board of Directors of Voxpro and is a member of the Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Group. She was the 2014 President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. Among other awards, Louise won Ireland’s ‘Most Trusted Leader’ at the Great Place to Work awards and ‘Irish Innovation Champion’ at the 2014 Innovation Luminary awards.

Sister Jane Wakahiu

Sister Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D., is the Director of the Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Conrad Hilton Foundation.  Her responsibilities are to advance the vitality of congregations of women religious globally, enabling sisters to contribute more profoundly to sustainable human development, as well as to enhance the effectiveness of Catholic schools. She has extensively taught at the undergraduate and graduate level at Marywood University and led a high school and womens organizations in Kenya.  An accomplished author and editor, she is a contributing writer for the Global Sisters Report and her peer reviewed articles are published in national and international journals.  A native of Kenya and a member of the Little Sisters of St. Francis, Kenya, Sister Jane was previously the Executive Director of the African Sisters Education Collaborative.

Iseult Ward 

Young Social entrepreneur Iseult Ward is the Co Founder and COO of a ground-breaking enterprise, Food Cloud. This innovative company has moved from social innovation to commercial enterprise and works between Ireland and Britain in addressing the problem of food waste and food poverty. This phenomenal initiative has distributed over 35 million meals to charitable causes, has saved 16 million kilograms of food that would otherwise have been wasted, works with 4000 significant 
retail partners and 7500 charities and community groups.

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