Board of Commissioners and senior management
Our Board has responsibility for the overall strategy and future direction of the Commission. As an open and accountable organisation we publish a record of all our Board meetings on our website. The Board is supported by an Audit & Risk Committee and a Human Resource & Remuneration Committee.
The senior management team (SMT) makes decisions involving our day-to-day operation. The team is led by the Chief Executive and includes the Head of Corporate Services, Head of Compliance and Enquiries and Head of Charity Services. The senior management team implement the programmes and policies arising from our Board’s decisions to ensure we deliver effective services.
The Commissioners of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland are appointed by the Minister for Communities in line with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Charity Commissioner, Thomas McGrath
Mr McGrath worked as Regional Director for Marsh Ltd for 34 years. Chief He was previously Chair of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (2003-2008), the Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland (2000-2003). He was Director of the Ireland Funds (1998-2007) and previously served as a Committee Member of The Prince's Youth Trust and NSPCC Special Appeal.
Mr McGrath was reappointed Chief Charity Commissioner on 1 June 2014 for a five year term of office. Remuneration £5,750 per annum.
Deputy Chief Commissioner, Gerard McCurdy
Mr McCurdy is the former Northern Ireland Director of the Food Standards Agency, overseeing its establishment and having overall responsibility for its budget and governance structures. In this role he led on the development of a policy to introduce a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for food businesses. He is a Board and Audit Committee Member of the Health & Social Care Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority for which he receives £5,962 per annum. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Mr McCurdy was appointed Deputy Chief Commissioner from 1 March 2019 until 29 February 2024. Remuneration £3,500 per annum.
Legally Qualified Charity Commissioner, Steven Cockcroft
Mr Cockcroft is currently the Managing Partner of Johns Elliot, a commercial law firm in Belfast. With over 25 years’ experience, Steven’s main practice areas are commercial property law, with a particular emphasis on landlord and tenant issues, and matters of corporate governance. He has contributed articles to business and professional publications on these topics, and acted as a part-time tutor at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. Steven also currently sits as a co-optee on two Law Society Committees concerned with property and regulatory matters.
Mr Cockcroft was appointed Legally Qualified Charity Commissioner for three years from 2 November 2015 (appointment extended for a further three years, until 1 November 2021). Remuneration £2,300 per annum.
Charity Commissioner, Seamus Magee
Mr Magee was the Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland from 2001 until his retirement in 2014. He played a key role in the introduction of individual electoral registration and establishment of a regulatory framework for political parties in Northern Ireland. He was awarded an OBE for services to democracy in the Queens New Year Honours List 2015. He previously worked in the fields of health, social services and consumer affairs. He is a lay assessor with the General Medical Council and serves on the Board of Governors of Assumption Grammar School.
Mr Magee was appointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 1 June 2015 (appointment extended for a further three years, until 31 May 2021). Remuneration £2,300 per annum.
Charity Commissioner, Kieran Donaghy
Mr Donaghy is a former Director of Human Resources in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. In this role, he led a range of projects to achieve a number of the Trust’s strategic objectives. He also has experience of reviewing governance and finance structures, and partnership / stakeholder engagement. He is an Independent Member of the Commission Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, through which he provides a constructive challenge to the executive members. He is a Board Member with the Probation Board for which he receives a re-numeration of £5,050 per annum. He has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years and holds no other public appointments.
Mr Donaghy was appointed Commissioner from 1 March 2019 until 29 February 2024. Remuneration £2,300 per annum.
Charity Commissioner, 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 Northern Ireland. She is also a Non Executive Director of the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority (RQIA) and a Non Executive Director of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority.
Ms Donaghy was appointed Charity Commissioner for three years from 7 May 2013 (appointment extended until 30 June 2019). Remuneration £2,300 per annum.
Chief Executive, Frances McCandless
Frances 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 voluntary and community sector.
Frances’s career in the voluntary and community sector goes back nearly 30 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.
Frances has a BA (Hons) from University College, Oxford, an MPhil from Trinity College, Dublin and a Diploma in Public Administration from Warwick Business School, where she has also taught and been an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Governance and Public Management.
Head of Charity Services, 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, Aubrey McCrory
Aubrey was appointed as Head of Corporate Services in March 2011. He is tasked with delivering the corporate functions of the 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, Myles McKeown
Myles McKeown was appointed to the Commission as Head of Compliance and 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)