The Northern Ireland National Advisory Board advises on all areas of work across the charity, including finances, influencing, marketing, risk management and our overall direction.

Meet the Board members

Chair: Mukesh Sharma MBE DL

Mukesh is the former Managing Director of World Travel Centre, Northern Ireland's largest travel company. In 2012 along with others he founded the Northern Ireland Forum for the Travel and Tourism Industry. From 2006-13 he was Chair of Newtownabbey Borough Council Good Relations Partnership tackling exclusion and safeguarding a stable society. In 2016 he was appointed as Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Executive Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition.

Mukesh was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year's Honours List for 'Services to the Travel Industry in Northern Ireland'. He also holds the title of Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast. In a voluntary capacity Mukesh has served and still serves as a Board member for ArtsEkta, Moving on Music and the Indian Community Centre.

Sophie Hayles

Sophie is Chief Executive at the Crescent Arts Centre. Sophie is an experienced arts professional in the public and private sectors, as a project director, relationship manager, strategist and fundraiser. Prior to moving to Belfast in 2015 Sophie led on fundraising for a European Capital of Culture Programme in Aarhus, Denmark and was previously Strategic Relations Manager at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Current positions include Board Member at Creative Exchange, and Member of the Women’s Equality Party Northern Ireland branch.

Julie-Anne O’Hare

Julie has 28 years of banking experience, working with small, medium and large Northern Ireland based businesses across all sectors. A law graduate from Queens University Belfast, with a post graduate diploma in Accounting & Finance, Julie-Anne recently achieved Certified Bank Director designation through the Institute of Banking, with special recognition for excellence.

Martin Cowie

Martin is an audit partner at PwC and leads both the Audit Practice in Northern Ireland as well as the PwC NI Private Business practice. Martin has been with PwC for 30 years working in Scotland, Australia and for the last 3 years he has been based in Belfast.

He has worked with a range of family owned and listed business in a number of different sectors over his time at PwC and more recently this has included working with a number of housing associations in Northern Ireland.

Gary Hamilton

Gary is MD of Family Media Group(publisher of Ni4kids and Scotland4kids Magazines) and has held a range of commercial media positions in London and N.Ireland within the television, radio and print media sectors including Commercial Director of Trinity Mirror Ireland ( Reach plc ) since the 1990’s.

As a publisher, Gary has a wealth of experience in audience and media brand building and within the N.Ireland and Scottish family business sectors, he has worked with a wide range of family targeted clients in helping them achieve their business objectives.

Mary Kitson

Mary qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and has worked in the public sector since 1993. Her role involves helping people who feel that they have suffered unlawful discrimination and advising the Commission which cases they should assist. She manages a small team and is also a Mediator accredited by the NI Law Society. She is a member of the Committee of the Employment Lawyers Group. While she has not previously sat on a Board, she recently completed the Boardroom Apprentice Programme and her host Board was the Disclosure and Barring Service in England. Part of their work is the delivery of services to protect children and young people. She is a mother of 2 children and has a particular interest in social disadvantage and poverty in NI.