Northern Ireland National Advisory Board

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.

Mark Lindsay

​Mark is a 56-year-old father of four, who has recently retired after more than 34 years in policing, involving community policing and laterally as Chair of the Police Federation. He has also chaired a number of charities, both locally and nationally, dealing with benevolence and support for individuals and families affected by injury or bereavement. His career has seen him gain experience in dealing with childcare issues from a number of different perspectives enabling him to have a comprehensive understanding of the adoption and fostering processes.

Mark has a number of interests, which include rugby, walking and aviation. He was also awarded the MBE in June 2021 for services to policing and the community.

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.

Elaine Smyth

Elaine has 25 years experience working in senior executives roles with high growth local technology companies and Venture Capital funds.  With a degree in Computer Science and a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource Management, Elaine has applied her experience, skills and knowledge to support many entrepreneurs and startups to create economic impact in NI.

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 Northern 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 Northern 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.