Board & Governance

Board & Governance

Relate NI Board & Governance

Relate NI is a registered charity which has been working to provide expert information for healthy relationships available to everyone across Northern Ireland for over 70 years.

We are governed by a board of voluntary trustees, who support our clinical work by guiding the financial and legal aspects of the organisation. We also have an honorary president – Jill Downing as well as a Boardroom Apprentice.

Relate NI is committed to Good Governance, and we were delighted that the work of our board was recognized as the winners of the  2021 CO3 Good Governance Award for a Medium organisation.

Relate NI Chair Aidan Bennett AcceptsCO3 Good Governance Award

Meet our Trustees Below

Natalie Dowey
Position: Relate NI Chair

Natalie is an experienced economic policy professional, specialising in bettering consumer welfare through improving competition and preventing anti-competitive activities. She has a particular interest in the betterment of consumer welfare in digital markets. She currently works in Enforcement for the Competition and Markets Authority. Previously Natalie worked in the Utility Regulator covering monopoly and markets regulation, along with policy development in electricity. Natalie also brings key commercial experience to the Boardroom having spent her formative professional years working in structured finance, providing debt finance and advice to large corporates in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Natalie completed a PG Dip in Economics for Competition law in 2018 at King’s College London, holds an LLB in Law with Economics and is a qualified project manager.

Bernie Kelly
Position: Relate NI Vice- Chair 

Bernie Kelly is the Development Manager for Northern Ireland with the Shared Lives Plus charity. A social worker by profession, Bernie worked in a variety of settings in North and West Belfast Social Services including Family & Child Care, Mental Health and Physical & Sensory Disability. In October 2007 Bernie was appointed as Service Manager for Physical & Sensory Disability in the newly amalgamated Belfast Health & Social Care Trust where she remained until November 2021. Bernie was a Councillor in Belfast City Council from 2005 until 2015 and was Deputy Lord Mayor in 2007. Bernie was appointed to the Board of the Local Government staff Commission in 2014.

Aidan Bennett
Position: Trustee

Aidan is a qualified Company Director, with an IOD Diploma in Company Direction and BSc Hons in Advanced Management Practice. A digital data and informatics consultant, he has a strong background in Governance, Compliance, Risk Management and Assurance, and is a qualified Management of Risk practitioner. Aidan brings a wealth of experience to the Boardroom stemming from 25 years of Director level engagements across both the Public and Private Sectors in Healthcare.

Brendan Morrissey
Position: Trustee

Brendan is a housing professional, employed as the Supported Housing Manager with the Clanmil Housing Group. He specialises in the care and support of older people to live independently.  Brendan is passionate about wellbeing and the role that good housing and other support services play in supporting people with their everyday lives. Brendan took part in the Boardroom Apprentice in 2020 with Relate NI.

Dr. Felicity Lamrock
Position: Trustee

Dr. Felicity Lamrock is a Lecturer in Data Analytics at Queen’s University Belfast. She completed her PhD in Medical Statistics from Queen’s University Belfast in 2016. Felicity was previously a statistician at the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) working with a team of pharmacists and clinicians on Health Technology Assessments to advise the Health Service Executive on the recommendation of new drug therapies in Ireland. The Irish national authority, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) recently reviewed PrEP for populations at substantial risk of sexual acquisition of HIV, and Felicity represented the NCPE on the expert advisory group. Felicity is also an Adjunct Researcher at the Institute for Public Health, Medical Decision Making and HTA at the University for Health Sciences Informatics and Technology (UMIT), Austria. She still remains a statistical advisor for the NCPE and is exploring how Northern Ireland could benefit from more decision modelling/pharmacoecononomic assessment.

Dr. Maria Pimentel-Mackle
Position: Trustee

Maria was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada at a young age. In 2018, as an international student, she graduated from the Juris Doctorate in Law (Postgraduate Research) programme at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research explored the complex development of migration laws in the UK and its impact on migrant rights. She was featured in an art installation and a book by local artist Susie Rea commissioned by the School of Law at Queen’s for her work in founding the QUB Women In Law (Lean In Circle) and to celebrate the achievements of women working in the law across Northern Ireland. She currently works as an Associate in Project Management with Factor Law and has over 8 years experience working in the legal sector. Maria joined Relate NI from the Boardroom Apprentice programme bringing her experience in key areas such as governance, diversity & inclusion, communication, managing public money, cyber awareness, and social media. Maria is very passionate and motivated to help under-represented groups (young people, women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA+) become more visible in leadership roles and have a voice in the boardrooms of public and third sector organisations in Northern Ireland.

Vernon Fox
Position: Trustee

Vernon Fox joins the board of Relate NI, bringing over 20 years executive experience from organisations across EMEA and The Americas. Vernon is a Lurgan, Co Armagh native and currently Managing Director – Europe for Digital Asset Delivery, an Australian software firm. A specialist in Strategy, Risk Management, Innovation, Operations Leadership and Outsourcing, Vernon brings multisector experience in ICT, Renewables, FMCG, Utilities, Security & Aviation, Manufacturing, Telecommunications and Software Development, having also worked at EU level as an active participant in the EU ICT4EE Energy Efficiency research initiative (REvistIE) in Brussels. Vernon is also the founder and owner of Lough Neagh Distillers – 1837 Ltd, one of Ireland’s newest micro distilleries. A Queens University Belfast Graduate in Information Management and Politics (1996), Vernon also holds his M.B.A from Trinity College Dublin (2018) and is multiple PMI certified Programme, Risk and Project Professional.

Nikki Armstrong
Position: Trustee

Nikki is a Legislative Counsel for the NI Civil Service with over a decade of experience in analysing public policy and drafting legislation for the NI government departments, covering areas such as Mental Capacity, Welfare Reform and Assembly Budget. It is important to Nikki to empower others and so she strives to create clear, gender neutral, plain  language law that is accessible to all members of the public. Nikki previously worked for Corporate Law firm Arthur Cox, bringing experience in Company Law. Nikki holds a Law degree from Cambridge (2007) and a professional Solicitor Certificate from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University Belfast (2009). She obtained a Certificate in Public Administration and Governance from the University of Ulster (2015) and took part in the Boardroom Apprentice Programme 2021 with Relate NI.

Siobhan Casey

Position: Trustee

Driving change in the ageing agenda to improve the well-being of older people is central to Siobhan’s work. Over the past 13 years, as the Director of Marketing & Business Development at Age NI, Siobhan has forged strong relationships and harnessed thought leadership to accelerate change, while raising over £30 million to promote healthy ageing and support vital service delivery for older people who are experiencing loneliness, frailty, living with dementia and carers.

Siobhan is a Director of the IFA (International Federation on Ageing); the NI representative on the UKRI Healthy Ageing Advisory Committee; and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute.

“How Relate NI helps people”

I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service AttendedAdult Relationship Counselling For Couples

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