Staff / Board

  • Rory Shearer

    Board Member

    Rory Shearer is currently Specialist Lecturer in Ceramics at Belfast Metropolitan College.

    In his other life Rory Shearer is an established Artist/Designer/Maker with his own studio in County Antrim producing wheel based vessel forms in Porcelain and Reduced Stoneware.

    He has extensive experience in and of the Craft, Applied Art and Design Sector in Northern Ireland.
    He was founder member and first secretary of The Guild of Designer Craftsmen (NI) and Crafts Development Officer with Craftworks.


  • Julie Carse

    Board Member

    Julie currently works in the Higher Education Sector supporting the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s University Belfast. Previously, for 14 years, Julie was a Business Improvement Project Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Operational Effectiveness Team delivering successful business consulting projects in process and change across public and private sectors. Julie joined the Board of Craft NI in 2010.

  • Kim Mawhinney

    Board Member

    Kim was appointed Head of Art in 2009 at the National Museums Northern Ireland. She was Curator of Applied Art at the Ulster Museum for 15 years with responsibility for the glass, ceramic and furniture collections. Kim was a member of the Project Board for the redevelopment of the Ulster Museum, which reopened in October 2009. She currently sits on the main Board for the Art and Architecture Ireland, a cross-border major research publication. Throughout her career she has curated, juried and selected exhibitions, lectured and written about the history and development of museums, accessibility of art collections, glass and ceramics, both nationally and internationally.

  • Rachel O’Neill

    Board Member

    Northern Irish artist and designer Rachel O’Neill works at the interface between art and design using a variety of tactile materials to create wonderfully playful one-off Installations and limited edition pieces for corporate and private interiors and special events. After graduating from the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design, Rachel has travelled the world producing work for an international client base from Belfast to New York creating commissions for private homes and commercial ventures such as restaurants and galleries. Rachel has created massive installations for Peugeot’s Flagship showrooms in both Paris and Berlin while also producing pieces for New York’s luxury 5th Avenue Store, Bergdorf Goodman.
  • James Toland (Chair)

    Board Member

    James Toland founded LMJ Communications in 2008. Since then the company has grown four fold offering blue chip advertisers high impact, key profile advertising opportunities throughout Northern Ireland.

    James has a broad spectrum of experience in all areas of business from Sales and Marketing through to Operations, Finance and HR with a particular emphasis on Business Development, Marketing and Communications.

    His objective in life is to enthusiastically embrace all opportunities in an effort to be the best that he can be.

    In his spare time James is a Business Mentor to various organisations and start-ups including Young Enterprise Year Groups.

    He is a previous member of NI Committee of the Institute of Directors in NI and previous Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee of the Institute of Directors in NI.

  • Patricia Flanagan

    Board Member

    Patricia Flanagan is currently self-employed as a specialist facilitator of design thinking/ creative problem solving and frequently delivers to students, the third sector, the business community and social entrepreneurs. She pioneered the integration of creative problem solving projects for social good in the curriculum within Belfast Metropolitan College.

    Throughout her working life she has designed, managed and delivered many programmes. While in Belfast Metropolitan College she was the Project Manager for a new college campus, referred to as e3. Her work there was heavily influenced by the d-school in Stanford University and their approach to innovation. Over the years she has forged strong working relationships across Ireland and abroad, with key economic development agencies, with all of the enterprise partners, political representatives, community organisations, funders, government departments and the business community in Northern Ireland.

    Patricia has over 25 years of experience of working in the enterprise and education sectors and spent 14 years working in the Craft Sector in NI.

  • Patricia McNeill

    Board Member

    Patricia McNeill is the Manager of Ormeau Business Park which is the Local Enterprise Agency for South Belfast.

    She currently represents the Ormeau Business Park as:

    • Director of the South Belfast Partnership Board
    • Chair of the Growth, Trade and Enterprise Sub Group within the South Belfast Economic Forum
    • QUB Advisory Board Member of Enactus
    • Princes’s Trust Panel Member on the Business Launch Group
    • Cross Border Local Enterprise Partnership Committee

    Through her current position, Patricia is involved in business support at pre-start, start up and growth stages for the small business sector.
    She is particularly interested in the entrepreneurial journey of those within the creative industries having also had a background as a graduate of the University of Ulster (School of Textiles/Fashion).

    Patricia holds a Master of Science with Distinction Innovation Management.