The board of The Crescent and Belfast Book Festival helps to drive our development and contributes to our strategy for future success, providing leadership and experience to the board on growing income and the development of activities that also fulfil our purpose and values. Our current priorities are to extend our reach, develop new partnerships, build our profile and create new strategic collaborations. Our current board members include:
Charlotte Jess - Chair
Website Manager - Queen's University Belfast
Charlotte is a marketing manager with a keen interest in the arts, particularly dance, literature and music. She brings experience in all aspects of marketing, having developed the digital presence of Tourism NI, co-ordinating the digital strategy for tourism marketing through 2012, City of Culture 2013 and beyond.
In her current role as Website Manager in Queen's University, she has led a team to deliver large-scale digital transformation in the University's marketing communications both at home and internationally.
Eileen Branagh - Vice Chair
Chief Executive - Open Arts
Eileen has been working in the arts sector for 20 years. Since 2013 she has been CEO of Open Arts, a leading arts & disability organisation. Prior to this she has been Manager at The Beat Carnival for 10 years, and Production Manager at Open Arts on the large-scale spectacle for the Opening of the Special Olympics in Dublin, 2003. She also worked with numerous other festivals. In 2018 she completed CO3s ‘Excelling in Leadership’ programme and is currently undertaking a Post Graduate Certificate in Executive Leadership with Ulster University.
Eileen Branagh is also the Chairperson of Paradosso Theatre Company.
Michael Campbell - Treasurer
Corporate Reporting Accountant - Education Authority Northern Ireland
Michael is a member of Chartered Accountants Ireland with over 15 years experience working in financial reporting in both the public, private and charitable sectors. He has 6 years of Governance within the Education Sector and his primary experience lies within financial reporting systems development.
Michael has a keen interest in the arts and community engagement in Northern Ireland, with particular regard to music. He currently sits as Chair of the Board of Governors for Oakwood Integrated Primary School, and was previously the Board's Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee.
Executive Performance Consultant – Ulster Bank
Jillian Kirk graduated from University of Ulster in 1998 with a BA Hons in Business & Finance before running her own business for 4 years. Having sold her business Jillian started working for Ulster Bank holding many positions including Team Leader, Regulated Supervisor and Risk Audit roles, before taking up the position of Executive Performance Consultant supporting and challenging Senior Managers to develop their leadership within their businesses.
Jillian is Vice Chairman of the Board at Malone Integrated College having come from an integrated education background and continues to enjoy music having completed many violin exams and played with school orchestras across Europe.
Kelly Anne Collins
General Manager – Young at Art
Kelly-Anne joined Young at Art as General Manager in May 2018. Prior to that, she spent seven years as General Manager of Dance Resource Base, a support organisation for dance professionals across Northern Ireland.
Her other roles in Northern Ireland have included a number of years as the Arts & Cultural Programming Officer at the Linen Hall Library, jointly founding and delivering the very first Belfast Book Festival in 2009.
Chief Executive Officer - Commissioner for Older People NI
Evelyn is an experienced Chief Executive Officer of an Arm’s Length Body and a former civil servant of 30+ years.
She leads a team of staff working for and supporting the objectives of the Commissioner for Older People and is a corporate governance expert and has a range of responsibilities including the delivery of the corporate objectives, communications and engagement, human and financial resources.
Having worked in a variety of government departments across a diverse range of policy and service delivery roles, she also set up and developed the Commissioner for Older People’s organisation in 2012 and have worked with both the former and current Commissioners.
National Lottery Community Fund's Director for Northern Ireland
Kate was appointed as The National Lottery Community Fund's Director for Northern Ireland in January 2019. She leads the Fund’s grant-making activity, relationship management and operations in Northern Ireland.
Kate was previously Deputy Director in the Northern Ireland Office, leading its strategic external and community engagement. Before joining the NIO, she held a wide-ranging series of roles in the Diplomatic Service, in the UK and abroad.
Learning & Development Manager, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council
Niamh is a professionally qualified HR/L&D Manager with 24 years experience within large public and private organisations. She is a successful senior manager with a track record of aligning the HR/L&D functions to meet strategic and operational corporate goals. She has experience of working on various large and complex HR projects and has had frequent contact with Trade Unions.
Rachel is an award winning producer with over 20 years experience making radio, film and television.
She works with a number of production companies across the UK and has recently joined State of Grace productions in Belfast. Her skills include developing and pitching ideas, running teams and projects across international/European co-productions, communicating with commissioners and broadcasters and managing budgets and funding.
She has a reputation for linking people and projects together from across the Uk and Europe.
Partner, Head of Media & Entertainments and Reputation Management - Carson McDowell LLP
Olivia is a Solicitor with 15 years professional experience and is a Partner in Northern Ireland’s largest law firm, where she leads the Media and Entertainment Law team.
The department provides contentious and non-contentious legal advice in all matters relating to libel, privacy, data protection, harassment, contempt, confidentiality, copyright, ECHR and EU rights, clearance, advertising law, litigation, mediation, publishing, injunctions, broadcast law and social media law for example. Olivia is a legal commentator on all media law related issues. In 2012, she qualified as a higher rights Solicitor Advocate.
As an alumni of the Ulster Youth theatre and the National Youth Theatre, Olivia has been involved in the arts for most of her life.
Director - Johnston Communications
Catriona has a keen interest in the arts from her roles at Audiences NI (now ThriveNI), housing from roles at the Chartered Institute of Housing, multiple estate agencies in Northern Ireland and a position on the management committee of Shelter NI from 2014 – 2017.
Catriona’s background includes marketing, website development, search engine optimisation, designing and managing grant processes, provision of training to arts / community organisations, evaluation of processes including events and audience development.
She currently manages the online marketing for retail clients in USA and Europe and a variety of tourism focused clients in Northern Ireland.