Melanie Douglas (Chair)

Melanie has over 15 years' experience in HR including resourcing, employee relations, attendance management and learning and development, and is currently working for a Public Sector Healthcare Organisation as a HR Manager. Melanie has her roots in the private and public education sector and her particular interest has been in special education and the rights of children to equality and inclusion. She has also been awarded outstanding practitioner by NCSL and attained coaching and mentoring, designated child protection officer and middle management certification.

In her spare time Melanie volunteers for a Rare Disease organisation where she currently holds position of Chair and is also part of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls.

Leonard Sproule 

Leonard SprouleLeonard took early retirement from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive after 37 years service. He obtained corporate membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and completed a number of management development programmes including Common Purpose.

As Chairman of Disability Action’s Board Leonard hopes to use his housing management experience to focus on the needs of people with disabilities. Leonard has a particular interest in user involvement and strengthening the quality of service provision to the disability sector.

Gerry Maguire M.B.E. (Vice-Chair)

Gerry Maguire

Gerry works for the Western Health & Social Care Trust in administration.  He also works part time for the Appeals Service N.I.C.S.  He sits on the Advisory Panel for Disability for the Fermanagh / Omagh District Council; is a member of the Advisory Panel for Day Care in the Western Trust: a member of the Local Housing Executive Scrutiny Panel; a member of the Regional Disability Housing for NIHE; and a member of the local Museum Advisory Panel.  He was awarded a M.B.E in 2005 for services to Disability in Northern Ireland.

Patricia Bray

Patricia is the co-founder of the North West Forum of People with Disabilities in 1994 and is currently Chairperson of the Management Committee.   The Forum is a human rights organisation and is 100% led by disabled people.  Patricia has been involved in the human rights movement for over 30 years.  During this period she worked with Disability Action as Statutory Duty and Policy Officer - working to ensure that the public sector equality duties under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Disability Discrimination Order 2007 were implemented. 

Patricia continues through North West Forum of People with Disabilities, various fora and committees to promote the human rights and voice of disabled people in all aspects of political, economic and social life in Northern Ireland.

John Carberry M.B.E.

John is a Deaf Awareness and Sign Language Trainer working in the sector for more than thirty years.  John works in a freelance capacity for many clients throughout Northern Ireland and on the Sign Language Project in conjunction with the University of Ulster.  Previously John worked for 23 years for Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) and a national body for communication skills with Deaf people.

John has served as a committee member on the following organisations: The National Deaf Children's Society (NI), Northern Ireland Disability Council (forerunner of the Equality Commission) and the Ulster Television Regional Advisory Group. John has been a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees and Governors of Jordanstown School for Deaf and Visually Impaired Children.

Ursula Marshall

Ursula is currently Chair of Mid-Ulster Disability Forum.  She has a background in community activism over a 20 year period providing her with a broad, comprehensive understanding of social issues, particularly in relation to disability.  She champions disability through a range of organisations that she is involved with such as; NIHE Housing Community Network, NIHE Disability Forum, Town Centre For a (Cookstown and Magherfelt), Womens Aid (both local and regional), Mid Ulster Child Contact Centre, CYCSP Locality Group, Shopmobility Independent Member of Mid Ulster PCSP (dealing with policing and community safety).

Drennan McBride

Drennan took early retirement from Belfast City Council and turned back to his first love, the community and social economy sphere as a volunteer and director. His wide interests though confined to North and West Belfast have latterly included: Executive Chair of Argyle Business Centre, facilitating employment of 420+ people and economic regeneration in the Shankill area of Belfast; Chair of Governors of Hazelwood Integrated Primary and Nursery School in North Belfast, full to capacity with 460 happy pupils; Board Member of Paisley Park Sportsplex working to redevelop a multi-use sports ground for community use in West Belfast. His interest and support for ‘Disability’ stems from contracting Polio in 1957.  

Arthur O'Brien

Arthur is senior finance leader recognised for building board-level strategies that strengthen the fiscal controls of global organisations across complex industry landscapes. Combines over 25 years’ expertise within a Big 4 firm with a deep knowledge of audit, governance, in-depth finance expertise, people development and business development to guide seamless transformation journeys in both start-ups and large corporates. Mobilises cross-functional teams with integrity to ensure the deliver of multi-million-pound projects and fosters strategic partnerships to engage stakeholders and secure C-level buy ins. Provides strategic oversight and constructive challenge to unite executives under a shared vision, elevate business performance, stabilise financial efficiency and maximise revenue generation. Arthur runs his own accountancy and business advisory practice.

Ian Elliott

Ian has over 40 years' experience in social housing including at the NI Housing Executive; BIH Housing Association where he worked with BCS on developing Clifton House sheltered housing; leading the Choice Group including significant community engagement and most recently with Abbeyfield.

He developed a large number of local charitable partnerships as well as founding Oaklee Housing in Dublin.

He has a particular interest in our local heritage and now serves on the Disability Action NI board.