Derek McCallan

NILGA Chief Executive


Derek McCallan has been Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) since April 2011.  Derek is responsible for advising and supporting NILGA’s appointed political leaders and its all council Executive, taking forward policy, lobbying, fiscal and legislation priorities for the 11 local authorities.

He is NILGA’s principal advisor within the UK Local Government Group and co-ordinates Pay and Performance negotiations for NI, within the National Joint Council also covering England and Wales.  Derek also fulfils strategic partnerships across commercial, community, social economy, elected member development and performance improvement roles for local councils, in order to develop stronger local democracy, greater citizen-led policy and more informed decision taking, right across government. 

Derek is a graduate in Politics and English from Trinity College, Dublin, has a Post Graduate qualification in Public Sector Leadership and enjoys walking, marathons, wine, Anglo – Irish literature and Private Eye.

Karen Smyth

Head of Policy & Governance

Karen Smyth has worked in a policy role for the Northern Ireland Local Government Association since 2002, and as Head of Policy since 2008. She takes a particular interest in policy on planning, regeneration, and the circular economy in addition to policy on local government structure, operation and finance.

Karen has a background in Environmental Health and worked in councils as an EHO for ten years prior to taking up her post at NILGA. She is currently a non-executive director of Sustainable NI and has held similar directorships on a number of other organisations over the years, including Building Change Trust. Karen holds a BSc(Hons) in Environmental Health and a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

Lisa O’Kane

Head of Performance & Partnerships

Lisa joined NILGA in May 2017 and is responsible for corporate performance & improvement, external relations, economic policy and funding & investment. A graduate in European Business Studies and Post Graduate in Event Management, Lisa spent seven years in Brussels as a public affairs consultant, lobbying on behalf of the financial services industry. Lisa has 20 years experience in local government in the economic development, regeneration, tourism and large scale events fields.

Fiona Douglas

Regional Development Manager

Fiona Douglas has worked for NILGA since August 2016 in the role of Regional Policy and Development.  Fiona coordinates regional elected member development and the related Charter accreditation arrangements as well as the Regional Elected Member Community Planning and Wellbeing Working Group.   Fiona also provides public policy analysis, support and research at NILGA.

Mark Maher

Communications & Engagement Officer

Implementation and management of external and internal communications. Working with senior council representatives, elected members, the main political parties and key government departments to deliver collective and respective opinions on Local Government, representing the voice of the sector.

Diane Anderson

Business Support Officer

Diane has worked for the Northern Ireland Local Government Association since June 1992 and has had various administrative roles during this time. Diane is responsible for the management and control of NILGA’s financial accounts, together with maintaining an internal HR administrative and co-ordination service to the Chief Executive.

Sarah Little

Business Services Officer

Sarah Little has worked for the Northern Ireland Local Government Association since April 2008 and has been in the role of Business Services Officer from 2009.
Sarah’s main role is to administer NILGA’s Full Members and Executive Meetings which occur on a bi-monthly and monthly basis, as well as provide a Personal Assistant role to the Chief Executive.

Antoinette Kennedy

Regional Project Officer

Antoinette has worked for NILGA since June 2009.  She co-ordinates initiatives including the Central-Local Government Elected Member Forum and provides project support for Interreg iEER.  Antoinette also provides policy support for the Senior Management Team on NILGA Policy & Learning Networks.

Amy McGrath

Public Affairs & Communications Support Officer

Mary Kerr

NISMP Policy Officer

Mary Kerr is policy officer with the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership (NISMP) -

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