NIGALA Board Members

Members of the Board are appointed by The Public Appointments Unit for a 4-year term.

Code of Practice for Board Members


Members of the Board and the Senior Management Team detail any other interests/positions they hold.

Register of Interests for Board Members/Senior Management Team 2021-22


The NIGALA Chair and Members of the Board are as follows …

  • Mrs Gemma Loughran, Chair

    Mrs Loughran is the Chair of the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency.  She was a barrister before being appointed as a county court judge in 2004, a position from which she has now retired.  She is one of the two authors of The Law of Children in Northern Ireland.  Mrs Loughran was formerly a principal lecturer in St Mary’s College of Education.   She has served on the Board of Governors of a primary school and two post-primary schools.

  • Ms Dawn Shaw, Chief Executive

    Ms Shaw is the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency.  She has over 30 years’ experience working within children’s services and has worked for number of Local Authorities in England and Health and Social Care Trusts in NI as well as the Voluntary sector.  She has worked in residential care, schools psychological services, adoption, fostering, and early years. She was responsible for establishing Action for Children in NI which provides a range of services including supported lodgings, supported accommodation, young carers, sure start, family support and fostering service, and was responsible for the UK wide mental health programmes including the Blues programme.

    Dawn has over 20 years senior management experience in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. She was a founder member of the Children and Young People’s Strategic partnership and the Safeguarding Board for NI.

    She was the NI National Director for Action for Children and was the Deputy Executive Director of Social work with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust before commencing her post as Chief Executive with NIGALA on the 1st April 2021.

  • Mrs Veronica Callaghan, Non-Executive Director

    Ms Callaghan has been a social worker  since 1980 having worked  for many years in  both the voluntary and statutory sectors in Northern Ireland. With  extensive experience  of family support, child protection and looked after children services  she has held  positions at both operational and strategic levels in a range of organisations.  She joined the Northern Ireland Social Care Council in 1994  followed by a  period of secondment to the DHSSPS with responsibilities linked to professional  registration and regulation, workforce development and planning. In 2007 Ms Callaghan took up post as Assistant Director for Social Care Governance and Workforce within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust . Prior to her retirement late  2019 she was Interim  Executive Director of Social Work and  Director of Women ,Children and Families Division within the Northern Trust.


  • Mrs Gillian McGaughey, Non-Executive Director

    Mrs McGaughey is the Education and Training Officer for the Bar of Northern Ireland.  Prior to taking up her current post Mrs McGaughey practised as a Barrister specialising in Family & Child Law and lecturered at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, QUB. Until 2016 she was the Chair of the Statutory Committee for the Pharmaceutical Society for Northern Ireland and a Legal Services Commissioner. Mrs McGaughey was a Stakeholder member of the NI Social Care Council from 2001 to 2013. She is a member of the Board of Saint Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast and a Director of Belfast Cathedral Enterprises Limited.

  • Mr Fred Smyth, Non-Executive Director

    Mr Smyth is a fellow of the Chartered Accountants in Ireland having qualified with PWC Belfast. He has held various senior management roles within Bank of Ireland for over 20 years and has extensive business and retail banking experience, including heading up Corporate, Business and Retail Units across Northern Ireland.  Mr Smyth has assisted the full range of private and public sector businesses from start-ups to corporates in gowing their business in both domestic and overseas markets. He is also currently a non-executive member of the Board of Include Youth and a former Vice Chairman of Simon Community NI.

  • Mr Lee Wilson, Non-Executive Director

    Mr Wilson has over 20 years’ experience as a Finance Manager in a local Health Trust.  He holds an MA in Administration and Law and a Post Graduate Diploma in Social and Community Development.  Mr Wilson is currently a Board Member for both the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, where he is Chair of the Governance and Risk Committee. He was previously a Board Member of the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.