The work of EIL Intercultural Learning is overseen by a Board of 9 volunteers who meet on a regular basis throughout the year. All members of the Board have previously participated on EIL programmes and do not receive any payments or emoluments for their work. Board members are elected each year by the members of EIL. The members of the Board are:



Niamh Hill

Niamh has been involved with EIL since 2009 when she received a Travel Award to Hong Kong. Subsequently, in 2013, she spent 6 weeks volunteering in India teaching English in a local primary school on an EIL programme.  Niamh was first elected to EIL’s Board in 2017 and became Vice-Chairperson in 2018, as part of which role she has represented EIL at a number of EFIL and AFS meetings and conferences.  Niamh holds a BCL and LLM from UCC and has practised as a solicitor in Cork since qualifying in 2012.  She currently works as Legal Counsel for a large Irish company.  Her other voluntary work includes over 10 years as a girl guide leader with the Catholic Guides of Ireland (CGI) and she has been a member of CGI’s Regional Executive Board for the past 6 years.


Vice Chairperson

Kate O'Brien

Kate is a Chartered Accountant working in Finance for a large Irish Company. Previously she spent 8 years working for an Accountancy Firm in Dublin specialising in Audit and Assurance Services with a focus on the not-for-profit sector. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Commerce International from UCC and participated in the Erasmus Programme, spending 9 months in Italy as part of this. Kate joined the EIL Board in March 2023.

Santo Leung – Cork Office_© Paul Carstairs_ArupBR

Vice Chairperson

Santo Leung

I have been involved with AFS since 2006 after receiving a UNESCO Scholarship for a Study Abroad program from Australia to Japan. On returning I volunteered with AFS South Australia local chapter. In 2013 I completed a university exchange to Helsinki and connected to the local AFS chapter there and when I returned to Adelaide I completed training  to be an AFS Qualified Trainer.

 My involvement in AFS/EIL Ireland began in 2016 when I moved to  Cork  and became involved in the Study Abroad Committee. I have been involved with student orientations and I enjoy seeing the transformation participants undergo through the programs.  I am a Management Consultant for a global engineering company and hold degrees in Architectural Engineering and Corporate Finance from the University of Adelaide. On the weekends I’m often exploring Ireland or further abroad to continue my intercultural learning. 


Paul Conway

I first became involved in EIL after a Homestay in Communist Poland in 1986. Afterwards, I was asked to represent EIL on the National Youth Council. With the creation of a new constitution, the EIL Board was established in the late 1980s and I have served on same for a number of terms, including holding the position of Chairperson on several occasions. I am regularly involved with the activities of the EIL Network. Married to Brenda, we live in Dublin and have a busy household with 3 adult children.
After spending most of my working life in the semi-state and private sector in Dublin Port I am now a civil servant. As an active volunteer in the Red Cross, I am responsible for the planning and provision of First Aid and Ambulance cover at national, regional, and local level. This involves regular coordination with other voluntary and statutory agencies to ensure preparedness for emergencies or severe weather conditions. Recent activities included supporting the Government’s response to the Covid 19 challenges and assisting displaced Ukrainians.

Aleks Photobr

Aleksandra Ananica

Aleks holds an Honours Bachelor’s in Business and Information Systems from Cork Institute of Technology. In 2016 she had received a Travel Award to go to Vietnam, where she spent 6 weeks teaching English to kids and adults in a local school. Since then Aleks has become an active member of EIL network and a volunteer. She is part of the Global Education Committee (GEC) and a Student Abroad Volunteer (SAV). She has also represented EIL at a number of events and trainings organised by the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL) and AFS. Aleks currently works as an IT Auditor for an Irish owned Multinational company in Dublin. 


Emma McNally Jacobs

After returning from an AFS Exchange year in Luxembourg, Emma graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA and Postgraduate Diploma in Organisation and Development.

Over the next 10 years she worked in the Learning & Development space, as a Learning & Development Manager at Independent Newspapers and MediKredit Integrated Healthcare solutions, and Master Trainer and Human Resource Development Consultant for Deloitte. In 2003, Emma and her family moved to Durban and started Westville B&B, which grew into a multi-award winning 5-star B&B  business across three properties, with a team of 15 employees and students. Emma was on the Board of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa, a two-term committee member of the KZN Women in Business supporting female entrepreneurs, and she chaired the Durban West B&B Association.

In 2016, Emma started oil painting and grew a small side business called Emma Jacobs Art, and she was the Founder of Durban Art Workshops, using one of their properties to host these art workshops, helping other artists grow.

In June of 2021, the family moved to Ireland, where Emma took up a position as Duty Manager to learn Irish hotel operations, and then in March of 2022, she took over the role of People & Culture Manager at The Montenotte Hotel in Cork.

Emma is a certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner with GENOS Europe, has completed an Employment Law course with CORK ETB. She is a member of the Irish Hospitality Institute, the Irish Hospitality Federation’s HR Forum, Visual Artists Ireland, and Sample Studios.

In addition to sitting on the Board of EIL AFS Ireland, Emma regularly exhibits her Emma Jacobs Art, and enjoys spending time with her son, daughter and husband, and their two Scottish Terriers.

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Andrew Ormsby

Andrew has been involved with EIL since 2015, when he travelled to Switzerland as a recipient of the Study Abroad Explore Award. Since he returned from his semester abroad, he has volunteered with EIL in many areas: mentoring Irish students during their exchanges; planning and facilitating orientations for international students that are hosted in Ireland; and working with the Study Abroad programme to bring intercultural learning workshops to Irish schools. As part of the Study Abroad Volunteer Committee, he helped to facilitate the change to volunteer-led orientations in 2018.

He has represented EIL & AFS Ireland at the Volunteer Summer Summit in Austria and has volunteered abroad with AFS Argentina/Uruguay. Andrew is a final year student of Economics & Spanish at TCD, and outside of his studies he has helped to manage the Trinity FM student radio station, both as Senior Sound engineer and as Treasurer. In his spare time he can be found hiking, travelling, or telling anyone who’ll listen that they should get involved with EIL.

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Gary Cooke

Gary Cooke is a Safety Assurance Engineer based in Vancouver. He has been involved in EIL since 2010 when he received a Travel Award to the Vermont Governor’s Institute on Current Issues and Youth Activism in the USA. Since then he has been an active member of the EIL Network and originally joined the Board in 2014 and remained a member until 2019. He has rejoined the board as a co-opted member for 2020. Gary holds a Masters’s Degree in Engineering with Business and has worked within the Rail industry since graduating in 2015. He is currently the recruitment and volunteer coordinator for the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Hub in Vancouver. Gary has a strong belief in the value of EIL’s Mission and the change it can make in participants’ lives. In his free time, Gary is an experienced hiker and novice snowboarder taking advantage of the local mountains whenever he can.


Aedín Mc Adams

Aedín has been involved with EIL since 2020 when she won the Global Awareness Programme (GAP) award to Mexico, focusing on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. She has been actively involved in EIL since her return, volunteering on orientation days, arrivals workshops and pre-departure weekends. Alongside this, she is a member of the Global Education Committee (GEC). Aedín is currently a PhD candidate, researching habitat rehabilitation and restoration, focusing on mediating human impacts by creating a stable and harmonious habitat for the reintroduction of a declining snail species in Ireland. Outside of her study, Aedín is interested in equitable education, cultural exploration and GAA and enjoys being out in nature exploring Ireland and travelling abroad. “