Welcome to our new CEO Claire Barkey

We are delighted to welcome Claire Barkey to Irish Girl Guides (IGG) as our new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Claire, who graduated from the University of Ulster in 2006 with a BSc Hons in Community Youth Work, started her professional career as a youth worker with Foróige in Blanchardstown.  There she ran programmes and projects for young people to support social development, community activism and skills-building.

In 2013 Claire started a Masters in Management in the Community and Voluntary Sector and in 2016 she graduated from All Hallows, Dublin City University, having completed it.

The following year she started as Regional Director with Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan and it was there she discovered just how much she really enjoyed working in the governance and administration side of youth work.

Her dissertation for her Masters was a case study on governance titled ‘From the Kitchen Table to the Modern Day Board Room’.  In this she looked at the challenges and workload of the voluntary boards in the charity sector with the current legislation and procedures in mind.

Claire says, “My passion for youth work and all it entails stems back to my childhood.  Growing up in rural Ireland meant there was much less opportunity for extracurricular activities as transport could be a major issue.  This is where the voluntary clubs, such as Girl Guides, were instrumental in supporting young people in their development.

“I grew up in a community that was all about volunteerism and giving back. These values were instilled in me from then.  Whilst I absolutely value education, the learning I received through my voluntary youth club was priceless. How I was challenged, encouraged and supported by my youth leaders to always aim high in life and believe everything was a possibility.  This is something I have kept with me throughout my youth work career.”

Claire says that, given young people are our next generation, it is the task of youth workers and volunteers to inspire and utilise all opportunities to empower them and to never say, ‘No’.  “Young people should not have to grow up believing there are limits to their development,” she says. “From the young people’s successes, as adults we benefit, communities will benefit and eventually our country will benefit.”

Claire has many years of volunteering in the community and voluntary sector under her belt.  “This started with being a volunteer in Foróige, volunteering with a community centre in South Belfast and a youth council in East Belfast,” she says. “I also spent 12 months in Corrymeela, Ballycastle, a peace and reconciliation centre working with a variety of groups, including youth groups, family groups, schools groups, groups with disabilities, faith-based groups and international groups. This was a wonderful experience. I have more recently been involved with my daughter’s GAA team, athletics club and parents association.”

Claire is absolutely thrilled to be appointed as the new CEO with Irish Girl Guides.  “Irish Girl Guides is a superb organisation that supports young girls and young women in our country to be the best they can be. IGG volunteers are leading the way in terms of creativity and progressiveness within the community and voluntary sector and I am honoured to be a part of the team that will continue on this journey.”

Needless to say, we are delighted to have Claire on board and very much look forward to working with her.