In 2021, ten young leaders from Northern Ireland were selected for our global policy programme – Future Leaders Connect.

They were among 63 delegates from thirteen countries taking part in a six-week online policy and leadership programme, ganing exclusive access to policy experts and training, alongside mentorship by UK think tanks and other senior leaders.

The programme was expanded in Northern Ireland to ten places instead of the usual two , thanks to the support of the Northern Ireland Office – with Northern Ireland delegates joining emerging leaders from Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Ukraine, Vietnam and the rest of the UK on the programme.

The participants were selected from over 9,000 applicants worldwide in a competitive process where they pitched their innovative policy ideas for global change. Policy ideas from the Northern Ireland delegates include changes to integrated education, climate action and mental health provision.

Find out more about our Future Leaders Connect members:

Emma Boyle

Emma is an Investigations Officer at the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Her role is to investigate security forces related deaths which happened during the Troubles. She holds a Bachelors of Law from Trinity College Dublin, and is currently completing a Masters in Law at Ulster University’s Transitional Justice Institute in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights. Emma worked previously as a Family and Civil Law Paralegal and as an Anti- Money Laundering Officer in PwC Belfast. 


Rory Clifford

Rory is the Interactive Manager at Northern Ireland Screen and Chair for audience development agency, Thrive. He has over 10 years marketing and sales experience in the film, TV, gaming and immersive industries in Northern Ireland.

Andrew McFarline

Andrew started his career in the social housing sector in 2014, working in a range of frontline and strategic roles. In addition to being employed as a Communications Officer, in the Housing Executive's Customer Engagement and Campaigns Team, he is a board member of North Belfast Housing Association. He graduated from Queen's University Belfast in 2011 with a BA (Hons) in Modern History with English.  Andrew is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.


Connie Egan

Connie Egan is a Councillor on Ards and North Down Borough Council. She also works as a Researcher for the Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly's Education Committee. Connie attended Queen's University Belfast where she graduated with a degree in Politics and Philosophy in 2016. Her current role at the Northern Ireland Assembly's Education Committee has increased her interest in integrated education in Northern Ireland, alongside pupil wellbeing. 


Donal Griffin

Donal Griffin is a marine biologist and has researched everything from jellyfish and prawns, to blue whales and basking sharks. After completing his Master's degree investigating the diving behaviour of the basking shark, at Queen's University Belfast, he continued to volunteer his time to help protect this species. He completed his PhD on fish-jellyfish interactions and is now working at the Northern Ireland Marine Task Force, a coalition of non-government environmental organisations.

Emma McIlveen

Emma McIlveen is from outside Ballymena, Northern Ireland. She is a barrister who specialises in employment law. Prior to coming to the Bar, she spent a year at Harvard university as a Kennedy scholar. She is now qualified to practice in (NI), GB and the Republic of Ireland. She is a mother of 3 young children and is passionate about encouraging (NI) a to adopt family friendly policies which support women to advance their careers alongside raising their family. 

Katie Matthews

Katie is an award-winning entrepreneur, educator, speaker, mentor and mental health and well-being trainer. She has 12 years lived experience with mental illness, and is passionate about supporting mental health and our next generation of young people. She is the founder of 4 businesses: The Mind Tribe UK, Excel In Education Tutoring School, Odence and Bloombug, as well as voluntary organisations: Young Entrepreneur's Network NI and FYLA Global (Female Youth Leadership Academy).

Katrina McDonnell

Katrina currently works as Co-ordinator at Rape Crisis Northern Ireland. She founded The Homeless Period Belfast in 2016 - a project that aims to alleviate the issue of period poverty and eradicate the taboo that surrounds menstruation. She was awarded 'Woman of the Year' at the Northern Ireland Women's Awards in 2019. In 2020, she successfully spearheaded a campaign for free period products in all Northern Ireland schools which was approved by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Keysha Jaime

Keysha is a Puerto Rican American living in Northern Ireland. She is a 3rd year PhD Candidate at Queen's University Belfast where she studies climate change-related human mobility. Her research ultimately aims to consider lived experience and perspectives to make more informed policy recommendations that considers the needs of communities. Beyond her research, Keysha is part of Global Shapers Belfast Hub and part of Voices in Mobilities and Migration (VIMM) Network

Stephen Jones

Stephen works as Resilience Co-Ordinator at Climate Northern Ireland and has over 7 years' experience co-ordinating climate change adaptation. He holds an MSc from Queen's University Belfast and has experience as a Red Cross Volunteer on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Stephen supported Derry City and Strabane District Council to develop the first climate change adaptation plan in NI and he created the Local Government Climate Action Network, a forum for councils and partners.