About Colette Kelleher

Colette is a hardworking, experienced leader and advocate for people who are marginalised and vulnerable. Throughout her career in public service and politics she has mobilised positive social change in collaboration with others. Now working as an Independent Advisor Colette is making her expertise available to others who wish to make change and get organised.

Raised in Macroom in County Cork, from an early age Colette has been passionate about social issues. She studied at University College Cork and University of Southampton. She holds an MBA and is a Certified Practitioner in Consulting and Change with the Tavistock Institute. 

Colette has championed children’s and women’s rights, worked to strengthen the supports and protections for refugees, highlighted the issues affecting the Travelling community and promoted the need to do more for people with dementia and their carers.

Colette’s first job was as a Community Worker in North Dublin and this experience was formative. She supported children and families in extremely difficult circumstances and saw first-hand how poverty and societal factors create and exacerbate the problems many people face in their everyday lives.

Colette has also spent time in the UK, where she worked in the NGO sector and was CEO of Daycare Trust. She was a Special Advisor on childcare to the British government, at a time of unprecedented public investment into early years childcare services.

When Colette returned home to Ireland, she served as the CEO of Cork Simon Community, Cope Foundation and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

In 2016, Colette was chosen by the Taoiseach to sit as an independent Senator. and was a member of the Civil Engagement Group in the Seanad.

In line with her values and career in public service, Colette has used her platform in the Seanad and worked across party lines to build support for legislation and change on a range of key social issues including reproductive rights, adult safeguarding, family reunification for refugees, Traveller culture and history in education, disabilities and housing.

About The Team

Hannah Twomey

Secretarial Assistant

Hannah Twomey is from Blarney, Cork and moved to Dublin in 2015 to study Politics and Philosophy in University College Dublin. Hannah has also studied French, Irish and Arabic is keenly interested in environmental politics, development studies, and conflict studies. Hannah has previously interned with the Centre of Investigative Journalism in Goldsmiths University, London before joining Senator Kelleher’s team.

Hannah manages the office administration, general correspondence and events for Colette and feels very grateful to be in a role in which she can work on legislation and polices that she believes in.





The Civil Engagement Group

Colette is a member of The Civil Engagement Group (CEG). The Civil Engagement Group operates as a technical group within Seanad Éireann, bringing together a diverse group of individuals with expertise gained from careers across the NGO and civil society sectors.

While each member of the group retains an independent platform and agenda, they are committed to working together to support one another’s strengths and to ensure that the social issues they have campaigned on as civil society actors will be represented in the Seanad. The group has particularly strong interests and expertise in the areas of disability, environment, mental health, women’s rights, Traveller rights and education.

Other members of the Civil Engagement group are Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Frances Black, John Dolan and Pippa Hackett. MEP Grace O’Sullivan is a former member of the group.

Visit the Civil Engagement Group website here.