The Shona Project is operated by a small army of women and men. Founded by Tammy Darcy in 2016, it has grown over time and our team now consists of an accomplished board, an amazing group of youth ambassadors, and a panel of wonderful women, who provide all kinds of support from advice, to mentoring to cups of tea and biscuits.
Meet the team
Tammy Darcy : Founder
The year Tammy turned 14 everything changed. Her parents went through a messy separation, and her older sister, Shona was diagnosed with an acquired brain injury that rendered her physically and mentally disabled and left her requiring full-time nursing care. It was also the year she was bullied so badly in school that she spent break times in a toilet cubicle and climbing over the back wall to go home.
As a result of all these experiences, Tammy went from an A student to a fail student, her self-esteem and self-confidence were destroyed and she gave up on herself for many years, made some poor choices and some even bigger mistakes.
At 25, Tammy went to college at night, and achieved an honours degree in Human Resources Management followed by an MA in Business Management in Social Enterprise. She is currently studying an MA in Education.
Tammy feels that had she had the right support, information, and guidance, she may have been better equipped to overcome the challenges she encountered as a teen. She now sees that her experience is not unusual, and that many girls find their teenage years to be negative, distressing, and traumatic. It is during these years that the internal barriers which prevent young women from achieving their potential are often formed.
Tammy is passionate about eradicating bullying and rivalry amongst girls and promoting the fact that our differences are what make us special and our challenges are what teach us to be understanding, resilient and determined.
Over the years Tammy has received many awards for her work including the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year in 2021. She regularly appears on TV, radio, podcasts and newspapers and has been invited to speak to royalty about her work. She is also a published author, and released her first book, You’ve Got This, a beautiful resource for young women in 2021 (You can buy it here).
Tammy can recite the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air on demand, which is her proudest accomplishment in life. She is wanted in 13 countries by the Grammar Police, so if anyone asks, you haven’t seen her.
Áine Kerr is co-founder and COO of technology start-up Kinzen. She is a former primary school teacher, former Global Head of Journalism Partners at Facebook in New York, former Managing Editor at social media news agency Storyful, and former political correspondent with Irish newspapers. Áine is also an accredited Executive Coach and is the host of the business show Reignite on RTÉ Radio One and guest presenter of The Business on RTÉ Radio One.
She is a board member with Gaisce; the President of Ireland’s Award earned by young people. A Fellow of the Sulzberger Leadership Program in Columbia University, NYC, Áine has a Masters in Journalism (MAJ) and Bachelor of Education (B’Ed) with Dublin City University [DCU].
But her most important job in life is ultimately being Mammy to her little Boss Lady and Chief Negotiator Anna (age 4 going on 14).
Vivienne is currently Head of Public Affairs, RTÉ, having previously held a number of different Communication roles there also. Prior to joining RTÉ she worked within the voluntary sector for Early Childhood Ireland and Barretstown.
She has recently qualified with an MSc in Management Practice from the Irish Management Institute and has just completed a short course in business and climate change at the Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership.
She is a member of the Purpose Disruptors Irish chapter, exploring ways in which the marketing and communications industry can positively influence action on the climate crisis. She is also a Steering Group member of the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal which has raised over €13 milllion to date for children’s charities, and an occasional assessor for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Antoinette currently works as the Regulatory Lead at the Central Bank of Ireland, and has years experience in regulation, governance, banking and diversity and inclusion.
Despite the fact that Antoinette is obsessed with policies and procedures, she is also the best craic of all time.
Gillian is an entrepreneur who brought the Flying Tiger Copenhagen brand to Ireland and then to the USA. Before this, she worked for the Special Olympics World Summer Games – the best job she ever had! Mum to Kate and John, she loves to drink tea and chat, and is mad for all things chocolate!
Valarie is the lead Partner of Human Capital Advisory at Deloitte. Prior to Deloitte, Valarie was the owner of a small consultancy firm and also the HC Director within an international Bank. Valarie is also an accredited Executive Coach and spends a lot of time working with leadership teams on their people and talent strategies.
Valarie is a member of the Partner Council at Deloitte and also a sponsor for the Neurodiversity network within the firm. Valarie has a Masters in Business Studies (Mgmt & Organisation Studies) from UCD and a Bachelor of Commerce from NUI Galway.
Valarie has 3 amazing kids, Oscar 15, Evie 14 and Roly 12 so in the midst of all things teen. She also has a cheeky cocker spaniel, Loki and a very cute rabbit called Boo. Valarie is passionate about travelling, cooking and socialising with her friends. Valarie loves an adventure, so jumping off buildings, sleeping in the Arctic, and swimming the Atlantic is right up her street.
Kathryn has years of experience as a Chartered Management Accountant and the co-founder and director of Dairy Direct.
Susan is an event specialist who has consulted across various domestic and international summits including the Dublin Tech Summit, The Business Show, Sustainability Summit and AIB Future Sparks Festival. Producing, curating and seeing an event come together from concept through to fruition is her speciality! With a commercial focus, Susan drives sponsorship campaigns and manages large scale event budgets and teams.
In her spare time is also a director of TeamTalk Technology services and mum to two teenage girls, and of course Daisy Duke, the Cavachon who is the real head of the family!
Katherine is the beloved 4th Year Head at the Presentation Secondary School in Waterford. She is passionate about making sure every girl reached their potential and is an amazing role model to the students she works with.
Katherine is an avid runner and a pretty good soccer player too!
Ellen graduated from WIT with a Bachelor of Business degree with a specialisation in Marketing and has most recently graduated from SETU with a Master in Science in Digital Marketing Practice. Her role sees her playing a part in many aspects of The Shona Project from workshop bookings, to communications, to strategy and stakeholder relationship management. Ellen has a passion for all things digital marketing and the power of using it to share the organisation’s story.
In her spare time, Ellen can be found drinking coffee out of one of the many many mugs in her collection. She could also give Dr.Dolittle a run for his money so, if you see her chatting away to animals, it’s totally normal!
Natasha is from Co. Down but has been living in Dublin/ Wicklow for several years. She loves learning new things and holds a MA in History, is a Professional Master of Education and has recently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
She has worked in banking, project management, and teaching and has now landed her dream job with us! Natasha has been volunteering with non-profit organisations since she was 16 and has always had a passion for women’s rights. She commenced a voluntary role with us in 2022 and is now a fully-fledged member of the core Shona team.
On Saturday’s, you’ll find Natasha trawling charity shops for new outfits or barefoot, under a tree, engrossed in a good book.
Natasha is a firm believer in marching to the beat of your own drum. You will be told what you ‘should do’ with your life but only you will know the path that is right for you. Work hard and never let anyone kick dust on your sparkle!
Judith reigns from Waterford, in the Southeast of Ireland. She’s a lover of fashion, spoken word, music, people, and the ocean! She is currently studying psychology and counselling. Prior to
commencing her studies last year, she was a professional singer/dancer turned entertainment director for CCL, touring the world and sailing the open seas performing on cruise ships. She’s a believer that the strongest card in the deck of cards of your life is your authenticity -so shine on my friends, and always be unapologetically yourself x
As Community Manager, Alice works closely with partners across all areas of The Shona Project’s work. Having studied physics at university and started her career as an engineer, she made a transition to the social sector after realising that she wanted to help people and communities in a more tangible way.
Alice has watched The Shona Project from afar through her previous role at Rethink Ireland, a funding organisation that has supported The Shona Project since its startup. She knows firsthand the difficulty in building confidence as a girl navigating school, life and a STEM career, so is excited to dive into The Shona Project’s work to help the girls of Ireland to reach their full potential!
When not in Shona-Project-mode, Alice can usually be found in the sea off the coast of West Cork where she lives, in a field with her miniature ponies Jude and Remus, or up a hill with her dogs Roo and Mouse. (She promises she has human friends too!)
Counselling & Psychotherapy
Steph works as a counsellor and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges that our teenage girls are facing. Steph loves hearing people’s stories; their journeys and how they came to be where they’re at. Her style of counselling is person-centered, integrative, and intuitive. You can check out her website here where she offers both in-person counselling but also online resources to help you manage if you are going through a bit of a rocky patch.
Steph is the best listener and has the kindest eyes you’ve ever seen x
The Real Boss
Freya may be young, but she is fiercely passionate about girls following their dreams and being whoever, they want to be. She can often be found smiling sweetly at boys on the soccer pitch before flattening them. Having struggled with her mental health over the past 2 years, she is more driven than ever to help girls in any way she can. The future CEO of The Shona Project? We think so! Tammy better watch out!
The Shona Project is for girls, by girls, and about girls. In order to make sure we always have the best interests of our girls at heart, we established our Youth Council, a group of young Irish women from all over Ireland, and with a range of different backgrounds and interests.
Our youth council helps us make all our decisions, tells us when we’re doing things right, and breaks it to us gently when we’re missing something special. They are our ambassadors and our eyes and ears on the ground. If you would like to apply to join this group of brilliant young ladies, get in touch. The more the merrier.
Aoife is an artist and writer from Laois with a passion for sustainable fashion and global development. Having been diagnosed with autism at the age of 7 and hEDS (a rare connective tissue disorder) aged 15, she is an outspoken activist for the rights of disabled people. In her spare time, she loves to listen to music and crochet!
Aoife is 23 years old and a recent business and marketing graduate from SETU, where she joined the Shona team in 2021 as a marketing intern, as part of her work experience in college. Annnd since then, we’ve been delighted for her to stick around.
In her spare time, she can be found chilling playing Animal Crossing, or out for her daily stroll! My favourite season is summer but my favourite time of year is Christmas. My favourite colour is pink 😊
Órna Murray joined the team as an ambassador at the start of 2020 and instantly knew she wanted to be part of The Shona Project. She has a master’s in Health Psychology and a degree in Applied Psychology, but her genius zone is open communication and physical activity. She’s sports-obsessed and shares her passion and enthusiasm with as many young women as possible. A 500h trained yoga teacher and ocean lover, Órna is always up for an adventure. She also runs a project ‘Move2B’ with her sister.
Tara is 25 and has just started college as a mature student studying psychology. She is incredibly passionate about mental health and likes to talk about it at any chance she gets to try and help break the stigma attached to mental health problems! Tara also makes YouTube videos and has a podcast called One Too Many, both of which can either feature her talking about serious topics or just her talking pure nonsense, no in-between!
Destiny is passionate about promoting storytelling and shared experiences as a way to encourage others to share their own experiences. She believes that stigma and shame hold us back when we should be celebrated as survivors of trauma. Destiny is studying Social Science and is a talented writer.
Emma, from County Kilkenny, is passionate about equality, human rights and politics, and aims to create a world in which everyone has equal access to opportunities and support. She battled with anxiety for a few years after her parent’s divorce, and now uses her new-found strength to encourage conversation around mental health.
Raevynna, originally from South Africa, is a neurodivergent biracial transwoman with a strong passion for technology, wellness, fantasy, and feminism. She’s a fierce advocate for body positivity, Queer rights, and creating space for neurodiverse minds to shine.
She is currently a Digital Transformation Analyst and qualified software developer. She is also one of the co-facilitators at TLC (Trans Limerick Community) a peer support group for gender-diverse individuals in Limerick.
In her spare time, she enjoys goofing around with friends, reading, bingeing unhealthy amounts of Netflix, and haunting local forests. Her ultimate goal in life is to be the mysterious old lady down the road who all the neighborhood kids are convinced is a witch.
Izzy is a talented writer, activist and debater with an amazing future ahead of her. She wrote a powerful post about labels which is one of our most read and shared posts to date. Check it out here.
Joy has been a Shona Ambassador for nearly six years. She is one of the founders of The Shona Book Club and a talented writer. She is a recent graduate who studied English at UCC. Joy enjoys reading and aspires to be a children’s literature author.
Her favourite things are sunflowers, turtles, and swimming.
Daisy is one of the founders of The Shona Book Club, and a talented writer. Her favourite book is The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Mikaela is 22 years old and from Co. Wexford. She is currently studying a BSc Hons degree in Applied Healthcare at Waterford Institute of Technology. Mikaela also works part-time as a Healthcare Assistant in a hospital. She enjoys going out to restaurants, doing her makeup, listening to music, watching TV, and meeting up with friends.