Meet our Board

TENI’s Board of Directors is elected by the membership and seats are held for a term of 3 years. We currently have 13 dedicated, passionate Board Members who span a diverse and varied range of backgrounds and identities. To learn a little bit about them, check out their bios below.


Sara R Phillips – Chair


Sara has been Chair of TENI for 6 years. She played a leading role in negotiating Gender Recognition based on self-determination in 2015. More recently, Sara served on the government’s committee for the Gender Recognition Review. Sara, as a founding member of the Dublin Trans Peer Support Group, also facilitated the group for over 4 years. Sara was honoured as Grand Marshall for Dublin LGBTQ pride in 2018. She has been a human rights activist for over 40 years. Sara is the National Manager for American construction manufacturer, a qualified Chartered Accountant, and she has experience in international business and company management in both the construction and entertainment industries. “I believe in the work that we do in TENI. As Chair, I understand there is still so much more to do and our community needs a strong, professional organisation to advocate for our needs. Despite our gains legislatively, we remain on the margins of Irish society. Our healthcare has reversed rather than progressed and areas such as education and employment need more investment. Most of all we need to be united as a community and I hope to continue to serve in bringing about the change we need.”


Cearbhall Turraoin – Vice Chair


“I have been a member of the TENI Board for the past three years and for the past year I have also served as Vice Chair. When I first started, I was the only non-binary person on the Board and I have been involved in TENI’s work on non-binary issues, including the review of the Gender Recognition Act. In the past I have campaigned for Gender Recognition and Marriage Equality as an organiser with LGBT Noise, as well as being a founding member of ITSA and coordinator of Trans Training 2012. I also serve on the board of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland. If elected to another term I would like to work within TENI to advance the rights of the whole trans community, and to improve TENI’s connection to areas of the community like migrants, sex workers and non-binary people.”


Denise Breen – Finance Director


Denise Breen is married with two adult children. Originally a Dub, she married a Lilywhite and now lives in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. Professionally, Denise has been working as a Project Manager in the engineering and construction sector for over thirty years. She has worked for the ESB, Arup, Jacobs, PM Group, Google and currently works with Iron Mountain, headquartered in Boston. With Iron Mountain she is responsible for delivery of Data Centres in EMEA and APAC – so she travels a lot! Denise has lived and worked in Ireland, the UK, the US and Asia and has experienced transgender issues across these countries and regions. In her spare time, Denise works with KFM radio, the commercial station for Kildare and is passionate about broadcasting. She loves cinema and writes a blog on www.thefourthwall.xyz. Denise transitioned some years ago while living in the US and since returning has experienced first hand the challenges that trans and non-binary people face in Ireland. It is because of this, together with a desire to give hope to others who may be questioning their identity that Denise continues to enjoy serving on the Board of TENI.


Aoife Martin – Company Secretary


Aoife Martin is a trans woman and a passionate trans rights advocate. In January 2017, she became the first person to transition globally within her workplace. Since then, Aoife has given numerous talks and interviews about being transgender in Ireland today. She is passionate about educating people on transgender issues and believes that by talking to people and putting her story out there that she can help make a difference and change how people perceive transgender people. Aoife has written an on-going transition diary for Headstuff and has appeared on a number of podcasts and on radio. Aoife is a firm believer in equality for all people and is determined to help make Ireland a better place for all trans and gender non-conforming people.


Lynne Tracey


Lynne Tracey started out in the Advertising Industry in Dublin. She spent her early career working in Agencies such as Campaign Advertising in Dublin and McCann-Erickson in New York. In the early 90’s, Lynne moved back to Dublin as a founding Director of McCann-Erickson Dublin and subsequently moved to the Javelin Group where she was a Board Director. Lynne was the first female President of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI). She has also served on the Board of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI), the Advertising Benevolent Society (TABS) and CCCI (CopyClear). She currently lectures in TUD (Technological University Dublin) and is a Communications Compliance Manager with CopyClear, who assess marketing communications for alcohol brands. She has worked there since 2007. Lynne also has extensive experience working with not-for-profit Boards. She served on the Well Woman Board for five years and chaired the Board for two years. She has been a Board member of TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) for three years and is Chairperson of the Board of the New Theatre in Dublin’s Temple Bar.


Ollie Bell


“My name is Ollie Bell and I am a non binary socialist feminist activist from Tallaght. I’m co-founder and one of the main organisers of Trans Pride Dublin. Trans Pride Dublin is a grassroots pride with no corporate presence or sponsorship, which pushes the voices of the community to the forefront. I’m running for the board of TENI because I believe TENI needs a strong working class voice and someone who is willing to fight for all members of the trans community. I was active during the Repeal The 8th Campaign because I knew it was an important win for not only women but trans people too. I also fight against all issues of oppression, whether that be the fight against direct provision, climate change or the housing crisis. I am a recent Trinity College Drama and theatre graduate and hope to do a masters in youth work. I’m a Peer Educator and Youth Leader for BeLonGTo Youth Services where I give workshops to young LGBTQ people and encourage them to be agents of positive social change. I also volunteer as a facilitator with ShoutOut where I go to secondary schools and give workshops about different LGBTQ identities.”


Rowan Golden


“My name is Rowan Golden and I’m a trans activist and artist. I grew up in the US and moved to Ireland several years ago. I am actively involved with Extinction Rebellion to protest the government’s inadequate actions regarding climate change. As a non-binary trans guy who is struggling to transition with the current state of the trans healthcare here, I want a way to channel my frustration into something more productive. As such, I would like to join the board of TENI to add the voice of a young activist to the table and do my best to ensure our voices are being heard.”


Ben Power


Ben has been an active member of the trans and LGBT communities since 2007. He was a Co-facilitator of the Cork Trans Peer Support group for 2 years and also volunteered as a member of staff at The Other Place LGBT Resource Centre during that time. In these roles, he represented the local trans community on the organizing committees of Cork Pride and the Cork Rebel Awards as well as on the LGBT working group chaired by Cork City Council which was tasked with making Cork a friendlier and more welcoming city to all LGBT people. Following his election to the TENI Board in October 2011, Ben served as Company Secretary and on the HR, Governance, Gender Recognition and Volunteer Committees. In 2013, he stepped down from the board in order to join the TENI Staff where he campaigned for Gender Recognition and worked with Trinity College to create the country’s first Gender Identity and Gender Expression policy for a third level institution. After leaving the TENI staff, Ben was re-elected to the board in 2016 and has continued to serve the trans community consistently as an advocate and supporter in that role. Ben currently works in the School of Chemistry at Trinity College where he is part of the team managing the school’s bid for an Athena SWAN silver award for equality and diversity in 2021. He is also studying for a level 8 Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality at the National University of Ireland.


Sam Blankensee


Sam is the National Membership and Campaigns Officer with the Irish Traveller Movement and previously held the position of National Development Officer and then Policy and Research Officer in TENI until 2018. While in TENI, Sam supported the establishment of Trans Kerry and the Gorey Trans Peer Support Group. Sam also supported the submission to the Gender Recognition Action Review and is currently undertaking a Masters of Arts in Management for the Non-Profit Sector. Sam is a non-binary trans masculine person and is an administrator on TG Ireland. Sam also acts as a substitute facilitator for the Dublin Trans Peer Support Group when needed. Sam is 25 and has been involved in the trans community for 7 years. Sam has an Advanced Certificate in Youth Health Promotion with an interest in developing healthy organisations. Alongside trans rights, Sam is passionate about reproductive justice, Travellers rights, and seeing equality as an intersectional issue.


Alexis Riva


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Alexis Riva is a young trans Woman originally from the west of Ireland who has worked and studied her way to the east and, among other qualifications, earned herself an honours degree. She founded and chaired, The Positive Mental Health Society “SmileSoc” at Dundalk IT. After its first year, SmileSoc won “Overall Best Society” in 2016. Alexis now works in Donor Marketing for a leading Irish Children’s Charity. She is an active Transgender online influencer, which earned her a nomination at The GALAS 2017 for the Online Award. She joined TENI on NewsTalk in 2016 where she shared her knowledge and experience of being transgender in Ireland.  Along with a staff member of TENI she spoke unfiltered and honestly about being transgender and living with mental health challenges as part of the TRANSforming Lives Campaign. Alexis has a passion for using every opportunity available to change and improve the lives of others, be it in the transgender community, mental health. or her work in the charity sector.


Veronica Victor


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“My name is Veronica Victor and I moved to Ireland just over two years ago. Living in rural Ireland has given me the calm of mind to be able to accept things about myself that I may have never accepted before. I am fortunate to have the love and support of an amazing husband and the lovely home we’ve made together, though at one time the fear of being alone, unlovable, and homeless kept me from transitioning. I have the resources to present myself the way I feel most comfortable, though at one time I lived hand to mouth. I have the courage to live as a proud, trans woman and offer myself in service to the community that has inspired that very courage. And yet I still fight back the tears of self-loathing and rejection every time somebody misgenders me or makes a nasty comment. Gender is not the only spectrum, and we must acknowledge the real-world challenges that stand in our way.”


Dani O’Connor


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Dani has served on the Board of TENI for the past 5 years. Prior to retirement, Dani worked as a Claims Manager for a large company. Dani’s job included research, negotiation, investigations, decision making, and people management. Dani has also been an active trade unionist serving on branch and regional committees. Dani has been associated with trans groups for more than 40 years and their involvement in the Gender Recognition Campaign gave them invaluable knowledge of the political system. “TENI is an important part of my life. As a Board Member and a volunteer, I have taken an active part in important campaigns including the one which led to the enactment of the Gender Recognition Act. It is a privilege to work for the benefit of my own community. We are diverse and have varying needs but each and every member is equally important.”


Alex Lawson


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Alex has served on the Board of TENI for more than 5 years. He has had considerable involvement with BeLonG To Youth Services since coming out in 2014, notably speaking on behalf of trans young people within the service at Dublin Pride 2015 and acting as panel member at
the first Department for Education roundtable focusing on the inclusion of
gender variant students. He worked as organising committee member and was one of two facilitators for the under 18 portion of the first Trans Youth Forum. Alex has taken part in numerous interviews and studies. “I feel my studies in Politics and Statistics have well-informed my activism. The steady foundations provided in political theory are cemented by systematic, logical approaches taught in statistics. What these subjects have in common is my passion – search for understanding. This is the passion which drives me to work on behalf of my community. I believe myself to be hard-wired to understand, listen and care.”


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