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21 May 2022

Women on Business: 'I had decided to leave for two reasons'

Women on Business: 'I had decided to leave for two reasons'

Kathleen O'Meara: 'I had decided to leave for two reasons'

Former Tipperary senator, councillor and one-time journalist and charity leader, Kathleen O’Meara, is an example of someone who jumped ship during the Covid lockdown to set up her own business.

Two years ago, in March 2020, Kathleen had intended finishing up in her role as Director of Communications and Public Affairs with the Rehab Group, the large disability services provider, and to set up her own communications and public affairs consultancy. Kathleen had previously been Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society and before that, was a member of Seanad Éireann for 10 years, a member of North Tipperary County Council and Nenagh Town Council, having started out her career as an RTÉ journalist.

“I had decided to leave for two reasons”, Kathleen said. “First, given the range of my experience in politics, journalism and the not-for-profit sector, I wanted to make that experience available to the many charities and not-for-profit groups who every day are trying to make change happen for the people they serve”.

“I had seen and learned, while I was a journalist, politician and as a leader in the not-for-profit sector in Ireland, how to be effective in making change happen, by being really clear and compelling in making the case to policy makers, whether they are part of the Government or a spokesman for the opposition,” she said.

“Thanks to Zoom and other online platforms, I have been able to do all my work from my home office in a way that simply would not have been imaginable before the pandemic.

"Like many people, after two years I’m really looking forward to a mix of online meetings and meeting people and groups in person, but it’s noticeable how many organisations want to continue to do workshops and meetings online, and the convenience of it is incredible,” she said.

For the last two years, Kathleen has been working with a range of organisations to support them to be more effective in making a case for change.

She has worked with, among others, the Irish Wheelchair Association, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the autism charity AsIAm, the Dublin Homeless Network, the National Women’s Council and the Irish Association of Social Workers, among others, on developing strategies, giving advice and training and making plans.

For example, Kathleen is currently working with the Irish Wheelchair Association on a plan to have building regulations changed to ensure all new homes built are built so that people who use wheelchairs can use the house fully, and not just getting beyond the front door.

Her political background has also led her to providing training for potential women candidates for the next Local Elections in 2024, a piece of work very close to her heart. A group called See Her Elected asked Kathleen to help on a guidebook for getting elected and now she is running workshops with potential women candidates of all parties and none, every month, on Zoom.

Kathleen can be contacted through her website www.kathleenomeara.ie or by emailing kathleen@ kathleenomeara.ie

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