Staff / Board

  • James Toland (Chair)

    Board Member

    James Toland founded LMJ Communications in 2008, offering high impact, key profile advertising opportunities throughout Northern Ireland. As an experienced Director, James has a broad spectrum of experience within Business Development and Operations, from Finance and HR, through to Sales, Marketing & Communications.

    In his spare time, James is a Business Mentor to various organisations and start-ups including Young Enterprise Year Groups. He is a previous member of the NI Committee of the Institute of Directors and a previous Chairperson of the Education and Skills Committee of the Institute of Directors in NI. Now as Chair of Craft NI, one of James’ key objectives is to raise awareness of the high quality of craft in Northern Ireland and to develop craft retail here even further.

  • Julie Carse

    Board Member

    Joining the Craft NI Board in 2010, Julie currently works in the Higher Education Sector supporting the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s University Belfast. Previously, for 14 years, Julie was a Business Improvement Project Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Operational Effectiveness Team delivering successful business consulting projects in process and change across public and private sectors.

  • Rachel Fitzpatrick

    Board Member

    After graduating from the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design, as an Artist and Designer, Rachel has travelled the world producing work for an international client base from Belfast to New York. Creating one-off installations and limited-edition pieces for corporate/ private interiors and special events; such as installations for Peugeot’s Flagship showrooms in Paris & Berlin, Rachel has also produced pieces for New York’s luxury 5th Avenue Store, Bergdorf Goodman. Whilst a career highlight for Rachel was an invitation to create huge lighting sculpture for The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural show house in Century City, Los Angeles. Closer to home Rachel has worked with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DDCOI) to create lighting sculptures SHOWCASE Ireland Design event in Dublin.

  • Patricia Flanagan

    Board Member

    With over 25 years' experience working within the enterprise and education sectors, Patricia has spent 14 years within the Craft Sector in NI. Currently self-employed as a specialist facilitator of design thinking/ creative problem solving, Patricia delivers a range of programmes to students, business communities, social entrepreneurs and the third sector. Patricia also pioneered the integration of creative problem-solving projects for social good in the curriculum within Belfast Metropolitan College and was Project Manager for the new Belfast Metropolitan College campus, referred to as e3.

    Over the years, Patricia has forged strong working relationships across Ireland and abroad, with key economic development agencies, with enterprise partners, political representatives, community organisations, funders, government departments and the business community in Northern Ireland.

  • Kim Mawhinney

    Board Member

    Appointed Head of Art in 2009 at the National Museums, Northern Ireland, Kim was Curator of Applied Art at the Ulster Museum for 15 years with responsibility for the glass, ceramic and furniture collections.

    As a member of the Project Board for the redevelopment of the Ulster Museum, Kim currently sits on the main Board for the Art and Architecture Ireland, a cross-border major research publication. Throughout her career she has curated, juried and selected exhibitions, lectured and written about the history and development of museums, accessibility of art collections, glass and ceramics, both nationally and internationally.

  • Patricia McNeill

    Board Member

    In addition to being a board member, Patricia McNeill is the Manager of Ormeau Business Park which is the Local Enterprise Agency for South Belfast.

    She is also a member of:

    • South Belfast Partnership Board (Director)
    • Growth, Trade and Enterprise Sub Group within the South Belfast Economic Forum (Chair)
    • QUB Advisory Board Member of Enactus
    • Princes' Trust, Business Launch Group (Panel Member)
    • Cross Border Local Enterprise Partnership (Committee member)

    Through her current position, Patricia is involved in business support at pre-start, start up and growth stages for the small business sector; and is particularly interested in the entrepreneurial journey of those within the creative industries. With her background as a graduate of the University of Ulster (School of Textiles/Fashion), Patricia also holds a Master of Science with Distinction in Innovation Management.

  • Cara Murphy

    Board Member

    Acclaimed contemporary Silversmith, Cara Murphy, trained at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. Running her own silversmithing practice in Northern Ireland, Cara creates for private and public commission, and is also an associate Lecturer in Silversmithing & Jewellery, at the Belfast School of Art, University of Ulster.

    Her award-winning silver tableware is represented in many national and international public/ private collections including:

    • The Silver Trust Collection at Downing Street
    • The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
    • The Ulster Museum
    • The National Museum of Ireland
    • The Irish Embassy Collection
    • The Royal College of Art, London

    Cara has also created many prestigious awards, which have been presented by prominent dignitaries.As a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and a selected member of the Contemporary British Silversmiths, Cara has her work represented and promoted by Crafts Council of Ireland's Irish Craft Portfolio.

  • Rory Shearer

    Board Member

    Rory Shearer is currently Specialist Lecturer in Ceramics at Belfast Metropolitan College, having studied Ceramics at the Ulster College of Art and Design, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Rory is an established Artist/Designer/Maker with his own studio in County Antrim, producing wheel-based vessel forms in Porcelain and Reduced Stoneware.

    With extensive experience in and of the Craft, Applied Art and Design Sector in Northern Ireland, Rory was also a founder member and first secretary of The Guild of Designer Craftsmen (NI) and Crafts Development Officer with Craftworks. Rory is also the Chair of Craft NI’s Craft Advisory Panel.

  • Katherine McDonald


    Katherine worked for 12 years in lobbying and public relations in Northern Ireland helping organisations connect with government and policy-makers. Since 2012, she has undertaken a range of Executive roles in voluntary sector organisations in Northern Ireland, including four years as Director of an all-Ireland social enterprise in a large mental health charity. She has been Director of Craft NI since April 2019.