Elaine Bradley

Associate Director SMARTlab International


Elaine Bradley is an international thought-leader in the area of civil society engagement and participation, whose input has been sought in countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Australia. A passionate and energetic change-maker who is deeply committed to working for peace, social justice and inclusion through a rights-based approach, Elaine has shaped and influenced policy both nationally and internationally, as evidenced by her work on behalf of the Irish Government for EYV2011, with the European Commission and United Nations Volunteers. Elaine has a track record in strategic and organisational development, leadership, advocacy and large-scale change management. An experienced CEO and board member, Elaine has a deep understanding of not-for-profit governance and leadership, along with the complexities of leading organisations in these turbulent times. She draws on more than 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and her studies in Organisational Behaviour, in which she holds an MSc (Business). One strategy that Elaine has successfully deployed is the building of constituencies and coalitions in order to capture synergies and to leverage resources for the attainment of shared goals. One such coalition created and led by Elaine included members from key governmental departments in the North and South of Ireland, including the Department of the Taoiseach; the GAA and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; along with key voluntary organisations from north and south of the border. Elaine is adept at all aspects of organisational leadership, from managing teams of skilled professionals, securing and stewarding the resources of an organisation in the service of its mission and goals, strategic and business planning, representing the organisation to a diverse group of stakeholders that includes media, funders and policy makers, and developing and sustaining a strong working relationship with the board. During her four years as CEO with Volunteering Ireland, Elaine successfully repositioned the organisation as the national volunteer development agency. During her tenure, Volunteering Ireland won major contracts including for a world conference on Volunteering, Human Rights and Human Dignity, and was appointed by the European Commission as the national coordinating body for the European Year of Volunteering in Ireland. She represented the organisation on the Board of the Brussels-based European Volunteer Centre (CEV) and was the national representative for the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE). In her leadership of Volunteering Ireland, Elaine built a robust platform for growth and development, significantly increasing the organisation’s revenue while diversifying funding streams to ensure sustainability and independence. Most recently, Elaine led the organisation into a merger.
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