Governing Body

North West Regional College Governing Body

The Governing Body is responsible for the strategic oversight of the College. It consists of members who are mostly drawn from the business and industrial community thus reflecting the primary role of the College to provide training and support for the economic base of the region. In addition the Governing Body has representatives elected by the College staff and students. All members have been appointed by the Minister of theDepartment for the Economy. The Governing Body is chaired by Mr Gerard Finnegan. The Governing Body has 4 standing committees reflecting its main areas of work – Audit & Risk, Education, Finance & General Purposes and Staffing.

A profile of current members is given below.

Governing Body Members

Gerard took up his position as Chair of the Governing Body in April 2014.

Gerard Finnegan is a Strategy Consultant who established his own business, Sea Change Consulting Ltd, in 2010. The business provides strategic business planning advice, advice on change management and coaching & mentoring to senior executives in public and private sector enterprises. 

Gerard is a qualified Chartered Accountant who works with a number of businesses in the food, hospitality, arts and service sectors. He was previously Head of Finance and Corporate Affairs at Ilex the Urban Regeneration Company for Derry, a Director of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and a regional manager of Invest NI. He also served as a member of the Governing Body of the North West Institute of Further and Higher Education.

Gerard lives in Derry with his wife Máire and their three children.

Gerard Finnegan

Leo took office as Principal and Chief Executive of the North West Regional College from August, 2014.

Leo is a graduate of Economics, and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration alongside post graduate diplomas in Education and Accounting.  He is also a qualified Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Leo has more than 25 years of experience in further education in both the classroom and in a managerial capacity. Leo previously worked within the South West College, where he held a broad range of portfolios over a 14-year period at senior management level including Curriculum and Economic Development, Client Services and Strategy and International Development.

Leo has a keen interest in local history and is a qualified Tour Guide. He has also completed a number of marathons through which he has raised funds for local charities.  He resides in the Waterside area of Derry with his wife Siobhan who is a Lecturer at North West Regional College.

No Fee for Reproduction  Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive, North West Regional College. Picture Martin McKeown/North West Regional College

Samuel worked in the Civil Service for over ten years and then moved into the community/voluntary sector, specialising in PEACE funding, he was latterly the Chief Executive of a regional charity based throughout Northern Ireland.

Samuel is also heavily involved in his local community and is a director and board member of 4 community organisations in the Strabane District. Samuel is the Vice Chair of Strabane Academy’s Board of Governors and a Governor of Ardstraw Jubilee Primary School and has also been involved with the adult training sector for the last number of years.

Samuel is a CIPFA Qualified Internal Auditor and is Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Leadership and Management, as well as managing his own businesses and family farm in the Strabane area he is also a Consultant providing advice in Management, Audit and Funding issues. Samuel is Chair of our Audit & Risk Committee and a member of the Staffing Committee.

Samuel is married to Wendy and has four daughters and two sons, all under nine years old.


Padraig is currently Chair of Hunter Apparel Solutions, CultureTECH and U4D (a local lobby group for the expansion of the Magee campus of the Ulster University). Padraig also serves on the boards of InvestNI, St Mary’s College and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce.

Establishing enterprise software house Singularity in Derry in 1994, he opened offices in London, New York, Singapore and India; Kofax Incorporated successfully acquiring the company in 2011. Previously an electronics engineer and software professional in London and New York, Padraig is a past president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, served on the boards of Momentum (the NI Software Industry Federation), School Employer Connections and Oakgrove Integrated Primary School.

He is a past British Computer Society Northern Irish IT Person of the Year and received an OBE in 2009 for services to business. A past pupil of Derry’s Pennyburn Primary School and St Columb’s College, Padraig holds a 1st Class BSc in Electronic & Electrical Engineering from Manchester University and is an exec. ed. alumni of Stanford University. He is a founding member of the Derry Halo Acorn Angels and mentors innovative local companies like Quibizm.

Padraig is married to Jill he lives with his 4 children in his native Derry.


Michael Cooper is the proprietor of, one of Ireland’s largest tour guiding companies. A native of the Creggan and triple graduate of the Ulster University, Michael is also a Sinn Fein councillor on Derry City Council with briefs including further and higher education, the digital economy, tourism and economic development.

He is also Heritage and Tourism Officer at the Gasyard Trust in the Bogside where he has delivered a number of exhibitions and publications focussed on the story of Derry’s political prisoners, the social and economic history of the Bogside, the loyalist and republican chronology of the peace process and a current project focused on developing joint heritage and business projects between residents of the Fountain and Lower Bishop Street.

Michael is also a governor of Gaelscoil na Daroige, ERNACT and was a private director on the City of Culture Board during 2013.


Roslyn Dougherty is a social worker by profession, with almost 38 years’ experience prior to her recent retirement. As a practitioner, she has worked across Adults and Children’s services specialising in Sensory support and Disability Services. She was employed as Assistant Director of Social Work in South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust with responsibility for providing operational and professional leadership on Social Services learning, development and research. In this role, Mrs Dougherty led the co-ordination, delivery and management of the learning and development of the Social Work and Social Care workforce within the Trust.

She also represented the Trust on a range of regional bodies and task groups, working in partnership with Social Work Education providers and other organisations, and has contributed to the development and implementation of strategies at a Northern Ireland level.

Mrs Roslyn Dougherty has been a member of the Governing Body of the North West Regional College since March 2016

Roslyn Dougherty

Stephen Gillespie is the Director of Business and Culture at Derry City and Strabane District Council. The Business and Culture directorate encompasses a range of services the local Council provides such as economic development and job creation, business support and engagement, ICT, tourism, arts and culture, visitor services, heritage and museums and marketing and communications.

Although originally from Belfast, Stephen has spent all of his working life in Derry, initially qualifying as an accountant with Desmond and Sons before becoming the Financial Controller of Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners.

Married with two children, when not working or with his family, Stephen would devote a lot of his spare time to playing and coaching both football and badminton. On a personal level the development of youth through sport has always been very important.

Stephen Gillespie

Dr Nigel Hand is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.  Since 1993 he has been employed in local manufacturing industry, initially with Du Pont (UK) and, following a change in company ownership, with Invista, fulfilling a variety of technical, operational and managerial roles.  His current role is Operations Manager with responsibility for all production processes including Power and Utilities. He has expertise in process safety management, six sigma, operational excellence, problem solving and leadership. Nigel is married to Linda and has 3 children. He is a keen football and hockey fan”

Gavin was educated at Foyle and Londonderry College, Derry and then studied Business Studies at the Ulster University, Jordanstown, graduating in 1989 and returning to study for a part-time MSc in Business Improvement at the Ulster Business School in 2001.

Gavin is Managing Director of Nuprint Technologies Ltd, a packaging, print and design company. He has responsibility for all aspects of the business, including business strategy, product development, operations and finance. He has led the company through a period of significant change which has resulted in improvements in business efficiency and profitability. At the 2006 NI Quality Awards Nuprint, measured against the European Model of Excellence EFQM, was awarded a Mark of Excellence. It is one of only nine Northern Ireland based private sector companies in the past six years to have been awarded the Mark of Excellence and this demonstrates its commitment to a systematic approach to driving improvement across all aspects of the business.

He is currently chair of the Skills Directorate within Ilex, a board member of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Board of Governors of Foyle and Londonderry College, President 2012-13 of the Rotary Club of Londonderry and Mini Rugby Coach for the Under 9s with City of Derry Rugby Football Club.

Gavin lives in Londonderry, is married to Nichola and has two boys, Jamie and Adam. Gavin is a member of the Education Committee.

Gavin Killeen

Mr Paul Laughlin is Deputy Director of the Department for Social Development’s North West Development Office. In his role he has worked with community representatives, the business sector and elected representatives to develop and implement projects to deliver health, education, employment and community services across the North West.

He currently leads the Quality, Places, Spaces and Neighbourhoods Catalyst Programme within the One Plan for Derry (One City One Plan One Voice) which has prioritised and delivered capital projects throughout the city.

He is a member of the board of the CCA Derry -Londonderry and is also a member of the Fair Employment Tribunal Employees’ Panel and of the Industrial Tribunals (NI) Employees’ Panel.

Paul is a member of the Audit & Risk and Staffing Committee.

Paul Laughlin

Alex Magee is one of two staff members on the Governing Body. The supporting staff elected him in 2016 as their representative.

Alex is a chartered building services engineer with 22 years’ experience in the construction industry. He joined the NWRC Estates Department in 2015 to lead the Maintenance & Facilities management team. He previously worked as an asset manager for the large housing association and senior electrical design engineer within the private sector.

Alex is a BOHS Qualified Asbestos Consultant and is a Chartered Manager and Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Alex is a member of the Education and Finance & General Purposes Committees.

A Magee pic

Sam is a former director of Development Services, Leisure and Tourism at Limavady Borough Council. In this role he had responsibility for policy formation and corporate planning.

He is a current member of the Policing & Community Safety Partnership in Limavady, the governing body of St Finlaughs Primary School in Ballykelly, Limavady/Vigneux-sur-Seine Twinning Committee. Sam is a member of the Education Committee and the Finance & General Purposes Committee.


Catherine has been Director of Corporate and Regulatory Services (Deputy Chief Executive) at Antrim Borough Council for the last 7 years. The services for which she has responsibility include Human Resources, Finance, Audit, Public Relations, ICT, Health and Well-being, Property Services, Building Control and Environmental Health. She seeks to ensure that the organisation operates within a robust corporate governance framework, is people focused where customer service excellence is the norm and where staff are properly equipped to perform to the highest standards.

Catherine’s experience spans 28 years in Local Government and Education sectors, she is a Chartered Public Finance Accountant with an MA in Law and Public Administration, an MSc in Innovation in Public Service and is a visiting lecturer to Ulster University.

Catherine is Chair of the Staffing Committee.

Catherine McFarland

Martin has worked for 10 years as a manager with Royal National Institute of Blind People. During that time he has designed and developed a range of programmes aimed at improving the skills and abilities of people who are blind or partially sighted.

Martin comments:

“I have a particular interest in getting blind or partially sighted people into employment and helping them to achieve successful and fulfilling careers. Having a close link with further education provision is an important element in making this happen.”

Prior to this, Martin was a secondary school teacher and taught French and Business Studies in a range of schools throughout Northern Ireland.

Martin is Chair of the Education Committee.


Dr Malachy Ó Néill completed his BA and PhD at Ulster University and was Head of Irish in St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt before returning to the University in 2008 as Lecturer in modern Irish. He was appointed as the inaugural Head of School of Irish Language and Literature in 2012 and has led the subject in achieving 100% overall satisfaction in the NSS in recent years. He has also played a key role across the University in developing employability as a key component of the student experience and was awarded the Students’ Union prize for excellence in Employability and Placement Support earlier this year.

Malachy has an excellent track record in community engagement and leads a number of widening access programmes including ‘Irish in the Club’ (with Ulster GAA) and ‘Irish for All’ (with East Belfast Mission). He has played a pivotal role in establishing an Irish Studies Summer School for international students since 2013, developing the provision to incorporate International Business and Engineering in recent years.

Malachy is a member of the Review Board of the Irish Language Standard (Irish Government), a former editor of the An tUltach journal and was founding chairperson of Gaelscoil Eoghain, Cookstown. He enjoys close ties with the Donegal Gaeltacht and spent many years in Machaire Rabhartaigh and Gaoth Dobhair facilitating courses for teenagers and adult learners of Irish.

Mr Brian Quinn is a chartered architect with 25 years’ experience in the construction industry.

Since August 2014 he has been senior architect in the Property Services Division of the Education Authority – North Eastern Region. He was previously director of his own architectural practice for three years and a partner in a private architectural practice for 20 years. He is chairman of the Advisory Committee on Art and Architecture to the Irish Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth. Mr Quinn does not currently hold any other public appointments.

Brian is a member of the Education and Finance & General Purposes Committee.

Lisa was successful in the College election in January 2018 to represent the academic staff on the Governing Body.

Lisa has been employed in the education sector since graduating as a primary school teacher in 2003 and was fortunate to be appointed as an Early Years lecturer since 2008 in NWRC.  In 2011 Lisa was appointed as Curriculum Manager in Early Years and has developed and grown the College’s HE provision allowing Early Years students to access the degree programme through partnership working with Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Lisa has taught over a range of programmes from level 3 to degree level on modules such as Culture and Contemporary Issues, Safeguarding, Inclusion and Promoting Language.

Lisa has a keen interest in developing international links and is representing the College on the European Key Action One: Early Years Education – International Learning Module ‘ Projecteye’ and as a result NWRC students will get the chance to travel to the five partner Colleges.

In addition Lisa is involved in the College Working Group with the Western Health and Social Care Trust to promote awareness and develop courses around Infant Mental Health and Resilience bringing this experience back to our students to ensure they are equipped for working life in the early year’s sector.


Committee Meetings

Minutes and Agenda prior to October 2016. Click on the link to view any document or right-click on the link and choose "Save Target/Link As .. " to save the document.


Minutes and Agenda prior to June 2015. Click on the link to view any document or right-click on the link and choose "Save Target/Link As .. " to save the document.


Click on the link to view any document or right-click on the link and choose "Save Target/Link As .. " to save the document.


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