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A Fond Farewell to our CEO Michael Kiely
Dec 15, 2017

Our Chief Executive Officer Michael Kiely who is retiring this month, will be fondly remembered, not just by staff and colleagues here in Ireland but right across the international ChildFund Family

Michael Kiely on a visit to Zambia, earlier this year

Dublin, December 15th, 2017: Brian Mac Neill

ChildFund Ireland is sad to say goodbye to our outgoing Chief Executive Officer Michael Kiely, who retires this month.  Michael’s warmth, wit and patience, coupled with his passion for international development & justice, and a life-long dedication towards making the world a safer place for children, have seen him travel the globe, making friends wherever he goes.   Our international colleagues in the wider ChildFund family we call ChildFund Alliance, summarise (further below) the impact of Michael’s leadership over the years.   Prior to that, Michael, in his own words, describes what being at ChildFund has meant to him.

“After many, energetic, sometimes challenging, but always enjoyable years spent helping to build awareness of ChildFund and our vitally important work for children overseas, I made the decision some months ago to step down as CEO at the end of this year.  In my fourteen years at ChildFund I have been humbled by the opportunity to traverse the globe and witness the profound impact our work has had on children’s lives, and those of their families and neighbours in some of the poorest communities on earth.   While daily life can be sometimes fragile and unforgiving in these rural communities, the abiding memories I will most cherish are of the colour, energy and sheer vividness of life in the developing world in all its complicated glory.  It has been a joy to see how the schools, networks and support structures developed with ChildFund’s assistance, have helped improve life for children and their families, creating safer spaces for children and ensuring that children’s needs are identified and their rights prioritised.

 I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hard working, dedicated staff here in Ireland, our programme partners overseas, and all my friends and colleagues in the wider ChildFund network, who never stop advocating for children’s rights on the international stage. I have loved every minute of my work with ChildFund and am immensely proud that we have been able to help so many children over the last fourteen years.  This work would not be possible without the significant support of Irish Aid, enabling us to undertake important programmes to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Sub Saharan Africa, and of other donors.   

To our individual sponsors;  I cannot thank you enough for your incredible loyalty and generosity, which collectively helps to sustain the well being of sponsor children in eleven countries.   Your support has enabled ChildFund to positively impact on so many children’s lives, in ways that are profound and lasting.  Please continue to support our work, and please be proud of being a ChildFund sponsor.  Your patronage provides a vital platform to help children as they journey towards a happier, healthier adult life, with better opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage”.   

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir

Michael Kiely, December 2017


A fond farewell to Michael Kiely, outgoing CEO of ChildFund Ireland

 by Diana Quick  (ChildFund Alliance)

This month, ChildFund Alliance says goodbye to one of our longest serving CEOs, Michael Kiely. Mick joined ChildFund Ireland 14 years ago, and has been a strong advocate for the Alliance. We will miss him greatly!

Mick recently spoke with some of the Alliance Secretariat staff and shared reflections on his years of international service, including his time at ChildFund Ireland, and involvement with ChildFund Alliance.

A lifelong commitment to serving others

Throughout the conversation, a common theme emerged: Mick has a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of others through service. Before he joined ChildFund Ireland, he served for 10 years as Deputy CEO of the Irish international aid organisation GOAL, where much of his work focused on emergency response. He was Country Director for GOAL in Somalia for one year (during which the infamous Black Hawk Down incident occurred). He also spent more than two decades with the Irish Defence Forces in conflict and humanitarian settings, including United Nations missions to the Golan Heights and Lebanon.

On ChildFund Ireland

“I have been blessed with an amazing staff, with very little turnover throughout my time.”

One of the partnerships developed under Mick’s leadership of ChildFund Ireland is touching lives in Ireland and abroad. In 2015, ChildFund Ireland was awarded the Charity Partner of Choice status by the Camogie Association in Ireland. Camogie is an Irish team sport played by girls and young women; it is similar to the game of “hurling” played by men. This three-year partnership is supporting ChildFund Ireland’s Dream Bike Campaign, providing bicycles to vulnerable girls in Ethiopia and Thailand so far. The project has reached hundreds of girls to date, enabling access to education. With the bicycles, all sourced locally, girls can travel to and from school safely and regularly. Star Camogie players from Ireland have visited the girls in Ethiopia that are benefiting from the initiative and also organized a game of Camogie with the local girls.

ChildFund Ethiopia Country Director Chege Ngugi and ChildFund Ireland CEO Michael Kiely presenting Dream Bikes
ChildFund Ethiopia Country Director Chege Ngugi and ChildFund Ireland CEO Michael Kiely presenting “Dream Bikes” in Ethiopia

In response to a question about his proudest achievement with ChildFund, Mick said he prefers to focus on the “smaller” achievements. He recounted a story that took place earlier this year on a ChildFund Alliance program visit in Zambia. During a community visit, Mick was inspired to commit to raising the funds from his own network to fund the teacher training education of one of the young women in the community. He noted that through this small act, she will teach thousands of children for years to come.

A young Zambian woman holding some school work.
Mick raised money to pay for this young woman’s teacher training. This will benefit thousands of Zambian children in the coming years.

“Our major achievement from an Alliance perspective is undoubtedly the Free from Violence campaign.”

On ChildFund Alliance

“Being part of ChildFund Alliance has been a wonderful experience.”

When asked about what it meant to be a part of the Alliance, Mick spoke about the value of coming together to exchange views with peers, share opportunities and challenges, and meet with Board Members and CEOs from other member organizations.

“The Alliance is amazingly diverse, with eleven autonomous organizations coming together under one logo.”

Looking back at his early days with ChildFund Alliance, Mick remarked on the progress made. He highlighted the evolution of the Secretariat from the startup phase several years ago to the now established office with eight full-time staff. He has seen dramatic changes to the leadership as well. When he joined the network as a CEO, there were 40 Directors on the Alliance Board (compared to our 14 directors today). He expressed deep respect and admiration for all of the Board members who contributed so much to the Alliance, past and present.

Looking ahead

As he enters retirement, the one thing Mick will not miss is his daily commute. He looks forward to traveling around Ireland, playing golf and, most of all, spending time with his family and grandchildren.

Mick Kiely, CEO of Childfund Ireland, with his twin granddaughers (about 4 years old) and a couple of older girls.
Mick is looking forward to spending more time with his twin granddaugthers.

All of us at ChildFund wish Mick the best in his retirement and look forward to keeping in touch.

Ban Ki moon Michael Kiely share a beer and a handshake.
Mick shares a beer and chats with then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


On behalf of everyone at ChildFund Ireland we would like to sincerely thank Michael for his years of service and wish him good health, and the very best of luck, as he enters into his retirement.   

Go néirí an bóthar leat

ChildFund Ireland

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