The Board of KDYS is delighted to announce the appointment Ms. Berni Smyth as the new CEO of the organisation. Berni will join KDYS from Tusla and will take up her appointment on June 7th, 2022.

Berni comes from Galway. She has extensive experience of providing supports to children and families in the voluntary and community sector starting out in her career as a youth worker with Galway Youth Federation in the early 1990’s. She has won numerous awards for innovation and for her contribution to the sector – most recently receiving an Irish Woman of the Year Award in 2020 for public service.

Berni comes to KDYS with over 25 years experience of working with children and families in a leadership capacity. She has a specialist interest in the rights of minority ethnic children and intensive family support evidenced through her direct work in the community, her research and as an associate lecturer with the Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. Her published research and models of best practice have been presented internationally. She has provided consultation and facilitation services to statutory and voluntary agencies in areas such as strategic planning, conflict resolution, child protection and welfare and youth participation.

For the past five years, Berni has worked with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency leading out on national and regional initiatives including the national Meitheal training programme for both the voluntary and community sector. In her most recent role, she was responsible for Service Experience and Feedback for the West region, project-managing several national programmes to promote learning from the experience of service users.

Berni has enhanced her leadership and governance skills through her voluntary contribution to a wide range of Boards and committees and as an expert advisor in the international arena. She was the Chairperson of the Irish Refugee Council (2016 – 2021) and previously led Macnas International Street Spectacle through a highly successful change management programme.

Berni is a qualified secondary school teacher, has a Masters in Family Support and most recently completed a PostGraduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution. She is delighted to be joining KDYS.