Our Dublin Staff

John Weakliam
CEO
John's Profile

John has a financial education and career background and worked with HSBC in Eritrea where he established bank training programmes and completed a master’s degree on Financing for Eritrean Firms.  John set up the Vita programme in Eritrea in 2000 and travelled to Ethiopia to help establish Vita’s first programmes there in 2005.  He returned to Ireland in 2007 and has been CEO of Vita since 2008.  John has focused on developing next generation models of development including the Irish Potato Coalition which was set up in 2014 and the Vita Green Impact Fund which was launched in 2016.  Originally from Dublin, John is married to Smret with whom he has five children.  John enjoys languages as well as a tune on the guitar.

John Gilliland
Head of Programmes
John's Profile

John’s background is in forestry where he started his career in Ireland. He worked for 3 years as policy advisor to Kader Asmal who was Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry in post apartheid South Africa. On returning to Ireland John became CEO of Coillte Consult where over the next 10 years he worked across Africa and central Europe on a wide range of EU and World Bank development projects. John has worked with Vita as an advisor since 2009 and became Head of Programmes in 2013.

Maria Kugelmann
Office Administrator
Maria's Profile

Maria worked for Refugee Trust/Vita from 1996-2000 and joined the Administration and Fundraising Team again in 2006. Prior to her move to Ireland, Maria worked in her native Bavaria in Administration and Quality Control for the Textile Industry.

Ciara Feehley
Head of Communications and Fundraising
Ciara's Profile

Ciara Feehely joined Vita in 2015 after having been on the board for several years. Her last position was in EirGrid as their Senior Lead Communications Specialist,  she has also worked with RTÉ and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association.

Holly Hughes
Fundraising & Communications Officer
Holly's Profile

Holly joined Vita in March 2019. A graduate of the Fitzwilliam Institute, Holly holds a Post-graduate Diploma in Public Relations with Event Management, as well as a First Class Honours in English and French from NUI Galway. She has previously volunteered as an Education Coordinator in the now disbanded Dunkirk refugee camp and has worked in sea-turtle protection and refugee aid in Greece. She is particularly interested in the intersection between climate change and social inequality.

Gerry Murphy
Communications and Marketing
Gerry's Profile

Gerry Murphy has involvement in strategy and partnership development within Vita. For over 30 years he worked directly in a number of senior marketing and sales management roles with Flahavan’s , Britvic, CPC Knorr and Unilever Ireland as well as dealing directly with major suppliers in Ireland, the UK,  Canada and the USA.

Gerry co-managed the InterReg2 Fund on behalf of the Irish Exporters Association and he worked as the Marketing / Business Advisor for ROI with Invest Northern Ireland, In the recent past he has held Board positions with Age Action Ireland and MS Ireland. He is a Management Science graduate of Trinity College Dublin and holds graduate membership from both the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) and M.I.I.

Emily Hosford 
Programme Officer 
Emily's Profile

Emily has a background in international development and human rights. She has worked with local community development and civil society organisations in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda and has managed a child safeguarding and protection programme in these countries. Emily’s qualifications include a Masters in Globalisation & Development from University College Cork. Outside of work, she enjoys tai chi, cinema and keeping up with current affairs.

Sam Kappler 
Programme Officer 
Sam's Profile

Sam is originally from Edinburgh in Scotland. He has a background in politics and sociology, which he studied it at university. Before joining Vita, Sam worked with World Vision on introducing long-term community development programmes in Sub Saharan Africa and the Balkans. Outside of work, Sam enjoys spending time in the mountains and watching soccer.