Jillian van Turnhout
October 31, 2018
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Trustee's Organisation Name
Early Childhood Ireland
Outline the vision and the mission of the chosen nominee's organisation
Early Childhood Ireland is Ireland’s largest organisation in the early years sector. We represent 3,800 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full day-care provision. Our vision is that every young child is thriving and learning in quality early childhood settings. Early Childhood Ireland is committed to supporting members and collaborating with others in the context of a professionalising sector and a changing social, policy and economic environment. Our mission is to inspire and enable our members to provide quality experiences for young children and their families in their settings. We do this by:
- Working closely with members, peer organisations, parents, policy makers, partners, funders and researchers;
- Advocating on behalf of our members and the children and families they work with on matters that are important to them;
- Progressing thinking and research to help inform and shape the quality of practice and policy.
Describe the nominee's involvement with the organisation
Jillian van Turnhout has been Chair of the Board of Early Childhood Ireland since April 2013. Jillian was elected to the Board at a time when two organisations had merged which brought its own challenges including difficulties related to two cultures merging together. Jillian’s expertise in the area of governance has been extremely helpful as the organisation worked towards compliance with the Governance Code. During Jillian’s time as Chair, she undertook the process of reviewing the organisation’s constitution to ensure that it was fit for purpose. After a two-year consultative process with our members and the Board, a new constitution was adopted at our AGM in 2018 which now provides a much clearer mandate for the Board to conduct its work. Jillian runs the organisation’s Board meetings extremely well ensuring that all Directors have a chance to input into the decisions of the Board.
What special qualities and skills does the nominee bring to their role as trustee?
Jillian is a leading advocate of children’s rights and has been involved in a number of organisations in both a professional and voluntary capacity advocating for the rights of children. Jillian held the position of Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance from 2005 to 2011 where she transformed the alliance from a campaign group to the respected organisation that it is today. Jillian is also involved in the Irish Girl Guides, where she held the position of Chief Commissioner of the organisation from 2001-2007. Jillian continues to volunteer with Irish Girl Guides both as a leader with her local unit on a weekly basis and also at national level.
In her role as an Independent Senator from 2011-2016, Jillian initiated, influenced and supported legislation in a number of different areas including “The Children and Family Relationships Bill” which provides legal clarity around various family types and addresses discrimination faced by children in non-marital families, extending the workplace ban on smoking to all vehicles where children are present and banning on corporal punishment of children.
How has the nominee's involvement had a positive impact on the organisation and the people it serves? Give a specific example of their impact on the organisation
Having Jillian as Chair of Early Childhood Ireland has had a big impact over the last number of years. One example of Jillian’s positive impact was at one of our most recent events. We held our inaugural “Meet the Members” event in Buswells Hotel on 4 October where TDs and Senators were invited to meet members of Early Childhood Ireland and listen to the experiences and challenges they face working on the ground in Early Years settings across the country. Jillian’s support of and attendance at this event was paramount in making connections with TDs and Senators to ensure that our members had a platform to advocate for change in the sector.
Jillian has also completed the INSEAD International Directors Programme and has a Certificate in Corporate Governance which is a global credential for board members operating internationally. Jillian was instrumental in developing our Directors Handbook. The purpose of the Handbook is to outline the governance procedures of the organisation and to ensure that Directors have a plain English guide to Early Childhood Ireland’s governance and supporting policies. The Handbook forms part of the induction process for new Board members and addresses they key areas of responsibility for the Board.
How is the nominee's organisation transparent and accountable?
For the past two years, Early Childhood Ireland has been working towards compliance with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland. We have worked methodically through the checklist provided by the Governance Code and in September 2018, our Board certified the organisation’s full compliance with the code.
We are constantly monitoring our processes and procedures to ensure we are accountable and responsive to changes in the external environment. In advance of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in May 2018, we updated our data protection policy and procedures and rolled out GDPR training for staff. The organisation’s audited financial statements are available on our website and we are continuing to work towards SORP compliance.