Karen Leigh, CEO & Founder

Karen Leigh is the CEO and Founder of Sensational Kids. She is an award-winning Social Entrepreneur who is passionate about Social Enterprise and making a difference to the lives of children with additional needs. Inspired by her vision of a better future for children with additional needs based on her own experience of being a parent to children with additional needs, Karen has led Sensational Kids from foundation in 2007, directly impacting the lives of over 7,000+ children from all over Ireland.  Karen completed the Social Enterprise & Governance Programme at the DCU Ryan Academy and has a Diploma in Management and Employee Relations from the National College of Ireland. Karen is also a voluntary founding director of SERI (Social Enterprise, Republic of Ireland).   Under Karen’s leadership Sensational Kids has won several awards Rethink Ireland; Growth Fund Awardee (2020-2022) Ireland Funds Flagship Awardee (2018) Social Innovation Fund Ireland; Social […]

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Marie Brennan, Head of Marketing & Business Development

Marie Brennan joined Sensational Kids’ Senior Management Team in 2020 as Head of Marketing and Business Development.  In her role, Marie is responsible for creating the marketing strategy for the organisation and thus, growing the number of children who benefit from the services at Sensational Kids. With over 14 years’ experience in marketing and PR, Marie brings a wealth of retail marketing knowledge having joined from Newbridge Silverware where she oversaw the brand’s marketing and communications strategy for seven years.  Prior to that, Marie worked in public relations both internationally for Edelman PR in the UK and the US and in Dublin based agency, Elevate PR. Marie is a busy mum to four children, Doireann, Róise and twins, Conn and Ruairí.  Conn happens to have Down’s syndrome.  As a mum to a child with additional needs, Marie fully understands the challenges and therapies that are required to ensure children with […]

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Paula O’Brien, Financial Controller at Sensational Kids

Paula joined the Senior Management Team at Sensational Kids in 2020 as Financial Controller and member of our Senior Management Team. Paula is a fully qualified Chartered Accountant (FCA) with the Irish Institute of Chartered Accountants since 2006 and also hold a Masters of Accounting from Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, UCD. With over 15 years’ experience, both in Ireland (Equilume Limited, Dublin Airport Authority and Deloitte & Touche) and internationally, Paula’s extensive financial work experience includes Financial Controller at Dublin Airport Authority, and Senior Finance Manager at TD Bank, Toronto, Paula is also a working Mum and proud parent who is delighted to bring her financial expertise to the non-profit sector.   QUALIFICATIONS & EDUCATION Chartered Accountant (FCA), Irish Institute of Chartered Accountants 2006. Masters of Accounting (1.1 Honours), Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, UCD, Dublin, 2004. Bachelor of Business and Legal Studies (1.1 Honours), University College […]

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Maurice Kelly

Voluntary Chair of The Board of Directors at Sensational Kids Maurice Kelly is an experienced Human Resources leader with more than 20 years’ experience in multinational companies. He holds a Master Degree in Business and Human Resources from University of Limerick and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and is an accredited Executive Coach. Maurice is currently working with Kerry Group in an International HR Leadership role, having previously held similar roles with global companies across many sectors namely; Integra Lifesciences (Medical Devices), Eaton Automotive (Automotive), Magna Donnelly (Automotive) and Essilor International (Healthcare). He is an experienced board member having served as Director for Integra’s Irish based operations in addition to having oversight of their European Shared Services based in Dublin. As a voluntary Board Member at Sensational Kids since June 2016, Maurice brings support and guidance in all things HR related and was […]

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Ann Howgego

Voluntary Board Member Ann Howgego has twenty years of experience in the corporate sector, specifically with Royal and Sun Alliance in Ireland and the UK. Ann held various roles in business development, latterly Business Liaison Manager for the Motability Unit in Liverpool, where she worked with a senior management team on facilitating and providing services to the single largest fleet in Europe. In 2003, Ann changed direction and returned to work in Ireland in the non-profit sector. Ann has spent the last sixteen years in various advisory, consultancy and fundraising roles. Between 2007 and 2016, she worked in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility with Business in the Community Ireland, then in philanthropy with the Community Foundation for Ireland. Most recently, Ann has been involved in contract work and held senior fundraising roles with the ISPCA (Maternity Leave), & the Mater Foundation. Ann holds an advanced diploma in project management […]

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Dr Katie Cremin

Voluntary Board Member Dr Katie Cremin has been working as an Assistant Professor in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy (OT) Trinity College Dublin (TCD) since 2002. She completed her PhD in the area of secondary school and students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a specific focus on parents, teachers and peers. The intervention aspect of the project was carried out in secondary schools and examined the effectiveness of an autism acceptance program for students. She has experience working in child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) and remains closely allied to this area in her teaching and research. She co-ordinates the undergraduate occupational therapy modules related to children and youth. Katie has also worked collaboratively with the National Council for Special Education and contributes to teacher CPD courses. Katie lends her extensive academic and clinical expertise to the board and to the future development of Sensational Kids as well as chairing […]

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Maureen Bergin

Voluntary Board Member, Maureen Bergin is the Community & Business Relations Director at Kildare Village. Maureen has been with Kildare Village since it’s opening in 2006 and held the position of Retail Director, overseeing the day to day operations of 100 boutiques, until January 2017. Prior to joining Kildare Village, Maureen spent 10 years in Dunnes Store HO as part of the group buying teams. Maureen is currently President of the County Kildare Chamber of Commerce and an executive member of Kildare Town Chamber. Maureen is passionate about children’s education and currently runs several schools’ programmes in Kildare town with Kildare Village and Business in the Community Ireland. Maureen is mother to two young children and lives in Kildare town. Maureen joined the voluntary board of directors of Sensational Kids in 2018 and also serves on the fundraising sub-committee.

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Sharon Kearns

Voluntary Board member Sharon Kearns has over twenty years experience in the area of Finance, Sharon works as a Finance Business Partner with organisations both locally and internationally. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Sharon saw a need in the market for businesses not only to obtain timely and accurate financial information but to have a partner to explain what these figures were telling them about their company. By investing in an outsourced part time Finance Director these companies were able to also invest in other resources for their business without the added cost of a full-time employee. However safe in the knowledge that the finance expertise they receive has not been compromised. Over the years, through SGK, Sharon has assisted with the growth of many companies and has successfully helped a number of businesses turnaround from loss making to a profitable business. Sharon is passionate about helping companies succeed […]

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Simon Cox

Voluntary Board Member Simon Cox is a progressive and innovative change maker with experience in various Education, Community and Social enterprise projects. His education background includes a Management Degree and a Masters degree (MSc) in Community and Local Development from DIT. He has since gone on to work in the Further Education sector where he is currently employed with the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) teaching Community Development to a wide range of adult learners. Simon is passionate about social enterprise and community development, and to be part of progressive social change in society. Simon joined the board of Sensational Kids in February 2019 to lend his significant expertise in social enterprise and community development to the board.

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Sinead Callinan

Voluntary Board Member Sinead Callinan is a management consultant & project manager in the healthcare, research and digital health space. With over 15 years’ experience in healthcare, she has overseen healthcare operations, audit, implementation and change management efforts and consulted on business and product development activities. Sinead trained as a radiotherapist, graduating with a BSc. from Trinity College’s School of Medicine. She established and managed the clinical research program in the Beacon Hospital, where she also served as a member of the clinical quality, audit and medical research ethics committees. Sinead completed a postgraduate master’s program in Clinical Research in the University of London and has taught at a master’s level at Trinity College, Dublin. Sinead has previously worked in clinical research oversight within a multinational pharmaceutical organisation and is a member of the HSE’s Council of Clinical Information Officers. Sinead joined the board of Sensational Kids in February 2019 […]

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Mary Scully

Voluntary Company Secretary Mary Scully became involved with Sensational Kids in 2019 as voluntary company secretary, as an experienced Finance Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry.  For the past 2 years Mary has been employed by The Dyslexia Association of Ireland as Finance Officer, where she also holds the post of data protection officer. In addition Mary has been the Chairperson of Kildare Town Community School Parents Association, after holding various committee posts for seven years. Mary is a member of The Association of Data Protection Officers Ireland.

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Breda Hand, Educational Psychologist, at Sensational Kids, Kildare

Breda Hand, B.Ed, B.Sc. (Psychology), M.A.E.P. (Educational Psychology), MBPsS   Profile Educational psychologist Breda Hand has seventeen years’ experience as an educational psychologist with both the HSE and The National Educational Psychology Service (NEPS) from 2001 – 2018. She has worked with children from Junior Infants to Leaving Certificate who presented with the full spectrum of special educational needs. She has extensive experience dealing with parents and with teachers and principals of both primary and post-primary schools and has worked with whole-school staffs on a range of initiatives. In addition, Breda works with the disability & support services in many third level institutions. Prior to qualifying as an educational psychologist, Breda was a primary school teacher from 1985-2001. In this role, she taught children from four to thirteen years and developed a particular interest and expertise in children with special educational needs.   Continuous Professional Development Breda has also engaged with a […]

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Brionán McAleer BSc OT, Occupational Therapist at Sensational Kids, Monaghan

Brionán graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a first class honours in Occupational Therapy. Brionán’s journey with paediatric occupational therapy started as a student where she gained experience working with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) in Glasgow. Brionán then completed her final year placement in a private children’s occupational therapy clinic in Monaghan where she developed a keen interest in sensory integration. Soon after graduating, Brionán started working in private practice where she gained experience and then joined the team at Sensational Kids, Clones, Co Monaghan in March 2020. Brionán’s previous experience includes working with children and adolescents with varied needs in clinical, school and acute settings. She has supported children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder/Dyspraxia, Sensory Processing Difficulties, behavioural difficulties, emotional difficulties, mood disorders and eating disorders. She has worked with children and families both one on one and in group settings and […]

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Cathy Bishop Occupational Therapist at Sensational Kids Kildare

Cathy is a passionate, experienced Occupational Therapist specialising in pediatrics, who started her career as a social care key-worker where she spent 10 years in the fields of children’s and young adult mental health services including supporting young people (age range 7-18 years) with complex needs presenting with ASD, ODD, ADHD, anxiety disorders and psychosis. Cathy then returned to education to study Occupational Therapy at Trinity College, Dublin. Since graduating from Trinity College, Cathy has worked as an occupational therapist in pediatric private clinical settings, where she has gained several years experience working with children who present with motor, cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Through her extensive experience, Cathy has managed a diverse caseload of children who presented with ASD, DCD, Down Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome and ABI. Cathy is passionate about empowering children by providing them with the just right tools to support them to achieve their occupational goals […]

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Ciara Gallen, Speech & Language Therapist at Sensational Kids, Kildare

Ciara graduated as a Speech and Language Therapist in August 2019 from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, having  previously earned a Bachelor of Arts with Children Studies in 2016, from National University of Ireland, Galway. Ciara has also spent a year working for the International School of Choueifat in Dubai as a class teacher of 31 kindergarten infants. With experience of working with children in various different settings over the years Ciara has completed placements both in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, working with children in preschools, mainstream schools, special educational schools, community hospitals and Early Intervention Teams. Ciara has also gained experience as a graduate clinician with Enable Ireland. Most recently Ciara has been working on a 1:1 basis with non-verbal children who have Autism on the home tuition scheme before joining our team at Sensational Kids in 2020. Ciara’s main interest has always been in helping and caring. Ciara has […]

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Elaine Baldwin, BSc SLT, Senior Speech & Language Therapist at Sensational Kids, Clonakilty

Elaine joined our team at Sensational Kids having graduated with an honours degree in speech & language therapy from University College Cork in 2012. Elaine has experience in the provision of individual and group therapy and assessments to children of all ages and all abilites. She has worked with children up to aged 18 years with varying needs including intellectual disability, developmental delay and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Recently Elaine has undertaken Auditory Verbal Therapy Training,Part 1 Working Through Audition, an RCSLT Approved & AG Bell Academy accredited six days of training with an LSLS Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist® to provide specialist speech & language therapy training to children with hearing loss using the techniques of auditory verbal therapy. Following her graduation, Elaine worked with The Brothers of Charity also spent 9 months as a home tutor to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During this time she facilitated and conducted Hanen training programs that equip parents […]

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Eoghan Lonergan, Speech & Language Therapist at Sensational Kids, Kildare

Eoghan graduated as a Speech & Language Therapist from University College Cork in 2018. Since graduating Eoghan has worked with children and adults of all ages who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down’s Syndrome, Intellectual/Learning Disability and Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Through his work in private practice, Eoghan has supported children who present with developmental delays, speech delays, language Impairments and many other conditions. Eoghan has a keen interest in working with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and adopts strategies from the Hanen programme and Intensive Interaction CPD training he has previously attended in his sessions. With an interest in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), Eoghan has supported a number of people to use both high-tech and low-tech AAC devices. Eoghan has previously supported people to use an eye-gaze device to support their communicative needs. Eoghan has been involved in the changeover of FEDS guidelines from the Irish Consistency […]

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Grainne Warren, Play Therapist at Sensational Kids, Clonakilty

Gráinne has facilitated group sessions in social skills and has also facilitated creative workshops for children using a variety of creative art tools such as art and craft, clay, slime, drama, therapeutic games and mindfulness. She has additional training in working with children effected by cancer, trauma and neurobiology and running mental health workshops in primary schools. Grainne carries out play therapy sessions based on a non-directive child-led approach. All work in the playroom is based on the  therapeutic relationship with the child, and the trust and confidence which grow as a result of same. She believes in the importance of working with parents on developing positive parenting skills as well as supporting parents to assist their children through the therapy process.   Qualifications Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy (Play Therapy Ireland) National University of Ireland, Galway 2018 Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills (Play Therapy Ireland) National University of […]

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John Doyle, Educational Psychologist at Sensational Kids, Clonakilty, Cork

John holds Chartered Psychologist status, (recognised professional practitioner level), for three separate domains of practice with the Psychological Society of Ireland:   (a) Chartered Educational Psychologist; (b) Chartered Counselling Psychologist; and, (c) Chartered Work and Organisational Psychologist.   John Doyle is a highly experienced Psychologist whose work experience  includes posts with  Tusla Child and Family Agency, Brothers of Charity Service, Cope Foundation, Co-Action and NEPS (National Educational Psychological Service). Qualifications 2019 Professional Doctorate Educational Psychology (currently studying for) 2016 Masters by Dissertation, (Educational Psychology) 2001 Master of Arts in Integrative Psychotherapy 1997 Certificate in Integrative Psychotherapy. 1994 Higher Diploma in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. 1990 Master of Science in Occupational Psychology. 1984 Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Psychology  

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Kim McGoona, BSc, Occupational Therapist at Sensational Kids, Mayo

Kim joined Sensational Kids child development centre in Claremorris, Co Mayo in 2019, having graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway, with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. As an occupational therapist and the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, Kim understands the parent’s perspective of requiring services for their child, and can empathise with what families are experiencing, allowing for family centred practice.Kim loves to see children reach their full potential through meaningful occupational engagement while keeping it fun. With a keen interest in neurodevelopment, sensory integration and autism, Kim is a very passionate Occupational Therapist who brings her personal experience as a parent as well as her clinical experience to her role at Sensational Kids.   Professional Qualifications 2019 BSc. (Hons) in Occupational Therapy, NUIG (National University of Ireland, Galway) 2006-2007, Foundation Course in Psychotherapy, Galway Counselling Studies   Professional Memberships AOTI member (Irish Association […]

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Mary Connell, Specialist Literacy Teacher at Sensational Kids, Kildare

Mary is a very experienced specialist primary school and montessori teacher, who is passionate about helping children who struggle with learning to read and has a special interest in helping children who have dyslexia with reading. Mary has worked with children with a variety of special educational needs for many years. Originally from Athenry, Co Galway, Mary qualified as a primary teacher at Manchester University in 1969. After which, she worked for a number of years at a primary school in Salford in Lancashire. Following Irish certification with the Irish Department of Education, Mary worked as a National School Teacher in a rural national school in Co.Laois. Mary also qualified in the Montessori method of Education in 1982. In 1993, Mary was appointed as a full time learning support teacher for four National Schools in the Laois area. During this time, Mary undertook a number of additional qualifications in dyslexia […]

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Mary Lucey, BSc OT, Senior Occupational Therapist at Sensational Kids, Clonakilty

Mary Lucey, is an experienced occupational therapist who has worked with children with a variety of diagnoses, including Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, Dyspraxia, Developmental Coordination Disorder, Neurological conditions, Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities.  Mary also has significant experience in guiding her practice with a variety approaches, including Sensory Integration, CO-OP and behavioural approaches. Mary graduated from University College Cork in 2016 with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Following her graduation Mary worked in a private children’s occupational therapy clinic in Dublin and for the HSE in Cork.  We are delighted that Mary has joined our team at Sensational Kids in Clonakilty to help us develop our occupational therapy services for children with additional needs in the Cork Region.   Professional Qualifications Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, BSc.  in Occupational Therapy from University College Cork   Professional Memberships AOTI member (Association of Occupational Therapists in Ireland) CORU (organisation for regulating health […]

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Michael Power, Audiologist at Sensational Kids, West Cork

Michael Power, a Cork native and Clinical Audiologist, is a graduate of the School of Audiology, Institute of Laryngology and Otology, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, Gray’s Inn Rd, London and University College London Medical School in 2000. Michael has previously worked as Senior Paediatric Audiologist in Alder Hey Childrens Hospital in Liverpool.   Appointments for Hearing Tests at Sensational Kids, Clonakilty, West Cork   Appointments are available at Sensational Kids, West Cork Technology Park, Clonakilty, Co Cork To book an appointment with Audiologist Michael Power, phone Sensational Kids on 023 887 8208

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Sandra Gray, Chartered Psychologist, at Sensational Kids, Mayo

Sandra Gray ,Chartered Psychologist (Psychological Society of Ireland) has recently joined the Sensational Kids Service in Claremorris, Co Mayo. Sandra is an Educational Psychologist with many years experience in a range of settings . She has a background in teaching children and adults with special needs and has always had an interest in identifying these needs and supporting families access appropriate services. Sandra was employed as a NEPS psychologist in Mayo and Sligo where she worked with schools to support their work at an individual ,class and whole school level. In addition Sandra has worked with the HSE for 18 yrs in both Primary Care and Early Intervention services . During this time she has gained expertise and training in a broad range of presentations and concerns that can arise for families and schools during a child and teenagers development and education. (age range 2- 18 yrs) .Previous work experience […]

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