Meet the Team

James Thornberry – Chief Executive Officer

James Thornberry VMM CEO

James comes to VMM with over 21 years of accumulated knowledge and experience in international development. He holds a joint BA in International Relations and French (Sussex and Grenoble, France) as well as an MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing (LSHTM and LSE). James has worked for a variety of high profile donors and INGOs, both overseas and within the UK before moving to Ireland in 2018. These have included MSF, DFID, CAFOD, WaterAid, CBM and Sense International. He also has a medical background and has many years working in the international disabilities sector.

James is value driven and profoundly believes in social justice and the equitable distribution of resources. He is looking forward to the opportunity and challenge of providing VMM with strategic leadership into a new and challenging international development environment for the benefit of the poor and marginalised. James commences his position as CEO with VMM, based in our Dublin office, on 1st April 2019.

Tim Flynn – Africa Manager

VMM International Africa Manager Photo

A native of Co Tipperary in Ireland, Tim has a background in teaching, finance and administration and youth work. Tim first visited Africa in 1997 on a short term volunteering programme and since 1999 Tim has volunteered with VMM International in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Prior to this Tim taught at the College of Commerce in Cork and worked in Company & Trust administration in the Channel Islands. From his current base in Kitale in Western Kenya Tim visits VMM International’s project partners and volunteers in the field as well as working with the Safeguarding & Positive Discipline mentoring programme team.

Van Garber – UK Manager

Before joining VMM International in 2011, Van worked in charity and government organisations both in America and the UK. Recent posts included Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity in Virginia and later as CEO for Habitat Liverpool for two years before joining VMM International as UK Manager. The UK team provides significant income through church appeals, fundraising initiatives, grants and several charity shops. They also coordinate both short and long term overseas recruitment and overall marketing. Van is also a trustee for the Catholic Mission Union, has 3 children and enjoys travel, sports and cooking

Fiona Duignan – Programme Manager, Short-Term Volunteering

VMM International, Manager Short Term Volunteer Programme PhotoFiona is responsible for developing a bespoke, short-term volunteering programme that will provide opportunities for people who wish to donate a few weeks to projects in Africa, including tailor made packages to suit volunteer’s requirements. Prior to this Fiona has worked with NGO’s in Ireland, ensuring that legislative requirements were met, introducing best practice and procedures to ensure maximum efficiency and transparency for key stakeholders, personnel and the public. She has travelled to several countries as an independent researcher on social and youth justice projects and has also worked as witness protection officer for victims of torture. Fiona has been a human rights activist for many years and has a Masters in International Human Rights Law from NUI Galway, a BA (Hons) in Law and Administration of Justice.  Fiona has 2 children, 2 crazy dogs, loves to cook for friends, a book worm and music lover.

Aytan Gahramanova – Project Manager, EU Aid Volunteers:                                                                        ‘Volunteering For Humanity’ Consortium

Aytan EU AVI PM

Before moving to Ireland in 2015 in the capacity of a Marie Curie Fellow at Dublin City University, Aytan had 10 years’ experience as a Project Manager of the governance and economic reform portfolios in Oxfam and USAID in Baku, Azerbaijan. She managed a broad range of multi-million, and multi-component technical assistance programs – from stakeholders alliance-building in local-self governance area to WTO related regulatory harmonization projects. Aytan holds M.A. in Peace and Development studies from University Jaume I (Castellón, Spain), and is preparing to complete her PhD thesis in summer 2019.

Lucy Monari – Programme Manager, Safeguarding and Protection

VMM International Child Safeguarding ManagerLucy has eight years’ experience in international development NGOs, principally with responsibility over set up, management and training of safeguarding policies and projects. Her most recent role was as Child Protection Officer for East Africa with the Jesuits. Her experience is complemented by qualifications in Social Ministry, Sustainable Human Development and more recently, Kimmage (KODE) in Child Safeguarding and an MA in International Development from Manchester University while living and working in the UK for five years. As such, she is a very fortunate addition to the VMM International team, as Safeguarding Manager, based on the ground in Kenya.

David West – Communications Officer

VMM International Marketing & Communications Intern PhotoA veteran traveler with four years’ experience on projects in the International Development and Community Non-Profit sector, Dave joined the VMM International team in July 2017 in a dual role as the International Programme Assistant, moving into his forte of Marketing and Communications . Originally graduating with a BA in History and Archaeology from UCD, he has recently up-skilled and applies his talents in Digital Marketing, Communications and Project Management along with a wealth of administration experience with VMM International. Having spent some years in Brazil and Colombia and some months volunteering in Cameroon, he hopes to return to Africa again soon in an International Development capacity. He plays the guitar, enjoys music, culture and the Arts, languages, cycling and cooking.

Louisa Preston – Appeals Coordinator for England and Wales

Louisa Preston is VMM International’s Appeals Co-ordinator for England and Wales. She has held this position since January 2011, but started volunteering with VMM International in 2008. Louisa takes care of everything to do with Parish Appeals. Parish Appeals consist of visiting a Parish, making Appeals at each Mass that weekend, taking a collection and recruiting new VMs and members to VMM International. She is also responsible for some office finances and the Wavertree Charity Shop. Louisa is originally from Liverpool, went to school and University here. She enjoys the opera, theatre, cinema, dining out and travelling. And hopes to go to Africa at some point!

Tesfay Abrha Project Assistant, EU Aid Volunteers:                                                                        ‘Volunteering For Humanity’ Consortium

Tesfay Abrha VMM International Programme AssistantTesfay has over eleven years’ experience in faith-based international development NGOs in Sub-Saharan Africa. During those years, He has worked in justice and peace building, community development, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, advocacy, funding proposals and financial management. He has lived and studied in various international locations, worked within communities and relates well across a variety of cultural contexts.  He holds an MA in International Development from Maynooth University, an MA in Pastoral Ministry from Duquesne University, a BA in Theology and a Diploma in Justice and Peace from The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, as well as a Diploma in Philosophy from the Philosophical-Theological College of the Catholic Diocese of Adigrat, Ethiopia.

Christy Creely – Administrator

VMM International Administrator PhotoWhen Christy retired as Customer Services Manager in the Aviation Business he went back to study the Non-Profit Sector in All Hallows College while volunteering with Camara on computer recycling activities. Two and a half years followed as a VMM International volunteer in Lodwar, Kenya working as the Director of Turkana Trade Training Centre, training managers and staff. Christy enjoys working overseas having worked two and a half years as Engineering Manager Guyana Airways in South America and three years as Project Manager in Royal Nepal Airways Kathmandu building workshop facilities and training staff. He hopes to volunteer overseas again.

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