International Women’s Day 2023

Posted on 8th March 2023

Happy International Women’s Day! Today, we’re shining a light on some of the incredible women in Ireland who are leading the way in the circular economy. 

There aren’t enough days in the year to highlight all the amazing women paving the way for a more sustainable Ireland, so for today we’ve compiled just a few examples of strong female leadership in the Circular Economy.

From sustainable fashion designers and social enterprise CEOs to researchers, these women illustrate the astounding scope and scale of all that the circular economy encompasses. Thank you for your hard work and dedication!

So who are some of our Circular Heroes?

We couldn’t discuss the amazing women paving the way for a more sustainable Ireland without mentioning our own Dr Sarah Miller, Chief Executive of The Rediscovery Centre, the National Centre for a Circular Economy.

Over the last two decades, Sarah’s pioneering work and leadership in the environmental sector have resulted in numerous cutting-edge projects in Ireland and beyond. Sarah spearheaded the development of the Boiler House Centre of Excellence for the Circular Economy, Europe’s first 3D circular economy textbook, located in Ballymun – the current home of the Rediscovery Centre. Thanks to Sarah’s tireless efforts at Ballymun Regeneration Ltd, Ballymun earned over forty environmental awards, including the national green community award in 2009 & 2010. Under Sarah’s guidance and leadership, the successful working models for social enterprises housed in The Rediscovery Centre have now been replicated across Ireland!

Emma Connors, Chief Executive Officer at ReCreate Ireland.

Beginning her career in community development, Emma then moved into the arts & culture sector, working as Arts Development Manager in Axis Arts Centre in Ballymun for over a decade.

Emma entered the social enterprise sector for the first time just over 2 years ago,  where she now leads the team at ReCreate. ReCreate is a social enterprise and registered charity that encourages and inspires creativity through reuse. By providing affordable materials and educational supplies to every sector of the community, they are inspiring tomorrow’s inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs. All materials are donated or diverted from the waste stream, making a positive impact both on the environment and on the creative community’s resource bank. As their creative lead, Emma combines her lifelong commitment to creativity and social inclusion with a sustainability centred work environment, driving change for people and the planet.

Claire Downey, Policy and Research Director at The Rediscovery Centre.

Claire hails from Queensland, Australia. With a background in Chemical Engineering, and over 20 years experience in the sector, she has delivered multiple national and international circular economy research projects, and is passionate about reuse targets.

Claire now leads the Research and Policy team at the Rediscovery Centre, sits on the National Waste Advisory Group, is a fellow with the Chartered Institute of Waste Management, and is also a board member of Green Foundation Ireland. We’re lucky to have her!

Lynn Haughton, Founder and Designer behind The Upcycle Movement, a multi-award winning Irish Design Studio that transforms waste into worth.

Lynn’s creative vision to find new purpose and value in otherwise redundant materials has led her to work with everything from wetsuits to wind turbine tarp!

Inspired by her passion for creativity through reuse, and diverting waste from landfill, she recently founded ReSource, a platform connecting waste streams with designers for repurposing. With her love for the outdoors and a commitment to sustainability, Lynn is a trailblazer in sustainable fashion and creativity through reuse.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Green Party Councillor for Ballymun-Finglas, Caroline Conroy. 

A local advocate for circular and sustainable living, the Lord Mayor has been at the forefront promoting sustainable practices and supporting circular events. A champion of sustainable fashion, the Lord Mayor recently collaborated with Barnardos to create a capsule wardrobe, showcasing how style and sustainability can go hand in hand.

The Lord Mayor’s commitment to sustainable living can also be seen in her other projects, such as the establishment of ‘Mini Orchards,’ the founding of a local Tidy Towns group, her successful efforts to increase tree planting in the Ballymun, Finglas, and Glasnevin areas, and the arrangement of free water butts and gardening courses for residents. We are fortunate to have such a passionate advocate for circularity and sustainability in our local area!

Gwen Cunningham, Lead of Circle Economy’s Textiles Programme and Lead for Circularity and Sustainability at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD). 

In both roles, Gwen’s focus is in the design and execution of cutting edge pilots and programmes to increase the circular skillset and mindset of brands, businesses, educators, and students. Projects include the development and roll-out of the Fibersort sorting technology, the design and launch of brand-led resale business models as part of Switching Gear, and the roll-out of Circular by Design, a first of its kind professional training programme for Ireland’s textiles and apparel industry. With her innovative pilots and programmes, Gwen is leading the charge towards a more circular future for the textiles industry!

Dr Geraldine Brennan, Head of Circular Economy & CIRCULÉURE Lead.

As Head of Circular Economy at Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR), an Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland supported Technology Centre, Geraldine is leading CIRCULÉIRE, Ireland’s first cross-sectoral industry-led public-private partnership dedicated to accelerating circular economy innovation and implementation.

She has spent over a decade supporting industry to understand and overcome barriers to implementation of circular and sustainable business models. Geraldine has also published extensively on scaling circular innovation and in 2015 was an awardee of the “International Green Talents Award” for outstanding interdisciplinary researchers in the field of sustainable development!

Caroline Corrigan, Senior Engineer in Transportation Operations at Meath County Council. 

With previous experience as a Climate Action & Sustainable Development Goal Officer, Caroline works towards bringing sustainability and circular economy into her work through green procurement, and seeks to future-proof Operations to be climate resilient.

Caroline is a champion of sustainable fashion, creating awareness about the benefits of shopping preloved, for both planet and people. In 2022 she became an SDG Advocate through Development Perspectives, and her chosen project was around fast fashion. This work is highlighted in her photo, where she’s wearing pre-loved from head to toe, including a beautifully crafted necklace by Serendipity by Jayne, created from old coffee capsules!