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The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) is a community of people who believe in humanist principles and aspire to a fair, balanced, ethical and responsible secular society. The HAI campaigns for the equal treatment of people of no religion by the State and provides a forum for people to meet, share experiences and develop their humanist ideals in an informal, friendly, and inclusive environment. We also provide whole of life ceremonies (baby namings, milestone ceremonies, weddings, funerals) for the non-religious in Ireland. Our core values are compassion, equality and reason.


• Provide leadership to the board and to ensure that directors fulfil their duties and responsibilities for the proper governance of the HAI

• Support, provide leadership to, and where appropriate, challenge the CEO

• Ensure that the board as a whole works in partnership with staff

• Play a leading role on key committees and sub-groups of the HAI



To provide Leadership to the board and the ensure that directors fulfil their duties and responsibilities for the proper governance of the HAI.

Ensure that

• The board sets the mission, vision, strategy and high-level policies for the charity within the powers and restrictions in its charitable objects and governing instruments

• The board takes steps to monitor the performance of the charity and to ensure that the charity satisfies all regulatory and legal compliance requirements

• The board delegates sufficient authority to its committees, the chair, the CEO and others to enable the business of the charity to be carried on effectively between meetings of the board

• Major risks to which the charity is exposed are reviewed regularly and systems are established to mitigate these risks without the charity becoming totally risk averse

• The charity has a satisfactory system for holding in trust the HAI funds and assets and ensure that funds are invested to the maximum benefit of the charity, within the constraints of the law and ethical and other policies laid down by the board

• The HAI’s financial dealings are systematically accounted for, audited and publicly available

• Internal controls and systems (both financial and non-financial) are audited and reviewed regularly

• All members of the board receive appropriate induction, advice, information, and training (both individual and collective)

• Board meetings are properly and efficiently conducted by:
- agreeing the agendas in advance with the CEO and/or company secretary, ensuring the focus is always on strategy and governance
- chairing board meetings effectively, seeking consensus, balancing the need for full debate on key questions with the expeditious despatch of business to reach clear and agreed decisions as swiftly as possible
- ensuring that board decisions are made in the best, long-term interests of the HAI and that the board takes collective ownership of these decisions


To support, provide leadership to, and where appropriate , to challenge the CEO by​​​​​​​

• Ensuring there are clear and open processes for any recruitment of future CEOs, ensuring that all steps are taken to find the best possible person for the role.

• Ensuring that the board focuses on its strategic role and does not slip incrementally, or otherwise, into the management role (unless essential to the good governance of the HAI)

• Arranging regular, but not over-frequent, meetings with the CEO and by developing a very professional relationship with the CEO within which each can speak openly about concerns, worries and challenges

• Providing leadership to the CEO to ensure that the charity is run in accordance with the decisions of the board and the charity’s governing documents and that there is clarity about the charity’s objectives at all levels

• Supervising the CEO on behalf of the board (unless other arrangements are made), always remembering that the CEO is responsible to the board as a whole and not to any one individual director or sub-group of directors

• Ensuring the CEO’s performance is reviewed regularly, and ensuring that the CEO is clear about the key performance indicators by which he/she will be held accountable

• Ensuring the CEO has the opportunity for professional development and has appropriate external professional support

• In partnership with the CEO, agreeing respective roles in representing the charity and acting as spokesperson.

• When necessary, challenging the CEO constructively and only in the best interests of the charity and as “critical friends”


To ensure the board works in partnership with the staff by: 

• Ensuring through the CEO, that the staff understand the role of the board and that the CEO provides an effective link between the board and staff

• Ensuring that the CEO and staff provide the board with relevant, timely and accurate information to allow the board to discharge its responsibilities. This should include alerting the board to major risks, informing the board of current and future key issues, including significant trends, and informing the board about external changes which may impact on the charity

• Ensuring that staff are aware of the board’s appreciation of their successes and hard work

• Ensuring that, through the CEO, a performance evaluation process is in place for everyone in the organisation and that the charity invests in the development of staff

• Ensuring that there are appropriate mechanisms, both internal and external, to verify that the board receives a balanced and honest picture of how the charity is doing.

• Ensuring that whenever practicable, directors visit various parts of the charity, attend events organised by the charity or in the interest of the charity and have informal opportunities to meet staff and beneficiaries, including local groups.


Play a leading role on key committees and Sub-groups of the HAI

  • Sit on the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee .
  • Sit on any other committees as deemed relevant by the Board.

  • Liaise with other Humanist organisations from a strategic perspective.


Desirable Criteria

  • Excellent leadership skill

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills

  • Impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidences

  • Ability to ensure decisions are taken and followed-up

  • Good timekeeping

  • Tact and diplomacy

  • Understanding of the roles/responsibilities of a governing body

  • Alignment with the values of the Humanist Association of Ireland

  • Previous board experience

  • Previous Chairperson experience would be an advantage


The Board meets eight or nine times per year and currently holds meetings online. We expect to have a blended approach to Board meetings going forward. Meetings typically last approx. 2 hours and usually take place in the evening.

Sub-committee meetings typically take place virtually and can take place during the day or in the evenings and last approx. 1 hour.