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Contributors include Kira Fortune, Regional Advisor Healthy Cities, Health Promotion and Well-being within the World Health Organization, who has extensive experience in implementation and practical application of Healthy Ageing, Social Determinants of Health, Violence & Injury Prevention, Community Engagement and Health in all Policies; and Professor Mark Taylor, Consultant HPB Surgeon and Visiting Professor at Ulster University’s School of Medicine.


Kira Fortune

Kira Fortune is a seasoned expert in public health, equity, and community engagement with a strong focus on the social determinants of health. Currently, she holds a significant role as the head of Healthy Cities, Health Promotion, and Well-being at the Regional WHO Office of Europe in Copenhagen. With over 25 years of dedicated work in international organizations worldwide, Kira has amassed a wealth of experience in driving positive change on the global stage.

Before her current position, Kira was entrusted with leading the Social Determinants of Health and Violence and Injury Prevention Unit at the Regional WHO Office of the Western Pacific in Manila. Prior to that, she spent a decade at the Pan American Health Organization/Regional Office of the World Health Organization in Washington, D.C., where she played a pivotal role in coordinating initiatives related to healthy cities, health-in-all policies, and the sustainable development goals across the Americas.

Kira's journey in public health began at The International Health Research Network in Denmark, followed by her tenure at The International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. During her impactful career, she also spent three years with UNICEF in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, leading the Programme on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.

With a Doctorate in Sociology from City University London, a Master's Degree in Anthropology, Gender, and Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the University of London, Kira is an exceptionally well-qualified professional. Additionally, she holds a Master's Degree in International Health from the University of Copenhagen, further enhancing her expertise in global health affairs. Her unwavering dedication to promoting health, well-being, and equality has left a profound impact on communities worldwide, making her an influential figure in the field of public health.

Professor Mark Taylor

Professor Mark Taylor is a Consultant in general and hepatobiliary surgery and Visiting Professor at Ulster University. He is the Expert Professional Advisor for Elective Transformation at the Department of Health.

Current and previous roles include: President of Great Britain and Ireland Hepatobiliary Association, President of the Pancreatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Northern Ireland Director of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, member of the Medical Advisory Board of Bowel Cancer UK, Trustee of the St John Ambulance in Northern Ireland.

Vanessa Quinn

Programme Manager, Research and Development Department, Western Health and Social Care Trust

Vanessa Quinn is a programme manager within the Research and Development Department at the WHSCT, based at Altnagelvin. She has experience managing clinical research within healthcare, academia and clinical research organisations and has a broad range of experience in medical research across various disease areas from study start-up to study completion.

Her focus has been working to develop innovative ways on expanding patient and public participation in research within secondary care, for commercial, academic and pharmaceutical studies. She works to promote and strengthen new and existing client partnerships by leveraging the unique position of being on a major hospital site for patient/public and clinical access to attract clinical studies to Northern Ireland.

Previously to joining WHSCT, Vanessa was the Scientific Manager for C-TRIC, a not-for-profit research facility co-owned by WHSCT, Ulster University and DCSDC. Vanessa’s academic career involved research positions at both Ulster University and the University of Southampton, where she completed her Masters and PhD in Biomedical Science.

Professor Siobhan O'Neill

Siobhan O’Neill is a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University, and Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland. Her research programmes focus on trauma mental illness and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland, and the transgenerational transmission of trauma.

She is now on a mission as the Mental Health Champion to improve the mental health of the people of NI by promoting evidence-based services and care for those who suffer from mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

As Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, she advises and assists in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing though all policies and services throughout the province. Her role is as a public advocate for mental health, and to be a voice for those otherwise voiceless. Her goal is to communicate the collective voices of people with lived experience and their families and carers, and to advocate for communities impacted by mental health inequalities.

Sarah Simpson

Sarah is a graduate from the University of Ulster, with an honours degree in Social Psychology and has worked in public transport for the past 18 years. Sarah has held several roles within Translink but has primarily been based in the Company’s Bus Operations Division. Starting as the Service Delivery Manager within Belfast Metro, a role accountable for the provision of Metro bus services in East Belfast, in addition to a commercial private hire business.

In late 2020 she took up the role of Business Change Manager on the Translink Zero Emission Project. A multi-million-pound project with a mandate of introducing 100 zero emission buses into the Belfast Metro Network, including the supporting electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Sarah’s role was to ensure operational readiness to successfully deploy, operate and maintain our new hydrogen and electric bus fleet.

Most recently Sarah has been appointed as the Ulsterbus Northern Area Manager, assuming oversight for the service delivery of both Ulsterbus and Goldline services operating within the North and West of the province. Derry~Londonderry is a key location within her area; with 38 state-of-the-art single decker and double decker electric buses entering service on the Foyle Metro network, making the City one of the first in the UK and Ireland to run a fully zero emission urban bus service

Professor Joan Condell

Professor Joan Condell FHEA FCHERP, School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems, Distinguished Teaching and Learning Support Fellowship, Ulster University
Future Leader in Innovation, Enterprise and Research (FLIER), Academy of Medical Sciences

Based at Ulster University's Intelligent Systems Research Centre, Professor Joan Condell holds senior fellow positions at the Centre for Higher Education Research and Practice and the Higher Education Academy. Recognized with a Distinguished Teaching and Learning Fellowship in 2011, she actively engages in teaching and research roles as an External Examiner in the UK and Ireland. She's a member of the Royal Irish Academy Engineering committee and participates in funding review panels for major research councils. Managing a team of PhD researchers and Research Associates, she's authored 250+ papers, secured grants exceeding £56M, and led projects spanning EU, national, and regional levels. Her research covers digital intelligent technologies, imaging, security, wearables, energy, and patents, gaining accolades for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Chris Manion

Chris Manion is Head of Grants at the British Science Association (BSA) and has responsibility for delivering The Ideas Fund, which is piloting a different way of supporting communities to work with researchers. The BSA’s vision is of a future where science is more relevant, representative and connected to society, and The Ideas Fund plays a key role in informing this work through supporting a range of individuals and organisations to work together on projects related to mental wellbeing. Around £3.5m in funding has been awarded so far.

Chris has 15 years’ experience in delivering grant making programmes both in the UK and internationally, ranging from a £240m programme designing and building youth centres across England, to supporting livelihoods for disabled people in East Africa. Since joining the BSA in November 2020, Chris has overseen the launch of The Ideas Fund and the piloting of two funding rounds, designed to reach groups who are often overlooked by this type of work. He has also led the team in developing a strategic fund for regional partnerships, looking to remove systemic barriers faced by communities and researchers who are looking to work together.

Kevin Murphy

Kevin is CEO of The Playhouse in Derry~Londonderry, a cultural leader who seeks to build things he believes in with others that help make positive change. His diverse career began as a professional musician in London, followed by roles on the island of Ireland with Music55-7 as an Artistic Director, Creative Lives Ireland as their Chief Officer and now The Playhouse.

Significant achievements include instigating and supporting significant cultural links between the City of Derry and the City of London as part of the flagship City of Culture 2013 commission and community engagement project ‘At Sixes and Sevens’; the establishment of one of the UKs biggest social creative campaigns #loveto which highlight the everyday creative activities people engaged in - #lovetoDANCE, #lovetoBAKE, #lovetoCARVEPUMPKINS etc; and the co-writing and publishing of the influential books Making Common Cause and Recovering Hope

At The Playhouse Kevin engages with both the locality and people of the North West of the island of Ireland and important global narratives around art making, empowering people and making peaceful change. He works with a highly creative team to provide a space for people to make meaning together creatively, peacefully and with hope

Kevin is also a Clore Fellow, Common Purpose Graduate and International Futures Forum Practice Advisor

There are currently no spaces available to register. Please contact to register your interest in attending.

8.30-9.30 Registration & arrival coffee


Emma Kevitt, Chair, Developing Healthy Communities  
Professor Malachy O’Neill, Director of Regional Engagement, Ulster University
Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council, Patricia Logue


Keynote speakers

9.45am: Intro from Edel O’Doherty, Derry and Strabane Healthy Cities  
9.50am: Kira Fortune, World Health Organisation
10.10am: Professor Mark Taylor, Consultant Surgeon and Visiting Professor at Ulster University, School of Medicine

10.30 - 11.15

Place and planet

  • Anne McCusker, Belfast Healthy Cities, Greening the City
  • Cathy Burns, Derry City & Strabane District Council,
  • Acorn Farm Sarah Simpson – Translink Darren Quinn, U:Move ebikes
  • Cork Healthy Cities Video
11.15-11.30 Comfort break
11.30 - 12.15

People and prosperity

  • Fiona Teague, Public Health Agency - Local Challenges for our Healthy City, The Power of Collective Assets
  • George McGowan – Community Health and Wellbeing Improvement
  • Danny Kerr, Ulster University – School of Health Sciences Belfast to Derry
  • Sian Farrell – StimOxyGen
  • Professor Joan Condell, Ulster University, School of Computing, Engineering & Intelligent Systems – Monitoring Community Health
12.15 -1.00

Participation and peace

  • Chris Manion, The Ideas Fund
  • Vanessa Quinn, C-TRIC
  • Kevin Murphy, Creative and Healthy Cities
  • Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Ulster University and NI Mental Health Champion
1.00 - 1.15

Feedback and reflections - Kira Fortune.

Closing remarks - Emma Kevitt and Professor Malachy O'Neill.

Followed by lunch in  the Great Hall.

Event info

This event has ended

Friday 8 September

9am to 1pm

Developing Healthy Communities in partnership with Ulster University