Rotha Johnston - Chairperson

Rotha Johnston took up her post as Chairwoman in June 2013. A Queen’s University graduate, Ms Johnston has had a career in the textiles, economic development and the food sectors. She currently has various investment interests primarily in the property sector.

In addition, Rotha holds a number of non-executive positions including Director of Northern Ireland Electricity, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and independent Board Member of the Department of Justice. Rotha is also a Pro Chancellor at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Previously she was a shareholder and director of Variety Foods Ltd, a food service company supplying the Irish market; Head of Marketing in Moygashel Textiles, part of Lamont Holdings and Business Development Director, LEDU.

Ms Johnston was also a BBC Trustee, member of the Northern Ireland Economic Council, Deputy Chair of Invest Northern Ireland and a member of the Northern Ireland Council of the Prince’s Trust.

In 2006 she was awarded the CBE in recognition of her contribution to industry in Northern Ireland. 


Elaine Sperber – Vice Chair (appointed from 1 July 2015 - 31 December 2018)

Elaine Sperber was Head of Family and Children’s Drama for Zodiak Media from March 2006 - 2013. Since then she has been Executive Producer on a number of her own productions for CBBC through Foundation and Zodiak Kids Studios. Most recently, she has created and Executive Produced two series of family comedy Millie Inbetween, five series of the hit children’s comedy Dani’s House, and three series of Dani’s Castle. Prior to taking up this post, she was Head of Drama at CBBC for over six years, where she executive produced more than 54 drama and comedy series – winning numerous BAFTA, RTS and Broadcast Awards for outstanding children’s and family drama. Her particular successes included Microsoap, Custer’s Last Standup, Feather Boy, Fungus The Bogeyman and Tracy Beaker’s Movie of Me. Her production of Stig of the Dump also won the International Emmy

 Previously Elaine was Vice President of Production at HBO Pictures in the US, producing the HBO movies Perfect Witness and Framed. She also produced the Walt Disney feature film A Far off Place with Reese Witherspoon, based on the novels of Sir Laurence Van der Post.

Greg Maguire (appointed from 1 July 2015 - 31 December 2018)

Greg Maguire is Professor of Animation at the Ulster University Belfast School of Art. He is actively involved in promoting a sustainable all-Ireland animation industry through his work with Creative Skillset, Northern Ireland Screen, Invest NI, Irish Film and Television Academy and the Visual Effects Society (USA). In 2010, he formed Northern Ireland’s largest animation cluster, Toody Threedy for students, researchers and industry which has enabled students to develop their practice with both local and US-based companies. In partnership with Northern Ireland Screen and Creative Skillset, Professor Maguire has developed a series of flexible learning programmes for industry which run concurrently with university taught content, ensuring content delivered is current and fit for purpose. 

 Greg served as R&D Supervisor, Character Supervisor and Creature Supervisor at two Lucasfilm Divisions. At Lucasfilm Animation since its formation in 2003 as a global digital animation studio and at Industrial Light & Magic on the Academy Award nominated, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Terminator Salvation and Avatar. Prior to his role at Lucasfilm, Greg was Technical Animation Supervisor on Walt Disney Feature Animation’s first computer animated feature, Dinosaur. At Disney, he was responsible for creating and maintaining Dinosaur’s eighty diverse creatures.

Michael Catto (Re-appointed from 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2018)

Mr Catto is a Visiting Professor at University of Ulster Belfast where he teaches Narrative Theory part time to the Master of Fine Arts Computer Animation students and has taught film related studies at secondary and tertiary level since 1968. He has written or edited scripts for several TV documentaries for BBC and RTE and presented film programmes for BBC and UTV. He has broadcasted and written on Film and Media topics on a weekly basis since 1976. Mr Catto has served on numerous boards including the Arts Council NI and the Arts Council of Ireland. Mr Catto has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

Adeline Dinsmore (Appointed from 9 Feb 2012 – 31 Dec 2016)

Mrs Dinsmore is a former teacher (36 years) and Principal who has used film to engage students while teaching literature. She has introduced and developed a number of creative initiatives to harness the use of digital technologies in teaching to offer a wider curriculum to her pupils and staff. Mrs Dinsmore served as a member of the Broadcasting Council of BBC NI for five years and as President of the Northern Ireland Schools and Colleges Careers Association. Mrs Dinsmore has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

Jennifer Johnston (Re-appointed from 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2018)

Jennifer Johnston has worked in the Film and Digital Arts Education Sector for over 10 years. This has included running a Multimedia and Moving Image company which delivered training to a range of schools and colleges. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, and is currently responsible for leading the specialism in Creativity and Digital Arts at Hazelwood Integrated College, Northern Ireland's only specialist school in Digital Arts. Jennifer runs an online forum for Moving Image Arts teachers across the UK, and is Principal Moderator for CCEA's Moving Image Arts AS Level. She has made three short films, one of which was screened last year at the Belfast Film Festival. Ms Johnston has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

Michael Kuhn (Appointed from 9 Feb 2012 – 31 Dec 2016)

Mr Kuhn built up the film studio - Polygram Filmed Entertainment which has produced/distributed over one hundred films including major productions such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Fargo, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. He has been awarded the Michael Balcon BAFTA for outstanding contribution to the UK Film Industry. Mr Kuhn has served as Chair of the National Film and Television School from 2003 – 2010. He was a member of the board of governors of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and helped set up the Sundance Film Channel. He was a member of the EU Committee which reported on the media industry’s digital future in 1998. Mr Kuhn has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

Fiona MacMillan (Re-appointed from 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2018)

Ms. MacMillan is a communications and public affairs consultant. She was Public Affairs Officer at the Arts Council (2008-2011) and press officer for Cinemagic (1993-1995) and the Northern Ireland Film Council (1993-1995). She was commissioned by Sesame Workshop to project manage Sesame Tree from 2009-2011. She was Media and Communications Manager for NI’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s, for 11 years. Ms. MacMillan has been non-Executive Director of Stratagem NI since 1998. She holds an M.A. (Hons) in Modern History and Politics from the University of Edinburgh and a post-graduate diploma in Journalism Studies from the University of Ulster. Ms MacMillan volunteered with the “Yes 2 AV” campaign in the May 2011 referendum.

Aódán Mac Póilin (Re-appointed from 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2018)

Mr Mac Póilin has been involved in television for more than 20 years. As Director of the Ultach Trust, he has written extensively on the promotion of the Irish Language and Irish Language Broadcasting issues. He played a key role in lobbying for funding for Irish language film and television which ultimately led to the establishment of the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund. Mr Mac Póilin was a member of the committee of the first Irish-medium school in the North. Mr Mac Póilin has been a member of the BBC Educational Broadcasting Council NI, the Broadcasting Council NI, and the NI Audience Council. Mr Mac Póilin has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

Tim McKane (Re-appointed from 9 Feb 2012 – 31 Dec 2016)

Tim McKane runs Navajo Talk, one of Northern Ireland's leading digital marketing agencies. He has been involved in marketing and advertising for over thirty years, and has chaired the Publicity Association of Northern Ireland and the NI Branch of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. He currently sits on the Board of the Nomadic Trading Company. Mr McKane has been a Board Member of Northern Ireland Screen since 1 January 2008.

Laurence McKeown (Appointed from 9 Feb 2012 – 31 Dec 2016)

Dr McKeown founded the West Belfast Film Festival in 1995 which later became the Belfast Film Festival in 2001. He currently serves on the Board of the Festival. He has co-written a feature film, H3, and has written and directed several short films including Private Day of Reflection, When the Summit is Shrouded in Mist, We Won’t Be Kept Down Easy and The Visit. He also produced the short film I gCillín an Bhaís. Dr McKeown was Project Coordinator with Coiste na nLarchimi from 1998 – 2007. He is a regular commentator in the media, speaking on a range of cultural, current and political affairs. Dr McKeown has canvassed on behalf of Sinn Féin.

Ian Parsley (Re- appointed from 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2018)

Mr Parsley was a member of the Organising Committee and subsequently Marketing Manager for the Celtic Film and Television Festival when it was hosted in Belfast in 2003. He was also a Policy Adviser at the NI Assembly from 2005 – 2009. Mr Parsley has worked on projects with MacMillan Media and Vision Works. Mr Parsley has served as a councillor on North Down Borough Council on a range of committees. Mr Parsley has applied for the position of Chair of the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund. He is a former Hon Treasurer of the Ulster-Scots Language Society and has worked as a consultant with the Ulster-Scots Heritage Council and the Ulster-Scots Agency, and is author of a forthcoming Ulster-Scots grammar. Mr Parsley has undertaken political activity for both the Conservative Party and the Alliance Party between 2007 and 2011.

James Penny (Re-appointed from 9 Feb 2012 – 31 Dec 2016)

James is a media lawyer and Commercial Director of Mammoth Screen Limited with over 10 years’ experience advising film and television production companies, broadcasters and talent. He was previously a partner at law firm Arthur Cox and, before that, Head of Business Affairs at ITV Productions. Mr Penny has been a Board Member of Northern Ireland Screen since 1 January 2008. As Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, he has played a key role in ensuring Northern Ireland Screen’s compliance with governance and accountability requirements. Mr Penny has not been involved in any political activity in the last five years.

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