Rotha Johnston – Chairperson
Rotha took up her post as Chairwoman in June 2013. A Queen’s University graduate, Rotha has had a career in the textile, economic development and 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, member of KPMG NI Advisory Board and is a Belfast Harbour Commissioner. Rotha is also a director at Qubis and Ulster Garden Villages.
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.
Rotha was also a BBC trustee, Pro Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast and Deputy Chair of Invest Northern Ireland.
In 2006 she was awarded the CBE in recognition of her contribution to industry in Northern Ireland and in 2016 was made a Dame.
Elaine Sperber – Vice Chair
Elaine 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 four 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 has been instrumental in the launch and development of numerous heavy-hitters of animation including Walt Disney Feature Animation, Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm Animation, and Humain. He is Professor of Animation at Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art. He is actively involved in promoting a sustainable animation industry through his work with Northern Ireland Screen, Invest NI, the Irish Film and Television Academy and the Visual Effects Society (USA). In 2010, he formed Northern Ireland’s vibrant animation cluster, Toody Threedy, which has enabled students’ researchers and industry to develop their practice with both local and US-based companies. He is co-founder and CEO of Humain, a world-leading 3D character technology company based in Belfast which is backed by Crescent Capital.
His credits include Academy Award-nominated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Academy Award-winning Happy Feet, and Avatar, Spiderman, Terminator and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Adeline 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. Adeline 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.
Michael 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. Michael 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.
Mark Huffam CBE
Mark started his career in film and television on a Northern Ireland produced film, The End of the World Man, released in 1986, working his way through the Locations and Production departments. He became an Associate Producer and Production Manager on the Steven Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan, released in 1998. In 2011, he was a Producer on the first season of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones that brought much ongoing business to Northern Ireland. In 2015, he was a Producer on the science fiction film The Martian starring Matt Damon, which Ridley Scott directed. He received an Academy Award nomination for the film and won a Golden Globe.
Bringing new opportunities and support to communities, businesses and individuals is something he prides himself on and gives much of his time and expertise to support new entrants to the industry.
He was awarded a CBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to the film and television industries.
Mark continues to produce and support a range of projects across the UK and internationally.
Patrick is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). He is a member of the Institute’s Council and chairs the Thought Leadership and Business Ethics Committee of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
Patrick works for the Department of Justice as head of Financial Performance. Previous public sector roles have included Head of Governance and Head of Financial Management. Prior to this he worked with Deloitte’s Financial and Performance Management Team in Belfast and in locations across Europe.
Patrick has previously served on the boards, and chaired audit committees, of arts and museum organisations. He is currently the treasurer of a large NI mental health charity.
Fionnuala is a founding director of Dog Ears, a children’s media company set up in 2010, based in Derry. Prior to Dog Ears, Fionnuala ran an independent publishing company for twelve years. She has managed large-scale projects and budgets working with a mixture of public and private sources.
Fionnuala was an executive producer on Series 1 and Series 2 of the multi-award winning animated pre-school TV series Puffin Rock. Puffin Rock has been acquired internationally by leading broadcasters including Netflix and is available in over 25 languages. Fionnuala is an executive producer on the Puffin Rock Film and an executive producer on Dog Ears’ new 2D animated pre-school show, Saturday Club.
Fionnuala is a director of several creative companies and is passionate about helping to develop a vibrant creative industries sector here.
Michael is an award winning producer and director who has produced a range of current affairs and factual programmes for broadcasters across the UK and Ireland. He is Managing Director of Below The Radar, a Belfast based TV production company. He joined Below The Radar in 2006 having spent five years working in news and current affairs at UTV.
A graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, Sheila has over 30 years’ experience in human resources and organisation development, working for companies such as Deloitte, Nationwide and Liberty Mutual. In 1997, Sheila jointly led the start-up of Liberty Information Technology, one of the early direct investment IT companies in Northern Ireland. As Director of HR, she was responsible for a broad range of business areas including talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, and governance and compliance. Sheila has interviewed and hired thousands of graduates from a range of disciplines for a number of organisations. In 2012 she stepped down from her role with Liberty Mutual and has worked on a range of digital skills projects aimed at developing the digital and technical sectors locally. From 2009 to 2017. Sheila served as a lay member of Senate at Queen’s University Belfast. Sheila was a former member of The BBC Children in Need Appeals Committee.
She is currently a Council member of the General Teaching Council and a member of the board of governors of Rathmore Grammar School.
Richard is currently Director of Education and Language in the Ulster-Scots Agency. He is responsible for a range of work including school-based programmes and activities designed to promote Ulster-Scots culture and heritage at home and abroad.
He joined the Ulster-Scots Agency in 2017 having retired from The Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment where he held the position of Director of Education Strategy.
In his role in CCEA he was responsible for developing policy advice related to curriculum, assessment and reporting and for providing support and guidance to schools. He was also responsible for implementing statutory assessment and reporting arrangements in Northern Ireland schools.
Richard held a number of management positions in CCEA which included responsibility for leading the development and support for qualifications, on-screen marking of examinations and the development of adaptive computer-based assessments in literacy and numeracy.
Before joining CCEA, Richard was a post-primary teacher for 18 years.
He has held a number of non-executive positions and has been a member of the Governing Body of Stranmillis University College since 2014.
Róise Ní Bhaoill
Róise works for the Irish-language charity, the ULTACH Trust. She has served on a range of committees and boards including Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta (The Trust for Irish-medium Education, of which she was Chair), Colmcille (promoting Irish and Scottish Gaelic links), The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, the Raidió na Gaeltachta Commission and various panels and subcommittees of the Community Relations Council, the Human Rights Commission and the Arts Council. She is currently Acting-Chair of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.
She is the author of Ulster Gaelic Voices: Bailiúchán Doegen 1931, a collection of recordings of some of the last native speakers of Irish in Ulster. She also authored Taisce Focal, Scéalta beaga do dhaoine móra for adult learners of Irish and Ceol Leat! for the Irish-medium preschool sector. She has edited the MERCATOR Dossier on the Irish language in education in Northern Ireland and was joint-editor of Gaelic-medium education provision: Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man and the bilingual short story collection Bás in Éirinn | May You Die in Ireland. Latterly, she edited Our Tangled Speech, a collection of essays on language and politics, by her late colleague Aodán Mac Póilin.
Susan is Director of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, a cultural regeneration agency working in and around Belfast’s historic city centre Cathedral Quarter. Amongst the projects the trust delivers is Belfast’s yearly Culture Night event, the city’s largest free arts event with annual audiences of over 90,000.
Between 2008 and 2017 Susan was head of the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT). Part of Queen’s University, the two-screen QFT is Northern Ireland’s only dedicated cultural cinema delivering a world-class, year-round programme of feature films, documentary, archive and specialised films and event. During Susan’s time at the QFT, she managed all aspects of programming and operations, building audiences of around 100,000 each year and overseeing the cinema’s full conversion to digital technology.
In 2012, Susan oversaw the introduction and set-up of Film Hub NI, part of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Film Audience Network, a major UK wide audience development project based around a series of regional and national film hubs. Film Hub NI delivers a range of audience development and screening based support across NI and has had a significant positive impact upon film culture in the region.
Prior to this, Susan had many years’ experience working in cultural cinema in London. Roles included running events at London’s National Film Theatre (now BFI Southbank) and running the film programme at the Hospital Club, the members’ club for the creative industries.
Susan canvassed on behalf of the Alliance Party in the 2017 General Election.
Brenda is a BAFTA award-winning game designer, artist and Fulbright award recipient who entered the video game industry in 1981. As a designer, she has worked on 47 games and contributed to many seminal titles, including the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance series and titles in the Ghost Recon, Dungeons & Dragons and Def Jam franchises. Away from the machine, her analog series of six games, The Mechanic is the Message, has drawn national and international acclaim, particularly Train and Siochán Leat, a game about her family’s history, which is presently housed in the National Museum of Play.
Most recently, in 2018, she received a lifetime achievement award (the Bizkaia award) at the Fun and Serious Games Festival in Bilbao, Spain, and the inaugural Grace Hopper Award presented by Science Foundation Ireland at the Women in Tech conference in Dublin, Ireland. In 2017, she received the 2017 Development Legend award at Develop: Brighton. That same year, she won a BAFTA Special Award for her contributions to the industry. In 2015, she won the coveted Ambassador’s Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards. In 2014, she received a Fulbright award to study Ireland’s game industry, academic and government policies. Brenda co-owns Romero Games, based in Galway. She is presently game director for Empire of Sin, a strategy game published by Paradox Interactive.