Members have been appointed by the Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) NI Code of Practice. The Chair receives an annual remuneration of £27,378 and is expected to commit approximately 40 days per annum to the post. The Deputy Chair receives £11,412 and has a commitment in the region of 20 days per annum. Board Members receive a Per Diem Rate of £402 and their time commitment is unlikely to exceed 20 days per annum.
Mr. Colin Coffey (AFBI Chairperson)
Mr. Colin Coffey lives in Bangor. He is a Chartered Director and Fellow of the Institute of Directors with extensive experience in Corporate Governance.
Mr. Coffey has held a number of senior management posts within the Northern Ireland Food Industry including Chief Executive of United Feeds and Manufacturing Director at Pritchitt Foods.
He is currently non-Executive Chairman of Flint Studios a software development company, non-Executive Director at InvestNI and is Corporate Services Director of the RDA Group a specialist Property Development company.
Mrs. Roberta Brownlee (AFBI Deputy Chairperson)
Mrs. Roberta Brownlee has had a distinguished professional career in Health & Social Care in the Private, Public & Voluntary Sectors and was recognised for this with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Roberta owns and operates a Nursing Home in Castlederg, Co Tyrone. Roberta has completed an MSc in Executive Leadership which afforded her the opportunity to study in Boston and Lusanne Business Schools.
Roberta is a member of the Courts & Tribunals Service - Care Tribunal (NI) Department of Justice.
Roberta has a strong commitment to education and is a past member of the Education Board (SELB) and a past member of the Board of Governors in Primary and Post Primary Schools. She is also a past member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (NI Member).
Roberta has three grown up children, two daughters and a son and has four grandchildren. Roberta enjoys fundraising and has spent many years raising money for a variety of charities in NI. Roberta was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2019 for services to Charity and to the Southern Health and Social Services.
Dr. Michelle Costello-Smith
Dr Costello-Smith has held numerous NCHD clinical positions in the Irish Public healthcare system (HSE) managing patient clinical care, prior to transitioning into the pharmaceutical industry in 2000. With over 25 years’ experience working in roles of increasing responsibility in: Quintiles (Clinical Research Organisation), 2004 AstraZeneca (UK), 2008 Abbott Ireland Ltd and 2013 AbbVie Limited, Dr Costello-Smith has successfully executed and managed National Research & Development (R&D), academic and clinical programmes. As National Medical Director her accomplishments include: developing and implementing a national medical department for the successful delivery of: all local national clinical research, national medical strategy, quality assurance initiatives with associated governance, procedural & audit oversight, compliance, regulatory and medical affairs activities, in addition to financial budgetary & personnel management.
In 2016, she took a career break from full-time work to raise her young children on the family farm in rural County Meath.
In 2021, she assisted in the National Covid vaccination rollout effort, by administering vaccines in community hubs.
Ms. Theresa Cullen
Ms. Cullen holds an MSc in Counselling and Therapeutic Communication from the University of Ulster, is a BACP Accredited and UK Registered Counsellor/Psychotherapist, an EMDR Practitioner, specialising in Trauma Therapy and has held a number of senior Clinical Service Management roles in a range of organisations. Theresa lives with her partner in Co. Antrim.
Mrs. Fiona Hanna
Fiona’s principle interests are in food and agriculture; with a keen eye for innovation, technology adoption and entrepreneurship across many business types, sizes and industries.
Currently Fiona’s primary role is jointly running an arable farming enterprise in County Down, managing this alongside her advisory portfolio.
Fiona is a member of the Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee of the Food Standards Agency, and a Board Member of Mourne, Gullion & Lecale Rural Development Partnership.
Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Fiona Hanna
Dr. Richard Horton
Dr Horton was Group Manager in Cable and Wireless PLC (London) and Director for the European Network for Communications and Information Perspectives (ENCIP, France) where he led policy and socio-economic research. He has also worked as a consultant in strategic business development, policy and regulation and was Senior Programme Manager at the Commission for Communications Regulation (Ireland) working in technology foresight and regulation. More recently, he worked as a consultant in technological innovation, strategic business development, policy and regulation at White Rose Consulting (NI) and is founder and Director of Carritech Research Ltd (NI).
Ms. Joan Houston
Ms Joan Houston lives in Bangor, Co Down and as a Chartered Accountant, has previously held management positions at Peat Marwick Mitchell (KPMG), Deloitte Haskins Sells and Assistant Director at Ernst and Young LLP (now EY). She was the founding partner for the NI practice of Begbies Traynor PLC, before becoming Chief Executive at Houston Hunter in 2015.
Ms. Houston joined Insolvency Licensing Committee Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (CAI) at inception and has been Chairman 2007 to 2019. Joan has served on CAI Professional Standards committees and Regulatory Policy Board for some 15 years and is it’s representative for the UK Joint Insolvency Council where she is Deputy Chair. Joan is an appointed member of NI Insolvency Rules Committee.
Ms. Houston was NI Representative 2012-2018 (having previously been NI Chairman) of the UK Association of Business Recovery Professionals Council -R3 and is now a Council member. Ms. Houston is Chair of Bryson Energy Sports and Skills, Bryson Group Board member and has served as a General Commissioner for Tax (Belfast) and as Governor, Chairman and Finance Director at Hunterhouse College.
Mrs. Sharon Smyth
Mrs. Sharon Smyth lives in Ardstraw, Co Tyrone with her husband Mervyn. A designated Certified Banker, Sharon worked as a Relationship Manager in the First Trust Bank (AIB) for over 35 years and stills retains her membership with the Institute of Bankers. Sharon had responsibility for a variety of client relationships across a number of sectors including agriculture, retail, manufacturing and construction.
Following early retirement in 2013, Sharon opened her own Business and Financial Consultancy business SME Smyth Business & Financial Consultant. Sharon works with a variety of organizations including: Lending Manager with the NI Start up Loan fund under the umbrella of Enterprise NI, Financial Business Mentor with Rural Support: Sharon is also included within a Select List of Consultants to complete Economic Appraisals for the Rural Development Program Cooperation Scheme for Causeway Coast and Glens Council: She is a Business Mentor for Gearing for Growth for Mid Ulster Council: Sharon also operates a business Clinic for Small Businesses through Cookstown Enterprise Agency.
Sharon currently volunteers as Chairperson of "Ardstraw Against Trafficking", an anti-human trafficking awareness group. Sharon has also travelled extensively with various missionary organizations, travelling as far as India, the Andaman Islands, Zimbabwe and Romania; working with those who are severely disadvantaged and in need.
Mr. Richard Solomon
Ms. Kate Burns
Kate Burns lives in Belfast and has previously held posts within Coleraine Borough Council, including Leader Programme Manager and Economic Development Manager.
Ms Burns has also held the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Irish Central Border Area Network, implementing Interreg IIIA in 10 local authority areas and from 2009 to 2012 Ms Burns was the Director of Initiatives Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Since January 2007, Ms Burns has been Principal at Burns Consulting (rural and marine consultancy) and from May 2014 has also been self-employed as Managing Director of Islander Kelp Ltd, a kelp growing and processing business.
In addition, Ms Burns currently holds the position of Board Member of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority, is governor and sub-committee member with Belfast Metropolitan College and Chair the Belfast Met Trust.
AFBI BOARD MEMBERS TERMS OF OFFICE