Membership of the AFBI Board

Part of: AFBI Board

Board Members

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

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.

Register of Interests/Gifts & Hospitality- Mr Colin Coffey

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.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Roberta Brownlee

Dr. Michelle Costello-Smith

Dr Michelle Costello-Smith
Dr Michelle Costello-Smith
Dr Michelle Costello-Smith is a qualified medical physician from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), with a Diploma in Corporate Governance living in Oldcastle, Co Meath.

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.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Michelle Costello-Smith

Ms. Theresa Cullen

Ms Theresa Cullen
Ms Theresa Cullen
Ms. Theresa Cullen gained an Honours degree at the University of Leeds. She has held a variety of scientific roles in the fields of Chemistry, Research & Development and Technical Sales Consultancy in the Food and allied industries. She has significant experience in Organisational Strategy and Management Consultancy - working for many years in the Statutory, Voluntary and Community Sectors as well as working as a Practitioner in the field of Conflict Resolution and Community Relations. 

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.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Theresa Cullen

Mrs. Fiona Hanna

Mrs Fiona Hanna
Mrs Fiona Hanna
With a background in finance and accountancy, Fiona Hanna is a qualified Chartered Accountant. She is an experienced independent advisor and non-executive director, and has held varied roles across many sectors during her career. 

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.

Fiona is also a member of the Board of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Fiona Hanna

Dr. Richard Horton

Dr Richard Horton
Dr Richard Horton
Dr. Richard Horton is a Chartered Engineer and lives in Belfast.  He has held research and business centre management roles at Mars Limited UK and the Harwell Laboratory UK.  From 1985 to 1989 he was First Secretary (Technology), serving as the diplomatic representative of the UK’s civilian technology interests at the British Embassy in Washington DC, before working for the Hong Kong Government as Technical Advisor (Telecommunications), advising on  telecommunications policy and regulation. 

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).

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Richard Horton

Ms. Joan Houston

Ms Joan Houston
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. 

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Joan Houston

Mrs. Sharon Smyth

Mrs Sharon Smyth
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.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Sharon Smyth

Mr. Richard Solomon

Mr Richard Solomon
Mr Richard Solomon
Mr Richard Solomon lives in Belfast and has been a Barrister for over 10 years specialising in Commercial, Corporate, Civil, Land, Litigation, Chancery, Banking and Intellectual Property Law. He is qualified to practice  in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.  Richard is also a certified Mediator. From 1990 to 2005, he was Director of Laser Electrical, the Caroline Group and Solomon & Peres Limited. Since 2013 Mr Solomon has been a Director of the Victims and Survivors Service and sits as a Civil Legal Aid Panel Member for the Legal Services Agency.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - 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.

Gifts & hospitality register & Register of interests - Kate Burns


AFBI Board Members Terms of Office