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Sally O’Neill Future Leaders Programme

Women’s Empowerment and Human Rights

The Sally O’Neill Future Leaders Programme is named in honour of our former colleague Sally O’Neill, and is an exciting opportunity for recent master’s graduates with an interest in the Development and Humanitarian context to gain experience in an internationally recognised organisation with a proven track record in making impactful change for the people we work with in the developing world.

This is a 30-month programme that offers graduates the opportunity to start their career in one of Ireland’s largest INGOs with one of three placements:

The programme is now closed but featured three placements.

  • Sierra Leone (30 months);
  • Ethiopia (12 months) & Uganda (18 months); and
  • Head Office in Maynooth (30 months).
  • Induction will be held in Maynooth.

Sally O’Neill was described by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, as “the greatest gift that Ireland gave to the Latin world in contemporary times”. She was  courageous and inspirational and blazed a trail as a female leader in the field of development and humanitarianism over four decades.

The successful candidates will gain a deep understanding of delivering programming through a Partner Centric Approach with local communities to meet their needs, which is at the heart of what Trócaire does in delivering our strategic plan. 

Our Programme Focus is grouped into three areas:

  • Resource Rights: ensuring that those in need have access to, control over and the ability to effectively protect and use critical resources, in particular land and water.
  • Women’s Empowerment: ensuring that women have a voice in decisions that affect their lives, within their homes, communities, and beyond, and that they are free from violence.
  • Humanitarian Preparedness and Response: ensuring communities are prepared for, can respond effectively to and withstand crises.

In addition, Trócaire will provide access to opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to deliver the programmes through an understanding and experience of:

  • Programme Development and Management
  • Programme Quality & Learning
  • Financial and Administration Management
  • Partner Relationships and Support
  • Risk management & Security
  • Policy, Advocacy and Communications
  • Institutional Funding
  • Head Office Support

All framed within a supportive environment, with real learning opportunities and a commitment to supporting personal development.

The programme is dedicated to Sally because of the support she offered to many people, especially young women, to enable them to grow into effective leaders in Trócaire and in our partner organisations. Sally lived Trócaire’s social justice approach with every breath, demonstrating in practice what it means to have a vision for change that is based on the fulfilment of human rights. Sally worked in Trócaire from 1978 until 2015. Sally died in a tragic accident on 7th April 2019, while still working for human rights in Central America. Read more on Sally here.

Trócaire envisages a just & peaceful world where people’s dignity is ensured & rights are respected; where basic needs are met & resources are shared equitably; where people have control over their own lives & those in power act for the common good.

Guide to Sally O’Neill: Future Leaders Programme.

1. Who was Sally O'Neill?

Sally O’Neill worked for Trócaire from 1978 until 2015. Sally was a courageous and inspirational leader who blazed a trail as a female leader in the field of development and humanitarianism over four decades. Sally supported many people, especially young women, to grow into effective leaders in Trócaire and in our partner organisations. Sally lived Trócaire’s social justice approach with every breath, demonstrating in practice what it means to have a vision for change that is based on the fulfilment of human rights. Sally analysed the social, economic and political drivers of poverty and injustice, as well as its effects, and supported individuals, communities and organisations to promote and protect the rights of the vulnerable. Sally was an advocate who was dedicated to achieving long term structural change while also being able to provide practical solutions to immediate problems.

Sally lived half her working life in Trócaire in Ireland (until 1994) and the rest of her life in Honduras, where she was the Regional Director for Latin America. During her time in Trócaire, Sally nurtured talented, committed young people. Sally gave people responsibility and scope to try things out, to make mistakes, to learn and to succeed. She provided mentoring and coaching to young people, and made sure they were challenged to grow as people, professionals and leaders. Sally had a particular passion for women’s empowerment and human rights, which she passed on to those whom she worked with.

Sally died in a tragic accident on 7th April 2019, while still working for human rights in Central America. Trócaire is establishing a new Graduate and Junior Professional programme in her memory which aims to give young people who have a passion for social justice, women’s empowerment and human rights an opportunity to go through a 3 year process of developing technical, management and leadership skills within Trócaire.  This will equip these people to work within Trócaire and the wider development, humanitarian and human rights sector, contributing to the radical change that is needed to achieve a just world. 

2. Who is the programme designed for?

The programme is designed for those who are interested in establishing a career within the development sector but that have not had the opportunity to gain direct experience. There will be six places on the programme. Three candidates will be recruited from Ireland. Typically one will be assigned to a team in Maynooth, Trócaire’s HQ, with two in an overseas office such as Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Uganda etc. Three candidates will be recruited in each of the countries we work in in Central America: Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The three participants recruited from Ireland will have at least a master’s honours degree in an area relevant to the development or humanitarian sector, and obtained within the last three years. The three participants recruited in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua will have an appropriate level of education and experience.

3. How long is the programme?

As the purpose of the Sally O’Neill- Leadership Development Programme is to support those new into the development and humanitarian sector, the programme runs for thirty month.

The first 12 months is at a graduate level where professional support, training and mentoring is provided. On completion, successful participants will have the opportunity for an 18 months placement at Junior Professional level, in addition to a supportive environment there is increased exposure across the organisation.  

4. What skills and experiences should I have in order to apply?

You must be driven by the mission and values of our work, to do the best you can in Trócaire and share Trócaire’s passion to tackle the root causes of injustice.

Each of Trócaire’s placements will have a different focus and will be amended to reflect the skills that the successful candidates bring to the role. Simply apply by uploading a CV, and in no more than 700 words outline your personal reflections on why you wish to be part of the programme and why you merit a position.   

5. Can I apply for more that one placement?

Candidates applying for positions contracted from Ireland can list up to two placements in order of preference. The positions in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua are reserved for nationals of those countries and so only one application can be made per country for those positions. However, candidates from Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua can also apply for the positions contracted from Ireland. Please note to apply for three or more placements will lead to automatic deselection from the process.

6. How do I apply?

To apply simply complete the required details online, including outlining why you believe you are suitable for the placement and your CV (not to exceed two pages). It is important to read the application and complete in full prior to submitting. Please note excessively long cover letters and/or CVs will lead to deselection from the process. Provisions will be made locally to ensure that internet access is not a barrier to people wishing to apply for the positions in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

7. Are placements being paid?

Yes! Trócaire offers paid placements. Additionally overseas placements included related supports. Full details will be discussed with successful applicants.

8. Where are the placements based?

The Ireland recruited positions will typically have one located in Maynooth, with two in an overseas office.

There are also placements in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua (one per country) for nationals of those countries.

9. What support will I be given?

Trócaire recognises that you may not have previously worked within a development or humanitarian organisation or community based organisation. If successful you will supported throughout the programme including undergoing an orientation programme and have a dedicated line manager to coach and support you.

The line manager/coach will work with you on your professional development during the placement, through a mix of on the job training, field visit, liaising with other units within Trócaire and other exposure opportunities to our work as appropriate.

10. What can you expect to get out of the placement?

The best leadership programmes ensure the experience offered is real and adds value for both you and Trócaire. Each placement is linked to the strategic deliverable for the team in which they are assigned. You will have hands on and direct input in assisting the unit to meet this deliverable. The ultimate aim is to equip you with the skills and experience to become a future leader within Trócaire.

11. What does Trócaire expect from me if I am successful?

Trócaire expects you to show the utmost professionalism and cultural sensitivity throughout the duration of the placement. You are encouraged to ask questions and to look for assistance when required. You are expected to make the most of the opportunities that are presented for learning and to contribute actively to the work of the organisation and its partners. Trócaire will provide an open and friendly environment to assist with the information and learning required. You will be expected to comply with all Trócaire policies, including our Code of Conduct and Safeguarding policies.

12. I've not worked overseas in / development before, does this matter?

It is not important to have worked overseas or in the field of development and human rights activism to be considered for a placement, however, it is likely to be an advantage. Successful participants recruited from Ireland who are to be based overseas will receive induction, security training and any relevant support prior to leaving Ireland. You will require fluency in English, second language in French and/or Spanish may be an advantage. On arrival in the country, further support and advice will be provided at Trócaire’s field office.

13. What are the timelines involved?

There are no plans at the moment to launch a further programme.

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