Our Museums

Secretary of State announces appointment of a new Chair and Members to the Board of National Museums NI

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The Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has announced the appointment of Gordon Milligan OBE as the new Chair of National Museums NI. In addition, seven new Board Members have been appointed:

  • Keith Charlton
  • Ryan Cornett
  • Sally Montgomery OBE
  • Peter Osborne
  • Therese Rafferty
  • Fiona Ryan
  • Mark Walker

In the absence of Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, these appointments have been made under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2022. 

All eight individuals took up their roles on 1 October 2023. They bring a range of skills and attributes to the Board, with backgrounds covering areas such as: leadership; delivering results; governance and accountability; collaborative working; commercial management; and financial management. This experience will strengthen the Board, allowing it to champion and advance the work of National Museums NI and its four museums - Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster American Folk Park and Ulster Transport Museum.


Gordon Milligan OBE

Mr Milligan had served as an Executive at Translink where his responsibilities have included transformational change and leadership across corporate teams. Having served a period as Interim Chief Executive he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive in 2015. His experience includes leadership roles within large Global and National organisations including Bombardier Aerospace, Nortel Networks and Dubia Agrifood. He has served as an Executive member on both private and public sector boards. He has Non-Executive board experience and is currently Chair of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland, Chair of the Labour Relations Agency and is a visiting professor at the Ulster University Business School. Gordon was awarded the OBE in the 2023 New Year Honours for service to Business and Human Resources Management in Northern Ireland. He has an MBA, is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development.

Keith Charlton

Mr Charlton has a wide range of experience in the private sector across the retail, manufacturing, tourism and leisure industries. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded award-winning Belfast-based tourism business Bunk Campers and the e-commerce leisure retailer Camperco. As Group Managing Director, he was responsible for leading and developing group strategy and overseeing all commercial aspects of the business. He has European board level risk management and corporate governance experience and purchasing, sales and marketing expertise from various industry roles. He does not currently hold any other public appointments

Ryan Cornett

Mr Cornett has several years’ experience managing investment portfolios for a broad range of clients including private individuals, trusts, charities and corporate entities. He is on the board of a local charity, the John Hewitt Society, which provides opportunities for individuals across Northern Ireland to explore issues of difference and identity through literature and creative writing. He does not currently hold any other public appointments. 

Sally Montgomery OBE

Dr Montgomery OBE is a trained educator and was formerly Head of Education at the Ulster Museum, Project Director and founding CEO of W5. At W5 she used her experience of exhibition management, including communication and marketing plans. As a Director of the Titanic Foundation, she was successfully involved in securing funds for heritage assets. She has held a number of Board and advisory positions and is currently a member of the Historic Monuments Council (unremunerated). 

Peter Osborne

Mr Osborne has run his own business within the private sector, and held executive and non-executive roles with organisations that have managed significant capital and revenue expenditure, and managed relationships and major change. He currently sits as an Independent Member on the Northern Ireland Policing Board, as well as its Audit & Risk Assurance Committee.

Therese Rafferty

Ms Rafferty is a graduate of Queen’s University, the University of Ulster, and an alumnus of Boston College, Massachusetts, Therese has held senior roles over a career of 35 years in higher education and local government, the most recent being Head of Regeneration in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. Her experience includes the delivery of a wide portfolio of capital development programmes and environmental initiatives, financial and corporate planning, performance and risk management, and corporate governance. Therese is a previous member of the Programming Committee for the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge and oversaw its construction and accreditation. She has held a number of previous Board positions and is currently a Board member of the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute.

Fiona Ryan

Ms Ryan is the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse. Her previous leadership roles include Chief Executive in the areas of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and public health advocacy. She was appointed by the Irish Department of Justice to the monitoring committee of successive national Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Strategies. Her early career was spent in media as a journalist and External Affairs. She has worked in Belfast, Dublin and at European level. She has a Masters in Business Administration.

Mark Walker

Mr Walker has gained extensive financial and strategic management knowledge and experience as a senior manager in banking with Danske Bank and as Group Finance Director at Randox Laboratories, an international private sector biotech organisation. His experience is underpinned by knowledge and understanding of corporate finance and strategic and financial management. He is a Board Member of NIACRO, Thrive Audience Development and is an independent member of Clanmil Housing Association Audit & Risk Committee. He does not currently hold any other public appointments. 


Terms Of Appointment

  • The Chair position attracts remuneration of £10,000 per annum with a time commitment of at least 36 days per year. 
  • Member positions are not remunerated. The time commitment is approximately one day per month. But reasonable expenses (including travel, subsistence and other reasonable expenses in line with NICS rates) are paid with a time commitment of one day per month.
  • All Board positions receive reasonable expenses (including travel, subsistence and other reasonable expenses in line with NICS rates) and are for a term of up to four years. 


These appointments have been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.

Political Activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. All eight appointees have not declared any political activity in the last five years.