27 August 2023

CEO Barbara O’Connell is Stepping Aside From Leading ABI Ireland After 23 Impactful Years

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABI Ireland) Founder and CEO Barbara O’Connell has announced that she is to step aside as our organisation’s CEO this December, after 23 years of establishing and developing the organisation. We will begin the process of recruiting a new CEO in September, and the role will be advertised publicly.

Barbara O’Connell said it was time for her to step back and pave the way for the next phase of the organisation and expressed her gratitude to all clients and families, staff, donors and colleagues across many sectors. Writing in an open letter to staff she said:


To everything there is a season – a time for time. I am at an age and stage in my life where I know it is time for me to take a step back from the daily demands of running such a wonderful yet challenging organisation like ours; an organisation that requires the time, energy and commitment it deserves.

Continuing the letter, Barbara O’Connell stated: “It has been my great privilege to have led an organisation with an exceptionally dedicated professional skilled team, crossing all roles in the organisation. We have achieved international CARF accreditation since 2003, as we developed our services year on year.

“The story began with Peter Bradley, my brother who lives in Anvers in Adelaide Road. We have gone from Peter, a one-person-service in one house to 18 residences across the country, to providing home and community rehabilitation services, transitional living, day resource centres, case management support; along with vocational and return to work programmes to over 1200 people – and still growing.

We believed in the power of rehabilitation, the right to independent living and we have proven beyond doubt, that with the right specialist support, brain injury survivors can recover, and go on to live meaningful and fulfilled lives in their own communities.

This year’s World Congress on Brain Injury ,which we hosted in Dublin, has shown the world that this organisation delivers a model of excellence in neurorehabilitation and stands among the best in the world.

I am exceedingly grateful for the support of Boards (past and present) and the support of the Executive Management Team who have helped me to lead colleagues through good times of growth and difficult times of endeavour.

ABI Ireland is now poised for another period of growth, and I have put the necessary structures in place for this to happen. The organisation will continue to be increasingly instrumental, and a dynamic service for brain injury survivors and their families throughout Ireland.

I am grateful, honoured and emotionally humbled by what we have achieved as a team, and so as the organisation prepares to navigate its next strategy and phase of growth, the time is right for me to take my leave of the organisation.

The future is an exciting prospect for us all. A new strategy in 2024 will give the Board, the new CEO and the Executive Team a tremendous opportunity to shape the next phase of the organisation. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Chief Executive these past 23 years.”

Ms. O’Connell will also be stepping down from her parallel role as CEO of Anvers Housing, a housing organisation for brain injury survivors which she also helped to found together with others.


Anvers has come from small beginnings, negotiating the complexity of funding – and used the creativity of the Board and our Architects to create something I am very proud of. We now have a fully functioning presence, a website, a philosophy, our principles and we have been recognised at the World Brain Injury Congress as the first to consider and develop the idea of a real home for people with a brain Injury.

Ms. O’Connell will remain full time in both roles until the end of the year, while the recruitment process is underway.

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