New event series aims to promote better leadership across the media, politics, business and public sector


– First event in the Better Leadership Forum will focus on media leadership –

European Ombudsman and former journalist Emily O’Reilly and author and broadcaster Emma Dabiri will share their views on leadership in the media during a free online event on Thursday, 15th April at 1pm.

The event, ‘Leadership in the Media: A Two-Way Street?’ is the first of four events taking place as part of The Better Leadership Forum, a new initiative from LIFT Ireland aimed at instigating a high-profile public debate on leadership. The four events will take place across 2021, and each will focus on leadership in a particular sector of Irish society, including the media, politics, business and the public sector.

April’s event will explore leadership in the media, addressing topics such as:  the role of the media in calling out good and bad leadership; the importance of press freedom and an independent and well-functioning media sector; and the role of the media in promoting positivity during difficult times.

The Line-Up

The panel discussion will be moderated by Professor Kevin Rafter, Head of the School of Communications at DCU, while speakers include:

  • Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman, author and former journalist and broadcaster.
  • Emma Dabiri, author, broadcaster and social historian.
  • Ian Kehoe, Editor of The Currency and Deputy Chair of the RTÉ Board.
  • Sinéad O’Carroll, Editor of
  • Joanne Hession, founder and CEO of LIFT Ireland.

Professor Niamh Brennan, the Michael MacCormac Professor of Management at University College Dublin and Founder / Academic Director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance, will serve as rapporteur for all four events in The Better Leadership Forum; and a final report on lessons from the events will be published later this year. 

Background to the Better Leadership Forum

LIFT Ireland is an initiative founded by entrepreneurship and leadership expert Joanne Hession and designer, broadcaster and entrepreneur Sonya Lennon to raise the level of leadership nationwide. Current LIFT partners include ESB, Munster Rugby, Bank of Ireland, NUI Galway CPL, GOAL, Merchants Quay Ireland, SOLAS, Dublin Airport, and over 100 secondary schools across Ireland.

Launching the Better Leadership Forum today (31.03.21), Joanne Hession, CEO and founder of LIFT Ireland, said: “Since LIFT was established in 2018, we have focused on building partnerships with organisations across Irish society, working at a grassroots level to promote better leadership in businesses, schools, charities and community groups. Now, we are building on our work to date with the launch of The Better Leadership Forum, an ambitious series of events that aims to spark public debate around the issue of leadership.

“What does it mean – particularly in challenging times – to be a good leader? How do we cultivate ethical leadership across all facets of society? Do the media have a responsibility to call out poor leadership; and can they actually do that in practice? These are the sorts of questions we’ll be exploring during The Better Leadership Forum.”

Sonya Lennon, co-founder of LIFT, said: “Challenging times often bring out both the best and worst of leadership. At every level – from community initiatives to international governments – we have seen examples of good leadership over the past year alongside incidences of poor judgement and decision-making. We have a great opportunity now to reflect on what good leadership really means and explore a cultivation of ethical leadership across Irish society, for everyone’s benefit.”

The Better Leadership Forum

The full programme for the Better Leadership Forum includes:

  • ‘Leadership in the Media: A Two-Way Street?’, taking place on Thursday, 15th April
  • ‘How do we cultivate good political leaders?’, Thursday, 10th June
  • ‘What does business leadership really mean?’, Thursday, 7th October
  • ‘Leadership in the public sector’, Thursday, 9th December

Registration for the first event of the Better Leadership Forum, ‘Leadership in the Media: A Two-Way Street?’ is now open at:


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