Niall Dolan – Chief Executive Officer

Niall grew up in Edinburgh and graduated from The University of Newcastle in 2010 with a degree in Geography. He went on to complete an MSc in Aquaculture at The University of Stirling in 2012. Thereafter Niall worked in the third, environmental, and educational sectors in America, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. He became CEO of The Iris Initiative in 2014. Niall’s role is focused on leading The Iris Initiative, fundraising and strategic planning.

Much of my life so far has been animated by the following questions: ‘How do we best encourage human flourishing?’, ‘How can I affect greatest positive change?’, ‘How do we build a world that exceeds our expectations, together?’. I feel honoured to be in a position to explore these questions as part of the team at The Iris Initiative/  John Byrne Award. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing our ideas materialising into tangible benefits for the people we work with, and I look forward to continuing to building our charity.”

Jade Stein – Manager

Jade graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2015 with a degree in English Literature and Theatre Studies. She has worked as a radio presenter, theatre facilitator, theatre director, project manager, writer and marketeer. Jade became Manager of The John Byrne Award in 2019. Jade is focused on making The John Byrne Award as good as it can be.

“I believe the arts have the power to evoke meaningful change. When we openly share our beliefs and opinions with one another in a constructive way, our diversity can propel us to a better place. I love being part of an organisation that actively seeks to encourage this approach and mindset, and which creates a space for these discussions to take place.”

Rachel Cairns – Digital Marketing and Content Executive

Rachel graduated in 2018 with an MA in English and Politics with French from the University of Dundee. During her time at university, Rachel was the President of Dundee University Debating Society and Section Editor of The Magdalen magazine. After graduating, Rachel spent several months as Assistant Editor of a specialist financial magazine, before joining The John Byrne Award to work on content creation and digital marketing.

“I really believe that the solution to many of society’s most confusing and thorny preoccupations, is for us to question, respect and understand the opinions and positions of others. This not only creates a more compassionate and forgiving society, but I suspect that it’s the only way for us to stay sane as individuals! This is what The John Byrne Award tries to promote with everything that it does, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”



Born in Edinburgh in 1961 but raised in Glasgow, David Eustace served with the Royal Naval Reserve 10 MCM (Mine Counter Measure) Squadron before becoming a prison officer in HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow where he worked for seven years. Aged 30, David graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a BA in Photography, Film and Television and went on to become a respected photographer, director, and curator. David has worked for magazines including Vogue, GQ, The Sunday Times, and Elle. His work is in the collections of The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery in London and has been exhibited in London Cork Street Gallery, the RSA in Edinburgh, The Scottish Gallery, SWG3, and The Royal Glasgow Institute for The Fine Arts. David was appointed Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in 2015. He currently sits on The Scottish Government’s Creative Industries Advisory Group, is the creative adviser for a leading luxury whisky brand, and serves as a creative consultant and judge for certain National Museums of Scotland projects. David chairs The John Byrne Award monthly judging panel.

Liliya Nikolova – John Byrne Award Student Ambassador, Edinburgh Napier University

Liliya is in her final year of media, digital communication and journalism studies. She has an interest and experience in illustration and graphic design. Her passion lies in content creation and communication. She has joined The John Byrne Award team as an Award Ambassador and hopes to inform and inspire as many individuals as possible.

The way we approach people and the way we approach art should be the same: with understanding, lack of prejudice, and above all, curiosity. I am excited to be a part of an organisation whose mission is to do precisely that. The John Byrne Award facilitates art to communicate and illustrate larger human emotions and concepts, creating discussions that have the potential to make a real change in the world.”


The John Byrne Award is a project of The Iris Initiative. The Iris Initiative is a Scottish charity overseen by a board of trustees. The trustees of The Iris Initiative are:


Andrew is the founder of The Iris Initiative and architect of The John Byrne Award. He was educated at Currie Hugh School and Strathclyde University, where he studied Naval Architecture. He entered the Oil and Gas industry working for operating oil companies for whom he focussed upon well construction. In 1996 he founded Peak Well Management, which duly became The Peak Group, with offices in Aberdeen, London, Dubai, Houston and Perth. The company was sold in 2006 and Andrew retired from executive work. He has since held non-executive positions at Fairfield Energy (retired 2011) and Peak Well Systems. Andrew has a passionate belief in the benefits of understanding one’s own personal and communal values. He does not however wish to promote any particular values through The Iris Initiative. Rather, he sees merit in The Iris Initiative because it is a resolutely non-partisan facilitator of values debate and consideration.


Emma is an actress, director and writer. Her theatre company, Acting Up, engages industrial clients in a 7 step health and safety behavioural change process which begins with unexpected live theatre, progresses to story-generation within the workforce and ends with the production of a short film. Emma’s unusual stories reveal the hidden consequences of complacency and encourage culture change from a place of enlightenment and shared values.


James graduated from Aston University in 1980 with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and Drama. An initial career as a drilling engineer in the oil Industry followed until he was made redundant in the energy recession of 1986. A brief spell as an actor came to an end when the opportunity came to create his first company Keltec. This was followed in 1992 by GMIS/ADTI and in 2005 by the Senergy Group; one of the industry’s leading technical management consultancies. A two-time winner of Ernst & Young’s prestigious entrepreneur of the year award and an internationally recognised businessman in the energy sector, James prefers to see himself as an engineer by profession but an equally passionate supporter of the arts and important social causes. Following the successful sale of the Senergy Group to Lloyds Register in 2013 James has continued to pursue all his passions including initiating two major architectural projects, starting two new energy companies and raising funds for charities including Maggie’s and The Iris initiative.


Gordon Angus

Gordon is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.  He went to Aberdeen Grammar School and progressed to the University of Aberdeen where he studied Economics with Accountancy.  After qualifying as a CA Gordon was fortunate to work with fellow Trustee Andrew Paterson in developing and building two successful oil service companies.  Gordon has also acted in an advisory capacity to various companies which have been subject to mergers and acquisitions. A strong believer in the development of organisations on an ethical and value appropriate basis Gordon is pleased to be part of charity exploring values on a society wide basis.

Tom Halpin

Tom Halpin has a prominent career in Scotland’s Justice system latterly as Chief Executive at Sacro from 2009 to 2020. Prior to this, he was Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police. He is currently a Board Member of the Scottish Police Authority.

In policing, he led the portfolios for Public and Child Protection in Scotland, serving on a number of Scottish Government groups supporting the introduction of new legislation and arrangements for managing offenders and protecting children. A Chartered Director (C.Dir FIOD) he sits on the Institute of Directors Scotland Committee, his previous non-exec portfolio roles included being a Director of Essential Edinburgh, a Council Member of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and a member of the University Court at Glasgow Caledonian University where he also Chaired the Remuneration Committee.

Tom also chaired the Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum that brings together Voluntary Sector leaders working in Justice and is a Council Member of the Scottish Association for Studying Offending, which is an influential ‘think-tank’ on such matters.

Alongside Tom’s career in Justice, he has a strong interest in the arts, supporting local artists through building his own personal collection of contemporary Scottish art.

Awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2008, Tom is married with two grown up children and three granddaughters.