Meet our fantastic team! We believe in the power of the arts to transform the healthcare experience of children and those who care for them.
Helene Hugel, CEO and Artistic Director
Helene Hugel is CEO and Artistic Director of Helium Arts. She has an Honours BA Degree in English from Trinity College Dublin and a qualification in Hospital Play Specialism during which she won the Eve Latimer Award for her dissertation. She was co-founder and partner of the award-winning Puca Puppet Theatre Company until 2002. As an individual arts practitioner developing arts and health for children between 2002 and 2008, she was awarded multiple Arts Council grants and bursaries to develop her practice working with children in hospital. She is the recipient of both a Level 1 and Level 2 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award and in 2009 she founded Helium Arts in order to provide a structure for collaborating with other artists and healthcare practitioners to extend the impact of arts and health practice to more children and young people living with illness across Ireland.
Olive Power, General Manager
Olive Power joined the Helium team in June 2019, as General Manager. While she has a Certificate in Workplace Management from the National College of Ireland and two decades experience of setting up and managing family support projects, her love of Art brought her back to UCD as a mature student and she graduated with an Hons B.A. in English and History of Art in 2007. Having trained to work with the National Council for the Blind as a Technical Officer she also served on the Board of Rialto Youth Project and worked as a FAS Supervisor with Fatima Groups United and Youth Work Ireland adding to the experience she brings to her work with us.
Emma McKinley, Development Manager
Emma McKinley joined the Helium Arts team in May 2022 as the organisation’s Development Manager. In this role, Emma leads on the strategic development and implementation of the organisation’s fundraising strategy. Prior to this, Emma worked from 2008-2022 for the Children’s Rights Alliance as their Head of Development and Communications. Emma also worked for six years with the ISPCC as Communications Officer. She holds a BA (hons.) in Philosophy and Classical Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in Globalisation from DCU. Emma also has certificates in Non-Profit Leadership and Management, Child Law and Constitutional Law. Emma is a passionate advocate for children’s rights, believing that what’s best for children should be a primary goal in a just society. In her spare time, Emma loves to sing, travel and enjoy good food.
Niamh Whelehan, Family Liaison
Niamh Whelehan joined the team in 2021 in the role of Family Liaison. She completed her BA in Visual Communications at Athlone IT in 2007. In 2012, she retrained to work in early years education, completing her level 5 Childcare training. She gained valuable experience working with children from a diverse range of backgrounds and with a range of additional needs in various pre-school and after-school settings in Galway city before returning to complete her MA in Early Childhood Education at NUI, Galway in 2018. She is currently completing her second MA in Creative Psychotherapy at the Children’s Therapy Centre, Co Westmeath. She enjoys teaching part-time and tutors a number of FETAC Level 5 and 6 Special Needs Assisting courses and Childcare modules.
Her passion is creativity and her research to date focuses on the impact creativity has on education and learning, particularly in the early years. She is a keen crafter and enjoys crochet, knitting, needle felting and embroidery. In her spare time, Niamh enjoys yoga, vegan cooking, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Alfie.
Mitzi D’Alton, (Acting) Programme Manager
Mitzi D’Alton is a freelance cultural producer with 8 years experience in theatre, festivals, events and cultural community projects. She joined Helium in January 2019 as Project Manager of Pop Up Picnic. Over the years she has worked with a number of arts and cultural organisations including Dublin Fringe Festival, The Ark, Dublin Theatre Festival, National Gallery of Ireland, and Dublin City Council led festivals alongside independent projects with a variety of artists and theatre makers. She graduated with First Class Honours in Business with Arts Management from IADT.
Cathy McGann, Marketing and Communications Executive
Cathy joined Helium Arts in May 2022 as Marketing and Communications Executive. She joined the team straight from completing a level 9, Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Media and Marketing with Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce International (with Spanish) from University College Dublin. Cathy is an enthusiastic, innovative, and driven professional. She has her own personal experience of growing up with a health condition and is passionate about the possibility of empowering children and their families through creativity and the arts. Cathy loves to travel, learn languages and is very involved in her local community, working with children through the school. Cathy has also worked as a volunteer, in the past, for Special Olympics Ireland and the Muiríosa Foundation’s Friendship programme.
Róisín McGannon, Programme Co-ordinator
Róisín joined the team as Programme Co-ordinator in May 2022 with a background in community engagement, arts management, youth participation and co-creation. She has worked closely with a range of community groups and stakeholders including artist’s, young people, researchers, teachers, cultural practitioners and underrepresented, minority groups. Róisin has worked as a Project Manager, Facilitator and Researcher in museum education, programme design and development to deliver inclusive and engaging learning experiences through arts and culture. She has worked at a number of institutions, art galleries and independent cultural spaces across Ireland most recently Science Gallery Dublin and the School of Education at Trinity College Dublin. She has managed and coordinated several European Funded Research projects and co-authored publications on the topics of Informal Learning and Art, Science & Society.
With a particular interest in access and inclusion, Róisin completed a certified course in Accessibility in Curation from the Node Centre of Curatorial Studies. She has also completed a level 9 Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership with UCD. As a Visual Artist she has exhibited her work and been awarded residencies across Ireland and Europe, graduating with a First Class Honours BA in Fine Art Printmaking from the National College of Art and Design.
Monica Flynn, Project Manager
Monica joined Helium Arts in 2017 as Project Manager on the Fireflies Artist in Residence project at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital. Over the last couple of years she has supported work by artists Siobhan Clancy and Rachel Tynan and project managed the Fireflies Toolkit a set of creative tools for young people transitioning from paediatric to adult health services. She enjoys working directly with artists and seeing young people blossom creatively in the collaborative process. A visual artist in her own right Monica has an MA in Visual Arts Practices from Dun Laoghaire IADT and H.Dip. in Arts & Cultural Management. From U.C.D. She also works part time for the artists representative body Visual Artists Ireland as their Professional Development Officer.
Michelle Brady, Programme Manager
Michelle Brady manages our national programme for growth, the Creative Health Hub, and oversees the organisation’s ongoing artistic projects. She started out in festival management and has more than 10 years experience in the arts between Ireland and Scotland. Most recently, she was the National Dance Network Co-ordinator for Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, responsible for the strategic support of Scotland’s dance community. Along the way, she helped establish artist studios in an old Victorian school building, served on the board of Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts, and was an advisory panel member for Creative Scotland’s traditional arts fund. She holds an MA in Arts, Festival & Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University and BA in Film and Documentary from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. From her kitchen table, she manages contemporary folk group This is How we Fly.
Anna Mielewczyk, Finance Administrator
Anna Mielewczyk joined the Helium team in May 2019, taking on the role of Finance Administrator. She’s very detail-oriented and enjoys problem solving and working with numbers. Anna is also a college administrator in the International College of Personal and Professional Development in Athlone. She earned her BA in Business and Office Management, before going on to work as a bookkeeper for three years. Having spent the past 15 years in Ireland, establishing professional roots and starting a family, she is delighted to now call it home.
Lauren White, Arts Administrator
Lauren joined Helium Arts in October 2019 as an arts administrator. She has completed her ECDL and also finished a Medical terminology course all in one year! She came to Helium a few months ago and takes pride in working for an organisation that makes a positive impact on so many children and families and on the communities we connect with. She enjoys her work and loves that she has the opportunity to make a difference.