CEO and Co-Founder David Keegan has stepped down from First Fortnight
It is with a mixture of gratitude and sadness that we announce the departure of our co-founder and chief executive, David Keegan. David steps down from the mental health arts charity after reaching his goal of delivering the 10th annual First Fortnight Mental Health Art & Cultural Festival.
David has been a core driver of First Fortnight’s success over the organisation’s 12-year history and leaves a lasting legacy. His contribution to the charity has been immeasurable.
Of the past 12 years, David said: "I'm so incredibly proud of what we have achieved together and grateful to everyone who supported and believed in First Fortnight over the years. As I move on from First Fortnight I am reassured in its bright future given the committed, talented and passionate team and board behind the charity. I am confident First Fortnight will go on to positively impact many in years to come, and hopeful we will continue to grow and create positive social impacts in communities across Ireland who desperately need us, now more than ever.”
He continued, “I'd like to extend a special thanks to the brave and wonderful artists who contributed so much in the last decade. It is through your beautiful work that we had the opportunity to make the world just a little bit easier for so many people who engaged with First Fortnight in our mission to end mental health stigma in Ireland. Finally, our amazing volunteers! You are the heart of First Fortnight and the change makers. You are so important to us and everything we do. I am humbled and thankful to you for helping us do what we do and making First Fortnight what it is.”
David co-founded First Fortnight in 2009 with the core objective of challenging mental health stigma and initiating social change. Together with J.P Swaine, David grew the charity from a kitchen table conversation in Tallaght to a mental health service provider that, at one stage in 2019, hosted the European Mental Health Art & Culture Festival.
Over the past four years as CEO, David has successfully led the charity through a huge period of transition, helping First Fortnight grow beyond its volunteer roots into an organisation that now employs 6 people.
David’s many achievements with First Fortnight include:
· 12 years of mental health arts events challenging mental health stigma
· 10 First Fortnight Mental Health Art & Culture Festivals
· 8 years of First Fortnight Centre for Creative therapies, delivering art therapy to the homeless community
· The expansion of First Fortnight mental health services, including a forthcoming new service for children
· Guiding the charity’s involvement in the formation of Minding Creative Minds, which now delivers free mental health and wellbeing services to all of Ireland’s creative community and our Irish overseas
· Overseeing the charity’s involvement in European-wide mental health projects, NEFELE, MENS and ENALMH
· First Fortnight hosting the second European Mental Health Arts Festival in 2019, staging 202 events
· Rethink Ireland Award 2020
· Winning the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) award 2018
· Being named The Liberties Awards - Charitable Organisation of the Year 2017
On behalf of the board of trustees, First Fortnight Chairman Jerry O’Connell says: “David has made a vital and lasting contribution to how Ireland now talks about mental health. Through his vision and leadership, he has helped First Fortnight ensure that the first two weeks of every year are now synonymous with challenging mental health stigma. Through his drive, energy and passion for the arts he has helped First Fortnight provide a platform for artists to discuss mental health in their art and foster meaningful discussion around mental health.”
Jerry continues, “David and his co-founder, J.P Swaine, had a vision that staging arts events about mental health would allow people a context in which to have a mental health conversation they might not otherwise have had. They knew that having that conversation might later make it easier for those people to talk about their mental health at a time when they may really need to. That’s real social change in effect, and David has made a real contribution to that change.”
In concluding, Jerry notes, “It’s a very sad day for the charity, to see a founder leave, and on a personal note, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with David. On behalf of everyone at First Fortnight, I want to wish him every future success.”
On behalf of the organisation, we want to thank David from the bottom of our hearts for everything he has done. He will always be a part of our First Fortnight Family and we are excited for his future adventures!
First Fortnight will shortly begin the search for a new chief executive to build upon the incredible legacy David has created.