Philanthropy’s Role in Peacemaking to Be Addressed by Northern Ireland Community Foundation Director During Nov. 13 Lecture at Pitt

Issue Date: 
November 12, 2012

Philanthropic organizations are working around the globe to maintain peace and construct new pathways between divided communities. How philanthropic organizations in Northern Ireland are approaching peacemaking and community building will be addressed by Avila Kilmurray, director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, in a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in Room 3911, Wesley W. Posvar Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public; to attend, RSVP to

“Avila Kilmurray is a force of nature. She is part of a growing international network of community philanthropy leaders dedicated to bringing people together in war-torn lands. Her work offers a unique window on the role philanthropy can play in building peace, reconciliation, and community. It is an especially hopeful angle for our war-weary globe,” said Kathleen W. Buechel, a senior lecturer in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs who leads the school’s Philanthropy Forum. The forum is hosting Kilmurray’s talk, titled “Philanthropy in Northern Ireland—Bridging Divides, Bringing Peace, and Building Community.”

Kilmurray has been working in Northern Ireland since 1975 through community work in Derry, the Community Education Project in Magee, a range of antipoverty initiatives, and the establishment of the Women's Aid organization. In 1990, she was appointed the first women’s officer for the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union in Ireland, and has served on the Northern Ireland Committee and on the Executive Councils of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. She has also been active in the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement, was a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, and was a member of the coalition’s negotiating team for the 1998 Belfast Agreement. 

In her current role as director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Kilmurray has been overseeing the foundation’s projects, such as a prison-to-peace partnership, a bill-of-rights awareness campaign, and a social-justice initiative. In her community, she serves on the board of Conflict Resolution Services in Belfast and on the Northern Ireland Committee of the United Kingdom’s Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Pitt’s Philanthropy Forum is part of the University’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Through teaching, practice-based research, and exchanges with practitioners, the forum examines the innovations and implications arising from the field of philanthropy. Core activities include a graduate-level course on philanthropy and society, the creation of teaching tools and research developed from applied knowledge, an annual lecture series, and the Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project, which is documenting the history of philanthropy in Pittsburgh.