Joe Copeland

Joe Copeland Board Chair


Following graduating from QUB in 1980, Joe trained as an accountant with the NI Health and Personal Social Services and qualified as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in 1984.

He has worked in numerous accounting and audit roles in the NI Health and Personal Social Services, UK central government and agencies and private companies.

He is currently employed as Director of Corporate Services/Company Secretary with Co-operation Ireland, the leading peace building charity in the island of Ireland.

Joe was elected as a Trustee and Chair of Family Routes in Spring 2022 and looks forward to the continuing contribution of Family Routes in supporting children, individuals and families through their adoption and fertility journey.

Gail Clarke

Gail Clarke

Board Member

CEO/National Secretary, GBNI since 1 February 2016.

My early career was as CEO of a Community Housing Association is North Belfast followed by 8 years as Regional Director for the National Union of Students in Belfast (during which I spent 6 months as Director of Scottish Office implementing change management).  I was Interim Director with GBNI in 2013/14 before returning at the start of 2016.

I hold an MBA and am a Fellow of ILM (by examination). I also, since 1994, sit as an employer representative at Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals.

I have three children, Aaron 30 who is married with one son Nathan: Victoria 28 and Michael 27.  

I have a fur baby, 3yr old Newfoundland, Mylah.  I love reading, walking and current affairs.

Marian Hall

Marion Hall

Board Member

Marian Hall has had a long career in social work in Family & Child Care within the statutory sector. This has largely been in relation to Children at Risk, Children in Care, Fostering and Adoption. She has a particular interest in Adoption and sat for many years as a member of the Adoption Panel within what was then the Eastern Health & Social Services Board.

Marian also has a long standing interest in legal matters as they relate to children. As a result, she decided to add to her Masters degree in Social Work by undertaking a law degree. She then followed that up by studying for her Bar exams in London. She was subsequently called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2007.

Marian continued with her social work career and felt that her legal qualifications added to her capacity to carry out her role and contribute on legal matters as they impacted on children. She has also used that knowledge by contributing for many years as a visiting lecturer to the QUB undergraduate course in Social Work with respect the Human Rights Act 1998.

Marian joined Family Routes as a Board member in 2018 and hopes that her qualifications and experience have assisted in helping to address the range of issues that have faced the agency since then. She looks forward to Family Routes setting up its own Adoption panel in order to try to help with finding appropriate permanent placements for children.

From a Social Work and legal perspective, Marian is also very interested in the other important functions carried out by Family Routes staff including work with individuals with fertility issues, work with children and young people who have been adopted, work with birth parents and work on the provision of historical records to adult adoptees. She looks forward to Family Routes being able to contribute to this work for many years to come. 

Rachel Johnston

Rachel Johnston

Board Member

Rachel joined Family Routes as a Board member in December 2022 bringing knowledge and skills developed throughout her varied career. Rachel is qualified to Masters level, holding a Post Graduate Diploma in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy from Queen’s University. She is an accredited member of the British Association Counselling and Psychotherapy and is Vice Chair of its Healthcare Executive.

Rachel is the principal Director of a social enterprise which provides psychotherapy to GP
patients as well as mentoring and supervision to counsellors who work in the healthcare setting, in various community organisations and private practice. Prior to her counselling career, Rachel was an Area Manager in the Finance Sector for 25 years where she developed skills in leadership, communication, strategic management and people

Rachel has recently retired from her 20 year role as a foster carer where she provided a safe home setting for children in the care system. She therefore has first-hand awareness of the struggles of children who have experienced major traumas as a result of neglect and abuse. This role involved the importance of fostering good relationships with birth families and adoptive parents.

Rachel is fully aligned to the mission, vision and values of Family Routes which upholds all
families, whatever their make up and route into the organisation, to ensure their voices are heard, to know their value, and to be well supported by quality services which will serve to enhance their family experience.

Gillian Williamson

Gillian Williamson

Board Member

After studying in Queens University I qualified as a doctor way back in 1982. I became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1986 and I loved my job.

Once my own children were born I sidestepped in to fertility medicine and worked first in the Regional Fertility Centre and latterly in Belfast Fertility and in Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine.

During my time working in fertility medicine I came to appreciate the immense value of counselling services provided by the team at Family Routes and when, after retiring from practice in 2022 I was asked to join the board, I felt honoured. I hope that I will be able to bring to the table the perspective of the couple on their fertility journey.