RDA Secretary General

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18 September 2019 28407 reads

Hilary Hanahoe is currently the Secretary General of the Research Data Alliance. 

Hilary can be contacted: by email: hilary.hanahoe[at]rda-foundation.org by telephone: +393349875702 by skype: hilary.hanahoe She is on Twitter @hilaryhanahoe and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/hilary-hanahoe

The RDA Secretary General is a key position in the RDA whose responsibilities include leadership of RDA’s membership, effective management of the RDA organization, engagement with RDA stakeholders and organizations, and sustainable stewardship of a dynamic, active, and high-impact community. The Secretary General works reports to the RDA leadership Council and works closely with all members of the RDA community. 

RDA Secretary Generals Past and Present

Hilary Hanahoe

February 2018 - to date
Ingrid Dillo (Interim) July 2017 - Jan 2018
Mark Parsons March 2014 - July 2017


RDA Secretary General Roles and Responsibilities

In detail, the Secretary General’s role covers the following pillars of activity:


  1. Engaging with and representing the RDA membership in accordance with the guiding principles of RDA.

  2. Communicating with all members regarding the progress and issues facing the RDA.

  3. Applying international experience in dealing with members and supporters from many countries with different cultures.

  4. Assisting RDA Working and Interest Groups.

  5. Liaising with Organisational and Affiliate Member Organisations


  1. Dealing with main issues facing the RDA as the field develops and being alert to changes in technology, practice, and international legal changes that affect access, intellectual property rights, and other related issues.

  2. Participating, together with RDA Council, in strategic planning that transitions RDA from being a start-up to a mature, sustainable organisation.

  3. Driving and managing change in line with strategic plans

  4. Advocating with current and future funders and other stakeholders.

  5. Developing and growing an organisational culture reflective of the RDA Guiding Principles.


  1. Presenting the work of the RDA to audiences from a wide variety of backgrounds, including future supporters.

  2. Representing the RDA in discussions with other parties and associated organisations, being political and sensitive to cultural differences of supporters.

  3. Travelling widely on behalf of the RDA, especially to potential new countries that may wish to join the RDA in some capacity.


  1. Attending all meetings of Council and appropriate Technical and Organisational Advisory Board meetings, and liaising with their chairs on a regular basis.

  2. Preparing and presenting an Annual Report to the Council for approval.

  3. Preparing and presenting to Council an annual Operations Plan for approval and update at each Council meeting depending on changing circumstances.

  4. Reporting to Council on Finance.

  5. Working with Council and the Financial Subcommitee to develop and maintain the RDA Foundation’s budget.


  1. Managing the RDA Secretariat, a distributed team responsible for all matters related to the operations of the RDA. This includes supporting the RDA Council and the Technical and Organisational Advisory Boards, as well as supporting the planning and organising of the biannual plenary meetings of the RDA.

  2. The Secretary General is responsible for the effective and efficient operation of the Secretariat. All members of the Secretariat work under the direction of the Secretary General though members of the Secretariat are employed by many organisations, provided as an in-kind contribution by RDA organisational members. RDA staff provided by organisational members are hosted within their home organizations but for RDA purposes report to the RDA Secretary General. The size and constitution of Secretariat staff is described in the annual Operating Plan and approved by Council.

  3. Participating actively in the work of the Secretariat.

  4. Operating the RDA Foundation (RDA legal entity)

  5. Being responsible for the finances and other issues of governance of the RDA Foundation as a legal entity.  The Secretary General is the responsible accounting officer for the purposes of tax and conforming to the legal requirements of a not for profit company under UK law.  

  6. Being familiar with UK Charity and Company law in as much as it affects the legal entity.

  7. Preparing annual accounts and report for submission to the UK Charity Commission.

Other Roles 

The Secretary General is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a Directory and Company Secretary of the RDA Foundation UK and Trustee of the RDA Association AISBL (RDA European legal entity).