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Donna McQuaid

Director Blackthorn

Blackthorn was established by Donna McQuaid, a leader and facilitator who has over two decades of experience helping teams work better together.


Her leadership journey includes: 

  • sixteen years as a naval officer, where she frequently managed teams in complex and high pressure situations 

  • stints working as an expedition or outdoor leader in the UK, France, Italy and the United States

  • over a decade volunteering with a Duke of Edinburgh's Award unit in her hometown of Belfast, UK. 

  • more recent experience supporting local community groups in the Martinborough area.

A former military officer with extensive experience in operations and intelligence analysis, Donna has worked all over the world in a variety of roles. Her deployments have included diplomatic missions, counter-piracy operations, maritime security taskings and fishery protection duties. Later in her career she specialised as an intelligence officer, gaining extensive experience at both the operational and strategic levels. 


Donna has a proven track record in delivering training programmes. Whilst working for the Royal Navy she developed and delivered the first Maritime Cultural Specialist Training package, which became mandatory for all Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel deploying to land-based operations. This work resulted in her being among a select few to receive a commendation from the Commander of the United Kingdom's Joint Force Command. She later became the lead instructor for the Defence Intelligence Analysis Course delivered by the New Zealand Defence Force. She's passionate about providing both decision-makers and intelligence teams with training to improve the outcomes for their organisation and create stronger, more effective teams.

Throughout her career Donna has gained extensive experience in guiding teams to perform better, enabling them to find more effective ways of achieving their goals. She is a PROSCI Certified Change Management Practitioner, holds a Graduateship in Leadership and Management from the UK City & Guilds Institute, and is Train the Trainer qualified. Blackthorn was developed from her desire to focus on training and development, and supporting others to thrive in their professional lives. 


Contact us

Contact us if you have any questions about the services we provide, or if you’re interested in putting together a bespoke training package for your team. You can get in touch by completing the form below, or calling us on 027 336 0491.

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