Heart & Stroke Charity Croí Announces New CEO Appointment

(Left to Right) Photographed at the announcement of leadership changes at the Croí Heart & Stroke Centre are incoming Croí CEO, Mark O'Donnell, Croí Chairman, Mark Gantly, and outgoing CEO Neil Johnson.

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, has announced an impending change in leadership which will mark a new chapter in the history of the organisation. With effect from January 1st next year, current CEO, Neil Johnson, will step down after almost 32 years at the helm and will be succeeded by Tipperary native, Mark O’Donnell.

Announcing details of the new appointment, Croí Chairman. Mark Gantly. paid tribute to Neil Johnson’s long service and leadership which has seen Croí make an enormous contribution to the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland. Mr Gantly said “This is a change that has been carefully planned as part of the organisation’s succession planning and we are delighted to announce that Mark O’Donnell will take over as CEO from the beginning of next year. Mark joined the Croí team in January of 2022 as Chief Operations Officer and Head of Foundation.  A native of Tipperary, he has lived in Galway for over thirty years, working primarily at senior level in the public service within city, county, and regional government organisations. During this time, he has also gained leadership experience working in the not-for-profit sector.  Mark is a graduate of the University of Galway and has academic qualifications in Law, Finance, Management and Corporate Governance”.

Speaking about his appointment Mark O’Donnell said, “It is a genuine honour to be appointed to the senior leadership role in Croí from next January, and one that comes with a substantial weight of responsibility. Neil has shown exemplary leadership over the past thirty years, working with an outstanding team and a committed Board, to develop a fantastic organisation with a critically important mission as its focus.  Reducing the burden of heart disease and stroke on our communities is a considerable challenge.  However, building on the strong foundations that have been laid, and with the exceptional team in Croí, I have no doubt that we can collectively make a significant positive impact.  It has been a great introduction to Croí to have worked closely with Neil, our team, the Board, and our many volunteers over the last two years, and I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter. 

Welcoming the announcement, Neil Johnson said “I am not “hanging up my boots” yet – I am moving to work in international patient advocacy with the Global Heart Hub, an umbrella organisation of heart patient organisations which is currently headquartered in Galway and which Croí is affiliated to. Additionally, for the next year or two, I will be supporting Mark and the Croí team on a part-time basis to oversee the implementation of a transformational community health project which is being made possible by a very substantial legacy gift that Croí has received in recent months. Details of this very significant and exciting project will be announced in the coming weeks. Mark and I have worked very well together for almost two years now and I know he will bring a fresh perspective and take on his new role with vigour. I wish him every success as he continues our mission to tackle the burden of heart disease and stroke.

Johnson went on to say “For almost four decades now, Croí has impacted the lives of thousands, either through heart health awareness, education, training, early detection or patient and carer support and advocacy. Many Croí initiatives have literally saved lives. None of this would have been possible without an incredibly dedicated, committed, and highly professional team of staff. I have had the privilege of working with remarkable colleagues over the years and for that, I am truly grateful. Equally, of course, we could not have achieved anything without our donors, sponsors, and volunteers, many of whom remain connected with Croí since the first days I reached out to them. Overseeing all of this have been several boards of directors, many serving for the maximum two terms, but in all cases offering their time and expertise in a voluntary capacity without reward or remuneration. No words can adequately express my gratitude to so many who have worked with me and supported me over so many years. There have been so many individuals across staff, board, sponsors and volunteers, who have gone above and beyond in the service of others that I dare not single anyone out for special mention, but you all know who you are. I wish Mark O’Donnell and all the Croí team the very best for the future and I know they will continue to make a difference in the lives of many.


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