The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) management board has selected Sharon McGuinness, Ph.D., as the agency’s next executive director. Shay O’Malley has been serving as ECHA’s acting executive director since April 2022, following the retirement of Bjorn Hansen in March.

As part of the appointment procedure, McGuinness will make a statement before the European Parliament and answer questions from its members. This is tentatively scheduled for July 4, 2022.

“Congratulations to Sharon—we have selected an excellent candidate and look forward to hearing the European Parliament’s views,” said Paul Krajnik, chair of ECHA’s management board. “The new Executive Director will play an instrumental role for the Agency, which enters a crucial time in its work, marked by the EU’s ambitious objectives under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.”

An Irish national, McGuinness has served as CEO of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in Ireland since 2018. Prior to that, she was the assistant chief executive for the Chemicals and Prevention Division within the authority, with responsibility for division management, policy provision, advice, and enforcement for a wide range of occupational health and safety, chemical, and market surveillance legislation aimed at protecting human health and safety for workers and consumers.

McGuinness was a member of ECHA’s management board between 2014-2020 and chair of the board between 2016-2020. She graduated from the University College Dublin with a B.Sc. in pharmacology and chemistry, and she holds a doctorate in pharmacology, as well as diplomas in legal studies and company direction.

The executive director’s term of office is five years. It may be prolonged once by the management board, for a further term of five years.

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