Staff

Director, Hilary Copeland

Hilary Copeland
Director

Hilary Copeland has worked in the arts sector since 2008, for festivals, arts and theatre companies in Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. She has worked across business management, strategic planning, creative programming and event delivery, at the Irish Writers Centre, Belfast International Arts Festival, The John Hewitt Society, NI Science Festival, Belfast Book Festival, Young at Art, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is a founding member and former Chair of the Board of Integrated AlumNI, a group of advocates and campaigners for Integrated Education, a movement which tackles religious segregation in schools in Northern Ireland and contributes towards a more peaceful and inclusive society. Hilary lives in Belfast, and sits on the Board of Governors of New-Bridge Integrated College in Co. Down.

Hannah Armstrong
Project Coordinator (Afterschool Delivery)

Lucy Beevor
Fundraising and Development

Lucy has worked for many arts and education charities in the UK and Ireland, including Shakespeare’s Globe and The Roundhouse in London; Turner Contemporary in Margate; UCD in Dublin. She has lived and worked in Belfast since 2014. She’s also a writer and has won the Mairtín Crawford Award for Short Story and been a finalist for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award and the Mslexia Short Story Award.

Emma Gibb
Community Engagement

Emma is a poet and short story writer from Scotland. She moved to Belfast to study but stayed for the craic. If you want to read her work, email her and she’ll gladly hook you up. Emma used to spend all of her time reading people who have been dead for hundreds of years, but now enjoys nothing more than being able to read the fantastic work of the young writers bringing it to Fighting Words NI (alongside the odd bit of Milton and Shakespeare). She feels extremely lucky to be able to work in a place that supports the amazing creativity of Northern Ireland's next gen, and she LOVES dogs. 

Marnie Kennedy
Project Coordinator (School Delivery)

Aoife E. Osborne
Volunteer Coordinator

Aoife is originally from Cork and moved to Belfast in 2022. She studied English at University College Cork where she was a Quercus College Scholar and the 2022 Eoin Murray Scholar for Creative Writing. Her work has been published with Paper Lanterns YA Literary Journal, Keeping it Under Wraps and the DoubleSpace Journal. A former children’s bookseller, her professional background is primarily in events and festivals. She has worked with the Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cork International Choral Festival and Cork Puppetry Festival, among others. She began her work with Fighting Words NI as a placement student before joining the team as volunteer coordinator in June 2023. She is currently completing her MA in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at Queen’s University.  

Sam Savage
Digital Storyteller

Sam has a keen love for stories in all there forms: books, movies, personal anecdotes: and is excited to be working in such a story-centric environment!
​​​​​They studied English with Creative Writing at Queen's University Belfast where they furthered their knowledge and love of writing.
They volunteered with Fighting Words NI for several years before joining the main staff in this role. They also have a passion for acting and theatre work, and have worked with Bruiser Theatre Company in their educational workshops.

Playwright Club Co-ordinator, Emily DeDakis

Emily DeDakis
Associate Artist - Scriptwriting

Emily DeDakis is a writer & dramaturg from the southeast U.S., now based in Belfast. She’s developed dozens of scripts & performances with companies like Accidental, Dumbworld, Terra Nova, Prime Cut, OfftheRails, Sole Purpose (NI), Scene+Heard, Droichead Arts Centre (Ireland) and foolsFURY (USA). Emily’s writing has been broadcast on BBC television & radio and commissioned by the MAC, the Lyric Theatre, Household and Sonorities. A member of the music collectives HIVE Choir & No Hevdem, she often collaborates with sound artists & composers on things like musical essays (Freak Floods with Úna Monaghan & Driving Music with Una Lee), choose-your-own-adventure operas (Carbon Women with Áine Mallon), soundwalks (Two by Two with John D’Arcy & Marty Byrne) and immersive audio plays (Stowaway City with Michael McKnight).