Heydi Foster-Breslin

Heydi Foster Breslin

Heydi Foster Breslin is the Chief Executive Officer of An Cosán (Irish for ‘The Path’), Ireland’s largest community education organisation. The mission of An Cosán is to bring about social equality and an end to poverty through community-based adult education, the provision of early years supports and empowering social enterprise development. Over the past three decades, An Cosán has provided pathways to empowerment via community education to thousands of people. More recently, the organisation has expanded its reach to a national scale using technology to deliver virtual access to its range of learning programmes.
Prior to this, Heydi was CEO of Misean Cara, an Irish development agency working with some of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in developing countries. With an annual budget of €16 million, the agency works to realise human rights through the delivery of basic services in the areas of education, health, livelihoods and income generation, as well as advocacy, networking and community mobilisation.
Heydi has also been CEO of Exchange House Ireland National Travellers Service, a leading multi-disciplinary frontline service provider offering education and training services, children and young people services and family support to some of the most marginalised Travellers in Ireland.
Originally from Guatemala, Heydi has extensive experience across countries in advocating for equality, human rights and providing social services to minority groups, including children, women, refugees, and internally displaced people and members of the Traveller, Latino, African-American, Sinti and Roma communities.
During her time in inner-city Boston, Heydi was co-founder and Assistant Principal of a school that addresses the educational needs of refugees, Latino and African-American children. In Central and South America, she developed projects addressing the health needs of sex workers. Heydi was also CEO of Women United in Action, a non-profit which supports refugees and migrant women and children in the USA.
Heydi holds a B.A. in Economics and Education from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, a Masters in Non-Profit Management from Cambridge College (Massachusetts) and a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Heydi has been a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission since 2014. She was reappointed by the President of Ireland for a second five-year term in 2018.