Who We Are

Paula Cunniffe – CEO of Mark Pollock Trust & Run in the Dark

I believe that through effective communication we can put the issue of spinal cord injury on the world stage and engage a network to cure paralysis in our lifetime. Leading the team at the Mark Pollock Trust I am focused on generating funding through our global running series called Run in the Dark and by working with our volunteer, commercial, government and academic collaborators to help cure paralysis in our lifetime.

Communications and project management has been at the heart of my work to date. I have worked on large-scale projects and events management with the Department of the Taoiseach, as a lecturer at the University of Florida and producing radio and TV programmes and documentaries for NPR, Athena Media, RTE and others.

I hold a BA in Journalism and Irish from DIT and a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Florida. I’m on the Board of Hockey Ireland and Social Finance Foundation, and am a former President of Loreto Hockey Club.

Mark Pollock – Explorer, Innovator & Collaboration Catalyst

Everything I do is about helping people achieve more than they thought possible. After losing my sight in 1998, I became an adventure athlete competing in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.

In 2010, a fall from a second story window nearly killed me. I broke my back and the damage to my spinal cord left me paralysed. Now I am on a new expedition, this time to cure paralysis in our lifetime.

Selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and appointed to the Global Futures Council on Human Enhancement, I am a Davos and TED speaker, a UBS Global Visionary, on the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA) and am a Wings for Life Ambassador (Europe).

I have been awarded honorary doctorates by The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and from Queens University Belfast. Ihold a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University, degrees from Trinity College Dublin and The UCD Michael Smurfit Business School.

book Mark as a speaker


Simone George – Consultant Litigation Lawyer & Thought Partner

Driven by a belief in fairness, I am a human rights lawyer and activist. In my legal practice I represent women and, through them, their children, who are victims of abuse or violence.

Using a principle-based approach to my work, I co-authored the national study, “The Lawlessness of the Home”, co-created an international summit in 2016 to cultivate the leadership required to hack the system and I contributed to amendments to domestic violence legislation that is now a significant statement of legal, social and political justice in Ireland.

Building on my legal training that began with law degrees from NUI Galway and a masters from The College of Europe, Bruges, I went on to create public-private partnerships across Africa for BP Solar. Now, following years in big 5 and boutique law firms in Dublin, I practice as a consultant commercial litigator for clients in multiple sectors of the economy.

In 2010, after Mark broke his back, we learned how paralysis strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human. My research, which began by his hospital bed, became the start of our work to create collaborations between scientists and robotics engineers working to cure paralysis and, alongside Mark, I am the subject of an award winning feature documentary film, Unbreakable.

In addition, I was active in the Marriage Equality, Repeal The 8th and Stand4Truth campaigns in Ireland. And, I am a director on the board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, sit on the Advisory Board of HerStory and hold a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University.