Big Irish Campfire 2021 – Speakers and Irish Rebuilder Medal Honorees

Andy Cooney

Andy Cooney

Position Title: singer, songwriter, performer and recording artist.

Andy Cooney has nine Carnegie Hall sellouts under his belt and also filled The David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center with The New York Tenors. His outstanding voice and dynamic stage presence have long been a favorite among young and old alike. His talent and versatility provide the ability to deliver a song directly to the hearts of his audience; Andy is surely one of the greatest singing sensations on the Irish Music scene today. Christened Irish America’s Favorite Son by The New York Times, it is a title he richly deserves. Andy Cooney is one of The New York Tenors, along with New York Italian Tenor Christopher Macchio and New York Puerto Rican Tenor Daniel Rodriquez, a trio which has been receiving high critical acclaim for a number of years.

Andy has recorded 19 albums to date, including Bright Brand New Day with Phil Coulter and his Orchestra. Andy and Phil frequently tour together and in March 2017, completed a three week tour of the US. Cooney’s latest CD, Irish Country Skyline, was released in the summer of 2016 as a journey back to his Country music roots. This release has been getting huge airplay all over Ireland and the UK with his hit singles On The Eighth Day and My Rose of Ballinrobe, both his own compositions.  2020 turned out to be an unusual year where the Coronavirus shut down the music industry.  During 2020, Andy managed to release 4 new singles during the Coronaviruses pandemic,  “Take Me Back To Dublin”, “We’re All In This Together” with his son Ryan, “Come Tennessee Me Tonight” with Country Music legend Larry Gatlin and his latest single release in November 2020, “The Waltz of the Angels”.

Andy Cooney is also known for his Cruise of Irish Stars which annually draws over 1,000 Irish and Irish Americans on a Caribbean Cruise enriched with the finest Irish entertainment including the great Ronan Tynan.

Bernadette Foley

Position Title: President, Irish American Home Society, Inc.
Company Website: 

Bernadette has served the Irish American Home Society (IAHS) for 35 years in a variety of roles including Assistant Membership Secretary; appointment to various committees including House, Volunteer, Inventory, Festival, Feis, 50th Anniversary of the IAHS, 50th Anniversary of the Hartford Gaelic Football Club, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and produced the monthly Club Newsletter for several years, as well as volunteered for various events.  Currently Bernie holds the position of President of the IAHS.

Bernie is the middle of five children born to the late John “Jack” Egan, who hailed from Ballinamona, Ahascragh, County Galway, and Margaret “Peggy” (nee Godfrey) Egan who hails from Kilvine, Irishtown, County Mayo.  She is married to Brian Foley and has a daughter, Maeve.  Bernie and her family have enjoyed countless trips to Ireland over the years for visits with aunts, uncles and cousins, and now her two sisters and their families who reside in Ireland.  When she is not serving the IAHS most evenings and weekends, Bernie is the Executive Assistant to the Archbishop of Hartford.

Bob Kearney

Robert (Bob) Kearney is the Board Chair of the Maine Irish Heritage Center, one of its founding members and leads the MIHC Facilities Committee responsible for the care and restoration the Center’s architectural gem. His deeply held connection to the place spans over twenty years. Bob was among the leaders of a passionate team of volunteers that included members of the Irish American Club and the Foundation for the Preservation of Saint Dominic’s. In 2001, this unstoppable group worked to acquire the building from the City of Portland and the Maine Irish Heritage Center was born.
Bob is an enthusiast of all things Irish and has a profound appreciation of the vital role arts and culture play in sustaining the Irish community. He is also a longstanding member of the Board of the Irish American Club of Maine, a key MIHC partner, that offers social and educational events including ceilis with live music, ceili dance classes and Irish language classes, as well as the wildly popular St. Patrick’s Day parade. Live music holds a special place in Bob’s heart and he’s always looking for the next great concert opportunity. He recently retired from the United States Postal Service’s Northern New England District and has also been a successful small business owner, as well as giving back to his local community through service on various boards and committees.

Brendan Cooney

Position Title: VA State Chairman for Veteran Affairs,
President of the Herbert-Cady Division, in Alexandria, VA.

Brendan has been a member of the AOH since 2007.  He serves the AOH as the VA State Chairman for Veteran Affairs, and serves as President of the Herbert-Cady Division, in Alexandria, VA.  He is also the VA Delegate to the Police Emerald Society of Washington D.C. 

Brendan Cooney is a Police Training Instructor for the Pentagon Police Division, Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA), and is also a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) in the Military Police Crops, within the U.S. Army Reserve.

Brendan and his wife Sara live in Old Town Alexandria.   

Brian Browne

Position Title: Executive Director, University Relations & Assistant Vice President, Government Relations at St. John’s University NY

Brian Browne is the Executive Director, University Relations & Assistant Vice President, Government Relations at St. John’s University (NY) and serves as the official spokesperson of the University. In his expansive role, he liaisons with local, national, and international media and develops and implements creative internal and external marketing, communications, and public relations strategies.

Brian is responsible for all the Government Relations efforts of the University and serves as the primary liaison to elected officials and government agencies at the local, state, and federal governments. In this role, he tracks legislation, provides legislative advocacy and awareness, and works to secure new sources of government funding and appropriations for University programs and initiatives. An experienced leader in government relations, community engagement, and media affairs with front-line responsibility for coordinating interaction with government officials and community leaders on behalf of St. John’s University. Brian is responsible for the creation and implementation of government strategies to promote, protect and benefit St. John’s and has three decades of practical and personal experience working in the public sector, on political campaigns, and as an advocate in the higher education community.

In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Brian serves as an adjunct faculty member in the department of Government and Politics where he teaches undergraduate courses in municipal government, public administration, and state & local government. His political commentary and academic analysis have appeared in the New York Post, on Fox News, NBC, NY1, PIX11 News, NET TV, and many local media outlets.

He is the founder and primary coordinator of St. John’s PARTICIPATE, an annual civic engagement program that promotes a University-wide effort to increase civic involvement and engagement in the political process on campus and the local community.

After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies in government and politics at St. John’s University, Brian got his start in local politics as a congressional staffer for the late Rep. Thomas J. Manton rising from the ranks of volunteer intern to District Office Director before returning to his alma mater in 1998.

A first-generation Irish-American whose father hailed from Louisburgh, County Mayo and mother hailed from Curry, County Sligo. Brian organizes St. John’s University’s participation in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, advises the St. John’s University Gaelic Society and is a member of many professional, civic, cultural, and Catholic organizations. Brian and his wife Alice have four children and are active in their community and the parish life of St. Thomas the Apostle, West Hempstead, NY.

Brian Moran

Position: CEO, Small Business Edge
Company Website: www.smallbusinessedge.com

As the Founder & CEO of Small Business Edge, Brian is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs achieve their objectives and to run better businesses. Brian, along with a team of top subject matter experts, is building a community platform that helps entrepreneurs run better, more efficient companies.

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was an Executive Director at The Wall Street Journal where he led the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands.

In 2015, Brian was awarded the Small Business Excellence Award by Irish Echo Newspaper. He sits on several boards of small business organizations and is a strategic advisor to business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide through his interviews, published articles and blog posts.

Catherine Barry

Position: Editor, SF/Arts Monthly
Company Website: https://sfarts.org/

Originally from Dublin, Catherine is Director of Irish Culture Bay Area and the Irish Arts & Writers Festival. She is Vice President of the Irish Literary & Historical Society, and also works with several Irish organizations in San Francisco, including Crossroads Irish American Festival, SF Irish Film Festival and the Bay Area Irish Oral History Archive.

Catherine worked in publishing and photography in London and Sydney before moving to San Francisco in the mid-1990s. She headed up the relaunch of The Irish Herald in 1996, where she was managing editor until 2002.

Caitríona Weafer

Position Title: Teacher
Company Website: https://www.gaelicleaguela.com/ & https://letslearnirish.com/

Scéal Chaitríona:

Rugadh agus tógadh Caitríona in Éirinn. Tá sí cáilithe mar mhúinteoir bunscoile in Éirinn (B. Ed. H.Dip) agus mar mhúinteoir rince (TMRF). Mhúin sí i mbunscoil i gCo. Laoise. Shocraigh sí ar ceol agus corpoideachas a mhúineadh trí Ghaeilge ansin, rud nach raibh daoine eile ag déanamh ag an am. Sa samhradh, thóg sí daltaí léi go dtí an Cheathrú Rua i gConamara, áit inar mhúin sí ar chúrsaí samhraidh. Chaith sí seal sa tSeapáin agus mhúin sí Seapáinis i mBaile Átha Cliath nuair a tháinig sí abhaile. Is í sna Stáit Aontaithe i gCalifornia, bhain sí céim (MA) amach sa Spáinnis is mhúin sí Spáinnis agus Seapáinis i meánscoileanna agus Spáinnis i gColáiste Pobal. Ina dhiaidh sin, is taithí aici ar theangachaí éagsúla a mhúineadh, bhunaigh sí Conradh na Gaeilge, Craobh na nAingeal i gCathair na nAingeal. Bhí scrúdú TEG acu ag a nDeireadh Seachtaine Gaeltachta ansin don chéad uair i 2019. Is breá le Caitríona a saol as Gaeilge. Nós aici a Gaeltacht féin a chruthú, pé áit ina bhfuil sí ar domhan. Anois, tá sí i Virgina. Tá sí ag obair ar Zoom faoi láthair le Lets Learn Irish agus le CnaG LA. Tá fonn uirthi a grá mór don Ghaeilge agus conas craic a bhaint as foghlaim a roinnt le daoine cibé áit ina bhfuil siad ar domhan.

Caitríona’s Story:

Caitríona was born and raised in Ireland. A qualified primary school teacher (B. Ed. H.Dip) and Irish dance teacher (TMRF), she taught in an elementary school in County Laois. While there she decided to teach art and physical education through Irish. In the summer, she took her students to Connemara where she taught summer classes. She lived in Japan and taught Japanese in Dublin when she returned. In the States, Caitríona got a degree in Spanish (MA) and taught Spanish and Japanese in elementary, middle, and high schools, and Spanish at a Community College. Having gotten experience teaching various languages, Caitríona founded the L. A. branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League). She called it Craobh na nAingeal (Branch of the Angels). They had their frst TEG exam at their Immersion Weekend in 2019. Caitríona likes her life in Irish. She forms her own Gaeltacht wherever she goes. Now she lives in Virginia.  She works on Zoom now with Lets Learn Irish (DC) and with The Gaelic League, LA. She wants to share her love of Irish and how to get fun out of learning with people wherever they are in the world.

Caoimhe Nic Giollarnáith

Position Title: Adjunct Lecturer, Lehman College, CUNY and Irish Language Instructor, Irish Arts Center.
Company Website: https://lehmangaeilge.org/2021/04/25/2020-2021-courses/

Caoimhe Nic Giollarnáith is originally from County Kildare. She is an Adjunct Lecturer and currently teaches Irish language and literature undergraduate courses at Lehman College, City University New York and the Irish Arts Center, New York.

Caoimhe graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway, summa cum laude with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Modern Irish. She has taught Irish language and Irish language film and literature courses at Fordham University, Manhattan College and Rosetta Stone. In 2020, Caoimhe received a Top 40 Under 40 Award from The Irish Echo.

Caoimhe featured in the Irish Film and Television Academy award nominated Irish language television series, GAA USA. She is a regular guest on several Irish language radio shows and podcasts on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, BBC Radio and Newstalk. Caoimhe is a board member of Gaeil Nua-Eabhrac, a non-profit which aims to promote the Irish language in New York. Gaeil Nua-Eabhrac host pop up Gaeltacht events in New York City and have curated sold-out Irish language and cultural events at the Irish Consulate, New York. The organization’s work promoting the Irish language was referenced in a 2018 TEDx Talk. Caoimhe is a member of the Irish International Business Network’s LEAP (Leadership Executive Acceleration Program) Women’s Council. She has also served as  Co-Chair and board member of the Irish Network NYC.

Caron McMahon

Position Title: Irish Heritage Club of Seattle, Board Member, Treasurer and Membership Secretary and Coalition of Irish Immigration Canters (CIIC) Board Member.
Company Website: https://www.irishclub.org

Caron McMahon is representing the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle as an elected Board Member, Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Caron was born in Belfast before moving to Ennis Co Clare with her parents at the age of 8 months old. She is an accomplished Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife and Registered Nurse Tutor with An Bord Altrainis, and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing, MSN, from Trinity College Dublin in 2005. She is adventurous, community spirited, results-driven, innovative, and an influencer having contributed to healthcare globally, through her leadership positions in Ireland, the UK, Qatar, and Seattle. Caron continues to work fulltime in her Director of Ambulatory Nursing position in a large academic teaching hospital in Seattle while also dedicating up to 12 hours a week to the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle.

She is passionate about her Irish heritage and sought opportunities to connect with the Seattle irish community in early 2017 soon after her arrival in Seattle.  As an elected board member and holding two officer positions, Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Caron’s is involved at a planning, strategy, and implementation level for all the Irish events including the St Patrick’s Day parade, the associated Irish week events and multiple irish community events throughout the year. The Covid 19 pandemic has affected every Irish person and non-for-profit organizations like IHC, have been forced to change from in person events to virtual events. Caron was a key part of this change in Seattle and has a lot the experiences learned from the production of a virtual irish Festival produced in March of this year. Success comes from challenge.

She is an enthusiastic sailor, happiest on the water and stated her greatest personal achievement during the Covid Pandemic was the restoration of a 1970 Columbia MK II, 26 ft sailboat, named Tus Nua (new beginnings) that she and her husband Neil took on a project before sailing to the San Juans Islands last year. Her challenging work and dedication as a healthcare leader was also celebrated in an article published in the Clare Champion New paper in Jan 2021. ClareChampion22012021[35946].pdf

Ciara Archer

Position Title:  Operations Director
Company Website: www.azirish.org

Ciara Archer is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Ciara has worked with an Arizona-based public affairs firm on several Arizona state ballot initiatives as well as successful Congressional races for both local and federal candidates, also worked with local non-profits on their public relations efforts and maintained the social media accounts for several candidates and organizations. Ciara’s passion for the Arizona Irish community has also led to her broad involvement and leadership in heritage programs as a unique avenue for her combined skills. As a first generation Irish American, she has had the unique opportunity to be selected as the 2015 Friends of St. Patrick-Arizona Chapter Young Ambassador and as the 2016 Arizona Colleen & Rose. In both of these roles, she represented Arizona Irish both locally and abroad. Her commitment to the Arizona Irish community is reiterated through her endless hours of volunteering at the center. She has chaired large scale events such as the Irish International Famine Commemoration where she worked first hand with Irish government officials. Her passion can also be seen in her success in running the Arizona Colleen & Rose of Tralee programs. Since 2017, her efforts with this program can be quantified through thousands of fundraising dollars, increased involvement of young professionals in the community, and sustainable support from local businesses and community members. She has continued to show the world the importance of Arizona Irish and looks forward to working closely with the community to connect the global and Arizona Irish diaspora.

Conor Hawkins

Position Title: General Manager of the Curtis Hotel
Company Website: curtisshotel.com

General Manager of Buffalo’s only 5-star hotel, the Curtiss Hotel which houses the Chez Ami Restaurant and VUE Rooftop Lounge. Along with The Curtiss Hotel, Conor manages Statler Hospitality, Buffalo’s premier event destination at the iconic Statler City and Buffalo’s biggest rooftop bar “Sky Bar ” which has been the place to be at the weekend for three decades with crowds up to 2000 people on a Saturday night. This fall Conor along with some Irish friends will open their own Bar and Restaurant. The Banshee Irish Pub will bring Irish Culture, Sports, Food and most importantly Irish People together to celebrate Irish traditions. Conor decided to travel to Buffalo, NY in 2001 to visit family and decided he loved the snow and the winds of Lake Erie so much he just had to stay .  When Conor is not running the hotel, restaurants and nightclubs he trains with Buffalo Fenians Gaelic Football Club and referees Gaelic Football. Helping to promote Irish Culture in Western New York is seen at most Irish cultural events in the region.

Danny O’Connell

Position Title: Ancient order of Hibernians, President
Company Website: http://www.aoh.com/

Daniel J O’Connell became the 49th president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America on July 24th, 2020 after serving 12 years as an elected officer. During his time on the national board he brought a keen focus to marketing, recruiting and retention of membership. Danny led the AOH Marketing and Promotions team which developed the first advertising program for the Order and created the current logo highlighting “Irish – Catholic – American”.

Danny O as he is often titled developed the first ever AOH zoom webinar for the 2020 national convention which set a record attendance with over 600 delegates joining throughout the event. As the Covid President he hosted over 100 Zoom webinars and meetings and joined countless others. He created a bridge to Ireland for the Hibernians with numerous guest from the Republic and the North of Ireland.

As president, he established four pillars of focus for the AOH which include 1) Hibernian Charity Appeal, 2) Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal, 3) Project St. Patrick Easter Appeal, and 4) Membership and per capita.

Currently the Director of Support Services at Youngstown State University in Ohio, O’Connell was a small college all-American football player at Hiram College where he also began his 22-year rugby career. Today he is an avid cyclist.

Eamonn McConville

Position Title: Deputy Director of Northern Ireland Bureau

Eamonn took up his US Diplomatic appointment in January 2021. He comes to the Bureau having completed the 2018 Periodic Review as Secretary to the Boundary Commission of Northern Ireland. In 2010, following the devolution of Policing & Justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he took up post as Private Secretary to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, the first locally appointed AG in almost 40 years. Prior to this role, Eamonn was responsible for programme managing a wide range of issues including the reorganisation of Local Government under the Review of Public Administration, the inaugural Northern Ireland Youth Assembly and the establishment of the Attorney General’s Office.

An Engineering graduate from the University of Ulster Jordanstown, Eamonn began his career working as an Avionics Design engineer for the aircraft manufacturer Shorts/Bombardier before moving into the Civil Service in 1990 as a Mechanical & Electrical Engineer in the Water Service.

A keen sportsman, Eamonn played gaelic football at club, under age county and college levels, winning the Ryan Cup with the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 1985/86. His main interests now are golf and skiing. Eamonn and his wife Gina live in Co. Down, home to the majestic Mountains of Mourne.

Andy Cooney

Eileen Scully

Position Title: Founder, The Rising Tides
Company Website: therisingtides.com

Eileen Scully is an international keynote speaker, author of “In the Company of Men: How Women can Succeed in a World Built Without Them ,” and founder and CEO of The Rising Tides, a consulting firm that makes workplaces better for women through assessment and advisory services. In September of 2019, she published her first book “In the Company of Men: How Women can Succeed in a World Built Without Them.”

She is available for speaking engagements, workshop delivery, and consulting projects.
She is a SheSource Expert with the Women’s Media Center, and has been interviewed by Forbes, the Boston

Globe, Standard and Poor’s Global Market Intelligence, Thrive Global, Psychology Today, and Inc..

Eileen was named a Belfast Homecoming Ambassador in October of 2020. In December of 2018, Eileen was named to Irish America Magazine’s 2018 Business 100 list, the second consecutive year she received this prestigious and deeply meaningful honor. Irish Echo named Eileen one of their Community Champions in April of 2019.

In September of 2018, she delivered her first TEDx talk, “How Women Can Succeed in a World Built Without Them,” at the TEDx conference in Sfax, Tunisia. She keynoted the October 2019 Women’s Leadership Conference at the University of New Haven, and in August of 2018, Eileen spoke at the first Women In Engineering conference sponsored by the global Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Tunisia.

In April of 2017, she spoke at the first ever Diversity in Marketing and Advertising Summit in London, the only event of its kind focused on fostering greater diversity and inclusion in the industry. In June of 2016, she was invited by the Obama White House to participate in the United State of Women, one of five thousand global advocates for women and girls.

In November of 2018, The Rising Tides launched the Leadership Diversity Index, the first
comprehensive measurement of the representation of women and people of color on corporate boards of directors and executive leadership teams.

She serves as a Steering Committee member for the Fund for Women and Girls with the Fairfield County Community Foundation, and is a founding committee member on the Women’s Networking Initiative for the Irish Business Organization of New York. In March 2021, her humor essay, “The Five Year Renewable” was published in the “Fast Funny Women” anthology. She is a past Chair and former board member of the Get in Touch Foundation, and a former advisor to the Innovadores Foundation. In her spare time, she volunteers as an event photographer for Special Olympics Connecticut and Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS).

Eileen studied at Hofstra University and Cornell University.

Elizabeth Stack

Position Title: Executive Director
Company Website: www.irish-us.org

Dr. Elizabeth Stack is responsible for operating the Museum, located at 21 Quackenbush Square, which hosts a number of historical exhibits, as well as lectures, music evenings and film presentations. The Museum is the only national museum dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Irish in America, and the new exhibits are a comprehensive look at the contributions made to American history by those of Irish ancestry.

Elizabeth joined the museum from Fordham University, where she taught Irish and Irish American History and was an Associate Director of the Institute of Irish Studies. She completed her PhD at Fordham, writing about Irish and German immigrants in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, as they grappled with the immigration restriction movements of that time.

A native of Listowel, in Co. Kerry, Elizabeth sees a huge connection between her own experience as an immigrant, and the important mission of the museum to preserve and share Irish heritage and culture. As an entity that educates about immigration, the Museum strives to contextualize the story of the Irish immigrants as part of the American story. She is delighted to lead the museum in its cultural and educational initiatives.

Gerry Adams

Blog Post: www.leargas.blogspot.com

Gerry Adams is a former President of Sinn Féin and a former Teachta Dála (TD) for Louth and East Meath, and before that the MP and MLA for West Belfast.

He joined Sinn Féin when it was still a banned organisation in the mid-1960s and along with other republican activists became involved in campaigns around bad housing and equal rights and attended the inaugural meeting of the civil rights movement in 1967.

In 1972 he was interned without trial by the British and the same year he was released to participate in secret talks in London between Irish republicans and the British government.

Gerry Adams played a leading role in the campaign for political status and the campaign in support of the 1981 hunger strike. In June 1983 he was elected MP for West Belfast and in November of that year he was elected as (President) Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

In March 1984 was shot and seriously wounded. Later his home was also bombed.

In 1986 Gerry Adams was instrumental in launching the party’s current peace strategy. He privately met with John Hume and in the following year Sinn Féin launched Scenario for Peace. In 1993 it emerged that the Sinn Féin President had been holding private meetings with the leader of the SDLP, John Hume. In the first of six joint statements issued by the two party leaders they set out their hope for the future.

In August 1994 the IRA called a cessation of all military actions. In September 1997 Gerry Adams led Sinn Féin into all-party talks and in April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was achieved.

In 2005 Gerry Adams appealed to the IRA to take decisive decisions that would save the peace process from imminent collapse. As a result the IRA formally ended its armed campaign and in conjunction with the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning it dealt decisively with the issue of arms.

In March 2007 Gerry Adams and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Ian Paisley agreed a deal which saw the political institutions restored.

In 2011 he resigned from Westminster and stood in the Louth constituency in the general election for the Dáil. He topped the poll and led a renewed and strong Sinn Féin team of 14 TDs and 3 Seanadóirí into the Dáil. In 2016 23 Sinn Féin TDs and 7 Seanadóirí were returned to the Oireachtas and in the Assembly elections and Westminster elections last year Sinn Féin secured its largest ever vote in the North and won 7 Westminster seats.

In February 2018 Gerry Adams stood down as party leader.

Gerry Adams is also the author of 19 books, including Black Mountain and Other Stories which was published in August 2021 and publishes a weekly blog and podcast and is a regular contributor to Twitter.

Gwen Glazier

Position Title: President – Women of Irish Heritage, Inc. (North Jersey)
LinkedIn: Gwen Glazier

Gwen is a life-long resident of the Oranges, currently residing in West Orange, NJ.  She is the youngest child of the late Anna (nee Beirne) and Harry Glazier.  Her maternal grandparents Thomas Beirne and Mary Rush emigrated from Roscommon County, Frenchpark & Elphin respectively, to America in the late 1890s.  She is forever grateful to her Mother, Anna, for continuing to keep the Irish spirit alive for her family and enabling us to pass the traditions along to the next generation. 

Gwen’s siblings include one brother, Harry Glazier of Franklin, NJ and two sisters, Mary Elaine Hubert (Ken) of Roseland, NJ and Ann Wehmeyer of West Caldwell, NJ.  She graduated from Our Lady of the Valley High School and Caldwell University with a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration.  Until retirement, Gwen was employed with Prudential Financial/Aetna for 40 years with her last position held as Director, National Accounts providing group sales & service to their largest national clients.  Following retirement, she has held various part-time positions to include consulting for Towers Watson, Parsippany NJ, and an assistant at St. Joseph’s Church After School Program.  She maintains a current Life & Health Producer NJ Resident License and Non-Resident NY license.   Gwen continues to work as a part-time Benefit Counselor for MetLife and Prudential.   She is a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church, West Orange and a volunteer at the Trinity Soup Kitchen.

Gwen is proud to be the current President of the Women of Irish Heritage and had previously held the position of Vice President and Financial Secretary in addition to chairing several WOIH Annual Events.  She is a member of the Cryan, Giblin and McGovern Associations.  A  Member of the Newark and West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committees and the Committee for the 100th Anniversary Rising held in Newark, NJ in April 2016.  She holds the position of Secretary for the Friends of Brian Boru and continues her support of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, AOH, Irish Americans of the Oranges and the Irish American Cultural Institute of Morristown NJ.

Travels to Ireland have included the 1992 Cryan-Giblin Reunion group, 2004 Caldwell International Study group, co-authoring a recap article of the group’s trip for the Caldwell University newspaper.   Most recently in 2018, she marched with the Women of Irish Heritage, Northern NJ, in the Bundoran  (Donegal) St. Patrick’s Day Parade.   She has supported and marched in a record number of St. Patrick Day Parades over the years to include Newark, Nutley and West Orange, serving as the 2017 West Orange Deputy Grand Marshal.

A non-irish family tidbit is her father’s Great Uncle, William E. Glazier, relocated to West Orange from Philadelphia in 1878 to take charge of the Stetson Mfg. Company.  In 1883 it was incorporated as the “No Name Hat Factory” of which he was a partner.  He was subsequently elected to the West Orange Town Council (consecutive terms).  To this day, his name appears with other 1903 Town Council Members above the Timothy Graves Police Sub-Station Building on Washington Street in West Orange.

James Walsh

Position Title: Associate Professor
Company Website: https://www.ucdenver.edu/

James Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Dept. at the University of Colorado Denver, where he has taught for the past 24 years, specializing in Labor History and Politics, and the Irish Diaspora in the American West.  Walsh is author of Michael Mooney and the Leadville Irish and co-author of Irish Denver.  

Jay Hart

Position Title: Chief of Police, Torrance, CA
Company Website: https://www.torranceca.gov/our-city/police

Chief Jay Hart was born into a strong Irish-American family and raised in Torrance, California. After graduating from Torrance High School, he joined the United States Marine Corps. Chief Hart was responsible for conducting threat assessments and site security as a member of the United States Marine Corps Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team. After several operational deployments, he served with Marine Corps Special Operations, 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company.

Chief Hart began his public safety career when he joined the Pasadena Police Department. He later transferred to the Torrance Police Department to serve and give back to his hometown. Since joining the Torrance Police Department, he has held various assignments such as Patrol, Motors, Police Academy Instructor, Field Training Officer, Research and Training, Public Information Officer, Personnel, Firearms/Use of Force Instructor, Crisis Negotiations, and SWAT Commander.

Chief Hart holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Studies-Communications from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Master’s Degree, in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Jennifer Flynn

Position Title: Section Manager, Office of Diversity & Inclusion Con Edison Company of New York

Jennifer Flynn is Section Manager of Con Edison’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion where she facilitates trainings, workshops, and manages the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion strategy.  Jennifer is looked upon as a strong leader and mentor to her fellow employees.  Jennifer also has oversight of the companies Employee Resource Groups and Local Diversity & Inclusion Councils.  Jennifer is an active leader of the Emerald Society of Consolidated Edison of NY Co Inc which has been incorporated since 1962. Jennifer has been integral in revitalizing the Society to have corporate alignment and to be recognized internally. 

Jennifer is a graduate of Iona College in New Rochelle, NY for her Bachelors of Arts degree and Masters of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Soon after graduating from Iona, Jennifer began working at Consolidated Edison Company of New York as a union employee, Local 1-2  Administrative Clerk.  Following her Masters degree,  Jennifer became an Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator for the company and also facilitated compliance based trainings. After thirteen years, increasing responsibility and many leadership roles, Jennifer now manages the Diversity & Inclusion strategy section.

Jim Lamb

Position Title:Honorary Consul of Ireland, Pittsburgh AND President, Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh.
Company Website: http://www.iiofpitt.org/

For 30 years Jim and his team have been engaged with Ireland’s young men and women, Catholic and Protestant, north and south, offering opportunities to live, work, and learn in Pittsburgh and other US cities.  The organization also promotes two-way trade, business, and investment opportunities (Pittsburgh and Ireland).   Jim was appointed Honorary Consul of Ireland in 2011.  

John O’Brien

Position Title: Publisher/Editor iIrish
Company Website: https://iirish.us/
Facebook:  iIrish
Twitter: iIrish
LinkedIn: John O’Brien, Jr / iIrish

An author, writer, poet, publisher and spokesman, John Francis O’Brien, Jr.  was named as one of Irish America Magazine’s Top 100 Irish Americans. He is Co-Founder, Co-Publisher and Editor of the Ohio Irish American News, now named iIrish after expansion into fourteen states, and was a founder, and served as Deputy Director of Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival for more than thirty-five years.   John is the author of four books.  

Keola Donaghy

Position Title: Assistant Professor of Music, Faculty Coordinator of Music Studies and the Institute of Hawaiian Music, University of Hawai‘i Maui College.
Company Website: http://maui.hawaii.edu/ihm/

Keola Donaghy is an Assistant Professor of Music, leads the Institute of Hawaiian Music at UH Maui College and has been involved in efforts to revitalize the Hawaiian language for nearly 30 years.

Kieran McGirl

Position Title: Board Member Irish American Building Society (webmaster, production director)
Producer, Good Morning America
Company Website: https://www.iabsny.com/

Kieran McGirl is a multimedia specialist based out of New York City. He works as part fo the Board of Directors of the Irish American Building Society which hosts The Great Irish Fair of New York. This year the Great Irish Fair of New York will celebrate it’s 40th year!

Larry Kirwan

Larry Kirwan

Company Website:  www.black47.com

Larry Kirwan was born in Wexford and lives in New York City.  He was leader of Black 47 for 25 years during which the political rock band played 2500 gigs, released 16 albums and appeared on every major US TV show. He has written three novels, Liverpool Fantasy, and Rockin’ The Bronx, a memoir, Green Suede Shoes, and A History of Irish Music.

His latest novel Rockaway Blue was recently published by Cornell U. Press. He has written or collaborated on 19 plays and musicals including Paradise Square which will open at The Nederlander in Chicago in November and on Broadway in March 2022. A political activist he is an Irish Echo columnist and a celebrity host/producer of Celtic Crush on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He was president of Irish American Writers & Artists for five years.

Larry O’Toole

Company Website: www.gentlegiant.com

As a speaker and presenter, Larry O’Toole creatively draws upon his experience leading the award winning Gentle Giant Moving Company for the past 40 years, as well as stories from his upbringing in Ireland and competitive rowing career. A native of Ireland and 1973 engineering graduate of Northeastern University, O’Toole was a rising executive when he quit his job to “escape corporate slavery”. On a quest for start-up cash for a business of his own, the 6 foot 6 inch O’Toole – the original Gentle Giant – was urged by his friends to add moving to his list of odd jobs. In 1980, O’Toole founded Gentle Giant with a friend’s borrowed truck and a $17 investment: a one-time ad in the Boston Phoenix.

photo of Alison Darcy

Leo P. McGuire

Company: LPM Strategies LLC
Instagram: @lpm119

An experienced chief executive who successfully led a large governmental organization ($58M/550 employees), that enhanced revenues and contained costs while developing innovative solutions to complex issues.

Solution-oriented leadership understanding the value of team building towards achieving strategic goals on behalf of the organization.

Specialties: K-12 Schools and Cannabis retail/cultivation.  Negotiations, budgeting, political experience, strategic alliances, business development, lead generation, business acceleration, management consulting, safety and security assessments, collaboration and innovation.

Leo McGuire, MBA

Liam Reidy

Position Title: President
Company Website: http://www.irishcentersf.org/

Originally from Broadford, in west Limerick, Liam has called San Francisco home since 1997. Liam joined the United Irish Cultural Center board in 2019. Since that time he has led a team to expand Irish cultural programming at the Center. Liam became President of the UICC in January, 2021 and is currently leading a group of developing plans to rebuild the Irish Center. Check it out at: www.irishcenter2025.org

Lisa Maloney

Position Title: Senior Vice President
Company Website: https://www.berkadia.com/

Lisa Maloney is currently Senior Vice President –Closing at Berkadia where she is responsible for all of the closing, post-closing and delivery functions at Berkadia.

Prior to working for Berkadia, Lisa was Senior Vice President/Senior Counsel of Capmark Finance LLC (“Capmark”), responsible for supporting the legal activities for the European and North America lending and asset management divisions of Capmark.  From 2001-2006, Lisa was General Counsel and responsible for the legal activities for the European operations of Capmark.   Prior to joining Capmark in Europe, Lisa was an associate at William Fry Solicitors in Dublin where she focused on banking law, primarily as lender’s counsel.  From 1996-2000 prior to moving to Ireland, Lisa was an associate in the business and finance department at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia.

Lisa is currently on the board of the Irish American Business Chamber, the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center and the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame in Philadelphia.

Maria Deasy

Position Title: Actress, Producer, Writer; President of Irish American Writers & Artists
Company Website: www.mariadeasy.com.      www.iamwa.org
LinkedIn: Maria Deasy

Maria Deasy is President of Irish American Writers & Artists. She is a New York-based actress, who won the Bairbre Dowling Spirit of the Festival Award at Origin Theatre’s 2019 1st Irish Festival, where she also received Best Actress nominations in 2019 and 2018. In New York, she has performed at The Roundabout, the Lucille Lortel, and Theatre For The New City, among many others. Her film appearances include Aimy In A Cage starring Crispin Glover, Barry Levinson’s Sleepers, the award-winning films Contact Zone and The Anniversary, and the television shows 30 RockLate Nite With Conan O’BrienMomstersOnion News Network, along with several soaps.

Recently, Maria wrote and performed with Italian screenwriter Deborah Belford de Furia in Together Apart, a collection of 10 on-line mini-musicals conceived by Grammy winner Lisa Loeb with whom Maria co-wrote the song “Suspended.” She is also the author of the play Mine, which she produced at The Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in 2017. Education: Brown University; Commercial Theatre Institute’s “Advanced Topics in Producing For The Theatre.” While her parents harken from beautiful County Mayo, Maria is both a native New Yorker and a Jersey Girl.

Marilyn Madigan

Position Title: Vice President of  the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians National
Company Website: www.ladiesaoh.com


Marilyn Madigan of Cleveland, Ohio is the National Vice President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland, and a Ohio Irish News/iIrish Columnist. In 2019, she was Inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame for her involvement in the Irish Community of Cleveland.

Maudy Dooher

Position Title: Deputy Director | Director of Programming
Company Website: https://www.irishculture.org/
LinkedIn: Maudy Dooher

Maudy Dooher joined the ICC over six years ago as Director of Programing. Her previous experience in media and advertising gave her great insight into event management and new program development.

A native of Co. Mayo Maudy attended the University of Limerick where she studied Public Administration. Through her college program she spent two summers in New York City working for Aer Lingus and was lucky enough to receive a Morrison visa. She spent seven years in NY and later moved to Boston to help set up a Boston office for the Irish Voice newspaper as Director of Development.

A return to live in Mayo saw her join the Mayo News newspaper in Westport for two years, before a return to Boston. This strong connection with Ireland has lent itself well to her role as Director of Programing.

An avid GAA fan, she also played Gaelic football and soccer for UL and later in New York and Boston. Her work at the Centre is greatly benefitted by this sporting experience.

Her strong Irish roots and passion for Irish culture and heritage is evident in her work and the introduction of many new programs for all ages.

Maura Clare

Position Title: CEO, Long Arm Distributing, Creator of Smuggling Nun Irish Poitín
Company Website: http://smugglingnun.com/

When Maura Clare first read about poitín in her late teens, she was immediately intrigued. At the time, her Franciscan nun cousin happened to be heading home to County Clare for a visit. Maura mentioned her curiosity about Ireland’s ancient distilled spirit, and Sister Mary became determined to procure a sample. She not only hunted down the poitín, which was still illegal at the time, but smuggled it back to Maura in a holy water bottle.

Years later, when Maura decided to learn the art herself, a friend made a quiet introduction to a retired bootlegger in the Glens of Antrim, whose poitín-making methods originated with the famous Michael McIlhatton. Maura worked over years to perfect the McIlhatton recipe, eventually going through an extensive process to scale the formula for production and capture the distinctive, fresh flavor of Ireland’s best poitín.

Maura brings years of experience in business management, international event production to the poitín venture. She is a founding executive board member of Irish Network-USA and a member of multiple Irish-American organizations. She has served as a volunteer and fundraiser for nonprofits devoted to helping children heal from abuse.

Maureen A. Kennedy

Position Title: Founder of the Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati, Artistic Director 
Company Website: www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com

Over the last 12 years, Maureen has had full time involvement in creating an Irish center by repurposing a 44,000 sq. ft. 1800’s former schoolhouse, into an award-winning Irish Arts and Cultural Center where everyone is welcome. Maureen is the co-founder, along with her husband Kent Covey, of the Irish Heritage Center. She is the founder and artistic director of the award winning Irish American Theatre Company.

Maureen has enjoyed a lifelong involvement in theatre and dance. She majored in theatre at D’Youville College, performed and continued her studies at Studio Arena Theatre in New York, then travelled west to further her studies in directing at UCLA. While in California, she was one of the founding members of the NoHo (North Hollywood) Arts District. There she was an active member of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation for Television and Radio Artists.

Currently, Maureen can be found at the Irish Heritage Center, where she spends her time booking talent for the center such as music, theatre, film, and literature presentations; meeting with visitors, volunteers, and members; designing building renovations; planning Irish travel; setting up genealogy sessions, Irish teas, public relations interviews on TV and Radio, plus mentoring young professionals like the first Cincinnati Irish Rose Ohio Winner. Now there is an Irish Center for all future generations to enjoy.

Mary Ann Pierce

Position Title: CEO and Founder of Map Digital
Company Website: https://mapdigital.com/

Mary Ann Pierce founded MAP Digital in 2002 and previously  was President of Events Digital, an Internet Service Provider for Event Venues in New York City.

MAP Digital is an end-to-end event platform and managed services agency that provides the people, process, and platform to produce in-person, virtual, and now hybrid, multichannel conferences. MetaMeetings® is our secure Enterprise Software as a Service conference platform. For 20 years the MAP Digital team has deployed the MetaMeetings® platform to run the entire digital infrastructure for CEO councils and global investment banking conferences. At MAP Digital, we help our clients transform their conferences into strategic business channels.

Mary Ann Pierce studied film and communications at Temple University  before working in direct marketing, corporate communications, film, theater, and arts management. She has served on the board of Digital Irish, advised the MIT Enterprise Forum NYC and Silicon Republic’s Inspirefest in Dublin, and taught digital event design at New York University.

Pierce has presented at many events, including the annual meetings of IMEX, PCMA, MPI, and the Empowering Women and Girls 2030 Summit at the United Nations. In 2017, Meetings & Conventions magazine listed her among the Top 25 Women in the Meetings Industry, and in 2020, Meetings Today magazine named her a Trendsetter.

Michael Shinners

Position Title: Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army/Department of the Army Civilian
Company Website: https://www.setaf-africa.army.mil/

Michael Shinners was a career Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army for over 28 years.  His operational deployments include the airborne assault into Bashur, Iraq in 2003 and subsequent advance to Kirkuk; Monrovia, Liberia during the conclusion of that country’s civil war in 2003; Baghdad in 2008-09, and Kandahar in 2013-14.  His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, and Humanitarian Service Medal.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from West Point.  Mike currently works on security cooperation in Africa as a Department of the Army Civilian.  He and his wife Karla reside in Padua, Italy and have two children in college.

Mike Mitchell IF

Mike Mitchell IF

After 28 years of volunteering for the Milwaukee Irish Feat, Mike Mitchel was selected to take on the leadership role as Executive Director for CelticMKE, the parent company of Milwaukee Irish Fest. Prior to accepting this role Mike was the Executive Director for the American Red Cross in West Michigan for 9 years and prior to that he created and grew a software development company specializing in telemarketing, ultimately selling it to his largest competitor.

Mike has the distinct honor of overseeing the 150 year-round volunteers and nearly 4,500 seasonal volunteers during Milwaukee Irish Fest, now entering its 40th year. He provides organizational goals; creating culture that is creative, engaging and fun.

Michael O’Brien

Position Title: Partner, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott.
Company Website: https://www.eckertseamans.com/

Michael J. O’Brien is a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he focuses his practice on commercial litigation, business, nonprofit, and administrative law. Michael represents publicly traded companies, privately held corporations, nonprofit organizations, small businesses, municipalities, and individuals in complex litigation matters before state and federal courts. His practice includes a broad assortment of civil litigation matters, including breaches of contract, non-compete agreements, civil fraud cases, product liability, personal injury, construction and environmental actions, and other civil disputes.

In addition to his litigation practice, Michael has extensive experience in representing and advising nonprofits in governance matters, and counsels for-profit and nonprofit organizations addressing corporate responsibility for alleged wrongdoing by employees and agents.

From 2016-2020, Michael was an adjunct professor in the School of Business and Global Innovation at Marywood University, where he taught Legal Environment of Business.

In addition to his civilian practice, Michael served as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 2007-2017.

Michael is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Temple University Law School.

Mike Shevlin

Position Title: Past President, Irish American Heritage Center-Chicago, Host, Windy City Irish Radio
Company Website: https://www.windycityirishradio.com/

Mike Shevlin is the host of Windy City Irish Radio (WCIR.) The show, co-hosted with Tim Taylor, airs Sunday afternoons from 12PM to 1pm CST on WNDZ 750 AM Chicago and on the brand new Irish global app, Global Irish Radio and the podcast can be found at www.windycityirishradio.com.  The show provides the best in Irish arts and culture featuring an eclectic array of traditional and contemporary Irish and Irish American music, books, and theater.

Over the course of the past ten years, Mike has served as President, Vice President and Board Director with the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, which is widely regarded to be one of the premiere Irish cultural organizations in the United States.

Since 2017, Mike has served as Co-Chair on the committee of Irish Fest Chicago, an annual music and cultural festival which is overseen by the Irish American Heritage Center.  Irish Fest Chicago has established itself as one of the largest cultural festivals in the country.  It’s a dynamic three-day event of Irish/Celtic music, arts, dance, children’s activities every year featuring the best in local, national, and international talent.  Mike has served as Festival Entertainment Director since 2014, and a volunteer at the event since 1992.

Miranda Driscoll

Position Title:Executive Director of Solas Nua
Company Website: http://www.solasnua.org/

Miranda Driscoll is the Executive Director of Solas Nua in Washington D.C. A senior arts manager and multidisciplinary cultural producer/curator, Miranda is from Dublin but is based between Vermont and Washington D.C. and is the current Visual Arts Curator-in-Residence at the Irish Arts Center in New York. She was the Director of Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland, from 2014-2019. She co-founded and directed the Joinery; a multidisciplinary project space and studios in Dublin, which she ran from 2007-2014. She lectured on the BA(hons) Photography program at IADT Dublin from 2011-2014. Recent key projects include the restoration of One, Here, Now – a large-scale room installation of one of Ireland’s most important living artists – Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland at Sirius Arts Centre, Cork. This was marked by a year-long programme of commissioned works from some of Ireland’s leading visual artists, composers, musicians and writers along with two international conferences and a book: One Here Now, the Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland Project. Miranda has an MA in Art in the Contemporary World from the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and a BA in Photography from the Falmouth College of Art, Cornwall, UK.

Natalie O’Shea

Position Title: Executive Director, Celtic Junction Arts Center
Company Website: http://www.celticjunction.org/

Natalie is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Celtic Junction Arts Center, the Irish cultural center of Minnesota with its programs Eoin McKiernan Library, Irish College of MN, CJAC’s Concert Series and Irish Outreach Program. Natalie is an active member of Irish Network, the Midwest Irish Cultural Centers Association, and Network of Irish Cultural Centres of North America (NICCoNA), representing Minnesota nationally and internationally. As a speaker she has presented with Global MN,  the Irish Echo National Campfire, founded and hosts a Social Justice Seminar Series, and received a TOSCA award for her contributions to the Celtic Arts. Natalie is writer and director of three annual theatrical productions, one of which has been published in the Harp and Loon Anthology.  She contributes to the quarterly arts review, CJAR, is an Advisory Editor for UST’s New Hibernia Review, and the Irish Echo. Under her leadership, Celtic Junction Arts Center won the award for Best Irish Cultural Center with Irish Central in 2018. Natalie was honored as one of Irish Echo’s Arts & Culture Heroes and also toured the world for three and a half years with Riverdance, The Show.

Paul Finnegan

Position Title: Director of Business Development at The Irish Echo

Paul Finnegan was raised in Galway City, Ireland, and has lived in New York since 1986.  He is a graduate of NUI Galway, and holds a Master of Science in Business Information Systems from Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, of the City University of New York.

Much of his professional and voluntary work in New York has been on behalf of the Irish community of New York, with over 15 years combined experience as the Executive Director of two major New York Irish organizations, the New York Irish Center, and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.  In 1996, he was the voluntary founding director of the Coalition of Irish Immigrations Centers (CIIC-USA.org).

In 2020, he moved away from the role of Executive Director, to work on other initiatives, including CenterPieceNY (CenterPieceNY.com), a podcast focusing on those who have put down some serious roots in New York’s Irish community, and whose lives are the foundation of the positive image of the Irish in New York, handed down from generation to generation.  CenterPieceNY is part of a broader platform of authentic tribute content that Paul is developing.  Paul also provides business strategy and management consulting services, to for-profits and nonprofits alike, through his company, Shantalla.

Paul is the 1st VP of the Irish Business Organization in New York for 2021, and serves on the board of the CIAA Scholastic, which funds scholarships for American high-school students wishing to attend summer camp in Galway.  In addition, he is the North American representative of Stephen Travers, co-founder of Truth and Reconciliation Platform (TaRP.global) in Ireland, and is actively organizing Stephen’s next speaking tour here. 

Paul has most recently taken on the role of the Irish Echo’s Director of Business Development, and is extremely excited about contributing to the future successes of his favorite Irish American news organization.

Peter Whalen

Position Title: President, Grand Council United Emerald Societies
Company Website: http:  https://gcues.org/

Peter Whalen was born and raised in Bay Ridge. He is the youngest son of the late Patrick & Anna Whalen.  Peter traces his Irish roots to his Father’s parents, the late Michael & Catherine Whalen. His Grandfather Michael was born and raised in Renvyle, Co. Galway he emigrated to the U.S. in 1910. His Grandmother Catherine (nee Coyne) was born and raised in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo she emigrated to the U.S. in 1915.  They married in 1920.  They raised 5 children James, John, Mary, Patrick & Catherine.  They lived in the Bronx and finally settled in Brooklyn in the 1930’s. 

Peter’s Mother Anna Pauline (nee Lane) was born and raised in Athleague, Co. Roscommon. She is youngest of 7 children born to the late Patrick & Abby Lane.   She immigrated to England in 1943. She returned to Ireland in 1947 before emigrating to the U.S.   She settled in Sunnyside Queens with her Aunt Marie Opault (Finneran) & her brother Andrew.

Peter’s parents married in 1953, settled in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and in 1960 they moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where they raised five children Thomas, Patrick Jr, Maureen, Joseph and the late Kevin.  Peter attended Our Lady of Angels grammar school & Fort Hamilton High School.  He started his Law Enforcement career with the New York City Transit Police in 1986. In 1995 he joined the NYPD with the merge of the 2 departments. He is currently assigned, as a Detective to the NYPD Emergency Services Unit in Brooklyn. Peter is Past President of the NYPD Emerald Society. He is the current President of the Grand Council of United Emerald Societies. He is also a member of the NYPD Holy Name Society, NYPD Honor Legion, & AOH Division #22.  Peter is married to Madeline (Smith) and has 2 children Peter Jr. and Victoria Patricia. They live in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, New York.

Professor Christine Kinealy

Position Title: Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute

Since completing her PhD at Trinity College in Dublin, Professor Christine Kinealy has worked in educational and research institutes in Ireland, England and, more recently, in the United States.  In September 2013, Christine was appointed the founding Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Christine has published extensively on modern Ireland, her books including This Great Calamity. The Great Famine in Ireland, The Hidden Famine: Hunger, Poverty and Sectarianism in Belfast 1840-50 (with Gerard MacAtasney, 2002) and, with artist John Walsh, a graphic novel, The Bad Times or An Drochshaol (2016).  Her more recent research is on the abolition movement in Ireland and her publications include Frederick Douglass in Ireland. In his own words (2018) and Black Abolitionists in Ireland (2020). She is currently completing a second volume of Black Abolitionists. In May 2021, Christine launched the Frederick Douglass Walking Trails in Dublin, Belfast and Cork, which are part of a larger project to create a Frederick Douglass Way in Ireland.

In 2017, Christine received an Emmy for her contribution to the documentary, ‘The Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora’. In 2018, she was named an international ambassador for Belfast.   She has frequently been included in the Top 100 Educators in Irish America.

When not researching, writing or teaching, Christine likes to relax by watching soccer or walking her collie, Cú. Her proudest achievements are her children—Siobhán, who was born in Dublin, and Ciarán, who was born in Belfast.

Rob Walsh

Rob Walsh serves as Senior Advisor to the President of Manhattan College and is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs and at Baruch’s School of Public and International Affairs. 

His segment “The Bottom Line for Small Business” airs on 1010 WINS Radio where he is also the moderator of the Small Business Challenge which recognizes the work of entrepreneurs in New York Metropolitan area.

In January 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Walsh the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). During his twelve years, SBS became one of the city’s most innovative agencies in serving the needs of its 200,000 small businesses.

Walsh re-energized the City’s business improvement districts and created an award-winning commercial revitalization and neighborhood leadership program in partnership with the Coro Foundation. Under his leadership, seven NYC Business Solutions Centers were established that secured more than $200 million for small businesses in the last six years of his tenure. He introduced NYC Business Express an online tool for the license, permit, tax, and incentive information that businesses need to operate. He created a wide array of entrepreneurial courses and forged new partnerships with groups including the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, Interise, and the Kauffman Foundation. Walsh also built a new business-focused approach to the workforce system that placed nearly 200,000 people in jobs through 17 workforce career centers.

Prior to his service with the City, Walsh served as President of Charlotte Center City Partners in North Carolina, an organization dedicated to improving and growing Charlotte’s central business district. he led the Center City 2010 Master Plan that laid the groundwork for significant private and public investments in the core of the city including more housing, retail development, an NBA basketball arena, a minor league baseball stadium, cultural facilities, a light rail line, and parks. He also initiated the recruitment efforts that attracted Johnson & Wales University to the Center City.

From 1989 to April 1997, he led the Union Square Partnership, where he played an instrumental role in the neighborhood’s revitalization. During the 1980’s, he worked in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch. He began his career in public service as a New York City Urban Fellow, a program he later directed.

Walsh holds a Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Affairs from Fordham University. He also participated in the Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Rory McGloin

Position Title: Founder & President RPM Communication Consulting
Additional Roles: Associate Professor Department of Communication University of Connecticut,
Assistant Director of Communication and Program Development Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEEI), School of Business, University of Connecticut,
Associate Director of Communication Programming and Development Professional Education Program School of Engineering, University of Connecticut

Rory McGloin, Ph.D. is an Irish-American award-winning communication professor at the University of Connecticut. Rory’s career in higher education spans 16 years, including engagements with over 10,000 learners to date and 30 peer-reviewed journal publications. Rory’s current work is focused on the use of communication best practices in organizational training and development programs. Rory is also an entrepreneur who owns and operates his own communication consulting firm, in which he shares his expertise with organizations seeking to engage in meaningful transformations through the value of effective communication. As a member of the Irish-American Community in CT, Rory has volunteered his time and energy to a wide range of cultural and philanthropic engagements, including serving as Chairman for the Hartford GAA, coaching both senior and youth Gaelic Football, and co-chairing the 2021 Capital Campaign for the Irish American Home which raised over $300,000 in 4 months!

Sandra Feeney-Charles

Position Title: Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center, Executive Director

Graduated Galway Mayo Institute of Technology School of Hotel Management BA Hons.
With 12 years in the hospitality industry, 10 years non-profit experience. Excited to bring the Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center to reopening and the next level.

Seamus Carey

Seamus Carey

Position Title: President, Iona College
Company Website: www.iona.edu 

A nationally recognized visionary, author and leader in Higher Education, Dr. Seamus Carey, serves as the ninth president of Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.

Dr. Carey joined Iona in July 2019 following a transformative presidency at Transylvania University in Kentucky, where he has been credited with leading diversity and inclusion efforts; establishing fiscal stability and growth; implementing strategies that increased enrollment, retention and graduation rates; and developing a mentorship program connecting students with alumni and the local business community, forging strong ties and creating career opportunities for students.

Prior to serving as President at Transylvania, Dr. Carey held leadership and faculty positions at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut and Manhattan College in New York.  His scholarly pursuits have focused on the intersection of philosophy, parenting and family life, and include the authorship of several books: “Growing Up with Your Children: 7 Turning Points in the Lives of Parents”, “The Faithful Parent: Discovering the Spirit of Purposeful Parenting” and “The Whole Child: Restoring Wonder to the Art of Parenting”.

A Bronx native and first-generation college student with a deep commitment to Catholic education and the liberal arts, Carey earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Master of Arts from Fordham University, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Vassar College.

Séamus Ó Fianghusa

Position Title: President, Im Úr Blasta, LLC
Company Website: www.imurblasta.com

Séamus Ó Fianghusa (Fennessy) is the founder and president of the new publishing house, Im Úr Blasta, LLC, and the author of the bestseller “Heaven Help Us, Now!: A Self Help Guide to God’s Own First Responder, St. Jude Thaddeus.” He is a combat veteran with over 20 years of military experience, 10 of which were served with the legendary Fighting 69th. He has garnered widespread attention and support for his campaign to rescue his bomb dog, “Bring K9 Mattie Home.” As a historian, soldier, and Irish language activist, Séamus has been featured on numerous media outlets internationally, including Fox News, CNN, and the Smithsonian Channel in the U.S., and on RTÉ, TG4, and BBC in Ireland.

Seoirsín Ní Mheachair

Position Title: Vice-President Daltaí na Gaeilge,  President Conradh na Gaeilge Craobh Chumar an Dá Uisce
Company Website: www.daltai.comwww.tworiversgaelic.org
Email: tworiversgaelicleague@gmail.com

Seoirsín Ní Mheachair was born in the US and has studied Irish language extensively in Ireland.   She has been an instructor with Daltaí na Gaeilge for more than ten years, and serves on the Board as Vice-President.  She was a founding member of Conradh na Gaeilge Craobh Chumar an Dá Uisce in Albany, where she teaches Irish and presents events that bring native speakers of Irish to an in-person or online American audience.  She also teaches Irish language at Vassar College.  This year, Seoirsín earned a Certificate in Teaching of Irish to Adult Learners at Maynooth University. She has a deep interest in Irish language literature, particularly of Donegal.

Siobhan Dennehy

Position Title: Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Executive Director
Company Website: www.eiic.org
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/EIICNY

Siobhan was born in County Dublin, she was educated at Sion Hill, Blackrock, and afterward at Trinity College Dublin.

Siobhan spent a summer on J1 visa in New York. She joined the then grassroots effort called the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) and volunteered for the Woodlawn Chapter in the Bronx.

Siobhan started working with the Special Events Department of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and in November 1999 helped she helped co-found LeadDog Marketing Group.

Dennehy has been the Executive Director of EIIC since February 2003. The agency has increased the budget, staffing and programs significantly since her appointment, the most significant of which are the expansion of EIIC’s social service programs, the services provided to their non Irish clients and the current capital campaign underway for the Bronx building renovation.

The National Boards of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies AOH awarded Siobhan their 2010 John F. Kennedy Medal.

Elected by her peers from the CIIC (Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers in the United States) Dennehy served as Treasurer (2005-2007), Vice President (2007-2009) and President, a voluntary role from 2009 -2014; she continues to represent the EIIC at CIIC board level.

Siobhán with her husband Dan, (formerly National AOH Immigration Chairman and   HVIC Co-founder) are very proud parents of two daughters, Ashling and Cara with Finn their seven year old Jack Russell terrier.

Stacey Phffer Amatos

Position Title: New York State Assembly Woman
Company Website: https://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Stacey-Pheffer-Amato

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato proudly represents the 23rd District in New York State, the home of the “Irish Riviera,” Rockaway, Queens County. Stacey has used her position to advocate for a strong and continuing relationship between our two countries, and to support the contributions of Irish Americans to the culture and fabric of our City and State. Stacey joined a 2019 diplomatic trip to Ireland with the American Irish Legislators Society of New York State, further solidifying her bond with Ireland and Irish culture. During her time as an Assemblywoman, Stacey has been a strong advocate for labor unions, fought to secure better treatment and care for 9/11 First Responders, and passed the first statewide legislation mandating a moment of silence and acknowledgment on 9/11 in public schools throughout New York State.

Stacey is proud to be a guest speaker at the 2021 Big Irish Campfire and is honored to be an advocate of the Irish community.

Senator Timothy Kennedy

Position Title: New York State Senator
Company Website: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/timothy-m-kennedy
Instagram: @senatortimkennedy

Senator Timothy Kennedy is the Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and State-Native American Relations Subcommittee. Senator Kennedy grew up in a blue-collar family in Buffalo, where he worked for many years as an occupational therapist. As a senator, Tim has secured record funding for Western New York transportation networks, connected job seekers with employment opportunities and workforce training programs, and encouraged businesses to put down roots in New York State.  Whether he’s advocating for better funding for first responders, demanding state fixes to our crumbling roads and bridges, or fighting for more residential options for those with developmental disabilities, Senator Kennedy is a strong voice for all New Yorkers.

Chair of the Transportation Committee

Member of the following committees: Banks, Energy and Telecommunications, Finance, Insurance, Rules, Energy and Telecommunications, and Cities 2.

Vincent Beach

Position Title: Chairperson of Cleveland St. Pat’s – St. Jarlath’s Gaelic Athletic Association
Múinteoir bunchúrsa Gaeilge – Speak Irish Cleveland
Company Website: https://clevelandgaa.com/

Vincent has been a member of the Cleveland Gaelic Athletic Association A for 22 years.  It was this cultural involvement that led him to study Irish under Dr. Edgar Slotkin at the University of Cincinnati and eventually an immersion course in An Cheathrú Rua (NUIG).  In recent years, he has taught his cúpla focal with Bob Carney and the Speak Irish Cleveland organization.  Outside of an Ghaeilge and the GAA, Vincent is a professional engineer working and living in Cleveland with his wife, Michelle, and three children – Ambrose, Bernadette, and Cedric.

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