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Golden Bridges Speakers 2022

Contact Name: Alison Metcalfe

Position Title: EVP North America & Australia, Tourism Ireland

Based in New York, Alison was appointed Head of North America in June 2013, where she has responsibility for leading Tourism Ireland’s Marketing Strategy and Operations in the USA and Canada. In June 2017, Alison also assumed responsibility for Tourism Ireland’s operations in Australia/New Zealand.
Alison joined Tourism Ireland in 2002 and previously held the position of Vice President Marketing, USA. Prior to moving to New York, she was responsible for Tourism Ireland’s operations in Canada based in Toronto.

Alison has extensive destination marketing experience and a record of achievement in building and leading high-performance teams. Her career has spanned strategy development, brand management, integrated consumer marketing, communications and stakeholder management. Alison has worked in the UK, Europe and North America.
Alison also serves as Chair of the European Travel Commission, USA Chapter.



Contact Name: Andrea Haughian

Position Title: Executive Vice President and Head of Americas at Invest NI

Andrea Haughian is Executive Vice President and Head of Americas at Invest NI, Northern Ireland’s Economic Development Agency.

A recognized expert in Foreign Direct Investment, offshore development and international business expansion, Andrea Haughian has helped C-Level executives accelerate business growth, maximize profitability and facilitate recruitment, training and R&D.

Andrea’s experience spans a diverse range of sectors including creative and digital technology, financial services, legal and professional services, life and health sciences, green economy and global start-ups.

Andrea is proud to showcase the talents of home-grown companies and innovators and to enable entrepreneurs to make connections with advocates and influencers in challenging markets across the Americas.

Andrea is an advocate for the advancement of women and the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and is a long-time supporter of Young Enterprise. 

Andrea received the Global Recognition Award at the Digital DNA Awards 2019. The Global Recognition Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on Northern Ireland’s digital and technology sector on a global scale. In 2021 Andrea received the Tom Moran Business to Arts Leadership Award for her success in building successful partnerships between the business sector and arts communities. Andrea is a past Irish Echo Top 40 Under 40 Awards honouree, has been named as one of Irish America’s Most Influential Women by the Irish Voice and is a proud recipient of the Belfast International Homecoming Ambassador medal.

Andrea is based in New York, is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, has undertaken post-graduate programs in both San Francisco and Chicago and is a graduate of Cornell University’s Executive Leadership Programme.  



Contact Name: Andrew Elliott

Position Title:
Director, Northern Ireland Bureau

Andrew was appointed to his US Diplomatic Post in November 2019. He joined the Northern Ireland Civil Service in 1988 and the Senior Civil Service in 2000. His previous diplomatic post was as Head of the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels from 2015 until November 2019, where a major priority related to the particular challenge of Brexit for the region of Northern Ireland.

From 2010 he was responsible for a programme of major reform to the delivery of EU Common Agricultural Policy grants and subsidies to farmers in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland. As a result of this work, the exposure of the Department to financial correction by the European Commission was significantly reduced.

From 2005 until 2010, he was responsible for directing the development of population health policy in Northern Ireland, including the introduction of legislation to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces and the preparations for pandemic influenza.

From 2000 to 2004 he was Secretary to the Parades Commission with responsibility for providing senior advice to the Commission on the discharge of its duties and powers in relation to issues concerning human rights and the promotion of mediation and peacebuilding.



Contact Name: Brendan McBride

Position Title: Co-Founder, Crolly Distillery, Donegal

I have worked in various sales, marketing and commercial business roles from 1998 – 2015, in the food and beverages industry with Dairygold and AmBev to name a few. Leading teams to achieve strategic objectives including managing the implementation of several high growth products sectors and market development has kept me busy over the years. Taking a step sideways, I embarked on and executive coaching career in 2006 working with partners in an International coaching business-  InsideOut® . My work took me to most corners of the globe coaching senior executives and leadership teams.  With travel restricted as a result of  Covid19, on- line coaching had its moments. I worked as a strategic consultant to the founders of Crolly Distillery and then was captivated by the roller-coaster that is implementation and now manage the commercial department for Croithlí Irish whiskey.

Contact Name: Professor Declan Keeney

Position Title: Director of Research, Development and Innovation at Studio Ulster

Originally from Lifford in County Donegal, Declan Keeney (PhD) grew up in the Northwest of Ireland.  Declan is a Professor of Screen Technologies and Innovation at Ulster University and Director of the Ulster Screen Academy. Declan is also Director of Research, Development, and Innovation at Studio Ulster, a $90m, 75,000ft sq. world class Virtual Production Studio complex plus dedicated R&D labs currently under construction, Declan has worked on the frontlines of broadcasting and in the screen industries in the North of Ireland for over 25 years. Including 13 years at BBC Northern Ireland documenting many historic moments in our recent past including The Good Friday Agreement, The Drumcree Protests and the Omagh bomb.  He is an award-winning filmmaker and digital media practitioner. 

Declan’s research in support of the screen industries in the North of Ireland represents £91.5m GBP of live grant-based research and development investments. Declan is a Co-investigator at Future Screens NI, a ground-breaking accelerator programme for the screen industries in Northern Ireland. Declan recently secured £2.9m from the Levelling Up Fund in the UK for a hybrid VP studio and £3.2m on an EPSRC Network+ grant entitled ‘Virtual Production in a Digital Economy’ with York, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and UAL universities. In October 2021, Together with Professor Frank Lyons, Declan opened a £1.6m Virtual Production training facility at Ulster University, the first of its kind in a university in the UK or Ireland. Declan has also just announced a new Games Design and Development degree at Ulster University’s Magee campus in the Northwest. This new digital skills programme will support the fast-growing cluster of creative digital companies in Derry and Donegal. 


Contact Name:
Rep Ed Coppinger

Position Title: Chair of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, Massachusetts State Legislature

Representative Ed Coppinger is a Massachusetts State Representative.  Ed is the son to former State Representative Francis X Coppinger and Catherine (O’Neill), an immigrant from  Kenmare, County Kerry.   Ed’s paternal grandparents immigrated to Boston from Bantry, County Cork.

Ed is married with four daughters and serving his sixth term for the 10th Suffolk District, which includes the towns of West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Brookline, and Jamaica Plain. His wife’s parents immigrated to Boston from County Roscommon and County Kerry, respectively..

Representative Coppinger helped create in 2022 the Massachusetts State House American Irish Legislators Caucus. He is also the Chair of the Caucus. He currently serves as Chair to the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses, overseeing legislation concerning business establishments, economic districts and local planning commissions, urban renewal, and other such matters. 



Contact Name: Professor Frank Lyons

Position Title: Professor of Music and Associate Dean of Research and Impact in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Ulster University

Frank Lyons is Professor of Music and Associate Dean of Research and Impact in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Ulster University. He has developed an international profile as a composer and researcher with over 150 performances and exhibitions of his works having been given in China, Japan, Australia, South Africa, the US, Europe, the UK and Ireland and broadcast on BBC, RTE, NPR and ABCFM by some of the world’s leading soloists and ensembles.

In 2010 he was awarded the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Art Prize with media artist Masaki Fujihata for their interactive installation piece Simultaneous Echoes which has been exhibited in Canada, Germany, Japan and Poland. His intermedia piece The River Still Sings, co-commissioned by the City of London Festival and Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013, was premiered by the Fidelio Trio in June 2013. The River Still Sings features a newly commissioned poem by Seamus Deane, narration by James Nesbitt and video by Paul Moore. His groundbreaking piece, NonZeroSum for inclusive ensemble was performed across Europe in 2017 to widespread acclaim and was showcased in a multi-site networked performance in March 2019.

He has developed an international network of research collaborations in the field of creative technologies and disability under the ‘Inclusive Creativity’ banner; this work was rated as ‘world-leading’ in the most recent UK research assessment exercise REF2014.

Frank recently co-led the successful Future Screens NI bid to AHRC Creative Industries Clusters programme which secured funding of £13million to support the development of creative industries in Northern Ireland.

Frank was awarded an MBE for services to higher education and music in the New Year’s Honours list 2020. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Co-Director of the Creative Industries Institute and Co-Director (Partnerships) of Future Screens NI.



Contact Name: Garry Martin

Position Title: Director of Economic Development, Information Systems and Emergency Services with Donegal County Council

Garry Martin is the Director of Economic Development, Information Systems and Emergency Services with Donegal County Council and is, additionally, the designated Director of the Donegal Municipal District.

In these roles he leads the Council’s development and application of initiatives supporting economic and business development, manages and leads the Council’s response in emergency events involving Fire Service and Civil Defence and has responsibility for the management and delivery of ICT solutions in support of the Council’s service delivery requirements.  

He has held the Director of Finance position in Donegal from July 2010 until 2018 and has worked both locally and nationally, (as president of the Heads of Finance Association) in leading and developing financial responses to strategic issues challenging both the Council locally and the sector nationally across a range of areas.

Garry is a qualified Chartered Public Finance Accountant, holds a Master of Science Degree in International Business from Ulster University and also holds an Advanced Certificate in Business Counselling from Durham University Business School.



Contact Name: Kevin O’Connor 

Position Title: Head of Business, Derry City and Strabane District Council

Kevin O’Connor is Head of Business and a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Derry City at Strabane District Council. Kevin is responsible for City & Regional Economic Development. A key focus within his role is promoting and embedding a culture of Entrepreneurship throughout the region, building a world-class start up eco-system and working on a collaborative basis to deliver better outcomes for Citizens. 

The Council is leading and delivering on this vision with its many civic, statutory, community and business partners through its Strategic Growth Plan 2017-2032 driving economic, environmental and social well-being and regeneration and by addressing and targeting poverty, social exclusion and disadvantage.

As Head of Business, Kevin leads a talented and dedicated business team and staff with an outcomes-driven focus on successfully implementing the key economic objectives of the strategic growth plan.

As Council’s lead on Digital, Innovation and SMART Cities, Kevin is working with stakeholders on the development of the City & Region’s £250m City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund. 

As well as lecturing in Business at the North West Regional College, Kevin previously spent 10 years as Tourism Development Manager at Donegal County Council, following a number of years working within Arts & Business NI, the Millennium Forum Theatre & Conference Centre. 

Kevin holds a number of Board positions, and is currently a Director of the Strabane Business Improvement District Company. 



Contact Name: Laoise Moore

Position Title: Consul General of Ireland in Boston

Laoise Moore was appointed Consul General of Ireland to New England (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) in May 2019. Laoise is originally from Swords, in North County Dublin. She was educated at St. Cronan’s National School and St. Finian’s Community College, Swords. She completed a degree in Human Genetics at Trinity College Dublin and a Masters degree in World Archaeology from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin.

Upon completing her PhD Laoise worked for Accenture. Following this she joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she has worked in Development Cooperation Division, the Press Office and Europe Division. She also worked at the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) on Foreign Affairs, British-Irish relations and Northern Ireland. She has served abroad at Ireland’s Consulate General in Edinburgh, and at the Embassy of Ireland in Malaysia. Immediately prior to coming to Boston, Laoise worked at Department of Foreign Affairs HQ in Dublin, focussing on EU foreign policy.

From her base in Boston, Laoise works alongside the Consulate team to strengthen Ireland’s links with New England, to promote Irish culture, heritage and interests, and to provide services to Irish citizens in the region.



Contact Name: Cllr Liam Blaney

Position Title: Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council

Cllr Liam Blaney has been a member of Donegal County Council since 2003 and has been successfully re-elected at each subsequent local election. A prominent member of the farming community, he represents the Letterkenny/Milford Municipal District and as such has a considerable insight into the needs and challenges facing the people who live in these communities.

He was elected vice-chair of Donegal County Council in 2005. He serves on several Council committees including the Agriculture and Fisheries committees and has over the years represented his fellow members on the Association of Irish and Local Government and the Local Authority Members Representative Association.
He has also represented Donegal County Council on the North West Region Cross Border Committee.
In June 2022, he was unanimously elected as the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council.



Contact Name: Malachy Ó Néill

Position Title: Director of Regional Engagement, Ulster University

Professor Malachy Ó Néill is Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University. He hosted the American Conference of Irish Studies 2021 and played a leading role in the inception of a School of Medicine and the Derry/Strabane City Deal.




Contact Name: Martina Curtin

Position Title: President, Irish Cultural Center of Greater Boston

President of the Irish Cultural Center of N ew England. Found er and CEO of CHC Home Care, Inc., a Boston private home care agency that allows clients to remain safely in their homes while receiving care. Martina has been a longtime supporter of numerous Irish organizations, and is a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Irish Network Boston. In 2019 she receeived an Irish Echo Care Ambassador Award. Martina was born and raised in Co. Clare. She resides in Boston with her husband Craig.



Contact Name: Mícheál Ó Duibhir

Position Title: Development Officer – Digital Economy, Údarás na Gaeltachta

President of the Irish Cultural Center of N ew England. Found er and CEO of CHC Home Care, Inc., a Boston private home care agency that allows clients to remain safely in their homes while receiving care. Martina has been a longtime supporter of numerous Irish organizations, and is a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Irish Network Boston.

In 2019 she receeived an Irish Echo Care Ambassador Award. Martina was born and raised in Co. Clare. She resides in Boston with her husband Craig.



Contact Name: Dr Orla Flynn

Position Title: President, Atlantic Technological University

Dr Orla Flynn was appointed inaugural President of Atlantic Technological University in April 2022, having served two years as President of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. Prior to this Dr Flynn was Vice President for External Affairs at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) for six years, and previous academic leadership roles in CIT included Head of CIT Crawford College of Art & Design and Head of School of Humanities.

Dr Flynn commenced her academic career as a Lecturer in Computer Science, holding undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Mathematical Physics and Computer Science from University College Cork, an MA in Management in Education from WIT, and a PhD from the Kemmy BusinessSchool at the University of Limerick. She is a Director on the Boards of HEANet and Galway Chamber of Commerce.



Contact Name: Paul Phelan

Position Title: Vice President Operations, Letterkenny Site Director, Optum

Paul is a member of the Optum Ireland Senior Leadership team and Letterkenny Site Director with accountability and responsibility for creating, planning, implementing, and integrating the strategic direction of the Letterkenny site. In addition to business operations accountability, Paul has accountability for the Corporate Affairs function which includes oversight for Corporate Social Responsibility and all External Relationships including 2nd and 3rd level programs. Leadership of the Ireland strategy and integration of new business into Ireland is also part of Paul’s portfolio.

Paul is a Culture Ambassador and is passionate about Our United Culture and sees this as a real competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talent in Ireland.

Prior to joining the company, Paul held various senior positions in the tech industry at Apple and Intel Corp. Paul has a hybrid of experience and expertise in Operations Management and in Corporate Affairs, Communications and Government Affairs.

Paul holds a degree in Business Administration and a Diploma in Public Relations.



Contact name: Robert J McCarron

Position Title: President & CEO, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

I am a life-long resident of Massachusetts, having been born in Cambridge and grown up in Belmont, both located just outside the City of Boston. I currently serve as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), an organization that represents and advocates for the public policy interests of 56 private, non-profit colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts.

I joined joined AICUM in July 2006, having previously served as Director of Legal Affairs for the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means and as Chief Legal Counsel for the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. From 1994-2001, I worked as an attorney handling litigation for two law firms in the greater Boston area.

I received his bachelor of arts degree in business/management from Clark University in 1988 and a Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1993. I currently live in Wellesley, Massachusetts, which is about 15 miles west of Boston, with my wife Liz and my two girls Eliza and Catey.



Contact Name: Sandra Duffy

Position Title: Mayor, Derry and Strabane District Council

Elected to Council for the Ballyarnett Ward in 2014 and is the party Group Leader. Sandra is an ardent campaigner on social issues including ‘period poverty’ and made history in 2018 by ensuring Derry City and Strabane district Council became the first in Ireland to provide free period products in as many sporting grounds and public buildings as possible to combat this ever-growing issue.

Sandra is passionate about tackling homelessness and has been involved in this sector for over 20 years, she now leads and has developed outreach services addressing homelessness among young people and those with complex needs that require an intense service to meet their needs, including issues around addiction and mental health.

Within council, Sandra has taken a lead role in establishing the North West City region as a good place to live, work and socialise, she has chaired the North West Regional development group, which drives economic cooperation within the region and has led a shop local campaign. She has also taken on the chair of the PCSP and has a history of campaigning on road safety issues.

With a strong working relationships within the statutory, community and voluntary sectors. Sandra has been a board member of Advice North West for over ten years and works with the western trust in relation to wider health and social services for the City and District.

She is heavily involved in St. Joseph’s Amateur Boxing Club, sits on Greater Shantallow Area Partnership Board, the Culmore Community Partnership and has a keen interest in all community groups and infrastructure in the local area.



Contact Name: Sean Flood

Position Title: Founder & Investor

Sean Flood is a seasoned entrepreneur with an extensive background in taking businesses from concept to scale, as well as developing cutting edge products.  As founder and CEO at Gotcha Mobility, LLC, Sean took the company from concept to one of the top five mobility companies in the U.S.  Overseeing the rapid growth to 120 employees, Sean understands how to best scale and build teams to execute on a vision.  Sean’s strengths lie in bringing visionary concepts to life by establishing development goals and creating strategic processes.  

As a managing member of EFO Ventures, an international MobiTech holding company,  Sean is responsible for managing the strategic growth of the six divisions.  His experience in product development and supply chain management has proven extremely beneficial for all EFO Ventures’ portfolio companies and he looks forward to a future of electrification.

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