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New York-New Belfast 2020 – Speakers


Aidan Connolly

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Aidan Connolly has served as Executive Director of Irish Arts Center since 2007, overseeing a transformation of the Center’s programming and operating economics and the development of a $60 million new facility. A native of Newington, CT, he holds a B.A. in English and Theatre with honors from Providence College, and an M.B.A. in strategic management from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He began his career as a theatre and concert artist and producer, appearing in numerous regional productions, national tours and concerts including performances at The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Prior to his current position, he spent a decade working in politics and government in New York and nationally, serving on the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, as New York City Finance Director for the NYS Democratic Senate Campaign committee in 2002, and from 2003-2007 as senior advisor, political director and chief of staff for the NYS Deputy Senate Minority Leader. He is a recipient of the John M. Bendheim Fellowship from the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, a frequent panelist for New York State Council of the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and serves as a guest lecturer for the Master’s programs in Arts Administration and Theatre Management at Columbia University.


Alison Metcalfe

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Alison Metcalfe, Head of North America, Australia & New Zealand, 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


Andrew Elliott

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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 Brusselsfrom 2015until 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 ofEUCommon 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 hewas Secretary to the Parades Commissionwith 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 peace-building.Andrew is married with two children.


Anita Farmer

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In 2017, Anita established AF Consultancy Ireland Ltd having effectively dealt with excise tax management for over 15 years and remains fiercely passionate about her field of expertise. Having the rare quality of being able to combine her strong interpersonal skills with her vast knowledge of all legal and technical aspects of Excise. Anita consistently delivers a practical approach to solving challenging issues that arise around duty and compliance.
Anita has a proven track record in dealing with Excise Duties, from addressing Tax Avoidance schemes, GI Spirits Classification, amendments to legislation, working with EU wide regulatory authorities and consulting on government strategy, Instrumental in getting Poteen as a classification of spirit in UK, Getting the first Whiskey distillery approved in Northern Ireland for over 125 years
Through her broad experience, Anita has built up a huge amount of respect in the industry and is a credible and reliable partner to advise both small and large companies or even governments on excise issues. Her flexible, solution orientated approach means that she is driven to enable you to deliver your business objectives, regardless of the size of the challenge. Anita is also proficient at writing and delivering employee training in an engaging and informative manner.
Anita has advised clients in a varied range of industries and is always keen to add more to her repertoire. Areas of current expertise are: Alcohol, tobacco products, oil, Environmental Taxes, Gambling, Bingo, General Betting and Machine Gaming, retail and wholesale; logistics; Warehousing: and software development.

Bill Mulrow

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Bill Mulrow is currently a Senior Advisor at Blackstone. Before rejoiningBlackstone in 2017, he served as Secretary toGovernor Andrew M. Cuomo,the highest appointive office in New York State government and the Governor’schief aide.Mr. Mulrow’s career spans more than three decades in finance, business, government and academia. He has worked in several senior positions in financeand business as well as having served in a broad array of government andacademic positions.Mr. Mulrow’s financial and business experience includes most recently being aSenior Managing Director at Blackstone as well as senior positions previously atPaladin Capital Group, Citi, Rothschild, and Donaldson, Lufkin and JenretteSecurities Corporation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Con Edison,JBG Smith, Titan Mining Corporation, and on the Trust and Investment Committee of M&T Bank. He served previously on the Boards of Hudson Valley Bank andApplication Security, Inc.In addition to his career in finance and business, Mr. Mulrow has served in numerous government positions including as Chairman of the New York StateHousing Finance Agency, Chairman of the State of New York MortgageAgency, Commissioner of the Special Commission on Judicial Compensation, Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Director of theMunicipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York, Director of theUnited Nations Development Corporation, Chairman of the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, and Chairman of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.Mr. Mulrow has served in a number of academic posts including the Board of Advisors for the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at theHarvard Kennedy School, the Board of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and Chairman of the Board of theFordham Preparatory School. He has also been awarded several civic and community awards including the Humanitarian Award of the North AmericanBoards of Rabbis and the Roy Wilkins Humanitarian Award of the New YorkState NAACP.Mr. Mulrow is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and of Yale Collegewhere he graduated Cum Laude and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist.


Brian McCabe

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Brian McCabe is Chairman of The Meitheal, Irish-America In Support of Healthcare Workers.
Brian is one of a large and well-known Irish American family with a distinguished tradition of service in the political, legal, educational, building trades and cultural life of New York City.
Brian enjoyed a long and accomplished career in the NYPD Detective Bureau as a detective and commander and was widely recognized for his service in the Irish Peace Process.
Post NYPD Brian was a Vice President of Federal Shield, a security and consulting firm engaged in Developing World security consultations and institutional training and also served as National Director for Healthcare Services with Apollo Security.
Brian is the founder and President of the McGuinness-McDonald Division of the AOH, and was 2018 Gael of the Year for the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Brian is also a former Chairman of the American Irish Historical Society.
He is currently a System Director with the Bon Secours Charity Health System and a consultant in investigative and security operations, creative and educational projects and is a featured columnist with the Irish Echo newspaper.

Caitriona Clarke

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Caitriona Clarke, from Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, attended Marymount College in Carrick-on-Shannon, and continued her studies in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. After achieving her Bachelor’s Degree in Education, she moved to Tokyo, Japan where she taught at Seisen International School for several years.
Upon her return to Ireland in 1994, Caitriona settled in Galway, continuing her studies in NUIG where she completed her H. Dip and Master’s Degree in Special Education focusing on early intervention for children with learning difficulties. In 2005, she was seconded by the Department of Education to work as a facilitator for the implementation of a new curriculum in Irish primary schools
While on vacation in Spain in 2007, she met Yonkers businessman and fellow Leitrim native Seamus Clarke. She moved to Yonkers in 2008, where they manage the popular J.P. Clarke’s Saloon on McLean Avenue, Yonkers, while also being involved in numerous community projects including the McLean Avenue Merchants Association Fall Festival, Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade on McLean Avenue and St. Mark’s Oktoberfest.
Caitriona became an active Board member of the Aisling Irish Community Center in 2011 and was elected Chairperson in 2017. Her vision and strategic planning with the Board of Directors is taking the Aisling Center in a progressive direction to serve the community. Caitriona was instrumental in the recent purchase of the Aisling Center’s building, which they had been renting since its formation in 1996. Being appointed Grand Marshal of the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade on McLean Avenue in 2019 was a great honor for Caitriona and her family, which she accepted on behalf of fellow Aisling Irish Community Center board members, staff and volunteers, both past and present.
In recent weeks, Caitriona has been busy as one of the founding members of Sláinte 2020, a collective fundraising effort to assist the Irish community during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Consisting of The Aisling Irish Center, Emerald Isle immigration Center, New York GAA, New York Irish Center and United Irish Counties, Sláinte 2020 aims to maximize their fundraising potential and provide financial relief for Irish individuals and families adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in the tri-state area.


Ciaran Doherty

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Ciaran is UK General Manager of Huhtamaki, a Finnish world leader in food packaging.
He has many years of experiences driving customer focused change programmes across both private and public sector.
In his previous role Ciaran led the implementation of the Glider system for Translink. In his current role he heads up the UK region for Huhtamaki, turning over circa. €250M p.a. across 6 sites. Major customers include McDonalds, KFC, Costa, Starbucks and Kelloggs. The Belfast team are currently supplier of the year to McDonalds UK & Ireland after a year of significant investment and innovation into new sustainable products.
The global pandemic has had serious implications for his main customers but his business has diversified rapidly into a new sector and they now are a major supplier of PPE into the NHS. All done since the start of lockdown


Conal Harvey

bio photoConal V Harvey is a Director of Harcourt Developments. He is also Deputy Chairman of Titanic Belfast, the world class visitor attraction which celebrates the birthplace of the Titanic and the maritime and industrial heritage of Belfast. Mr Harvey was also Executive Vice-Chairman of Titanic Quarter, the company responsible for the much acclaimed large waterfront regeneration project in the centre of Belfast from 2005 to 2017 and Executive Chairman of Citywest Luas Limited, the company responsible for the implementation of the suburban rail infrastructure in South Dublin.

A graduate in Engineering from University Dublin, his career has been mainly focussed on business development. He has post-graduate qualifications in management and business strategies from Trinity College Dublin, Irish Management Institute, Dublin and INSEAD, France. Prior to his current position, he has held senior management positions in IDA Ireland, The Irish Governments Investment Agency and led a major programme of Inward Investment to Ireland in the Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals and Property sectors.


Conor Murphy, MLA

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Conor Murphy MLA was appointed Minister of Finance and took up his role on 11 January 2020.

He previously served as the Minister for Regional Development from 2007 until 2011 before he left the Assembly to concentrate on his role as MP for Newry and Armagh.

He returned to the Assembly in 2015 and has since been a member of both the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee and the Public Accounts Committee.



Daniel Dromm

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Daniel Dromm has been a progressive leader in Queens for over 20 years. An award-winning public school teacher, Dromm was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represents District 25 (Jackson Heights & Elmhurst). He serves as the Chair of the Education Committee.

Prior to his election, Dromm was an award-winning New York City public school teacher at PS 199Q in Queens from 1984 to 2009. In 2006, Dromm was chosen as “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” by his school’s principal and in 2009, he was chosen as “Educator of the Year” by the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside. He has also received the Marsho-Raimo Award from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

Dromm is the founder of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and has organized the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, which he still puts on the first Sunday in June in Jackson Heights. Dromm co-founded the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG), as well as the Generation Q Youth Services Program in Astoria. He also helped found the Queens Pride House.

A fluent Spanish-speaker, Daniel has been honored by the Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Queens. He is a member of the NAACP – Corona/East Elmhurst branch and has also been honored by the Korean-American Association of Central Queens. In October of 2006, Dromm received a Community Leadership Award from the TimesLedger newspapers.

Daniel Dromm graduated from Marist College and earned his master’s degree at City College. He lives in Jackson Heights.


Danny Moore

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Danny Moore is a former Chief Executive Officer of the trading technology firm Wombat Financial Software and Chief Operating Officer of the NYSE Euronext trading technology segment, NYSE Technologies.
Before joining Wombat, Danny worked with Newry-based First Derivatives Plc. In 2010, Danny established Belfast-based investment firm Lough Shore Investments.
As President and CEO at Options, Danny is responsible for leading the firm’s day-to-day global operations, in addition to overseeing the continued market expansion of the Options platform within both established and emerging financial markets.



Diane Dodds

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Diane Dodds was appointed as Minister for the Economy on 11 January 2020.Mrs Dodds was born into a farming family in Rathfriland, County Down where she attended Banbridge Academy before moving on to study at Queen’s University, Belfast where she qualified as a teacher.She was previously elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly to represent Belfast West in 2003, serving until 2007. She was also elected to Belfast City Council in 2005, serving until 2010 and chairing the Policy and Resources Committee.In 2009 she was elected to the European Parliament to represent Northern Ireland. There she served as a member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee, and also on the Conference of Presidents, the business committee of the Parliament.She returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2020 to representthe Upper Bann constituency.The Minister has a wide range of responsibilities including economic policy, higher and further education, employment and skills programmes, enterprise, innovation, energy, telecoms, tourism, skills training, promoting good employment practice, consumer affairs, health and safety at work, Insolvency Service and economic statistics services


Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau

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Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau assumed her duties as U.S. Consul General in Belfast in September 2018. The U.S. Consulate General was established on May 27, 1796 by the first American President George Washington, and is the second oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world.

Ms. Trudeau’s most recent assignment was Lahore, Pakistan, where she served as the U.S. Consul General. Prior to her role in Pakistan, she served as the Department of State’s Director for Press Operations and as a Department spokesperson in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Trudeau’s other assignments include serving as the Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium; a seconded senior advisor and chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy on NATO’s International Staff, also in Brussels; and spokesperson and press attaché at the U.S. Mission to South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa. She also served in Tunis, Tunisia, and Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2004, Ms. Trudeau was the director of communications for a private charitable foundation, and before that served as the director of development at a local non-governmental organization.


Francis Schott

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Francis Schott and his partners own Stage Left and Catherine Lombardi Restaurants in New Brunswick, NJ for 25 and 11 years respectively. With numerous awards, each has been considered among the best in the state since it’s opening. He also consults on food and beverage to the industry. He had a hand in helping Belfast organize its successful Restaurant Week promotions. He is a professional wine and spirits judge.

Francis took an active role in the redevelopment of New Brunswick, and sat on the board of The Special Improvement District of that town. He is an advocate for redeveloping communities, for the arts and for the role one can play in the other. He has regularly testified before the NJ State Senate and Assembly. He holds a leadership role on the board of The New Jersey Restaurant Association and has represented the NJRA in the media and in front of government on issues concerning small business.

He is a noted public speaker and consultant on food, wine, beverage and community. For 5 years, he was co-host of The Restaurant Guys radio program and is a Senior Board Member – NJ Restaurant Association.



Gareth Macklin

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Gareth Macklin is founder of Obbi Solutions and Director of the award-winning Macklin Group, which employs over 650 people in Healthcare, Hospitality and Construction. Gareth has always had innovation at the heart of his ethics and values. From a very young age, he was creating business ventures fuelled by his passion for thinking ‘outside the box’ and enthusiasm for always being ‘one step ahead of the game’. Born and raised in County Antrim, Gareth studied Business at the Ulster University before leaving Belfast to spread his wings in London.

Returning to Belfast in 2004, Gareth joined the family firm, Macklin Group, as a Director and it has grown significantly in this time. In recent years, the group has won over 50 awards for product, team and individual staff awards as well as opening Northern Ireland’s first-ever lifestyle home, Milesian Manor. Milesian Manor encapsulates not only the best of care but a new lifestyle for it’s residents, with facilities such as a Spa, Cinema, Bar, Coffee Shop and Dementia Gardens, and it has already won Northern Ireland Care Home of the Year.

Gareth’s latest venture into software development,Obbi Solutions, is proving very successful with the team winning multiple awards in the last 12 months including the prestigious Invent Enterprise Software Company of the Year and Northern Ireland Cloud Product of the Year. The platform integrates Compliance, Training and Safety in a unique way for HR, Operations & Safety Managers and is aimed at helping Construction and Manufacturing organisations save Time, Money & mitigate Risk.

Innovation is at the core of Obbi’s values so recently the team has innovated due to Covid-19 with the launch of Obbi Lite to help companies adjust to the new normal within the workplace. The new product helps get teams safely and effectively back to work and manage Covid safety checks as well as having a full remote health screening facility for all staff on their individual mobile phones. Since launching, the product has had massive appeal across multiple sectors including hospitality, retail, pharma, government and charity, with enquiries from as far away as Australia.


Gavin Robinson, MP

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Robinson is a lifelong East Belfast resident. He attended Grosvenor Grammar School in East Belfast. While he was further educated at Queen’s University Belfast, he read Law and attained a Masters in Irish Politics before commencing practice as a barrister. Raised a Presbyterian, he currently attends the Church of Ireland.[citation needed] He is married. Gavin Robinson is unrelated to former DUP leader and Belfast East MP Peter Robinson.
Robinson was co-opted to Belfast City Council in March 2010 to replace Sammy Wilson representing the Pottinger electoral area of South and East Belfast.[4] He was returned to the council as an alderman in the 2011 local elections and elected Lord Mayor by the council for the year beginning 1 June 2012. He was a member of the East Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership subgroup and represented the council on the boards of the Ulster Orchestra and the 2013 World Police and Fire Games held in Belfast.
He won the constituency of Belfast East for the Democratic Unionist Party, defeating the incumbent Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, to become a Member of Parliament in the 2015 UK General Election.
In March 2019, Robinson was one of 21 MPs who voted against LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education in English schools.


Giancarlo Di Vece

bio photo As President and CEO of Unosquare Giancarlo Di Vece believes software engineering is not only a science, it’s also an art. This refreshing viewpoint, along with his leadership and passion for technology, globalization, and IT recruitment talent, has led to thousands of business projects successfully completing their digital transformation initiatives with Unosquare in creative and pioneering ways.

Giancarlo focuses his organization’s efforts on the financial services and life sciences space, as he trusts that these are the organizations that impact the way people live and interact with one another every day. Under Giancarlo’s direction, he and his team actively seek the best talent and then places them into processes and practices for distributed agile augmentation. His goal? To make today better than the past, and help companies move their projects towards the future.

Always looking for a challenge, Giancarlo started gainfully buying and growing businesses at a young age. At the age of 21, he purchased a small craft company dedicated to the North American market and transformed it into a 100-person operation selling to some of the largest retailers in the US. In 2013, with a background in industrial engineering, he decided to move into the technology industry by joining Unosquare and quickly embraced his role of transforming the organization to align with client needs.

By helping organizations understand their projects, manage their talent, and realize their process, Unosquare has been named one of the 100 fastest-growing private businesses in Oregon for four years in a row and one of the fastest-growing US companies on the Inc. 5000 list for three years in a row. Giancarlo’s enthusiasm and contributions have been sought out as inspiration for others, and he is often invited to write and speak on the topics that influence the industry.


Jerry Hanweck

bio photoFor over 20 years, Gerald A. Hanweck, Jr., CEO and founder of Hanweck, has been at the forefront of derivatives research, strategy and technology innovation. Prior to Hanweck, he spent ten years with JPMorgan, where he served as Chief Equity Derivatives Strategist and led the bank’s U.S. Fixed-Income Derivatives Strategy team. Earlier in his career, he worked as a derivatives researcher at Discount Corporation of New York Futures, and as a software developer at Microsoft.

A frequent industry speaker, Mr. Hanweck has also taught master’s-level business courses at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, in addition to dozens of seminars on financial derivatives. Mr. Hanweck holds a PhD in managerial economics and decision science from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University, and an AB in mathematics from Princeton University.

Jim Clerkin

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Jim Clerkin has over 35 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry.
He began his career in Ireland where he rose through the ranks at Guinness in a variety of roles to become an executive member of the board of directors.
In 1994, Jim was recruited by Grand Metropolitan to head up its Irish wines and spirits division (Gilbeys of Ireland), a role in which he brought together, the Northern and Southern Divisions into one group and eventually created the second largest wine and spirits company in Ireland. Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to form Diageo in 1998. He continued with Diageo in Ireland until early 2000 at which time he was asked to take on responsibility for the Western Region of the United States for Diageo’s wine and spirit division as EVP and President.

In 2003, he was recruited by Allied Domecq to lead their business in the Americas as President for North America and Canada, reporting to the Global CEO. Following the acquisition of Allied Domecq by Pernod Ricard and Jim Beam, Jim was appointed CEO of The Jim Beam Company for Canada, Mexico and the USA.

In 2008, he was recruited by Moët Hennessy, the wine, champagne, and spirits division of LVMH to take on a new role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for global brands such as Hennessy cognac, Moët & Chandon champagne, Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot champagne, Grand Marnier and Belvedere vodka.

In 2010, Jim was appointed to the position of CEO and President of Moët Hennessy USA, the leading luxury wines, spirits and champagne company in the world. He is also part of the Global Executive Team of Moët Hennessy.

In 2015 his role expanded to Mexico and Canada making him the President and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America.

He is Chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council of America. Outside of work, he is the Chairman of Co Operation Ireland in the US, which is a not-for-profit organization promoting peace and reconciliation.

Joe O’Neill

bio photoJoe was appointed Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour in January 2018.

Belfast Harbour is the Port Authority for the Port of Belfast, handling 70% on Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade, and custodian for the 2000 acre Harbour Estate home to 760 enterprises across a diverse range of sectors with 30,000 employees working in these businesses. Belfast Harbour is at the forefront of economic regeneration in the city and the development and promotion of growth sectors such as digital innovation, tourism and leisure supported by a £254m capital expenditure programme

Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive Joe, who joined the organisation in 1997, held a number of roles including Commercial Director and Port Manager in Belfast Harbour

In addition to his Chief Executive role at Belfast Harbour Joe also sits on the Boards of the Simon Community, UK Major Ports Group, British Ports Association, Centre for Competiveness and the CBI NI Council.




John Healy

bio photoJohn has 25 years’ experience in technology, predominantly in the financial services domain. He has extensive experience at leading global teams, developing strategy and delivering solutions to address business and technology issues.

Prior to joining Allstate, John led Citi’s delivery center in Belfast, providing IT, Operations, HR, Legal, Finance and Risk Services to the broader Citi group as one of 27 global delivery centers in its global network. Before serving in this position, John held senior management roles as head of technology and as a business unit manager for Citi, as well as senior roles at Grafton Recruitment, Liberty IT, J P Morgan Chase, St George Bank Treasury and Merrill Lynch.

At Allstate, John is the managing director of Allstate NI, leading the team of 2,200.John earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Engineering and Computer Science from Queen’s University Belfast.John is married to Krystine and has three daughters, Niamh, Hannah and Claire and one son Thomas. John enjoys cooking in his spare time and is a keen follower of rugby union.


John Lee

John Lee is the Executive Director of Goodman Media International, providing public relations counsel for professional services, digital media and technology clients. Previously he was with TallGrass Public Relations, where he represented emerging technology companies and produced the CBS podcast “All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett.” Before that he ran his own PR consultancy, John Lee MEDIA, which included several Irish companies in its client mix. He also enjoyed a long run at the New York Racing Association, where he served as Director of Communications & Media Relations for America’s premier thoroughbred racing circuit.

John has served on the Irish Business Organization of New York Executive Board as Communications Officer, Second Vice President and First Vice President and as Chair of the IBO Board of Advisors. He was a long-time board member of the Irish American Writers & Artists and has been active in the New York New Belfast Conference and Ireland Day at the New York Stock Exchange.

John’s grandparents were from County Offaly, County Clare and County Cork.

Jayne Brady

bio photoBelfast Digital Innovation Commissioner
Jayne is an engineer at heart with extensive board experience and a track record of success that transcends blue-chip corporations, start-ups and funding ecosystems. She has over twenty year’s leadership experience and a diverse skillset including venture capital, due diligence, corporate governance, setting strategy, leading teams, technical ownership and finance across complex organisational structures internationally.
Recent roles include Partner in Venture Capital firm with £100Mn+ funds under management and co-founder of an Artificial Intelligence based AgTech start-up. She is deeply committed to delivering economic and social development through harnessing innovation and was recently recognised for services to the economy with both an MBE and honorary doctorate. Jayne has a strong, established professional network and is a Fellow of both the Institute of Directors and the Institution of Engineering and Technology; she sits on the NI Committee for the IoD, the Engineering Policy Group NI, is a QUBIS Board Director, a Trustee for Young Enterprise NI and is an Entrepreneurial Advisor to Oxford University.


Kathleen Rice

bio photoCongresswoman Kathleen Rice represents New York’s fourth congressional district, which covers parts of Nassau County, NY, a diverse suburban community located on Long Island. First elected to Congress in 2014, Kathleen emerged as a leading Democratic voice on national security issues and served as a member of the Homeland Security Committee and the top Democrat on the Transportation Security Subcommittee, where she passed legislation to improve airport security screening in her first year. As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kathleen established herself as a fierce advocate for veterans and for accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and she authored bipartisan legislation to boost rates of veteran employment, which passed unanimously in the House in 2015 and again in 2017. Kathleen was reelected to a second term in 2016, and now serves as the Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations.

After serving as a prosecutor for more than two decades, Kathleen is using her experience in law enforcement to help lead the fight to combat gun violence and reform our criminal justice system. She serves as a Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and helped organize a working group made up of former prosecutors from both parties to help develop bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation. Kathleen is also a passionate advocate for working families, women and children, and seniors, fighting to boost wages and improve benefits for all American workers, ensure that women get equal pay for equal work and that all workers get paid leave, protect reproductive rights, improve public education for students most in need, and protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. And as the representative for a district that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, Kathleen knows that combating climate change is a priority for all Long Island communities and an opportunity to create good jobs by investing in clean energy and green technology. Kathleen has worked to secure major federal investments to help communities in the district recover from Sandy and invest in more resilient infrastructure to prepare for future storms, and she introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program after many Long Island homeowners experienced improper claims denials and underpayments in the aftermath of Sandy.

In Congress, Kathleen has continued to be a national leader in the fight against drunk driving. In 2015, Kathleen introduced the End Drunk Driving Act, which seeks to expand the use of advanced anti-DWI technology that has the potential to keep drunk drivers off the road entirely. And in 2016, Kathleen and Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Colleen Sheehey-Church announced new legislation that would set national standards for individuals convicted of driving drunk with a child passenger in the vehicle.

In 2005, Kathleen ran for District Attorney of Nassau County, NY and shocked the Long Island political establishment by defeating a 31-year incumbent, becoming the first woman elected District Attorney in Long Island history. Kathleen served as DA from 2006-2014, and received national acclaim for her efforts to combat drunk driving, which led to a statewide overhaul of DWI laws and Long Island’s first DWI-related murder convictions. Rice also focused on combating public corruption, launching investigations that led to significant government reforms and the convictions of dozens of officials from both parties who violated the public’s trust.

Rice began her career in public service as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, NY, where she prosecuted cases of domestic violence and gang activity before joining the office’s elite Homicide Bureau. In 1999, Kathleen was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where she went on to an award-winning career as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Philadelphia office.

Kathleen resides in Garden City, NY, where she was raised with her nine brothers and sisters, and she is the proud owner of a Maltese-Yorkie rescue named Pearl. Kathleen is a graduate of The Catholic University of America (1987) and earned her law degree from Touro Law Center (1991).

Garden City, NY

Catholic University, B.A., 1987
Touro Law Center, J.D., 1991


Kevin Gamble

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Kevin Gamble is the Director of Féile an Phobail, Ireland’s Biggest Community Arts Festival and Summer School. Kevin was educated firstly through the medium of Irish at Bunscoil Phobail Feirste, then went on to St Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar School and then to the University of Ulster at Jordanstown where he completed a BSc Degree in Sport and Exercise Science and more recently has completed an Executive MBA at Ulster University. Kevin began his career as a Sports Development Officer and spent 10 years working in a variety of sports development posts, including with Sport NI, Brownlow Sports Trust, and Upper Springfield Development Trust. Kevin took up his current post as Director of Féile an Phobail in 2011, and under his leadership the Festival has grown immensely, showcasing the arts, culture and good relations in action and welcoming record numbers of audiences to West Belfast and to the arts. Kevin is a registered Sports Coach UK Tutor and World Host Accredited Trainer. Kevin currently sits on a variety of Boards, including the West Belfast Partnership Board Economic Sub-committee, Belfast Taxis CIC, Fáilte Feirste Thiar, and Belfast Festival Forum Steering Committee.

Kevin is an avid GAA and Irish Language enthusiast and has represented his club and county in hurling and handball. Kevin continues to play for his local club Naomh Pól and also coaches a variety of underage teams in Naomh Pól. Kevin’s family has five young sons, Jude, Ben, Oscar, Jonah and Finn and daughter Georgia occupying most of his spare time!


Mark Goldstone

bio photoMark has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, encompassing operations, commercialization and consulting. He has led some of the largest specialist consulting and communications groups in the world. He founded his own advertising and consulting agency in London. He was COO of EuroRSCG Life (now Havas), Global CEO of healthcare at top brand and business consultancy, Interbrand and Worldwide President of DDB’s (Doyle, Dane and Bernbach) healthcare businesses.

Mark has executed numerous M&A, financing and strategic partnership transactions, (from both sides of the fence), for a broad array of middle market and emerging growth companies in technology, life sciences and healthcare services.

He has a passion for new technology, new “stuff” generally and all things creative. Mark has deep commercial experience working on large, global pharmaceutical, life science and consumer packaged goods brands. He has developed successful commercialization strategies and programs from early-stage and market development, to product launch and late-stage lifecycle management.

Mark began his career as a clinical Pharmacist after obtaining an honors degree in Pharmacy in the UK. He is a Board member of the prestigious Galien Foundation.

Maura Kelly

bio photoMaura is a mission-driven strategist and Emmy-winning producer with experience in management, digital marketing and partnership development. Through her consultancy practice, Purple Mountain Media, Maura helps organisations and nonprofits develop and launch projects, and creative engagements that amplify their brand and social impact. Her career spans leadership positions in broadcast television at PBS/ WNET where she helped raise over $17 million for programs and EdTech initiatives — to working with top-media companies, such as The Jim Henson Co, PBS Kids, Tribeca Film Festival.

Passionate about women’s leadership and gender equality, Maura is the Director of LEAP (Leadership Executive Acceleration Program) for emerging women executives, and an Adviser to EdSnaps (Educational Snapshots), a nonprofit that introduces underserved girls to STEM careers. Maura was elected to the Board of Directors of NY Women in Film & Television, a leading association that promotes gender equality in the entertainment sector. Maura holds a Masters from NY Institute of Technology where she was also an adjunct lecturer. (@MauraKellyMedia)


Michael Brady

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Brady has extensive experience in operations and strategic planning as well as managing high profile contracts and engagements. He has successfully navigated the New York City and State government, business and civic sectors to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in public-sector funding, gain project approvals for major land use projects and helped businesses seeking to expand, improve or launch in the City of New York. Brady was the Master Planner for the South Bronx waterfront for the New York State Department of State. Currently he leads the Third Avenue Business Improvement District. In his current capacity Michael repositions distressed and undervalued residential, industrial, and mixed-use properties for development.

Brady specializes in organizational management, land use, industrial, and environmental policy. He has over a decade of experience in vacant and underutilized land re-development as well as in-depth knowledge of brownfield policy. Brady leans on his experience in governmental relations to provide the leadership and expertise to forge and sustain relationships with City, State, and Federal policy makers and influencers while also implementing comprehensive legislative and budgetary goals.

Mr. Brady holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Manhattan College, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from New York University, where he served as a Senior Clark Fellow. Additionally, he holds certifications from Harvard University and Columbia University.


Michael Dowling

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Michael Dowling is one of health care’s most influential voices, taking a stand on societal issues such as gun violence and immigration that many health system CEOs shy away from. As president and CEO of Northwell Health, he leads a clinical, academic and research enterprise with a workforce of more than 72,000 and annual revenue of $13.5 billion. Northwell is the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State, caring for more than two million people annually through a vast network of nearly 800 outpatient facilities, including 220 primary care practices, 52 urgent care centers, home care, rehabilitation and end-of-life programs, and 23 hospitals.

Northwell also pursues pioneering research at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Zucker School of Medicine, the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, and one of the nation’s largest medical residency and fellowship programs.

Prior to becoming president and CEO in 2002, Mr. Dowling was the health system’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Before joining Northwell Health in 1995, he was a senior vice president at Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Mr. Dowling served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to the governor. He was also commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services.

Before his public service career, Mr. Dowling was a professor of social policy and assistant dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services, and director of the Fordham campus in Westchester County.
Michael Dowling sits with a cup of coffee before starting his day.

Mr. Dowling has been honored with many awards over the years. They include: his selection as the Grand Marshal of the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City; induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame; the 2012 B’nai B’rith National Healthcare Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the 2011 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership, the 2011 CEO Information Technology Award from Modern Healthcare magazine and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the State University of New York’s Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, an Outstanding Public Service Award from the Mental Health Association of New York State, an Outstanding Public Service Award from the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, the Alfred E. Smith Award from the American Society for Public Administration, and the Gold Medal from the American Irish Historical Society. For 12 consecutive years, Modern Healthcare has ranked Mr. Dowling on its annual list of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.” In March 2016, he was listed No. 1 on Long Island Press’ 2015 “Power List” recognizing the 50 most-influential Long Islanders. He was also ranked No. 44 among large company CEOs in the US and was the nation’s top-ranking health care/hospital CEO on Glassdoor’s “Top CEOs in 2019” list.

Mr. Dowling is past chair of the Healthcare Institute and the current chair of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences and the North American Board of the Smurfit School of Business at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He also serves as a board member of the Long Island Association. He is past chair and a current board member of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL), the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and the League of Voluntary Hospitals of New York. Mr. Dowling was an instructor at the Center for Continuing Professional Education at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mr. Dowling grew up in Limerick, Ireland. He earned his undergraduate degree from University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and his master’s degree from Fordham University. He also has honorary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, Hofstra University, Dowling College and Fordham University.


Michelle Hatfield

bio photoMichelle is Director of Corporate Services and a member of the Executive team at George Best Belfast City Airport, a regional hub which welcomes over 2.5 million passengers annually and provides employment for over 1500 people.

A graduate of Leeds University, Michelle has held a number of senior leadership roles across various industries including Telecommunications, Retail, Manufacturing, and Aviation.

With a strong passion for Corporate Responsibility, Michelle leads the airport’s CSR strategy which has been recognised externally with many prestigious awards. On a personal level, Michelle has been awarded several business accolades including IOD NI Young Director of the Year, IOD NI Director of the year for leadership in corporate responsibility as well as being crowned UK Director of the Year for Leadership in CR. Michelle has also been presented with the Marks and Spencer’s Sieff Award for Leadership.

Michelle is particularly proud of the achievements of George Best Belfast City Airport in leading and developing strong partnerships with the local community, financially supporting over 180 worthy projects and organisations across Greater Belfast and North Down.

Chair of Cinemagic, the leading film and television festival designed for and by young people in UK and Ireland, Michelle is also a non-executive director of Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.


Michael McAdam

bio photoMichael McAdam turned his love of cinema into a successful business employing over 200 people in Northern Ireland.

His interest in movies dates back to his childhood when he took footage using a super eight cinecamera – he created his own newsreels of the Ulster Workers’ Strike and showed them to the other local kids in the neighbourhood. As a teenager he worked as a projectionist at the Grove Cinema in North Belfast and eventually took over the Playhouse in Portrush in 1987 as a sideline while he worked full-time as a vision mixer for Ulster Television.

The first Movie House was built in Glengormley in 1990 – it was Northern Ireland’s first multiplex cinema and also the first to have a computerised ticketing system.

After the success of Glengormley, Yorkgate (now Cityside) followed in 1992 and then Movie House Maghera in 1997. Dublin Road Movie House was purchased from UGC in December 2003 and was recently sold for redevelopment to software firm Kainos.

In 2007, Michael returned to the North Coast, purchasing the dilapidated Jet Centre and refurbished the large complex creating a cinema, ten pin bowling, mini golf and children’s play facility.


Mike Cusick

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A lifelong resident of Staten Island, Michael J. Cusick came to the New York State Assembly with valuable experience at all levels of government. Prior to his election, Cusick served as Director of Constituent Services for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. His duties included serving as Senator Schumer’s liaison to New York State elected officials, as well as various federal agencies. In addition, he managed the day-to-day operation of the senator’s New York City office.

Previously, Cusick served as the Chief of Staff to former Staten Island Assemblyman Eric N. Vitaliano, managing staff and overseeing the assemblyman’s Albany and Staten Island offices.

Shortly after graduating Villanova University in 1991, Cusick began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council. He served as the office representative for the Borough of Staten Island.

An active member of many civic organizations, Assemblyman Cusick has served on the Staten Island Board of Directors of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Boy Scouts of America. He was the Staten Island Chapter President of the Villanova Alumni Association, and is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, John D. Kearney Division 3, as well as the Staten Island Athletic Club. He also chairs the Handicapped Parking Task Force on Staten Island, working with community groups to address the parking concerns faced by disabled individuals.

Cusick’s outstanding work in the community has brought him honors from the Seaview Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Staten Island. He is an honorary member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 120, Richmond Engine #1, the Oceanic Hook and Ladder Co. #1 and was inducted into the Monsignor Farrell High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.

In Albany, Assemblyman Cusick has been a member of the American Irish Legislators Society of New York State since 2003, and was elected President of the organization in 2009, a position he continues to hold.

Since his election to the New York State Assembly in the fall of 2002, Cusick has worked to improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders. In 2003, he authored a law creating a moratorium on building that made the Mid-Island Blue Belt a reality (Chapter 84 of 2003). In an effort to curb runaway development, Cusick authored legislation requiring notice to neighborhood landowners of an application to build on wetland areas. He also sponsored legislation assuring that Staten Island will never again be responsible for the rest of New York City’s waste.

A tireless advocate for his hometown, Cusick labored on behalf of Pouch Camp, a New York City Boy Scout sanctuary. He continues his efforts for this venerable Staten Island institution.

In 2008, Assemblyman Cusick created a program called the “Total Fitness Challenge” which encourages Staten Island students from grades pre-kindergarten through 8th grade to read and exercise during their summer break. A tireless advocate against childhood obesity, he challenges children to keep track of their activities and turn their score cards in upon returning to school.

On the legislative front, Cusick has sponsored numerous bills, including a law he authored in 2006 (Ch.566) that counters protestors at funeral services through the creation of a 100-foot “buffer-zone.” This law was enacted in response to funeral protests that were taking place at military funerals across our country. As these protests continue, Assemblyman Cusick passed two pieces of legislation in 2011 to further strengthen this law. The first bill increases the buffer zone to 300 feet around a religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service (Ch.528). The second requires the implementation of a permit process for such demonstrations (Ch.527). Assemblyman Cusick also introduced legislation in the 2011 Session to establish a real time drug prescription monitoring program that requires medical professionals and pharmacists to report and track prescriptions of controlled substances. These bills aim to link the medical profession with the pharmacies to combat the abuse of controlled substance prescriptions.

Another important piece of legislation Cusick sponsors is a bill that requires age appropriate dating violence education in the annual school curriculum for students in grades seven through twelve and age appropriate respect education and self-esteem education for students in grades kindergarten through six.

Assemblyman Cusick has served in the State Assembly since January 2003. In 2011, he was elected Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee. He also sits on the Transportation, Higher Education, Veterans’ Affairs, Mental Health, Steering, and Ways and Means Committees. In addition, Cusick chairs the Legislative Task Force on People with Disabilities.


Naomi Shihan Nye

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Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. She earned her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. Nye is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work, including the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Book Critics Circle, the Lavan Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Carity Randall Prize, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry award, the Robert Creeley Prize, and many Pushcart Prizes. She has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and she was a Witter Bynner Fellow. From 2010 to 2015 she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2018 she was awarded the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters. Nye is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate.

Nye’s experience of both cultural difference and different cultures has influenced much of her work. Known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people, and objects, Nye has said that, for her, “the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks.” In her work, according to Jane Tanner in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, “Nye observes the business of living and the continuity among all the world’s inhabitants … She is international in scope and internal in focus.” Nye is also considered one of the leading female poets of the American Southwest. A contributor to Contemporary Poets wrote that she “brings attention to the female as a humorous, wry creature with brisk, hard intelligence and a sense of personal freedom unheard of” in the history of pioneer women.

Nye continues to live and work in San Antonio, Texas. “My poems and stories often begin with the voices of our neighbors, mostly Mexican American, always inventive and surprising,” Nye wrote for Four Winds Press. “I never get tired of mixtures.” A contributor to Contemporary Southern Writers wrote that Nye’s poetry “is playfully and imaginatively instructive, borrows from Eastern and Middle Eastern and Native American religions, and resembles the meditative poetry of William Stafford, Wallace Stevens, and Gary Snyder.” Nye’s first two chapbooks were published in the 1970s. Both Tattooed Feet (1977) and Eye-to-Eye (1978) are written in free verse and structured around the theme of a journey or quest. They announced Nye as a “wandering poet,” one interested in travel, place, and cultural exchange. In her first full-length collection, Different Ways to Pray (1980), Nye explores the differences between, and shared experiences of, cultures from California to Texas, from South America to Mexico. In “Grandfather’s Heaven,” a child declares: “Grandma liked me even though my daddy was a Moslem.” As Tanner observed, “with her acceptance of different ‘ways to pray’ is also Nye’s growing awareness that living in the world can sometimes be difficult.”

Nye’s next books include On the Edge of the Sky (1981), Hugging the Jukebox (1982), a full-length collection that also won the Voertman Poetry Prize, and Yellow Glove (1986). In Hugging the Jukebox, Nye emphasized the ordinary connections between diverse peoples and the perspectives of those in other lands. She writes: “We move forward, / confident we were born into a large family, / our brothers cover the earth.” Reviewers praised the book, noting Nye’s warmth and celebratory tone. Writing in the Village Voice, Mary Logue commented that in Nye’s poems about daily life, “Nye often pulls gold from the ordinary.” The poems in Yellow Glove presented a perspective tempered by tragedy and sorrow. In “Blood” Nye considers the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She describes a café in combat-weary Beirut, bemoans “a world where no one saves anyone,” and observes “The Gardener” for whom “everything she planted gave up under the ground.” Georgia Review contributor Philip Booth declared that Nye brings “home to readers both how variously and how similarly all people live.” In Red Suitcase (1994), Nye continued to explore the effect of on-going violence on everyday life in the Middle East. Writing for Booklist, Pat Monaghan explained that “some of her most powerful poems deal with her native land’s continuing search for peace and the echoes of that search that resound in an individual life. Nye is a fluid poet, and her poems are also full of the urgency of spoken language. Her direct, unadorned vocabulary serves her well: ‘A boy filled a bottle with water. / He let it sit. / Three days later it held the power / of three days.’ Such directness has its own mystery, its own depth and power, which Nye exploits to great effect.”

Nye’s next book, Fuel (1998), received wide acclaim. The poems range over a variety of subjects, settings and scenes. Reviewing the book for Ploughshares, Victoria Clausi regarded it as, above all, an attempt at connection: “Nye’s best poems often act as conduits between opposing or distant forces. Yet these are not didactic poems that lead to forced epiphanic moments. Rather, the carefully crafted connections offer bridges on which readers might find their own stable footing, enabling them to peek over the railings at the lush scenery.” Like her mentor, William Stafford, Nye again and again manifests her “belief in the value of the overlooked, the half-forgotten,” wrote Clausi, as well as investigating global concerns like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly found that “Nye’s witnessings of everyday life and strife never quite acquire collective force, yet they convey a delicate sense of moral concern and a necessary sense of urgency.”

After the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Nye became an active voice for Arab Americans, speaking out against both terrorism and prejudice. The lack of understanding between Americans and Arabs led her to collect poems she had written which dealt with the Middle East and her experiences as an Arab American into one volume. 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Publisher’s Weekly declared that it was “an excellent way to invite exploration and discussion of events far away and their impact here at home.” Nye’s next book, You and Yours (2005), continued to explore the Middle East and the possibilities of poetic response. Divided into two sections, the first deals with Nye’s personal experiences as a mother and traveler and intersperses Nye’s typical free-verse with prose poems. Part two examines the Middle East with “indignity and compassion,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. Donna Seaman wrote that the book is “tender yet forceful, funny and commonsensical, reflective and empathic,” adding, “Nye writes radiant poems of nature and piercing poems of war, always touching base with homey details and radiant portraits of family and neighbors. Nye’s clarion condemnation of prejudice and injustice reminds readers that most Americans have ties to other lands and that all concerns truly are universal.” The book received the Isabel Gardner Poetry Award. Nye’s recent collections of poetry include Transfer (2011), Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners (2018), and The Tiny Journalist (2019).

In addition to poetry, Nye has written fiction for children, poetry and song recordings, and poetry translations. She has also published a book of essays, Never in a Hurry (1996), and edited several anthologies, including the award-winning This Same Sky (1992), which represents 129 poets from sixty-eight countries. In her introduction to the anthology Nye writes, “Whenever someone suggests ‘how much is lost in translation!’ I want to say, ‘Perhaps—but how much is gained!’” Booklist critic Hazel Rochman called it “an extraordinary anthology, not only in its global range … but also in the quality of the selections and the immediacy of their appeal.” Nye also compiled and edited a bilingual anthology of Mexican poetry, The Tree Is Older Than You Are (1995), and she edited the collection I Feel a Little Jumpy around You (1996), which combines 194 “his and her” poems, pairing a poem written by a man with one written by a woman. Nye’s anthology The Space between Our Footsteps (1998) is a collection of the work of 127 contemporary Middle Eastern poets and artists representing nineteen countries.

As a children’s writer, Nye is acclaimed for her sensitivity and cultural awareness. Her book Sitti’s Secrets (1994) concerns an Arab American child’s relationship with her sitti—Arabic for grandmother—who lives in a Palestinian village. Booklist, praised Nye for capturing the emotions of the “child who longs for a distant grandparent” as well as for writing a narrative that deals personally with Arabs and Arab Americans. In 1997 Nye published Habibi, her first young-adult novel. Readers meet Liyana Abboud, an Arab American teen who moves with her family to her Palestinian father’s native country during the 1970s, only to discover that the violence in Jerusalem has not yet abated. As Liyana notes, “in Jerusalem, so much old anger floated around … [that] the air felt stacked with weeping and raging and praying to God by all the different names.” Autobiographical in its focus, Habibi was praised by Karen Leggett, who noted in the New York Times Book Review that the novel magnifies through the lens of adolescence “the joys and anxieties of growing up” and that Nye is “meticulously sensitive to this rainbow of emotion.” Nye sees her writing for children as part of her larger goals as a writer. As Nye explained to a Children’s Literature Review contributor, “to counteract negative images conveyed by blazing headlines, writers must steadily transmit simple stories closer to heart and more common to everyday life. Then we will be doing our job.” Nye has since published poetry for young adults, including Come With Me: Poems for a Journey (2000) and A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (2005). Nye has received many awards for her writing for children, including the NSK Neustadt Award for Children’s Literature and the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award from the American Library Association.

Nye has been affiliated with the Michener Center for writers at the University of Texas and poetry editor for the Texas Observer for over twenty years. She is a professor of creative writing at Texas State University. Nye told Contemporary Authors: “I have always loved the gaps, the spaces between things, as much as the things. I love staring, pondering, mulling, puttering. I love the times when someone or something is late—there’s that rich possibility of noticing more, in the meantime … Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.”

Pat Cullen, Director, RCN Northern Ireland

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Pat joined the Royal College of Nursing in 2016 as Operations Manager and was appointed Director of RCN Northern Ireland in May 2019.

In a career that has spanned both hospital and community settings, Pat was Assistant Director of Mental Health Services and Professional Head of Nursing in a local health care trust before joining the Department of Health as Nursing Officer in 2001. During this time she was involved in the development of the commissioning of the first Medium Secure Unit in Northern Ireland and the first Department of Health standards for clinical supervision in mental health nursing.

Following this, Pat took on various roles in commissioning before being appointed Deputy Director of Nursing, Safety, Quality and Patient Experience in the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Health and Social Care Board (HSCB). Pat led the development of the first safety and quality strategy in Northern Ireland and established the 10,000 Voices project which collected patient voices in order to inform commissioning decisions.

Pat was then seconded as Executive Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professions within the PHA and HSCB. Before joining the RCN, Pat, on behalf for the Department of Health, led the commissioning and performance management arrangements for unscheduled care services.

In addition to her extensive career experience, Pat is a registered psychotherapist.


Paul Maskey, MP

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Paul Maskey has been a republican activist for his entire adult life.He was first elected to Belfast City Council in 2001 when he topped the poll in the Upper Falls constituency.Paul remained on the council until 2009 during which time he was Sinn Féin’s group leader from 2005 to 2007. In 2007 Paul was first elected to the Assembly for West Belfast and then again in 2011.In 2011 Paul was elected as MP for West Belfast in a by-election and was reelected again in 2015.

Paul is renowned for being a hard working MP who is easily accessible on the ground in West Belfast with his constituency office providing an excellent service to the people of the area.


Peta Conn

bio photoI am a highly-experienced strategic management professional and senior director, with dual Irish and New Zealand nationality, and strong leadership, organisational and entrepreneurial skills derived from a fifteen-year career in the public and private sector. I offer significant expertise in all aspects of international business, with deep knowledge of the FMCG market sector, steering strategy and planning, delivering exemplary client support and energising high-impact teams to achieve first-class outcomes and revenues.

Heading up a research and account management team at Euromonitor International enabled me to provide targeted strategy and business intelligence for a wide range of multinational companies, driving input into strategies for organic growth, geographic expansion and new product launches. I grew a highly-successful business unit, managed a top-ranking team of research and sales experts, expanded the country coverage and generated a significant income stream.

My relationship, partnering and negotiating strengths proved their worth when I joined New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in 2009. As Regional Investment Manager in London I was accountable for the development of international trade, attracting foreign direct investment for the New Zealand Government across EMEA. As Trade Commissioner in New York, I promoted the country’s interests city-wide and across the US, deploying my rich understanding of international business and market intelligence to focus on the development of trade relationships and help NZ companies achieve growth and profitability.

Peter Boyle

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Starting out on the vibrant and busy streets of Belfast, Pete Boyle travelled from his hometown of Strabane to the market stalls of Belfast, Northern Ireland to sell his selection of hand-picked jewellery. Quickly discovering his craft and the public’s reaction to his jewellery, the first Argento store opened in 1997 in Belfast. Argento comes from the Italian word for silver, what Argento is best known for! Fast forward to the present day and our stores are a visual treat for the eyes, inspired by the heritage of Belfast.


Robert W. 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.

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 as 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 small businesses.  Walsh re-energized the City’s business improvement districts and created an award-winning commercial revitalization and neighborhood leadership program. 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 license, permit, tax, and incentive information. He created new entrepreneurial courses and forged new partnerships with groups including the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and the Kauffman Foundation. Walsh also built a new business-focused approach to the workforce centers that placed nearly 200,000 people.

Prior to his service with the City, Walsh served as President of Charlotte Center City Partners in North Carolina.  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,  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.

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

Shaun Kelly

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Shaun recently retired as the Global Chief Operating Officer for KPMG International. In this position, he managed the day to day operational aspects of the firm’s Global Strategy and oversaw the delivery of global initiatives. Working with the Global leadership team he drove high performance and efficient service delivery across the KPMG network.He currently chairs KPMG’s Northern Ireland Advisory Board.Shaun is a Non-Executive Director of CRH plc, an international group of diversified building materials businesses, where he is the Chair of the Audit Committee.He also sits on the Board of Park Indemnity a private Bermuda based captive insurance company.Shaun held numerous leadership roles within KPMG in including Vice Chair – Operations for KPMG LLP (2010-2015), Vice Chair in charge of KPMG’s U.S. Tax practice and Regional Head of the Americas Tax practice (2005-2010) , member of the firm’s Management Committee (2005-2015) and leader for KPMG’s US and Global Transaction Services practices and Regional Coordinating Partner for the Transaction Services practice in the Americas (2001-2005)Shaun grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and joined KPMG International’s Irish member firm in Dublin in 1980 and transferred to the U.S. firm’s San Francisco office in 1984. He was admitted to the U.S. partnership in 1999.Shaun earned a Bachelor of Commerce, First Class Honors from University College, Dublin.He is a Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a Fellow of Chartered Accountants IrelandIn 2015 Shaun was awarded a degree of Doctor of Science Economics, honoris causa by Queens University, Belfast.


Sophie McDonald

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Sophie McDonald is Head of Analytics at Options Technology,a global leader in fintech managed services.
A pupil at Rathmore Grammar School, she went on to study Business & IT at Queen’s University Belfast in 2011. Whilst completing her degree she worked at the New York Stock Exchange as a placement student, gaining exposure to the Belfast fintech sector, and subsequently decided on this area as her chosen career path.

Keen to work in a start-up/rapid growth company, she joined Options IT in 2015. Initially based in Belfast on the support desk, her duties took her across the globe to work directly with clients.

After Options invested in the Big Data Analytics tool Splunk, Sophie began using data to help solve some of the problems faced by the organisation’s customers.
To get a better understanding of what her clients needed, she travelled to NYC, London and other major fintech hubs to discuss needs with CTOs of 20 or so of their largest clients.
Having subsequently exposed a massive opportunity productize Options’ reporting offering, she has been working closely with clients and engineers to develop a portal which offers real time data and visualizations covering all aspects of their business… from server utilization to potential insider threats.
The roll-out is proving a great success with the project on course to hit target of £1m revenue within the next 18 months.


Suzanne Aquino

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Suzanne Aquino is responsible for end-to-end sourcing and procurement services for one of Chain IQ US Inc., financial services clients.

Chain IQ US Inc., an independent global service company that provides strategic, tactical, and operational solutions. Chain IQ operates from its main centers: Zürich (headquarters), New York, London, Singapore, Mumbai and Bucharest. It currently services clients in more than 20 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia.
In her previous role as a Global Category Manager for Outsourcing and Offshoring at Chain IQ, Suzanne advised her clients on new ways to create value in an environment of rapidly changing technology, advancing automation, and an increasingly customer-experience-driven economy.
Prior to joining Chain IQ, Suzanne spent 15 years at UBS, where she led strategic sourcing teams responsible for establishing and executing the bank’s strategy. She identified opportunities to reduce spending, optimize costs, improve processes, and ensure the effective transition, execution, and sustainable performance of the bank’s outsourced portfolios.
Suzanne lives with her husband in Manhattan, where they share a passion for the arts from their respective Irish and Italian heritages. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing.  Suzanne is a proud recipient of the 2018 Belfast Homecoming Ambassador Medal and she was recently appointed to the Irish Business Organization Advisory Board.


Suzanne Wylie

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Suzanne has been the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, the largest Council in Northern Ireland since 2014. During her time, she has built strong relationships with the private and public sector – pitching Belfast globally as a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

Suzanne is passionate about creating the right conditions which allow business to flourish. Consequently, Belfast’s economy has grown sharply during her tenure, a host of global corporations have set up and expanded bases in the city and Belfast has become a hub for technology companies, particularly those in the Fintech, software development the cyber security sectors. Belfast is the #1 global destination for financial technology investment and it is ranked #1 in Europe and #2 worldwide for FDI strategy.

Suzanne has focused on reimagining Belfast, alongside successfully branding the city, meaning Belfast was voted #1 region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet in 2018 and perhaps most importantly – the Happiest region in the UK.  

Suzanne has led the creation of and significant progress on the city’s 20 year community plan, The Belfast Agenda, which in the context of COVID-19 is more important than ever. With the buy in of Belfast’s key stakeholders she agreed a shared vision and created long-term ambitions for the city which include job creation, inward investment, and investment in neighbourhoods and skills. This includes targets to create 46,000 new jobs and attract 66,000 more city dwellers and to achieve over £1bn of real estate investment. The city is also focused on climate change and has set up a joint commission with the universities focused on how green investment can stimulate the economy.

Suzanne also led the charge to secure a £1bn Belfast Region City Deal – this investment will be a key pillar in how the city and its region rebuilds and recovers in the wake of COVID-19 with a huge focus on innovation and digital investment to propel competitive advantage.

Working with key city partners Suzanne is committed to weaving digital innovation into all aspects of our economy, infrastructure and healthcare services through the establishment of the city’s first Digital Innovation Partnership and has recently appointed a Digital Commissioner to help create smart innovation districts with business clusters in growth sectors such as tech and health diagnostics and analytics.

Suzanne has led the Council in its city leadership role during the response to COVID-19, and has started the careful planning for rebuilding and recovering with elected representatives and the city’s key stakeholders.

Tim Kennedy

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Senator Tim Kennedy, born on October 20, 1976, is a lifelong Western New York resident. Tim grew up in a blue-collar family in Buffalo, where his parents, Marty and Mary Kennedy, raised Tim and his four siblings to work hard, focus on their education, help their neighbors, and get involved in their community. Tim and his wife, Katie, live in the City of Buffalo where they are raising their three children, Connor, Eireann, and Padraic.

Since being sworn into office in January 2011, Tim has kept a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable in our community. He spearheaded the passage of Jay-J’s law, legislation that Tim introduced to stiffen penalties on repeat child abusers. The legislation was inspired by Jay J Bolvin, a young boy who was brutally abused by his father. Sadly, Jay J’s father received a light sentence due to antiquated sentencing laws. Tim worked with colleagues in both the Senate and the Assembly to secure passage of Jay J’s Law. Since then, he has pushed through several pieces of legislation to reform Child Protective Services, as well as Jackie’s Law, which protects victims of domestic violence from GPS stalking.

Tim has also fought to protect Western New York’s seniors. He worked with community and government leaders to secure funds to transform the former Holy Family Elementary School in Buffalo into a senior apartment complex. He also fought for a significant increase in eligibility for EPIC, a state program to help pay for prescription drugs. With Tim’s support, the income eligibility for single seniors has increased from $35,000 to $75,000, and has increased for couples from $50,000 to $100,000. This has opened up eligibility to thousands more seniors in Western New York.

Above all, Tim knows the importance of growing and protecting Western New York’s workforce. He fought to secure passage of SUNY 2020, legislation which is allowing the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College to thrive. He also has worked to secure funding to support workforce training programs to the long-term unemployed, opening them up to rewarding good-paying careers. Tim voted to fund the Buffalo Billion, which is creating thousands of jobs in Western New York, giving the local economy the boost needed to break away from decades of decline. He also regularly works one-on-one with local companies to link them with state resources that allow them to grow their workforce.

Tim went to St. Martin’s Elementary School before attending St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. He then received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in occupational therapy at D’Youville College. As he studied at D’Youville, Tim began to truly understand the challenges facing Western New York. Recognizing that any challenge is an opportunity for a community to grow stronger, Tim was inspired to get involved in government to help move the community forward. As a licensed occupational therapist, Tim has spent his entire career working to help people. For 11 years, Tim worked with geriatric and pediatric populations to help them recover from injuries and fully participate in all life situations.

Thomas P. DiNapoli

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Thomas P. DiNapoli is the 54th Comptroller of the State of New York. A life-long Long Islander, Tom was raised in a middle-class, union household and saw the value of hard work and stretching every dollar in the example set by his parents.

In 1972, Tom won his first election and served as a trustee on the Mineola Board of Education, becoming the first 18-year-old in New York State to hold public office. He attended Hofstra University, earning a bachelor’s degree in history and graduated magna cum laude in 1976. He worked in the telecommunications industry for 10 years, and went to night classes and earned a master’s degree from The New School University’s Graduate School of Management and Urban Professions.

In 1986, he ran for the New York State Assembly and was elected to represent the 16th District in northwestern Nassau County for the next 20 years. Tom was elected State Comptroller on Feb. 7, 2007 by a bipartisan majority of the State Legislature. He was elected Comptroller by New York’s voters in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Tom is known for his integrity, independence and even-keeled leadership.

His record of accomplishments include identifying billions in waste, fraud and cost savings in government, uncovering corruption in State and local governments, leading to dozens of arrests and tens of millions in restitution, providing robust oversight of school district operations and education spending, successfully advocating for State law changes to increase oversight of special education contractors after widespread abuse was found, developing an early warning system to identify municipalities and school districts showing signs of fiscal stress, managing the third largest public pension fund in the nation through difficult losses during the Great Recession, reformed how it operates and received high praise for industry leading standards, investing nearly $2 billion in private equity and loan programs to benefit New York-based businesses and provide a return to the State pension fund, earning a reputation as one of the leading shareholder voices on many corporate concerns including environmental issues and corporate political spending, opening up government spending on his transparency website Open Book New York, leading the fight for prudent fiscal and procurement reforms to help New York change how it does business and put it on better fiscal footing, and streamlining claims process for individuals to recover lost money. Returned $424 million in unclaimed funds to owners in State Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

Vishaan Chakrabarti

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With over twenty years of proven experience authoring and implementing visionary design, Vishaan Chakrabarti is the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. Simultaneously, he is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he teaches design and urbanism. His highly acclaimed book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America (Metropolis Books, 2013), argues that a more urban United States would result in a more prosperous, sustainable, joyous, and socially mobile nation.

Recently Chakrabarti was named the William W. Wurster Dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, a position he will assume in July 2020. PAU will as a consequence open a California office in tandem with its existing New York studio, both of which will continue under Vishaan’s creative direction.

From 2012 to 2015, Vishaan was a principal at SHoP Architects, where he co-led major architecture and urban design projects including the master plan and first building at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg as well as the master plan and first building at the Essex Crossing site at Seward Park, which together bookend the Williamsburg Bridge in a new form of mixed-use, mixed-income urbanism.

While serving under Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning, Vishaan successfully collaborated on the now-realized efforts to save the High Line, rezone Hudson Yards, extend the #7 subway line, rebuild the East River Waterfront, expand the Columbia University campus, and reincorporate the street grid at the World Trade Center site after the events of 9/11. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley; a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell University. He is a registered architect in the States of New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and is registered with NCARB.

Vishaan lectures internationally; contributes articles and op-ed’s to the New York Times, Crain’s Business, and other publications; has appeared on CBS Evening News, MSNBC’s The Cycle, Charlie Rose, National Public Radio, WNYC, and other television and radio programs; and was a main-stage speaker at TED 2018: The Age of Amazement. He serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York, the Regional Planning Association, and the Citizens Budget Commission. Vishaan has received a CACF Catalyst for Change Award and is a former Crain’s “40 Under 40” and David Rockefeller Fellow.







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