20th July 2022

Ambassadors – 2022

Name: Angelo J. Morinello
Organisation: New York State Assembly

Angelo J. Morinello was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 8, 2016. His district includes parts of Niagara and Erie Counties. 

As a lifelong resident of Western New York and retired judge, Angelo recognizes the importance of qualifications, experience and life lessons. His tour in Vietnam as a combat soldier, his education, work experience as a lawyer and a judge, and as a community resident, enables him to truly understand what it takes to be a representative in Albany.

Committed to reforming Albany, Angelo is ready to address the culture of corruption in state government. Throughout his legal and judicial career, he has been guided by the strictest ethical standards and is ready to question the lack of standards in the Legislature today. He will also work to implement workforce development programs, create more jobs and address the impact of drugs and violence on New York’s families.

Prior to being elected to the Assembly, Angelo was the former in-house counsel for his family’s business, Certo Brothers Distributing Co., former county assistant district attorney, counsel to Niagara Falls Community Development and an attorney in business law. Before retiring, he also served as the Niagara Falls City Court Judge from 2001-2015. Angelo’s diverse background will ensure the citizens of the 145th Assembly District have a strong and skilled representative in Albany who can address the important issues.

Name: Brian Kavanagh
Organisation: New York State Senator

State Senator Brian Kavanagh represents more than 320,000 residents in New York’s Senate District 26, including the Manhattan neighbourhoods of Battery Park City, Chinatown, the East and South Villages, the Financial District, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, SoHo, Tribeca, and Two Bridges and the Brooklyn neighbourhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, the Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg. 

Due to the redistricting process that occurs every ten years, the Manhattan and Brooklyn portions of the current district have been divided into separate districts for the 2022 elections and will be represented by separate Senators as of 2023. A new Manhattan district, designated District 27, includes all of the Manhattan neighbourhoods that make up the bulk of the current district, plus additional residents of the East Village, Greenwich Village, and NoHo.

Brian was first elected to the Senate in 2017 after representing the 74th District on Manhattan’s East Side in the State Assembly, where he was elected to six terms, beginning in 2006. His work has focused on affordable housing, gun violence prevention, environmental sustainability, democracy and open government, and economic and social justice.

Name: Daniel Dromm
Organisation: District 25 – Former Council Member – Democrat – Elmhurst, Jackson Heights

Daniel Dromm has been a progressive leader in Queens for over 20 years. Dromm was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represented District 25 (Jackson Heights & Elmhurst). He was the Chairperson of the Finance Committee.

In the City Council, Dromm was a tireless advocate with a proven record of delivering for the community. $4 million to Elmhurst Hospital to create a Cardiac Care Unit and expand the Emergency Room. $6 million to double the size of Travers Park in Jackson Heights, adding much needed green space. More than $860 million to build new schools for our community and fight overcrowding.

  • Led the effort to enact Local Law 6, certifying that all undocumented immigrants in City foster care get put on a path to citizenship.
  • Reformed Stop and Frisk policies – and implemented real policing solutions.
  • Passed Paid Sick Leave’ defending workers from unfair employers and protecting consumers from the spread of contagious illness.
  • Implemented innovative and successful open space initiatives like the 78th Street Play Street and Diversity Plaza (37th Road) to promote local small businesses.
  • Created IDNYC, the city’s first government-issued identification card.
  • Established the community’s first slow zone, bringing crucial safety measures to the district.
  • Funded the first LGBT liaison within the NYC Department of Education, helping to ensure no child falls through the cracks in our schools.
  • Leading voice in the effort to end corruption and bring transparency to the Rikers Island jail complex.


Prior to his election, Dromm was an award-winning New York City public school teacher at PS 199Q in Queens from 1984 to 2009. Dromm is a pioneer of the LGBT rights movement in Queens and organized the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival. A fluent Spanish-speaker, Dromm graduated from Marist College and earned his master’s degree at City College. He lives in Jackson Heights 


Name: Diane J. Savino
Organisation: New York State Senator, Chair of Committee on Internet and Technology

New York State Senator Diane J. Savino (Democrat, Independent, Staten Island-Brooklyn) was born and raised in Astoria, Queens and was educated at Most Precious Blood Elementary School and Dominican Commercial High School.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from St. John’s University and has a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.

Diane Savino has dedicated her entire professional career towards improving the lives of working families. She began her career in public service as a caseworker for New York City’s Child Welfare Administration, providing direct assistance to abused and neglected children. 

An active member of her local labor union, the Social Service Employees Union, Local 371, DC 37 of AFSCME, she quickly rose through the ranks to become the Vice President for Political Action & Legislative Affairs, where she became one of the most respected labor leaders in New York State. 

Edwin Donnelly
Organisation: President, New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association

Edwin Donnelly, known to his friends as Eddie, serves as the 45th President of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (NJ FMBA). Eddie is a 22-year veteran of the Union Fire Department, where he was elected as Vice President of FMBA Local 46 in 2002 and continues to serve as President since 2009. 

Eddie was elected President of the NJ FMBA in 2013 and was subsequently reelected unanimously in 2015, 2018 and 2021. As President of the New Jersey State FMBA, Donnelly is charged with leading advocacy efforts of career Firefighters, EMTs, Dispatchers and their families in Trenton and across the state. Retirement security, health care, and safety on the job are just a few of the issues Eddie continues to fight vigorously for during his time in this position. 

With over 5000 members, the NJ FMBA, under the direction of President Donnelly, continues to grow and is recognized as the leading labor union for Firefighters, EMTs, and Dispatchers in New Jersey. Donnelly is passionate about supporting burn survivors, as well as supporting widows and children of fallen firefighters. Through his ardent leadership, the NJ FMBA continues to distinguish itself as a champion of those in greatest need. 

In February of 2019, Eddie was elected the first chairman of the Police and Fire Retirement System of NJ. As one of the main authors of this monumental legislation, Eddie, along with the new board, will have greater power to protect the retirement securities of all NJ Firefighters and Police Officers. 

In addition to his service to his department and his union, Eddie is an active member of the Irish American Society of Union, and the Union County Emerald Society. Eddie is a Knight of Columbus Third Degree. Eddie is Pipe Major Emeritus and Founder of the Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums Band. 

Eddie is also involved in many civic and community causes. He is a participating member of the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation and takes great pride in volunteering as a counselor at the Connecticut Children’s Burn Camp, an organization near and dear to Eddie’s heart. 

Eddie is most proud of his role as father to Eddie, 23, Jack, 15 and Isabella Rose, 13. Eddie is the son of Edwin and Louise Donnelly and brother to Police Director Chris Donnelly, Township of Union Police Department.


Name: Elaine Smyth
Organisation Director of the Innovation Community at Catalyst

Elaine Smyth is the Director of the Innovation Community at Catalyst.  Catalyst is a technology hub providing workspace to over 170 innovation companies, from startups to multi-nationals together with research institutes across several campuses.  As a not for profit organisation Catalyst invests the surplus from rental income to support the growth of entrepreneurship and startups through a range of programmes and initiatives.  Over 900 entrepreneurs and startups avail of this support each year.

Before joining Catalyst, Elaine has held roles as HR Director, Chief Operating Officer and Global Consultancy Services Director for several technology companies and Investment Director roles with local venture capital firms.


Name: Ian McLernon
Organisation: CEO for EMEA and GTA
Ian McLernon is the incoming CEO for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia Pacific (North and South) and GTR (Global Travel Retail), with the Remy Cointreau Group. 

Brands within the Remy Cointreau spirits portfolio, include Louis Xiii Cognac, Remy Martin Cognac, Cointreau, Mount Gay Barbados Rum, Bruichladdich Whisky’s, and The Botanist Islay Gin

Ian was born in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, and retains very close family and business links with Ireland. He for the past 4 years has been a board member of Co Operation Ireland in the USA, and along with his wife are ambassadors of the Co Operation Ireland Future Leaders Program. 

Ian is in the process of relocating from New York to London with his wife Julia who works at JP Morgan and their two sons. Based in New York for the past 4 years where he served as the President and CEO of Remy Cointreau Americas. Throughout his career, he has worked globally and with his family lived in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York, with a career spanning the beverage, retail, and the luxury goods sectors, including a decade with LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) prior to joining the Remy Cointreau Group as CEO of Global Travel Retail in 2017.

Jay Hart
Organisation: Chief of Police, Torrance, CA

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

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

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


Name: Kathryn Thomson
Organisation: Chief Executive of National Museums NI

Kathryn Thomson has been Chief Executive of National Museums NI since March 2016. 

National Museums NI is the custodian of the 1.4 million objects in the national collection carefully assembled over two centuries, which are multidisciplinary, diverse and span all time periods, referencing Northern Ireland within and to the wider world.  It is responsible for four museums – Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and the Ulster American Folk Park.  National Museum NI’s vision is to celebrate who we are; telling the stories of our past, challenging our present and shaping our future.  It is committed to making the collections it holds accessible and engaging to the largest, broadest and most diverse audiences – operating for the public and national benefit, not just for this generation but for future generations and for visitors to Northern Ireland.

Prior to National Museums NI, Kathryn was Chief Operating Officer at Tourism NI for 11 years.  Before that she worked in the senior finance team within NHS Greater Glasgow, primarily involved in business and financial planning.  Kathryn holds a BCom (Hons) degree in Business Studies from the University of Edinburgh, completed her accountancy training at PwC and has a professional qualification as a Chartered Accountant with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). In addition, Kathryn holds a public appointment as a Director of the Strategic Investment Board.  Currently she is the Chair of the Board of Visit Belfast and a member of the Board of Tourism Ireland, as well as being a Director and Trustee on the Board three charities – the Grand Opera House, Open House Festival and Culture Perth and Kinross.

Ken Walsh
Organisation: CEO, Alfond Youth Center, Waterville, Maine

Ken was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. one of 7 children of an Irish and Italian catholic family. Ken earned his degree in Physical Education with a minor in Sports Management at SUNY Cortland.  After graduating in 1985, Ken accepted his first job as the youngest director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Rochelle, NY where he served as the Assistant Executive Director for 7 years.

In 1992 Ken moved to Waterville, Maine and accepted the challenge to lead the Waterville Area Boys and Girls Club organization as their Executive Director. Quickly after 2 years he started fundraising efforts to redefine the Boys and Girls Club and successfully raised 2.1 million dollars to renovate the old Main Street building.  After the completion of the Capital Campaign the Club merged with the YMCA.  Ken was named Chief Executive Officer of the only merged Boys and Girls Club and YMCA in the country resulting in a new campaign to build a new facility.  

After a two-year Campaign the BGC/YMCA raised over 11 million dollars.  In May of 1999 with the presence of Governor King (now Senator Angus King) and General Colin Powell, the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center was opened. The youth membership soared from 1,200 youth members to over 8,000. The towns served increased from 33 to over 190 towns. Ken also expanded the service of his outreach opening eight other Clubs through out the State. Five on Indian Reservations. The organization is the largest accredited licensed childcare center in the State.

In 2005 Ken, his staff and the Board continued the fundraising efforts with the support of the New Balance Foundation and raised over 5 million dollars to develop and enhance the Camp Tracy operation in Oakland, Maine. Now the Camp serves over 200 kids per session and is the premier Day and Residential Camp operation in Maine.

In 2006 Ken continued the Capital Campaign efforts and increased the size of the Alfond Youth Center by another 14,000 square feet becoming the Alfond Youth & Community Center (AYCC). The addition added another floor to the facility as well as a new Teen Center, Gymnastics area, Climbing Wall, Karate Dojo, Youth Wellness Center and Library. During the pandemic the AYCC finished another 7M campaign adding another 15,000 sq. ft. creating a new wellness center “The Gronk Zone”, indoor track, teaching kitchen, locker room and lobby renovations in partnership with Maine General Hospital. In 2020-2022, Ken has embarked on 3 new capital campaign projects: a new community Hockey Rink arena (12M), a Teen Center (3M) in the Capital City of Augusta, Maine and renovations of Camp Tracy adding a new dining facility, athletic dome, and rope course (4M). Ken is most proud of the serve his team provided during the pandemic, serving over 85,000 hot meals to families of need and providing essential childcare services to the medical community during a time of need.

Ken led the effort to build two of the only licensed MLB replica ball fields in country, Fenway Park and Wrigley Fields. With the endorsement of Major League Baseball, Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, the field was dedicated by the Iron Man of Baseball Cal Ripken Jr. In 2022 the AYCC was the host of the Cal Ripken Youth World Series. First ever in Maine. In May of 2022, Ken was selected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ken has dedicated his life to improving the wellbeing of youth and families. His recent efforts have been to develop a long-lasting opportunity for kids now and into the future. Ken has been on an endowment campaign in which he has raised over 30 million dollars to date. His goal is to add another 25 million within the next 10 years. A new legacy campaign is now beginning with the goal to reach another 100 new gifts by 2024. Ken has raised over 75 million dollars for youth programming in his 30 years serving the Greater Waterville community.

Ken will be publishing is 4th book “Passion for Life” scheduled to be released in 2023.

Ken lives in Waterville, Maine with his wife Suzanne his son Sean and daughter Kate. 


  • Maine Baseball Hall of Fame 2022
  • Boys & Girls Club of America Spirit Award 2020
  • The International Irish Echo Award for Youth Development, 2019
  • 50 Top Maine Magazine Award for outstanding leadership, 2018
  • Author of two books, The Depot Hill Gang and Behold the Turtle, 2014
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of America Herman S. Prescott Award, 2012
  • Elected into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, 2007
  • Elected into the State of Maine Martial Art Hall of Fame, 2006
  • Bob Cousy Humanitarian Award, 2004
  • Charter President of the Waterville Sunrise Rotary Club, 2003
  • Boys and Girls Club of America New England Distinguished Service Award, 1998
  • Dewitt Clinton Community Service Award, 1992
  • New Rochelle Youth Bureau, Outstanding Community Leadership Award, 1992

Athletic Honors:

  • Member of the Men’s Roy Hobbs Baseball World Series Team 2017-22
  • Completed, NYC, Boston marathons, Triathlons and Ultra runs. 
  • Played Semi Pro Baseball: Bronx Braves, Amenia Monarchs
  • Captained the Central Maine USTA Tennis teams 
  • Earned the rank of Seventh Degree Black Belt 


Name: Kerrie Sweeney

Organisation: Chief Executive, Maritime Belfast Trust

Kerrie joined Maritime Belfast in March 2013 and has over 20 years’ experience working in the tourism sector including 10 years between Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, where she was a member of the team that put together the plans for the Titanic Signature Project. Kerrie’s experience is in product and destination development, capital projects and partnership initiatives. 

Since joining Maritime Belfast, Kerrie has led a series of key successes: the award of a £5million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Enterprise Programme towards the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices, to restore them and develop the building into a four-star boutique hotel; the acquisition of Titanic’s little sister the SS Nomadic; and the relocation and restoration of the Great Light. Maritime Belfast’s current focus is the development of the Maritime Mile as a heritage Blueway for the city – representing one navigational mile of water and 10 kilometres of accessible, connected waterfront.   


Name: Mark Brown

Organisation: Unosquare

Mark is currently the Vice President of Technology Products  and UK Country Manager for Unosquare which is headquartered in Mexico. In recent times Mark been focused on migrating several large enterprise applications to the cloud and building entirely Cloud Native Systems. Through these developments Mark has been heavily focused on tooling and approaches to make application development easier with fewer remote dependencies and increased local developer control.

Mark has previously given talks at Beltech around ‘Breaking the Monolith’ and ‘Cloud Native Development’.


Name: Michael J. Cusick
Organisation:  New York State Assembly

President, American Irish Legislators Society of New York State

A lifelong resident of Staten Island, Michael J. Cusick came to the New York State Assembly with valuable experience at all levels of government. Shortly after graduating Villanova University in 1991, he began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council representing the Borough of Staten Island.  Prior to his election in 2002, Mike served as Director of Constituent Services for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. He also served as the Chief of Staff to former Staten Island Assemblyman Eric N. Vitaliano. 

As the senior member of the Staten Island delegation, with close to three decades of work in government, Mike has worked hard to improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders. On the legislative front, he has sponsored numerous bills that have become law from bills to combat the substance abuse and overdose epidemic and ensure individuals have access to treatment programs, bills protecting our veterans as well as legislation focusing on the future of our environment and energy needs.

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.

Assemblyman Cusick was selected to serve as Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee in 2011 and in 2018, he took over as Chair of the Assembly Energy. As Chair of the Energy Committee, he has taken an active role in efforts to secure the energy grid against cybersecurity threats, worked to address renewable energy production siting, energy storage capacity and long-distance transmission. He has supported efforts to bring the offshore-wind industry to New York with increased expansion underway. In addition to sitting on the Assembly Committees on Governmental Employees, Higher Education, Veterans Affairs, and Ways and Means, Cusick is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators Energy Task Force and the Council of State Governments Energy and Environment Committee.

Michael J. Norris
Organisation: New York State Assembly

Michael J. Norris was elected on November 8, 2016 to the New York State Assembly and re-elected in 2018 and 2020. His district includes parts of Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties.

As a Member of the Assembly, Mike has focused on improving our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and parks, along with the library system in the Western New York region. He has also fought for stronger ethics laws, including pension forfeiture, supported a more open and transparent state government by sponsoring the State Contracts Sunlight Act, and championed legislation to expand coverage and opportunities for our volunteer fire service. 

As Co-Chair of the “Learning for Work” Minority Conference Task Force, Mike has advocated for a greater emphasis of vocational job training opportunities and enhancing skill career paths for students.

Mike currently serves as Chairman of the Minority Conference, the Ranking Minority Member of the Election Law Committee, and as a member of the Rules, Ways and Means, Transportation, and Judiciary committees. Mike has also previously served as a member of the Aging, Cities, Health, Higher Education and Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development committees.

Mike received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Niagara University and Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2006.

Since his admission to the Bar, Mike has engaged in general practice and is a partner in the law firm of Seaman Norris, LLP. He has served as the Town Attorney for the town of Lockport, town of Somerset, and village of Cassadaga; the Third Corporation Counsel for the city of Lockport; and the Prosecutor for the towns of Lockport and Hartland. Mike is a member of the Lockport, Niagara County, Erie County and New York State Bar Associations.

Previously, Mike worked for the New York State Senate and Assembly, served as a Niagara County Election Commissioner, and interned in the city of Lockport Mayor’s Office.

An active community leader, Mike is a member and past-President of the Lockport Rotary Club and member of All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Lockport. He is also a past member of the Tony Nemi’s Youth Sportsman’s League and LCTV Board of Directors. Mike was one of 12 members selected in the Greater Niagara Newspapers’ Inaugural Under 40 Class in 2015 and received the Paul Harris Award from Lockport Rotary in 2013.

Mike is a lifelong Lockport resident and graduate of Lockport High School.

Michael Meade
Organisation: Group CEO, Sullivan’s Brewing Company New York

Michael Meade is the Group CEO of Sullivan’s Brewing Company. Michael is also the Founder and Co- Managing Partner of 1702 Irish Ales Group LLC, a vehicle which was formed to provide Sullivan’s Brewing Company with its initial seed capital as well as additional ongoing investment. Recently Michael co-founded and is Co-Managing Partner of Foraging Partners LLC, an entity for investing in start-up and early-stage companies. Michael spent twenty-five years on Wall Street, the first half of which was in Institutional Fixed Income roles across the spectrum of credit products at Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, primarily covering central banks, asset managers, public pensions, and state treasury clients. 

Ultimately, Michael held Managing Director positions in Equity Finance at both Morgan Stanley and Citi, with his primary focus being on the hedge fund client base. Michael earned his double major in Political Science (elected to Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honour Society) and Spanish Studies at Fordham University in the Bronx. 


Name: Oksana V. Golovina
Organisation: General Counsel and lobbyist for Statewide Public Affairs

Oksana V. Golovina serves as both General Counsel and lobbyist for Statewide Public Affairs. She is available to assist in any matter on behalf of the firm’s clients and works especially close with those with healthcare policy concerns. She also has extensive knowledge and experience in the area of public campaign financing and assists in the organizing and oversight of many local campaign events for one the New York State’s largest political committees. “Lobbying and campaign finance are generally not considered the practice of law, but my legal background is always helpful and I have never regretted my decision to join Statewide in the political arena even though it has taken me away from the traditional practice of law.”

Ms.Golovina came to Statewide via a long journey from a manufacturing city north of Moscow where she taught Russian language & literature prior to graduating from the Moscow State University of Law and entering the legal profession. “I was proud of my accomplishments in Russia, but something was missing, and that something was America. I had always dreamed of the life and freedoms enjoyed in this country, and in 2001, I immigrated to the U.S. Unable to speak English and with a law degree not fully recognized in the U.S, I soon realized that dreams have a price.”

After working at restaurants for several years, Ms. Golovina learned English well enough to attend the Thomas Jefferson School of Law where in one year she received her LLM degree that enabled her to sit for the New York State Bar Exam which, unlike most foreign trained lawyers, she passed. Today Ms. Golovina is admitted to practice as an attorney in all courts of New York State and in all immigration courts throughout the nation, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association. Remembering her struggles, Ms. Golovina provides pro-bono assistance to immigrants, Russian and otherwise, as they navigate the U.S. immigration process.

“My journey from Russia to America was not easy, but I have no regrets, and I am especially proud that it ended here at Statewide Public Affairs, my professional home, where the issues are many, challenging and where we and our clients have the opportunity of working together at the highest levels of New York government to achieve our goals,” noted Ms. Golovina.


Name: Patrick Burke
Organisation: New York State Assembly

Pat Burke is a Buffalo native, where he resides with his wife and three kids. From January of 2014 to December of 2018, Pat served the community as an Erie County Legislator. He also serves as a political science instructor at Buffalo State College.During Pat’s tenure on the legislature, his notable legislative accomplishments include a ban on microbead plastics, a repeal of Sunday Blue Laws, a million-dollar emergency fund created to combat the opioid crisis and the formation of the Erie County Broadband Committee.

With three kids of his own, protecting the health and well-being of children has been at the forefront of Pat’s legislative efforts. He banned smoking in a vehicle with children, wrote the PENCE Bill (Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Child Endangerment) to end harmful gay conversion therapy, and championed a local law implementing a Youth Concussion Protocol to ensure the safety of minors playing contact sports.

Pat also introduced legislation that would make the pharmaceutical industry pay its fair share to keep our local drinking water free of medical waste, and not pass the burden onto taxpayers. And, he introduced the Invest in Erie, Invest in America Act promoting and encouraging local businesses in Erie County.

Raquel McKee
Organisation: Poet and actress, African Caribbean Society of Northern Ireland

Raquel McKee is a Jamaican national who has been living and working in Northern Ireland for roughly 20 years.  She has made a name for herself as a leader within the ACSONI community, as a poet, a storyteller, an actress, radio commentator, teacher, podcast host and activist.

ACSONI Community Leader
Raquel is currently the chairperson of the ACSONI Education Team and was formerly the chair of the Strategy and Lobbying Working Group and Vice Chair of the Caribbean Association in Northern Ireland. As a part of her voluntary work Raquel has spear headed the Sunshine in Ulster and Exodus exhibitions.  She was part of the steering group for the Emancipation Day events, Links and Legacy 400 commemorations and the Jamaica 50 celebrations. As chair of the ACSONI Education Working Group, Raquel has been working with National Museums N.I. as it makes advances in decolonising the museums.  She is integral to the work that brought the Inclusive Global Histories Exhibition 2022 – 2023 to reality and is part of the work behind the Global Voices, Local Choices exhibition which is in the developmental phase. She has represented ACSONI at numerous events in her nearly 20 years of community service.

Raquel is perhaps the foremost Caribbean born performance poet living and working in Northern Ireland. Her work typically reflects life in Northern Ireland through a Caribbean lens. She has been commissioned by Ulster Museum, Cuirt International Festival of Literature, Commumity Arts Partnership, ACSONI’s Links & Legacy project, and the Four Corners festival. Raquel is a member of the John Hewitt Society Committee where she coordinated and hosted the first performance poetry event in its summer school history in 2021, and the first virtual poetry event from an international location in 2022.  She is also a Poetry in Motion Schools facilitator, and a member of Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools programme and a member of Women Aloud. Raquel is one of the key poets celebrating the life and work of Mary Ann McCracken and was part of the 2022 annual event of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation. Raquel has been included in anthologies such as Four x Four, Writing Home, Her Other Language, [email protected], ‘Threshold’ anthology from Community Arts Partnership and ‘The Corridor’ from the Irish Writers Centre. Her performances include a range of festivals as well as Culture Night, Caribbean Week , Stormont Commonweath Day events, Derry/Londonderry inaugural Black History Month event, Belfast City Hall amongst others.

A storyteller for over 20 years, Raquel created N.I.’s first Children’s storytelling festival ‘Through the Rainbow’. She has told stories across the breadth of N. Ireland in libraries, schools, cross cultural community groups, council events and Culture Nights. 

Perhaps her most memorable role has been that of Asha the asylum seeker in Rosemary Jenkinson’s Lives in Translation which toured N.Ireland and the republic in 2018 with Kabosh Theatre. She has also been a part of the spin off radio drama Lives in Transit.  She was part of the Terra Nova Intercultural Cohort 1 with the piece ‘IN Justice’, was Chloe in Sam Kwan’s film ‘Hope Explored’ and La Tanya in the one-woman play Pages which she wrote as part of the Terra Nova/ East Side Arts first Home project. 

Radio Commentator
Raquel appears frequently as  a writer and presenter on BBC’s Thought for the Day.  She has also been a commentator on other BBC programmes.  Raquel has also been one of the voices of BBC Radio Ulster, introducing various shows.

Raquel teaches P1 children in Glengormley Integrated Primary part-time and a NISTR sub teacher straddling both primary and secondary level schools.

Podcast Host
Raquel is one of the 4 Pivot ladies who host on UnMute Now podcast which deals with issues relevant to migrant communities.  This summer Pivot has been training young people in personal development and podcasting techniques and are set to include them in the next series of UnMute Now podcasts.

As an activist Raquel speaks up on issues of racism and was part of the BLM protest at custom House Square which has led to a number of churches reviewing their policy and practice and caught the attention of Amnesty International’s N.I. personnel.

Sean Tenner 
Organisation: President, KNI Communications

KNI Communications President Sean Tennerhas spent his career working for organizations and officials dedicated to social justice and the public interest. Tenner served on President Obama’s campaign staff during both his U.S. Senate and Presidential campaigns and has worked for 20 years to successfully elect Democrats at every level of government. He has held leadership roles in a wide variety of innovative non-profit organizations addressing both local and global issues.

One of Tenner’s personal passions is addressing the alarming rise of hate crimes, bigotry and intolerance in our current political climate. He helps lead Illinois public policy for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the world’s leading anti-hate groups. The Center runs the acclaimed Museum of Tolerance and carries on the legacy of the Holocaust survivor and acclaimed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Tenner was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in November 2012 – and reappointed in 2015 – to the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission following years of human rights work. On the Commission, he works alongside legislators and other state leaders to develop initiatives related to holocaust and genocide education. He was an early leader in the Save Darfur movement in Illinois and works closely with refugees from the violence in Darfur and South Sudan who have built new lives in Chicago. Tenner also works with Chicagoans who fled Apartheid in South Africa, serving on the Board of Color Me Africa Fine Arts which brings Apartheid-era protest artists to Chicagoland to share their stories and their lessons in perseverance.

Tenner has done work related to post-conflict reconciliation in both Rwanda and Northern Ireland, and has also been profiled by CNN for his work founding the Uptown-based Abolition Institute, which successfully advocated for $4.5 million in federal funding to fight modern day slavery in West Africa.

As a former President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Chicagoland Affiliate, Tenner has worked for years with state leaders including Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz to pass landmark pieces of breast cancer legislation in the Illinois General Assembly: requiring insurance coverage of breast cancer screenings recommended by physicians, requiring insurance coverage of medical costs related to cancer clinical trials, establishing numerous crucial new state programs to fight breast cancer through the “Reducing Breast Cancer Disparities Act,” and requiring insurance coverage and state standards for potentially lifesaving clinical breast exams. Tenner is also working to address the epidemic of youth suicides through his work on the Board of Directors of Hope for the Day/Sip of Hope — one of the nation’s most innovative mental health organizations.

He has worked for some of the most prominent elected officials and organizations in Illinois and Washington, DC – including President Barack Obama (US Senate Primary and General Elections, 2004 and Presidential Campaign, 2008), the Illinois House of Representatives Democratic Majority, Washington, DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Evanston (IL) Mayor Steve Hagerty and the late Aurora (IL) Mayor Tom Weisner. He has helped elect numerous members of the Illinois judiciary, the Illinois legislature, the Chicago City Council and the Washington,  DC City Council. News outlets have touted Tenner’s “enviable record of success in the judicial campaigns he’s quarterbacked.” and his team has won over 25 Judicial campaigns in recent cycles. He served as lead consultant on the successful 2018 campaign of Cam Davis, President Obama’s Great Lakes protection lead, who won the largest number of write-in votes in modern Illinois history – beating a state record previously held by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In March of 2020, voters in his home 46th Ward of Chicago elected him Democratic Committeeman.

Tenner is a native of Naperville, Illinois and a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He lives in the Buena Park neighbourhood of Chicago with his wife Shiwali, who founded the non-profit Indian dance organization Tribhang to raise awareness of global women’s rights issues. He is proud of his mother Nancy, a former pre-school teacher and his father Gene who was recently honored by the City of Chicago as 46th Ward Senior of the Year for his tireless community work.

Stacey Quigley

Organisation: Unit Production Manager
SMQ productions Ltd

Stacey has had the privilege over the past 15 years to work within and watch the NI Film & TV Industry blossom.

Her career began in 2007 as a cast PA looking after the likes of Heather Graham, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks and Tim Robbins to name a few. Through hard work and dedication her career grew, making fantastic lasting contacts she has worked her way up through the ranks from office PA to Unit Production Manager and even further to Line Producer on occasion.

Stacey’s career has seen her work with huge stars like Tom Hiddleston, Chris Pine, Elizabeth Moss, Robert Pattison, our very own Jamie Dornan and Conleth Hill along with many others. Stacey had the privilege to work with Steve McQueen on the award winning film “Hunger” and her career has also seen her cross paths with Michael Bay and Ridley Scott. Her work has been varied and every show is different working on Medieval fantasies such as, Game of Thrones (HBO), Modern day TV shows like The Fall (BBC), and even some SCI FI shows such as Krypton (Warner Horizon), all of which have been shot in Northern Ireland, showing what a diverse film industry the country has.

One of the most rewarding parts of the job for Stacey is being able to recognise and promote local talent. Throughout her career she has always been very keen to promote homegrown crew and has encouraged and nourished a raft of highly skilled local crew who she has continued to work with for many years. As a result of her hard work and dedication, Stacey was invited to become a member of the N.I committee for the Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB) which gives her a great platform to promote the fantastic facilities and crew based in Northern Ireland which she continues to do so at any opportunity.

Steve Lenox
Organisation: Director of the New Jersey Ireland Center

Launched following the successful trade mission led by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in April 2022, the office cultivates international investment and provides resources to Irish companies to identify and explore opportunities for growth in North America. 

The New Jersey Ireland Center offers companies interested in New Jersey free, confidential support to set up their business in the United States with services including detailed market assessment services, customized business proposal responses, site selection assistance, government resources information, and introductions to public-private partnerships.

In this position Steve, A dual citizen of Ireland, where his wife Aoife owns and manages a successful small business while sons Conor, Cian and Dylan attend school, will put his extensive network of business and governmental leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to work to support economic development and trade initiatives. 

Steve also serves as president of Irish Network USA, a networking organization committed too engaging the Irish Diaspora across the US and offering them tangible opportunities to “invest” in Ireland through business, culture, education and sport. In this role, Steve is proud to have participated in key events such as the Global Irish Civic Forum, the Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum and the Global Irish Economic Forum.

With a professional background that includes stints as state director to U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, legislative affairs coordinator for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, and chief of staff to Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, Steve launched Lenox Consulting in 2010.

Since then, building on close relationships he has developed and cultivated with elected officials; business and labor leaders; and other key decision makers, Steve has built a portfolio of clients that have included prominent property developers, local governments, and growing businesses. Most recently, Steve has begun working with one of New Jersey’s leading cannabis dispensaries and on behalf of a national campaign focused on improving the nation’s organ donation and transplantation system. 

In 2020 Steve launched Oasis Media, under which he owns and operates five TAPinto hyperlocal news sites. With a growing team of local reporters Oasis Media has successfully returned reliable local news coverage to Jersey City and Paterson, as well as to Bayonne, Hoboken and Hamilton Township. In 2021 readership on Steve’s five sites generated nearly three million page views and were the highest revenue generating franchises in the network of more than 90 sites.


Name: Victoria Manax, MD

Organization: Chief Clinical Officer, Immunicom, Inc.  

Victoria Manax M.D., is a medical oncologist with specialty interest in global drug development, medical affairs, and patient advocacy. Her expertise includes development of both drugs and devices not only in oncology but in multiple disease areas. Dr. Manax has been involved in the development, approval, and launch of various drugs for multiple indications including the standards of care for breast cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. She currently holds various board positions, patents, and chair positions for multiple data, safety, and monitoring boards around the world.

Dr. Manax comes from a long line of physicians who were all educated and trained in Ireland. She received her medical degree from University College Dublin and continued her oncology training in Dublin as well as University Hospital Galway.  Like her mother, a Belfast native, she left Ireland for the US and embarked on a career in the biotech industry.  She went on to hold many senior leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry ranging from large pharma to innovate biotech start-ups.   Throughout her career, Dr. Manax became acquainted with patient advocacy organizations where she held the position of Chief Medical Officer. She is a recognized panelist amongst regulatory agencies around the world where she is well known for innovative clinical trial strategy and design. 

Dr. Manax currently resides in Texas with her husband David (UK native) and their two boys. Like her own upbringing, her family shares the same bicontinental life path that was laid out for her. 

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