James Davitt Rooney
Boston, MA, USA
Jim leads his own strategy and public affairs consultancy and has advised dozens of clients across sectors and the Atlantic. He is also Senior Fellow at the Boston Foundation, a leading US community philanthropy for which he led award-winning public affairs from 2005-10.
Rooney lived in the UK from 2011-17 where he served as a co-founding co-director (non-executive) of the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of London; he also earned an MPA at Harvard Kennedy School. He earlier served as Vice President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, Director of Policy/Associate Director at CEOs for Cities, and as Director of Community and Government Relations at Brown University, where he earned a BA in Ethics and Political Philosophy.
Jim also serves as an Ambassador for the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland, advises the Boston-Belfast Sister City Partnership, and keynoted the Belfast Business School launch. He served on the Obama-Biden Urban and Metropolitan Policy Advisory Committee and has provided commentary to media including BBC Radio Ulster, Foyle, and Surrey. His family hails from Belfast.
What, for you, is the importance of our global diaspora and how do you contribute to its success?
In an increasingly networked world connections are currency. Ireland and the UK enjoy strong connections in the US and Greater Boston not only due to a history of migration and resulting ties but also proximity. Globalization has enabled a more mutually beneficial two-way exchange of commerce and ideas for which Belfast and environs are well positioned to continue to benefit provided wrong-headed nativist and protectionist movements on both sides of the pond are arrested. I, for one, enjoy highlighting the upside of economic and social development in Northern Ireland and promoting it as an illustration of the benefits of free trade, multiculturalism, and reconciliation.
Tell us how you connect to Belfast:
Two of my great grandparents hailed from Belfast (Clonard and Sailortown) and continued to support their native land from America. Their devotion and commitment were passed down the generations; I have been proud to support the Boston-Belfast Sister City Partnership in turn. That has included keynoting the Belfast Business School launch, serving as the first US Ambassador for the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland, brokering a MassChallenge Belfast Bridge program, providing commentary on BBC Ulster and Foyle, writing an Irish Echo op-ed touting Belfast’s economy, organizing a Brown University event at the inaugural Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament, etc.
You know you’ve got Belfast heritage when…:
You feel right at home