Aidan McGowan

Aidan McGowan BL was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2011, having graduated from Cambridge University. 

Aidan’s practice is focussed on Administrative Law (Judicial Review) and the promotion and protection of Human Rights, in the fields of immigration, prison and criminal law.

Aidan was junior counsel in the recent successful Judicial Review on behalf of Conradh Na Gaeilge’s Application and In the Matter of a Failure by the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly to Comply with its Duty Pursuant to Section 28D of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 [2017] NIQB 27

Alan Esslemont, Director General, TG4

Alan is a Scotsman who holds an MA in French from Edinburgh University (1980) and a postgraduate MBA from the Open University (2005).

After working in France, Switzerland and in a knitting factory in the Isle of Skye, Alan moved to Ireland in 1984 to a teaching position at University College Galway.  In 1989 he became a member of the start-up team for Telegael, the first successful audio-visual company in the west of Ireland. 

Alan was appointed in 1995 to the senior management group of Teilifís na Gaeilge which launched TnaG in October 1996.   He was a founding board member and treasurer of the Irish Film and Television Academy (1997 – 2000) and played a key role in the successful re-launch of TnaG as TG4 in 1999. 

He was appointed Director of Television for TG4 in 2000 and then in December 2007 Alan returned to Scotland to help set up and successfully launch BBC ALBA, the Scots Gaelic television channel. BBC ALBA was the first BBC licensed service to be managed within a partnership framework and is watched by an audience ten times the total amount of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

In October 2016 Alan came back to work in Ireland to undertake the chief executive role at TG4. 

Anne Gallagher

Anne Gallagher is Senior Director of Engineering for Tyco Security Products, JCI and heads up JCI’s R&D facility in Belfast.  Anne has 25 years of experience in the Software industry – in both Corporate and Start-up companies delivering Data Communication, Digital TV and CCTV products. She has worked for BT, Nortel, Latens and now JCI – her career evolving from a Graduate Software Engineer in BT to her current role as Senor Director of Engineering in JCI. She has Hons Degree in Pure Mathematics & Statistics, MSc in Computer Science from Queen’s University Belfast and MSc in Corporate Leadership from Napier University, Edinburgh.  Her proudest achievement was as an investor, Software Engineering Director, eventually COO, in ‘Latens’, a technology start-up company. Latens was acquired by Pace in 2010.

Ann McGregor

Ann McGregor MBE was appointed as CEO of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in June 2008.

Ann was formerly Chief Executive of Enterprise NI and a director with Business in the Community. She commenced her career in the private sector working in production/materials management with Roche Manufacturing, Schering Plough and Bird’s General Foods before moving into local economic development.

Ann is a BA Honours Graduate of Queen’s University, holds a MA Marketing from Ulster University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

In June 2012, Ann received a MBE for services to small business development and enterprise in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours. In December 2013 Ann was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Belfast Metropolitan College for services to small business and enterprise.

Ann is currently a Trustee of the Grand Opera House and a member of the Senate at Queen’s University.

Anya O’Connor

Anya O’Connor is International Marketing and Communications Officer at Queen’s University Belfast and Assistant Director of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) for Service and Leadership of which she is also an alumnae. Anya is passionate about Internationalisation and connecting Northern Ireland to a wider global community. In her role at Queen’s, Anya travels around the world building partnerships with public and private sector influencers, enhancing the profile of QUB and increasing the number of international students in the University through a series of strategic marketing interventions.

Anya is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and holds an MA English Literature & Politics. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s, Global Shapers Hub Belfast.

Becca Hume

When you need to make a 999 call, every second counts. And that can be a serious problem for the UK’s 11 million deaf and hard of hearing people, or those facing stressful situations, who may struggle to communicate verbally over the phone.

This is where clear non-verbal communication can save lives – and why TapSOS LTD has TapSOS, an innovative smartphone app that gets help without users making a sound.

The easy-to-use technology has the potential to revolutionise the emergency services network and enable more people to make a life-saving connection.

I live and breathe inclusivity, curious about users, their behaviours and needs, I question and explore day-to-day activities in order to design functional products that are accessible and usable by a wide range of audiences. 

Bill Shaw (Director: The 174 Trust)– a biography

PERSONAL: 61 years of age; married to Heather with three sons (35; 34; 29) and a dog (Cocker Spaniel) – ‘Robin’ (aka ‘RVP’)

  • *  Grew up in Belfast through worst excesses of ‘the Troubles’
  • *  After 10 years in construction business studied theology at Queens University Belfast and entered Presbyterian ministry where, among other posts and after ordination, served in a church on loyalist Shankill Road.
  • *  After further six years in two churches in Portadown area successfully applied for post as Director of Christian Community Development Project – The 174 Trust – in Nationalist/Republican area of North Belfast. 
THE 174 TRUST: Bill has been in post as Director for almost 20 years – during which time our profile (and credibility) in the local community has been transformed.

Our role – as well as his own – has also changed considerably as we are being asked to be actively involved in ‘peace building’. North Belfast continues to suffer from sectarian violence, with rioting between Catholics and Protestants occurring on a nightly basis on the streets around the Complex. 
Because of our unique situation, we are increasingly involved in mediation work between the two sides. As a Presbyterian minister working in a Catholic area, a couple of years ago Bill was asked to chair a meeting between the two groups involved in the Holy Cross dispute – with all the graphic imagery of school children running a gauntlet of abuse. 
Since then, through a number of initiatives, the Trust has introduced the theme of ‘Christianity without labels’ in an attempt to build bridges and encourage better relations between people of faith – as well as those with none! 
The 174 Trust – and Bill in particular – is committed to ‘Building Peace and Promoting Reconciliation’ (he is both passionate about peace and realistic and reconciliation) through a number of projects, encourage dialogue and celebrate cultural diversity within the North Belfast community. In this way we continue to make a difference in the lives of all the people in this part of a divided and, sadly, still troubled city. 
In February 2005, Bill was a recipient of the Harry McKillop Irish Spirit Award – established by Ross Perot “to support and recognize individual efforts in community based projects which seek to promote inter community relationships and peace in Ireland” – during a ceremony at Queen’s University Belfast.

With a growing number of interested supporters across the United States, Bill is a regular visitor and has participated in the AMBIT Community Leadership Program and International Visitor Program in Washington D.C. in recent years – meeting President Bush during the St Patrick’s Day Celebrations at the White House on March 17, 2005.

September 2006 Bill accepted an invitation by the Centre for Irish Studies to give a lecture at the University of St Thomas, Houston, Texas: ‘Reflections on N.Ireland: Steps Towards Reconciliation and Peace’. This was followed by a return visit in April 2010 and he made a contribution to a four-day ‘Mosaics of Faith’ Conference. Since then he has has also been invited to speak at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame; DePaul University (Chicago); St John Fisher College (Rochester NY) and elsewhere on ‘Peace-building in N. Ireland’.

February 2008 Bill organised and led an ecumenical clergy group to Washington DC for a week-long trip to visit faith-based mercy ministry/social justice projects.

Named in the Queen’s New Years Honours List of 2012 Bill – for ‘Services to the community of North Belfast’ – received his O.B.E. from her majesty in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in March.

Bill has Chaired several Government funded initiatives aimed at encouraging ‘good relations’ and equipping faith based groups to tackle poverty and disadvantage.

In recognition of his efforts directed towards peacebuilding, promoting tolerance and mutual understanding he has served three terms as part of the Lord Mayor’s Interfaith Chaplaincy Team.

On a number of occasions Bill has been one of the delegates invited to visit the Middle East – Jordan, Palestine/Israel – and participated in efforts to better understand the conflict and so be equipped to be involved in the campaign for peace and justice.

In July 2015 Bill was awarded an honorary doctorate – Doctor of Laws (LLD) – by the Ulster University and was the keynote speaker at the Graduation Ceremony in the Waterfront Convention Centre.

174 Trust established in June 1983 as a ‘Christian Community Development Organisation’ – with charitable status and working with the community (both traditions) addressing disadvantage and division.

In 1995 the Trustees took the bold step of purchasing a former Presbyterian Church on the lower Antrim Road, Belfast and continue the process of transforming the buildings into a much-used community centre – currently catering for almost 800 people every week.

This figure is set to more than double with the completion of the transformation of the former church building at the Complex – now the Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts.

Brendan Finn

As Chief of Staff and Executive to Commissioner Dan Saltzman, I lead our staff in the oversight of the Commissioner’s bureau portfolio and legislative matters before Portland City Council. Commissioner Saltzman is currently in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland Fire & Rescue. The Commissioner’s office is also responsible for overseeing the Portland Children’s Levy and the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services. Previous to these assignments I served as Chief of Staff in Commissioner Saltzman’s administrations overseeing the Portland Housing Bureau, Portland Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Environmental Services, Office of Sustainable Development, Bureau of Development Services, Portland Police Bureau and the City of Portland’s Office for Community Technology.

Brian Golden, Director, Boston Redevelopment Authority

Brian P. Golden is Director of the BRA/EDIC (Economic Development and Industrial Corporation). He oversees all aspects of the organisation and focuses on executing its core mission of responsible, community-engaged planning and economic development. An attorney since 1993, Brian is a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. He was also the New England Regional Director at the US Department of Health and Human Services, a Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, and a member of the Board of Directors at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Brian has served as a US Army officer, active duty and reserve, for more than twenty years. His military experience includes duty in Bosnia, Iraq, and Israel/West Bank.

Brian is a graduate of the Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He received a Master’s degree from the US Army War College and a law degree from the College of William and Mary’s School of Law.

Bronagh Lawson – Artist

Current exhibition The Ebb and flow of East Belfast at East Side visitors centre Newtownards road until 21 Oct. Writes weekly Creativechangeni blog about Visual arts in Belfast. Collaborator in the Hydrangea project Belfast -Chicago. Currently visiting every church in Belfast for a service for next body of work. Spent 13 years working as a business / development manger on Interfaces within the Enterprise network in Belfast. Fulbright Scholar. 1st class degree in Textiles from Winchester School of Art.    

Chris Conway

Chris Conway is the Group Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and its operating subsidiaries (Translink). He has extensive international business experience with Tata Steel Europe where he worked as Managing Director Tata Steel Distribution Ireland and previously as Vice President Operations for Nortel Networks in Europe.

Chris graduated from the University of Ulster with a BSc in Engineering and also has an MBA from the University of Ulster. He is a Chartered Company Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Chris is Chairperson of NI-CO (Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas) and a member of the Board of Trustees of Young Enterprise NI. He is also a member of CBI Northern Ireland Council and Business in the Community Advisory Board.


Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin is Advocacy Manager at Conradh na Gaeilge and was the instructing applicant in the recent successful judicial review.  Ciarán was also the lead organiser of the successful Dream Dearg movement culminating in the ‘Dearg le Fearg’ march which brought 15,000 people to Belfast City Hall in June in a demonstration in support of Acht na Gaeilge. Under Ciarán’s auspices An Dream Dearg won the 2017 ‘Sockie’ award for the Best Use of Social Media.  Ciaran will present on the detail and legal architecture of an Acht na Gaeilge.

Ciaran Moynagh

Ciaran Moynagh is a Solicitor Advocate conducting human rights litigation in Northern Ireland and is a leading voice on equality issues. He has represented clients in a broad range of judicial reviews and civil actions which have challenged and successfully changed the law in Northern Ireland as it relates to underrepresented and overlooked communities. He is currently representing one of the couples challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in the Court of Appeal. He led the successful judicial review protecting transgender privacy rights and is instructed in the ongoing proceedings to overturn the ban on paying sex-workers which has put women at risk. He recently helped secure the right of humanist couples to marry in Northern Ireland and as a member of the UK LGBT Family Law Institute has worked to make fertility treatments more accessible. He is also involved in challenging the criminalisation of women who opt for abortion. Ciaran lectures in administrative/ public law at Ulster University and is a founding partner of McLernon Moynagh Solicitors based in Belfast and Holywood.

Colin Mounstephen, Deloitte

Colin leads the Strategy Consulting Team in Deloitte’s Northern Ireland practice where he primarily works on economic development and regeneration projects. He has been involved in several transformational projects and initiatives relating to tourism and the arts including the Titanic Quarter, The MAC, Gaeltacht Quarter, Cathedral Quarter, events and tourism strategies in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, and Ireland’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.  He has worked with local communities, government agencies and funding bodies on these projects and has observed how arts, culture, sport and the telling of stories to visitors can help lift cities and communities.

Conal Harvey – Deputy Chairman, Titanic Belfast and Director, Harcourt Developments

Conal Harvey is a Director of Harcourt Developments and has chaired the Titanic Quarter Development company from 2005 to 2017.  He is also Deputy Chairman of Titanic Belfast, having spearheaded that project from inception. He led the team in the establishment of the project which opened in March 2012.  He was also executive Chairman of Citywest Luas, the company which installed the commuter light rail system to South-West Dublin.

He is a graduate of University College Dublin and did his post-graduate studies in Trinity College Dublin and INSEAD.

Dan Lawton

Dan Lawton assumed his duties as Consul General in Belfast in July 2015.  Most recently, he was the Deputy Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  Prior to returning to Washington in summer 2013, he served as the Political Counselor at the American Embassy in Athens (2010-2013), the Deputy Political Counselor in Caracas (2006-2009), and the Political-Military Officer in Copenhagen (2002-2006).  He has also served in Lima, Karachi, and Mexico City and completed separate State Department assignments as the Country Officer for Cyprus and Sri Lanka.

Dan Lawton received a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in International Relations from Brown University and Syracuse University, respectively.  He and his wife hail from New York State and have two children.

Daniel McRitchie

Daniel McRitchie has a background in marketing and biotechnology. Before starting SciLeads he was Head of Inside Sales for leading Northern Irish Biotechnology company Andor Technology (now part of Oxford Instruments). During that time Daniel’s team developed successful manual systems for identifying and creating hot leads. SciLeads is the evolution of these manual systems into an automated SaaS platform.

Daniel O’Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly, has been a loud voice advocating for progressive legislation since he was elected to represent the 69th District in New York City in 2002. He is known for being a New York leader of the LGBT civil rights movement, and has been invited to speak and has won numerous awards around the world for his work. Assembly Member O’Donnell was the plaintiff in a lawsuit for the right to marry his then partner and now husband, John Banta. The loss of that lawsuit led him to become the prime sponsor of the Marriage Equality Act, a bill O’Donnell led to passage in the New York State Assembly five times before it was finally signed into law in June 2011. He was also the prime sponsor of New York’s anti-bullying legislation, the Dignity for All Students Act, signed into law in 2010. This trailblazing bill was the first time transgender protections were written into New York State law

David Gavaghan

David has established Aurora Prime Real Estate Limited to focus on a new dawn emerging in Belfast and is seeking to raise £50m locally and internationally to invest in Grade A office space in Belfast. He believes that the ingredients are in place for a transformation in Northern Ireland’s capital city returning it in a modern day context to what it was a century ago – a hive of industry, creativity and wealth formation. Aurora has combined forces with Crescent Capital – Crescent has been investing in Northern Ireland since 1995 and is the region’s largest independent fund manager.

Until April 2015, he was Chief Executive of Titanic Quarter Limited – a strategic site that has the potential to become one of the most exciting developments across the islands of Ireland and Britain. Previously he was the Executive Director of Quintain Estates and Development plc responsible for the specialist fund management business which focussed on residential healthcare, student accommodation, science parks and niche secondary property in the UK.

Prior to that, David was Chief Executive of Strategic Investment Board Limited for six years, advising Ministers in Northern Ireland on the infrastructure programme across the region.  He has extensive experience in project and tax based finance and was a Director of Hambros Bank in the City of London.

David is currently Chair of Visit Belfast and Sports Changes Life as well as the environmental arm of Business in the Community in NI, Arena Network. He is also Vice Chair of the Washington Ireland Program. He is both a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Civil Engineers

Sir Declan Morgan

Sir Declan Morgan was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge.  He was called to the Bar in 1976 and took Silk in 1993.  He was Senior Crown Counsel for Northern Ireland from 2002 until his appointment as a High Court Judge in May 2004.  He was appointed to the Family Division in January 2007 and in September 2008 became one of two judges with responsibility for judicial review.  Sir Declan was appointed Chairman of the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland in 2004.  He was Chairman of the Northern Ireland Law Commission from April 2007 until his appointment at Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in July 2009.  Sir Declan is also Chairman of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.  He was made an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple.

Derek Mackay MSP

Derek was elected Member of the Scottish Parliament for Renfrewshire North & West in May 2011. He serves in the Scottish Government as Minister for Transport and Islands (appointed November 2014) having previously served as Minister for Local Government & Planning. (December 2011-November 2014). Derek is currently SNP Business Convener (Chairman of the Party), responsible for chairing Conference, the National Executive and the management and administration of the party.

Elected to Renfrewshire Council in 1999 at the age of 21 he was the youngest male Councillor in Scotland at the time. He won three successive ward elections, to become Leader of Renfrewshire Council in May 2007, taking the SNP from opposition to lead the administration for the first time. He became a national figure in local government leading the SNP group at COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) 2009-2011. He served on Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board as a Non Executive Director and Chair of Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership (2007 – 2011). He was also previously chair of the Paisley Vision Board and Renfrewshire’s Fairtrade Steering Group. Derek enjoys reading, running, swimming and time at the gym.

Lord Diljit Rana

The Rt Hon The Lord Rana, Baron of Malone in the British House of Lords

Lord Diljit Rana is a successful businessman in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is Chairman and Chief Executive of Andras House Group, Northern Ireland’s biggest hotels and hospitality organisation. Born at Sanghol in Punjab (INDIA), Lord Rana has lived in Northern Ireland since 1966.

His achievements are listed below:-

  • He was appointed to the House of Lords in 2004 by the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in recognition of his work in driving the successful regeneration of Belfast city centre and his efforts to encourage political dialogue which led to peace talks in Northern Ireland.
  • During the darkest days of the “Troubles” he hosted peace talks in his plush Belfast home, where he invited key political and religious leaders and encourage a dialogue. This dialogue ended 30 years’ of terrorism. This was perhaps the most turbulent periods in the recent Irish History.
  • He was appointed by Government of India as Honorary Consul for India to Northern Ireland from 2004-2012 and then reappointed in 2014. He is currently serving.
  • In March 2003 he was invited to the Buckingham Palace to have Lunch with her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen of England.
  • He was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1996.
  • He was elected President of GOPIO (Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin) International in 2009 and is currently the Chairman of GOPIO International, headquartered in Mauritius.
  • He is the first ethnic businessman to be elected President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the region’s biggest business organisation.
  • He has actively promoted business, education, political and cultural links between India and Northern Ireland, leading a series of business missions from Northern Ireland to India. Due to his efforts, India is the 2nd biggest investor in Northern Ireland next to USA and many Northern Ireland companies have set up businesses in India and vice versa.
  • He holds honorary degrees from the region’s two universities, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, as well as the Bengal Engineering and Science University.
  • He was awarded Pravasi Bharti Samman Award by Dr Abdul Kalam, then President of India, in 2007 for his work in promoting links between U.K. and India, and outstanding service in peace efforts and charitable causes.
  • He also holds awards for enterprise from the Confederation of British Industry in the UK and from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board for his work to promote tourism.
  • He was awarded LCN life time achievement award as “Beacon of Tourism” for his contribution to Northern Ireland Hospitality and Tourism in 2016.
  • He has been given various awards in recognition of his work in economic regeneration of Belfast, peace efforts, towards business and for developing educational and cultural links between Northern Ireland and India. He is one of the top N.R.I philanthropists in the United Kingdom.

At a time when business investors were afraid to invest in Belfast because of the terrorist attacks, Lord Rana developed a range of commercial properties for offices, shops and restaurants. This confidence in the future of Belfast particularly in the eighties was crucially important in reviving business activity and economic regeneration in the city and he still continues to do so.

He was the driving force in what became known as ‘The Golden Mile’, the entertainment heart of Belfast. He was also instrumental in the development of ‘Harmony’, an iconic statue of peace and reconciliation which is at the core of the city’s Thanksgiving Square.

He is the founder of The Lord Rana Education Campus (www.cordia.edu.in) which is funded by his foundation charitable trust in the UK. The institution provides university level education in disciplines such as Humanities, ICT, Business Management, Hotel and Hospitality Management, Teacher Training and Hair & Beauty vocational skills training. An Institute of Conflict Studies and Resolution Practice is slated to open soon, which will have links with the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland (UK). The campus also includes an Indian Heritage Institute. A total of 3000 students study at the education campus.

The Lord Rana Education City is being developed in consultation with the village community.


Emer Hinphey

Managing Partner, Think People

Emer Hinphey is an experienced HR and talent development professional.   In her role as Partner in Think People Consulting, Emer has worked with a range of local and global companies across industry sectors, developing strategy, managing complex HR projects and delivering successful leadership development. 

Prior to setting up Think People Consulting, Emer worked as HR Manager for AIB International Financial Services and as Head of HR for a Telecommunications company.

Gary Robinson

Gary is the founder of the application security start-up Uleska, using his experience and innovation in the field of software development and software security. Gary has spent over 18 years in application security and software development.  This includes experience as a Senior Application Security Architect at Citigroup, along with security engineering in the TV markets and telecoms industry.  Gary is heavily involved with the security group OWASP, as an European Board member, leader of the Belfast chapter, and chair of the recent AppSec conference in May.

Gerald Hanweck, CEO and Founder, Hanweck Associates, LLC

For over 20 years, Gerald Hanweck, CEO and founder of Hanweck, has been at the forefront of derivatives research, strategy and technology innovation. Prior to founding 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.

Geraldine Hughes

Geraldine Hughes received the Los Angeles Ovation, Garland and Drama Critics Circle Awards and a Drama League Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance for her solo play Belfast Blues, which she also wrote. Stage credits include Jerusalem opposite Mark Rylance after (Broadway & West End productions.) Other theatre credits include: Particle Of Dread (opposite Stephen Rea), Cyrano De Bergerac (Broadway), Translations (Broadway), Molly Sweeney (Irish Repertory Theatre), Pumpgirl (MTC), ), Orson’s Shadow, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Weir, The Architect. Television credits include: The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Nurse Jackie, Mercy, The Good Wife, Law and Order CI, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order, Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle, ER. She has starred in several features including Warner Bros’ Gran Torino, MGM’s Rocky Balboa, Time Out Of Mind with Richard Gere and National Geographic’s Killing Lincoln. Geraldine received an honorary doctorate from Queens University, Belfast for her contribution to the arts. She will next be seen in the film, The Book Of Henry, in June 2017.

Gerry Lennon

Gerry Lennon has been Chief Executive of Visit Belfast since October 2000.

Visit Belfast (formerly Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau) is a public/private sector partnership funded and supported by Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the private sector. It is the official Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) for the Belfast City Region, dedicated to promoting Belfast as a city break, conference and cruise ship destination. It is also responsible for the operation of three gateway visitor information centres.

Gerry has over twenty years’ experience in a number of senior management roles in the public, private and voluntary sectors with Belfast City Council, British Telecom, Visit Belfast, The National Trust, The Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCO), Titanic Foundation Ltd and Belfast Cathedral Quarter Trust Ltd.

Glyn Roberts

Glyn Roberts has been Chief Executive of Retail NI (formerly NIIRTA) since January 2008 after serving seven years as Head of Parliamentary Affairs with the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland.

Glyn was appointed as Chairman of Colleges NI in November 2014. Previously he was a member of the South Eastern Regional College Governing Body. He was also was Vice Chair of the NI Stronger In Europe campaign.

In December 2015, Glyn was appointed to the steering group of the 2016 Year of Food and Drink and as Chair of its Skills Group. He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Forum on Apprenticeships.

He is also a former Vice-Chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (2011-12).

Graham Keddie

Graham Keddie is a graduate of Aberdeen University and holds a LLB and Dip LP.  Following graduation Graham was appointed as a Management Trainee with the Swire Group and was assigned to the Aviation Division.  Since then Graham has held senior executive roles at several airlines and airports and in 2014 was appointed to the role of Managing Director at Belfast International Airport.  Graham is a highly experienced commercial leader with a proven track record of success in the field of aviation.  A change-agent, with the ability to deliver both improved profitability and customer service. Able to deal with all levels within an organisation and to network effectively externally with stakeholders, government, regulators and the media. 

Graham is married with two sons.

Harry Connolly

Harry Connolly is the Executive Director of Fáilte Feirste Thiar, a local tourism development agency tasked with developing West Belfast’s tourism offering and building sustainable tourism infrastructure. Before working in tourism development, Harry worked for a number of years in youth, sport and community development across the greater Belfast area. He is the former Vice Chairperson of the West Belfast District Policing & Community Safety Partnership (DPCSP). Harry is currently a Director of Visit Belfast, the public/private body tasked with marketing Belfast as a tourism destination. Harry has been a board member of Féile an Phobail, Ireland’s largest community arts festival, for a number of years and is currently its Treasurer. Under Harry’s leadership, West Belfast tourism has become known as a model of effective practice, in terms of developing tourism models which encourage job creation and sustainability at a local level, ensuring local citizens benefit from an increase in tourism footfall. 

Howard Hastings

Dr Howard Hastings OBE is the Managing Director of Hastings Hotels and has been Chairman of the Board of Visit Belfast since March 2016. He has previously served as Chairman of Tourism NI and also sat on the Board of Tourism Ireland. He is also a Director of the Merrion Hotel (which is 50% owned by Hastings Hotels) and a former Chairman of the Board of Governors at Rockport School Ltd.

During the 1990s, he was Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland and founding Chairman of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

Howard’s previous public appointments include an earlier stint at Tourism Ireland (2000-2007), the Training & Employment Agency and Investors in People (UK).

Howard is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. He holds a law degree from the University of Nottingham and a master’s degree and honorary doctorate from Ulster University.

Jack Butler

As chief financial officer, Jack is responsible for providing strategic leadership to the Finance Department while also working closely with MRP’s parent company, First Derivatives, on corporate-level priorities.  As MRP’s senior representative in Belfast, Jack works closely with the office of over 200 sales and marketing professionals focused on creating value for EMEA-R clients, developing future MRP leaders, and growing the overall operation.  He is also a valued contributor to efforts aimed at bringing in new investors to Belfast and at strengthening Belfast’s profile as a great international business city.

Jack earned his MBA from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. Prior to this he spent seven years at Johnson & Johnson where he held roles in finance, marketing, and business development. Jack was recognized as a Visionary Leader by J&J Senior Management for his contributions to the company and his success in forging strategic alliances to support high potential products.  Jack graduated from La Salle University with a bachelor of science in finance and accounting. Outside of the office, he remains active with his alma mater, along with a number of organizations committed to the betterment of Ireland.

Jackie Henry

Jackie Henry is the Senior Partner for Deloitte in Northern Ireland. She is a chartered accountant and received a first class honours in Accountancy from QUB. She is a member of the CBI Council, an Honorary Fellow of Belfast Metropolitan College and a Visiting Professor of Ulster University Business School. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE in the Queens Birthday Honours for her services to the economy in Northern Ireland.  She is passionate in developing new talent models, including Deloitte’s BrightStart higher apprenticeship programme and Graduate Academy programme, and in creating job opportunities in Northern Ireland

Jayne Brady

Jayne joined Kernel Capital 2013 having held a Senior Executive role in Kernel Capital portfolio company Intune Networks since 2007. Jayne’s investment focus is ICT, Telecoms and Big Data. Jayne was Chairman of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Northern Ireland (2013/2014), and holds and has held a number of advisory and board roles with organisations focused on economic and social development including Digital NI 2020, the NI Media Cluster, Momentum the trade body representing the ICT sector in NI and the NSPCC. 

Jayne’s career has involved leadership positions with both multinationals and start-ups, across a variety of operational and executive roles. Jayne has lived and worked in culturally and politically complex environments in a variety of global locations including Europe, China India and North America. Roles have included international sales, business development, corporate due diligence and ownership of a range of cross functional technical projects of scale. Prior to joining Kernel Capital Jayne spent six years with Intune Networks, as VP of Product Line Management, having previously held senior positions with Flextronics and Nortel. 

Jayne holds a 1st Class Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (M.Eng) from Queen’s University Belfast, is a Fellow of the IET and is currently undertaking the Institute of Directors Chartered Director Programme (2016).

Councilman Jim Shulman, At Large County Member Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

By profession Council Member Shulman is Executive Director, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

He served as Council member for District 25 from 1999-2007 and between 2001 and 2002, he was Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Councilman Shulman is a member of the following Committees:

  • Rules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee – which he Chairs
  • Public Works Committee
  • Codes, Fair and Farmer’s Market Committee

Outside interests and memberships include:

  • Safe Haven Family Shelter
  • Renewal House (Programmes and support to assist mothers with substance abuse/co-curring issues)
  • Adventure Science Center (hybrid between Planetarium and W5)
  • Dismas House (Supporting offenders reintegration into community)
  • University School of Nashville (independent, co-ed high school located in university area with over 1 000 students)
  • Green Hills Rotary
  • Leadership Nashville (an independent, executive leadership program to give community leaders a three-dimensional view of the city. Since Metropolitan Nashville is a union of satellite cities and neighborhoods, participants live and work in communities that are near and yet worlds apart. Leadership Nashville plays a vital role in bringing these leaders together).
  • Green Hills Retired Teacher Apartments

Joby Fox

A veteran of the music industry and co-founder of Refugee Rescue, a humanitarian NGO providing life saving sea rescue at the refugee crossing on the island of Lesbos.A native of Belfast, Northern Ireland and a songwriter and performer, Joby Fox has been known as an authentic voice of post-conflict Ireland, but now also as a humanitarian activist, immersing himself in the refugee crisis in Greece.

In winter 2015 Joby went to Lesbos and saw the situation of refugees fleeing war becoming more and more hazardous, with the weather worsening and boats capsizing. Joby saw rescuers on the beaches and on rescue boats forced to choose who to save as there were so many people in the water. When in October 2015 a vessel containing 300 people capsize, only 250 could be saved, Joby decided that more had to be done, in the absence of large NGOs. Refugee Rescue was set up and an RNLI boat from England was donated to the organisation. It has since been operated by a voluntary crew of search and rescue professionals, and to date has saved over 4000 people’s lives.

Joby continues to dedicate time to his craft of storytelling and music. Currently recording a new album of songs, and finishing his script for a feature film. Growing up through some of the worst atrocities in contemporary Europe in the 70s and 80s, Joby’s honesty and vision creates an edge that makes him a relevant figure in the Irish music and art scene today; Always searching, always evolving artistically. His work reaches deep into the soul of humanity and is always up- front and personal, drawing from the environment around him and his Irish musical heritage.

John Ferris

John spent the early part of his career as a coder in Pittsburgh before spending 15 years in the newspaper industry as  a journalist and Editor. The latter part of his career in media was focused in business development and as one of Ireland’s most respected food critics. John spent three years bootstrapping a wifi software startup in Belfast. In that time the company provided wifi in everything from cafes to stadia as well as fleets of taxis.

John joined Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest free business accelerator in 2015, and since then has worked with more than 200 Irish startups, helping them raise more than £5m in investment.

John McGrillen

John McGrillen is the Chief Executive of Tourism NI, Northern Ireland’s tourism development authority. He was appointed to the post in July 2015, following a lengthy career in economic development and local government. Prior to his appointment to Tourism NI, he was Director of Development at Belfast City Council, where he was responsible for economic development, regeneration and tourism within the city. From 1999 to 2010, he was Chief Executive at Down District Council. He began his career as an aerospace engineer before heading up IDB Northern Ireland’s operations in Düsseldorf, Germany, and subsequently taking over as Chief Executive at NI-CO, an international development consultancy business based in Belfast.  

 Justin Rush, Business Director

Justin Rush started Abacus in 2003 and now has over 20 years in recruitment locally and internationally, Justin emphasises the importance of taking a medium term view.  His motto is take time, be honest and fair, never set your principles aside.  Justin’s main passion involves delivering successful key recruitment projects that positively affect bottom line performance by planning, leading and coaching. 

Aside from recruitment, Justin has also founded the ‘Belfast for Life’ campaign.  Belfast for Life is a diaspora networking initiative, which promotes all that is great about living and working in our city. Visit www.belfastforlife.com to join the community and find out all you need to know about Quality of Life, Job Opportunities, Property Costs, Schools & Education, Nightlife and much more.

Kevin Gamble

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 most 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 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 records 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 where he captains the Senior Hurling Team and also coaches a variety of underage teams in Naomh Pól.  Kevin’s family has four young sons, Jude, Ben, Oscar and Jonah and daughter Georgia occupying most of his spare time, something he wouldn’t change for the world!

Kieran McEvoy

Kieran McEvoy is Professor of Law and Transitional Justice at the School of Law and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University Belfast. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at New York University Law School; University of Cambridge; the London School of Economics, the School of Law at Berkeley, and was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at Harvard Law School for a year.

He has also been leading a team of academics and civil society activists on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland for a number of years. That project, supported by the AHRC and Queens Business Alliance, has resulted in a range of practical and policy reports designed to assist the public conversation on these difficult and sensitive issues. Outputs from that project have included; a ‘Model Bill’ on implementing the past focused elements of the Stormont House Agreement launched at the House of Lords in October 2015, a paper presented to the UK Defence Select Committee in March 2017 ‘Amnesties, Prosecutions & the Rule of Law in Northern Ireland’ and a collaborative paper written with a number of local NGOs and academic colleagues designed to help resolve the National Security impasse Dealing with the Past: A Proposed Model for Information Redaction under the Stormont House Agreement – launched in April 2017. 

He is a long term human rights and peace activist in Northern Ireland, a former chair of human rights NGO the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), and a founding member of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI). He also a member of the Board of the London based human rights NGO, Rights Watch UK.

Laurie Scott

As Visit Belfast Business Development Director, Laurie leads the business development team in driving business to Belfast across association conferences, corporate meetings to inbound leisure business from the cruise and travel trade sectors. Visit Belfast is a public/private sector partnership funded and supported by Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the private sector. It is the official Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) for the Belfast City Region, dedicated to promoting Belfast as a city break, conference and cruise ship destination. It is also responsible for the operation of three gateway visitor information centres.

Before joining Visit Belfast in 2015, Laurie worked for Visit Britain in New York for more than seven years, heading up business tourism activity for North America and then moving into a trade partnership development role.

A native of Scotland, Laurie also held senior roles within Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, custodians of the People Make Glasgow brand, and Glasgow-based conference and association management company, Meeting Makers Ltd, as well as holding several sales and marketing roles with a number of international hotel chains.

Liam Brogan

Liam Brogan is a graduate of QUB with a Bsc Finance in 2009.  He then became a Chartered Accountant under Chartered Accountants Ireland completing his traineeship in practice with Mooney Matthews Chartered Accountants Belfast in 2015.  In 2015, he also entered the start-up world becoming CFO and Co-Founder of Ireland Craft Beers Ltd – an export focussed company specialising in import/export of Craft Beers, Ciders and Spirits from across Ireland’s finest Craft and Micro producers.

Brogan completed the inaugural Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast accelerator programme and continues as a community member in the hub.  He is an IoD99 member and a volunteer for the Young Enterprise NI Business Mentor programme.  His current focus is on growing Ireland Craft Beers export sales as well as launching new brands and a digital platform in the beverage industry.

Lynsey Cunningham

Lynsey oversees Ulster Bank’s support for entrepreneurs, start-ups and high growth businesses. This includes the world’s largest free business accelerator, Entrepreneurial Spark, and the Hub based in Belfast. Lynsey works closely with the business ecosystem in NI to make our entrepreneurs more credible, backable and investable. In the past 12 months the Hub has supported 111 entrepreneurs who have created 230 jobs, raised £5.2m investment and have collective turnover of £11.9m.

Lynsey graduated from Heriot Watt with a 1st class honours degree in International Management and Spanish, after which she joined Ulster Bank, working in the Bank’s business banking team. Prior to her current role, she was a relationship manager for large retailers and public sector organisations.

Lynsey sits on the RBS Women Male Allies steering group, is a member of the Belfast Lean In Chapter and was recognised in Business First’s Top 40 under 40 2016.

Mairead O’Donnell

Mairead O’Donnell is a 53-year-old mother of five from the Short Strand. Mairéad is the current Sinn Féin councillor on Belfast City Council.

Mairéad was co-opted onto Belfast City Council in June 2016 replacing Niall Ó Donnghaile. Mairéad is hoping to build on the strong Sinn Féin vote in East Belfast. 

Mairéad has worked within the community sector in the Short Strand since 2000 and since 2014 has been the full time coordinator of the Short Strand Partnership.

Within this role Mairéad has dealt with a range of issues including community safety, economic regeneration, environmental improvement and interface issues.

As coordinator of the SSP, Mairéad has also gained extensive experience of social economy projects.

Mairéad is a member of the “cross community” Inner East Partnership and regularly organises events for residents on both sides of the interfaces and sits on Belfast City Councils Tension Monitoring Group.

Through these various roles, Mairéad has gained extensive experience in dealing with a range of statutory bodies including Belfast City Council, DoJ, OFMDFM, Housing Executive, PSNI and the Parades Commission.

Maolíosa McHugh

Councillor Maolíosa McHugh is the third Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council. He was first elected to the former Strabane District Council in 2011 representing Sinn Fein in the Derg area and served as the Presiding Officer during the transition period of the amalgamation of the new Derry City and Strabane District Council in 2014.

Born in Mournebeg in the parish of Termonamongan,   Maolíosa was raised in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone and is one of a family of six, with two sisters and three brothers. His late brother, Charlie McHugh, was also a Sinn Fein Councillor for the Derg Ward and a former Chairman of Strabane District Council.

Maolíosa was educated in St Patrick’s Primary School, Castlederg, and CBS Omagh before graduating with a BA (Hons) in Economics in 1975 from Kingston Polytechnic, now Kingston University.  He obtained a post-graduate certificate in Irish from Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. 

Maolíosa is happily married to Geraldine and together they have five grown up children, Aoibhe, Eoin, Maolíosa, Cahir and Anna, as well as four grandchildren.

Maolíosa previously worked as a Senior Lecturer in the North West Institute for almost 33 years with special responsibility for the co-ordination of the Youth Training Programme and Essential Skills.

Maolíosa who is committed to the Irish Language is the Chairman of Naíscoil na Deirge and a member of St Eugene’s GFC and Aranderg Ceolthas.  Maolíosa is a passionate Tyrone County GAA supporter.

Marie Macklin CBE

Marie Macklin CBE is Executive Chair of Macklin Enterprise Partnerships, a holding company building a diverse portfolio of entrepreneurial businesses and investment funds.

Macklin Enterprise Partnerships seeks to invest in entrepreneurs and their businesses, through its own resources and Investment Funds. We work in partnership with organisations such as E-Spark, Linc Scotland, private / public investors, Entrepreneurial Scotland and business angel organisations.

Macklin Enterprise Partnerships takes direct stakes in selected businesses or invests through special-purpose funds created and managed with like-minded third parties. Marie takes the lead in identifying potential partners and providing start-up and management advice to selected entrepreneurs. Wherever practical, she seeks to take a position of Chair of invested companies to ensure close engagement and scrutiny of business performance.

Before establishing Macklin Enterprise Partnerships in 2015, Marie had transformed a construction business, founded by her father, into an entrepreneurial company engaged in economic and social transformation in Scotland, after acquiring it in 2003. The Klin Group, was distinguished by her inspired and creative approach to investment and economic regeneration. The company’s foundations had been set in revitalising land and property and investing in challenging and demanding initiatives which helped to transform communities. She was the first developer to locate a Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC in Scotland in a £85M regeneration development.

Marie’s business career started in development, financial services and banking. She trained as an accountant with Morrison Construction plc, responsible for costing and sub-contractor management. She joined MJ Marketing and Management Consultants, with offices in Glasgow and New York, with responsibility for a portfolio of clients in various sectors, assisting with business plans, marketing and branding.

In 1992, Royal Bank Invoice Finance head-hunted Marie to help establish a new operation in Glasgow, involving the transfer of more than 500 Scottish and Northern UK customers within a year. She was responsible for security, service and profitability, ultimately becoming Head of Security and Services in a period marked by Black Wednesday. She was a member of the Project Columbus team which led a fundamental restructuring of RBS’s UK operations, including the tightening of credit controls.

Marie is non-executive Chair of Diligent World, a new-start risk management and cyber consultancy, a Non-Executive Director of new-start Appointedd an online booking soft wear company.

She is a Director of The HALO Kilmarnock Ltd, and leads this company’s regeneration of the former Diageo bottling plant in the town. Marie is Business Patron to  Centre Stage Communities, a social enterprise arts organisation. 

She is a Board Member the Scottish Property Federation and until December 2015 Marie was also on the Board of Management at Ayrshire College. In October 2016, she was appointed to the Economic Leaders Board ( ELB)  by Lord Haughey to oversee the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal, a £1.1 billion infrastructure initiative, funded by UK Government and Scottish Government.

Marie has a long-established commitment to the development, excellence and philanthropy of young people. She actively encourages entrepreneurs by advising, investing, sponsoring and supporting schools, colleges, arts and community organisations to engage young people in business.

She is a mentor for Entrepreneurial Spark Enterprise and assists female entrepreneurs to build business networks through her initiative, Women in Enterprise, in partnership with the Association of Scottish Business Women, whose Award for Outstanding Contribution to Business she received in 2013. In 2015, Marie the Association named her as Woman of Inspiration to business in Scotland. During November 2016, Marie was recognised by the Scottish Business Awards as Female Business Leader of the year.

In March 2017, she was named Non-Executive Director of the year by the Institute of Directors Scotland (IoD), for her engagement with Appointedd. Also, in March, 2017 Glasgow Caledonian University made Marie an Alumna for Lifetime Achievement in business.

She was awarded a C.B.E in the Queens 2014 New Year’s Honours List for Services to Economic Regeneration and Entrepreneurship in Scotland.

Mark McGovern

Mark McGovern is Professor in Sociology at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk (near Liverpool). His focuses on the study of political violence, conflict and post-conflict transition, particularly in Northern Ireland, and he has been involved for many years in research with community groups and local and international NGOs dealing with post-conflict human rights, truth and justice issues. His current research investigates the nature and extent of British state collusion with loyalists during the conflict in Northern Ireland and a book on this subject (State of Collusion) is forthcoming. He is the co-author of Ardoyne: The Untold Truth (Beyond the Pale: 2002) and has published in a wide range of international journals including Sociology, Law and Society, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Race and Class, Terrorism and Political Violence and State Crime.

Maureen Bennett

Maureen Bennett represents life sciences and health care clients conducting global clinical trials and research collaborations. For almost 20 years, Maureen has advised clients on the contractual, regulatory, and ethical issues associated with clinical research. She negotiates clinical trial agreements, reviews informed consents, provides advice regarding novel patient recruitment strategies and assists with interactions with regulatory agencies, including the FDA. Maureen also advises clients on emerging regulatory issues affecting clinical research, including the utilization of social media in patient and physician recruitment, the development of virtual clinical trial and telemedicine networks, and personalized medicine strategies implementing the use of biomarkers and companion diagnostics.

Maureen also represents clients in the structuring of complex outsourcing arrangements between life sciences companies and contract research organizations (CROs). Maureen has recently assisted a pharmaceutical company in the negotiation of a master services agreement with a CRO for a Phase 3 clinical trial with over 100 sites on four continents. She also represents clients in the assessment and mitigation of regulatory risks and the negotiation of liability allocation arrangements in M&A, licensing, and other commercial transactions.

Maureen is the Life Sciences coleader for the Firm’s Health Care and Life Sciences Practice Group and is currently serving as cochair of the Boston Bar Association’s Health Care Section. She was honorary cochair for the 8th Annual Boston-Northwest Ireland Golden Bridges Giant Step Conference 2015 and is a regular speaker at industry conferences. Maureen is a member of the Firm’s LGBTQ affinity group.

Maurice Kinkead

Maurice Kinkead is Chief Executive of EastSide Partnership, where he has overall responsibility for management and strategic development. The partnership is an urban regeneration company, delivering a number of projects including EastSide Arts, with 3 annual festivals – EastSide Arts Festival, Woodstock R&B Festival and the CS Lewis Festival; EastSide Tourism incorporating the new EastSide Visitor Centre; and the Connswater Community Greenway with its showpiece CS L:ewis Square.

Maurice has been chief executive of the partnership since its formation in 1996, and prior to that has been involved in community based work in the east of the city. Throughout this time he has been heavily involved in social enterprise, having been directly responsible for initiating and managing a number of community owned businesses including a successful property development company, Landmark East.

Michael Darcy

The Ibec/CBI NI Joint Business Council (JBC) was formed in 1992 to be a positive force and a leading business voice jointly promoting the benefits of the All island Economy for jobs, growth and investment. Michael D’Arcy has been involved in North/South economic interaction since the early 1990’s and is currently the JBC’s Programme Lead on work that includes scoping the investment in infrastructure needed for a prosperous island population of 10m by mid century.

Mícheál Mac Donncha, Lord Mayor of Dublin 2017 – 2018

Sinn Féin Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha was elected Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath / Lord Mayor of Dublin at the Annual Meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday 26th June 2017.   He was first  co-opted to the City Council in May 2011 to represent the Beaumont-Donaghmede Ward of the North Central City Electoral Area and was re-elected in the Local Election of 2014.  He is Deputy Leader of the Sinn Féin Group on Dublin City Council.

He has served as Cathaoirleach of the Council Finance SPC and of the Commemorative Naming Committee. He is a board member on the City of Dublin Education and Training Board, the Board of Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane Gallery and of the National Maternity Hospital. He worked for 17 years (1997-2014) in the Oireachtas as Parliamentary Assistant to Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, former Sinn Féin Dáil leader.  Prior to that he was editor of the Sinn Féin weekly newspaper ‘An Phoblacht’ 1990-1996.  He has lived for most of his life in Kilbarrack, has written extensively on Irish history and politics and is a fluent Irish speaker.

Mike Rich

Mike has more than 20 years in digital as a Brand Builder at the Intersection of Media and Technology with proven business results leading organizations to the #1 positions in their categories. Mike has led global business, editorial, product and audience development teams.

Mike Rich currently serves as the CEO of Irish Central and is the Entrepreneur in Residence at Studio.VC who is the owner of Irish Central.

Prior to Irish Central Mike was the General Manager and Group Vice President of Digital at Time Inc Lifestyle division. Overseeing brands such as, Food&Wine, Real Simple, Health and Cooking Light.

Prior to Time Inc, Mike was the Chief Product and Operating Officer of Interactive One, a division of Radio One Inc. the #1 Digital Media company serving the African American audience.

Prior to Interactive One, Mike spent almost a decade AOL, serving at the SVP and General Manager of AOL Entertainment and Video Studios. Overseeing and building brands such as Moviefone, AOL Music, Spinner, AOL Video, Black Voices, AOL Latino.

Mike has spoken at industry events such as CES, Digital Music West/East, and Digital Hollywood and was recognized by the Hollywood Reporter as part of their Digital Power 50, a list of Digital Executives leading the digital media industry.

Niall Murphy

Niall Murphy is a practicing solicitor, having graduated from QUB in 1998 and is a partner at KRW Law LLP, a leading human rights practice, based in Belfast.  The practice is instructed by a significant number of clients engaged in legacy litigation relating to conflict related deaths and injuries, appearing for those bereaved as a result of atrocities such as Loughinisland, Loughgall, Claudy, Clonoe, Kingsmill, the Dublin-Monaghan and McGurks Bar Bombings, the Glenanne Gang series of killings, Ormeau Road Bookmakers, the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombing amongst others.  Niall is instructed on behalf of several families to act at the reopening of the ‘John Stalker / Shoot to Kill’ Inquests, relating to the murders of 6 unarmed men in 1982 by the RUC.

Niall is a Director of Belfast based NGO, Relatives for Justice and has made representations at the European Parliament in Brussels, to the EU Human Rights Commissioner in Strasbourg and also to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva as well as having presented lectures to Universities in Washington, Pittsburgh, Jersey City, Fordham University New York and Harvard, Massachusetts.

Nuala McAllister – Lord Mayor Belfast

The current Lord Mayor of Belfast is Councillor Nuala McAllister (Alliance). 

Councillor McAllister was elected to office on 1 June 2017.

A former business officer for the Alliance Party at Stormont, Councillor McAllister represents the Castle electoral area.

The 28-year-old, from the north of the city, is taking the theme ‘Global Belfast’ throughout her term.

Nuala Murphy

Nuala Murphy is a tech entrepreneur and CEO of Moment Health – a ground-breaking digital solution that offers early intervention for maternal mental health illnesses.

Moment Health was was conceived with the aim to connect mothers with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental health and recover from illness.

Nuala was recently successful in receiving early stage investment to build a team and bring its first product to market in early Autumn.

She is characterised by energy, drive and commitment helping women achieve their ambitions demonstrated most powerfully through her leadership as part of the global Lean In movement.

She began her career as a marketing executive and progressed rapidly to director level with experience gleaned in manufacturing, health and technology sectors both at home and internationally. Becoming Chartered in 2010 and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

With accolades such as the 2017 Top 40 Under 40 Northern Ireland award winner and…, Irish Times describes Nuala as “rapidly developing a reputation as one of the next generation of female business leaders in the North.”, Nuala is a frequent participant in expert panel line-ups across the corporate sector and avid champion of female health and equality.

Nuala graduated with an honours degree in Applied Languages and Linguistics with French from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and studied at the prestigious Universite de Geneve followed by a year placement in Sanofi Aventis HQ in Paris.

Paddy Nixon – Professor, Vice Chancellor and President, Ulster University

Professor Nixon joined Ulster University in July 2015 from the University of Tasmania where he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) – responsible for driving the research agenda, through both existing and newly formed research institutes.  He has extensive industry and commercial experience, particularly in collaborations with global high tech firms. He was responsible for the research portfolio at Tasmania, its two existing research institutes and the formation of two further institutes.

He was previously Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor in Distributed Systems at University College Dublin (UCD), where he was Vice Principal (Deputy Dean) of the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.  From 2007 – 2010 he was Academic Director of INTEL’s Independent Living and Digital Health, leading a team of 150 clinicians, researchers and engineers.

While at UCD, Professor Nixon led the establishment the UCD Complex and Adaptive Systems Institute (CASL), focused on the inter-disciplinary research at the intersection of mathematics, computation and scientific discovery, bringing together over 250 researchers to lead national programmes in Bioinformatics, Computational Finance and Network Science.

Professor Nixon has significant industrial and commercial experience. He has had active collaborations with INTEL, Microsoft Research, HP, Oracle and IBM. From 2007-2009 he was Academic Director of the INTEL Technology for Independent Living Centre – INTEL’s largest University-based research centre with direct funding of €30 million. He has been a founder of three start-ups, including of NDRC Ltd, an IP development company supported by a €25 million investment by the Irish government. Professor Nixon was an IBM faculty fellow in Autonomics with the Dublin Centre for Advanced Studies.

Professor Nixon is originally from Liverpool. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Computer Science, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering. In addition to his time at UCD, he has held academic positions at the University of Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

Professor Nixon is leading Ulster University at a most exciting time.  As Northern Ireland’s civic university, Ulster University delivers outstanding research and teaching that encourages the innovation, leadership and vision needed to transform lives, stretch minds, develop skills and raise ambitions.

Paul Maskey

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.

Paul McErlean

Paul McErlean is Managing Director and founder of MCE Public Relations Ltd. He has over eighteen years’ experience in the public, private and voluntary sectors at all levels focusing in business to business, business to consumer, corporate, financial, political and crisis public relations.

Paul previously was joint Managing Director of another major Northern Ireland PR agency and spent a number of years advising the Industrial Development Board and InterTradeIreland in his previous consulting roles – including being the lead communications advisor on the 11 city investment roadshow of North America after the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in 1998. His career started in broadcasting research and news facilitation with leading independent TV company, MacMillan Media and he also spent two years as Head of Communications for one of Northern Ireland’s main political parties. He has degrees from Queen’s and Cambridge Universities and completed an Executive MBA from the Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, in 2002.

On a voluntary basis, he is Chairman of leading environmental regeneration charity, Groundwork NI and is also Chairman of the Cathedral Quarter Trust – a government and Belfast City Council backed stakeholder group charged with developing the regeneration strategy for Belfast’s most vibrant and historic city centre district. In 2013 he was made a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations having served as its Northern Ireland Chairman in 2006. He is also the current Chairman of the Public Relations Consultants’ Association (PRCA) in Northern Ireland and was listed in PR Week’s UK PowerBook 150 in 2011.

Patricia Cottrell,  Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge

Patsy Cottrell is currently Of Counsel with the firm Bone McAllester & Norton, having retired from the bench in 2014.  She was appointed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in November of 1998 and re-elected in 2000 and 2008.  She also served on the Court of the Judiciary and the Judicial Council.

She was born in Memphis and received a B.S. from the University of Tennessee, with Honours, in 1969.  Judge Cottrell received her law degree from the University Of Tennessee College Of Law in 1976.  Upon graduation, she moved to Nashville where she became an Assistant Attorney General and was later appointed Deputy Attorney General.

Judge Cottrell was the first director of the Public Law Institute at UT College of Law, 1978-79.  In 1991, she was named Director of Law for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and in 1993 returned to the Office of Attorney General as Chief Deputy.  She entered the private practice of law in Nashville in 1997.

Judge Cottrell is an alumna of Leadership Nashville, a founding member of the Lawyers Association for Women, and served on Nashville’s Charter Revision Commission.  She is an emeritus member of American Inns of Court, member of the Tennessee and Nashville Bar Foundations and Nashville Bar Association.

Dr Peter FitzGerald CBE FREng – Founder & Managing Director

Dr FitzGerald founded Randox in 1982 in a converted ‘Hen House’ at the back of his parent’s house in Crumlin, Co. Antrim.  Since then the company has grown to over 1,400 staff worldwide including 400 R&D scientists, with customers in over 145 countries. Randox develop, manufacture and market a wide range of clinical and veterinary diagnostic reagents and systems.

Dr FitzGerald was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for services to business in Northern Ireland. He has gained many other accolades in his career to date; named a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and Innovation Founder of the Year 2013 from the Northern Ireland Science Park, to name a few.

Rhona Quinn

Rhona Quinn is currently Chair of QMAC Construction Ltd. She is Past President of the Construction Employers Federation having been a member of the Federation for over ten years she has served on a number of Committees during that time. Rhona is a member of The Procurement Board in Northern Ireland with a specific interest in construction investment and policies. Rhona is a Director of The Construction First Board which looks after Construction Industry Pension Schemes and Services to the Industry.

Rhona set up QMAC Construction with her husband almost 30 years ago it is based in Donaghmore near Dungannon and has grown steadily under Rhona’s leadership. Rhona has been involved in business all of her adult life, initially working in the family concrete product manufacturing business and more recently was involved in retailing and publishing. Rhona is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Building and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management and Leadership..

Richard Ramsey

Richard Ramsey is Chief Economist, Northern Ireland, at Ulster Bank and a regular media commentator who has his own blog, ulstereconomix.com. He was a member of the Northern Ireland Finance Minister’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Sector Reform (June 2014 – June 2016), and is a member of the Department of Finance’s Statistics Advisory Committee. Before joining Ulster Bank, Richard spent 10 years in the public sector – including spells as Principal Economist at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and with Invest NI. He also held a number of economist posts within the Department of Finance & Personnel. Richard is a graduate of Loughborough University with a BSc in Economics & Human Geography and an MSc in European Economics and Finance.

 Richard Williams, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Screen

Richard is Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen which has, in the last 10 years, taken the lead role in developing the screen industry in Northern Ireland. 

Under Richard’s leadership, Northern Ireland Screen developed the Paint Hall at Titanic Quarter as a film studio which has been the home of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES for seven seasons.  And more recently partnered with Belfast Harbour Commission in the development of Belfast Harbour Studios, a new purpose built studio complex.

During his time, Northern Ireland Screen has expanded its support to cover large-scale production, TV drama, independent film, factual/entertainment, animation and interactive.

Richard previously worked for Waddell Media, during that time representing Northern Ireland on PACT, the Producers Alliance for Cinema & Television.  He also previously worked in newspaper management and was a commercial solicitor

Councilman Robert Swope

District 4, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

CEO, President & Executive Producer, Sunrise Entertainment

Robert Swope is a CEO, President, Executive Producer, Producer, Director, Editor, Writer and Performer who, since a very early age, has been exposed to an extensive array of entertainment management and production. Born in Pittsburgh, he started his career as a performer in the seventies which led to producing live event entertainment during the eighties for clients such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Georgia Pacific and AT&T. Since founding Sunrise Entertainment in 1993, Swope has garnered an EMMY® Award (Best Live Broadcast), 8 Stellar Awards, and has been nominated for a total of eight EMMYs®, three GRAMMYs®, and over a dozen STELLAR awards.

A classical and jazz trained trumpet player, he has performed with such elite groups as The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and The Buddy Rich Orchestra. He has had the honour to play banjo with such greats as Roy Acuff and the Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe.

Swope is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (NATAS), the Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD), and is a founding board member of Film Nashville and Film-Com. He produces multiple charity events each year for the City of Nashville including the Arts & Business Councils Bowtie Awards, The Annual Music City Corporate Band Challenge, Film-Com, Kars4Kids and other city-wide events.

Sarah Delude 

Sarah has worked in international relations for over 10 years and joined the City of Boston in 2016. In this role Sarah focuses on scaling up international relations through public diplomacy, economic partnerships, business engagement, and marketing Boston as a global and welcoming city. Prior to joining the City of Boston, Sarah worked in public diplomacy as Head of the Politics, Press and Public Affairs Section at the British Consulate-General in Boston, where she also held the Policy and University Engagement portfolio. Sarah also held roles at the Center for European Studies, an interdisciplinary research center at Harvard University. There she was responsible for programming, communications, external relations, student advising, and Visiting Scholars Programs. Sarah earned a B.A. from Syracuse University in International Relations and a Master’s degree from Harvard in Government.

Siobhan McManamy – Director of Markets 

Siobhan McManamy is Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, responsible for the organisation’s operations in more than 20 markets around the world; she has held the position since 2016. Prior to this, Siobhan was Tourism Ireland’s Head of Co-operative Marketing.

Siobhan joined Tourism Ireland in 2002 and held several managerial positions around Mainland Europe, managing the organisation’s operations in Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordic region.

Sorcha Wolsey

After graduating from Queens University with a degree in psychology Sorcha went to work as a bar tender in the newly opening Café Ceol in Bangor, owned by Bill Wolsey. From there she progressed through the company, becoming manager of Ta Tu on the Lisburn Road when it opened and currently holds the position of group operations manager and company secretary for Beannchor, which currently runs The Merchant Hotel, Bullitt, The Dirty Onion, The National and Sixty6, Little Wing Pizzeria and the Hillside, Hillsborough.

Sorcha has held a number of board positions on industry bodies and charities. She is currently a trustee of the Cathedral Quarter Trust.

Stefan Sanders

Stefan Sanders is a Director of Arup and leads Arup’s Rail Business in the UK, Middle East and Africa. He has 28 years of experience in rail management and consultancy. He has advised clients internationally on rail reform and the procurement and funding of railways from the private sector, most recently advising Etihad Rail in the UAE and the Singapore Land Transport Authority on the High Speed Railway to Kuala Lumpur. Stefan enjoys project development and creation and has been active promoting the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail. Stefan is well known in the UK industry and earlier in his career has advised Irish Rail on their InterCity business strategy.

Suzanne Wylie – Chief Executive

Suzanne Wylie took up the post of Chief Executive of Belfast City Council from 1 July 2014.  Belfast City Council is the largest Council in Northern Ireland with 2,700 staff and with a responsibility for providing services to the 333,000 people who live in the city. 

Since taking up the post Suzanne has been leading the Council’s new City Plan, the Belfast Agenda 2035, which is focused on economic growth and connecting neighbourhoods and people to the opportunities it creates.  As part of this the Council is moving forward its City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy aimed at ensuring the city can compete on a global level.  The City Centre Strategy is focused on delivering more private sector investment and economic growth in the city, focusing on the city’s FDI success particularly in Fintech, ICT, business services, life sciences, tourism and creative and technology sectors.  We have plans for more offices, more hotels, tourist attractions and residential development along with great public realm and state of the art digital infrastructure.

The Council has also been rolling out an impressive Capital Build Programme across the city investing more than £400m in projects such as the new extended Waterfront Convention Centre, a small business Innovation Hub, Girdwood Community Hub and an eco business park at North Foreshore being some of the bigger projects.  It is also building 7 new state of the art leisure centres and has improved many parks and playgrounds in local neighbourhoods. 

Suzanne is hugely optimistic about the potential of the city in terms of the economy, jobs, skills, tourism, and culture. 

Suzanne has worked for Belfast City Council for 28 years and previously held the position of Director of Health and Environmental Services from 2010, and she is focused on positioning the City Council as a key driver in the continued growth of Belfast.

Suzanne is married with three children.

Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly is Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, the campaign to grow the sector to 20% of the local economy and supporting the 5,500 firms and the 85,000 employ.  MNI focus on creating the most competitive region in Europe in which to start, sustain and grow a manufacturing business with a particular interest in rates, energy, labour and Brexit issues.  Stephen joined MNI in 2013 having been Managing Director at an international marketing and comms firm, and CEO of the Federation of the Retail Licenced Trade and Derry’s City Centre Initiative.  He was 2003 National President of Junior Chamber International and a member of the BBC’s Broadcasting Council and is currently Vice-Chair of the NI Assembly and Business Trust.

Terry McKeown

Terry is the lead project manager on Sailortown Belfast’s St Joseph’s Church Restoration Project.

She has been working on saving the Church and its Parochial House for last few years and is passionately committed to its survival. The once bustling area was decimated by industrial decline and the building of the M3 motorway in the late ‘60’s. The families were relocated to housing estates around Belfast but retained a strong emotional connection to the area. When their Church was closed and deconsecrated in 2000 they protested in the strongest possible terms and came together to save it. They now own it on a 150 year lease and have led Sunday morning prayers on its steps for the last 17 years.

They have amassed a wealth of heritage material relating to life in the docks and seafaring and want to use this to tell the people’s stories of life in Sailortown. St Joseph’s or ‘the wee Chapel on the Quays’ is Grade B listed and is the last remaining iconic building in the area

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