Aidan Donnelly has worked in the communications field in Northern Ireland for almost 25 years and heads up a unique team that combines software and IoT expertise with facilities management experience to unlock new markets in SmartWorkPlus
SmartWorkPlus deliver new insight for the new normal in the world of facilities management by providing real time insights, on-site. Through the use of smart sensors, building running costs can be drastically reduced by only focusing resources in areas that need it.
By analysing occupancy and utilisation of buildings, organisations can reduce both real estate footprint and carbon footprint. With global building occupancy averaging only 60%, there is a real opportunity for building owners to make more efficient use of their available space thus reducing operational, rent and energy costs.
Contact Name: Amanda Ferguson
Position Title: Freelance Journalist with Sky, Reuters, The Washington Post, BBC, RTÉ
I am a Belfast-based freelance journalist and commentator from the north of the city.
I am member of the National Union of Journalists Belfast branch.
For over a decade I have been working as a Northern Correspondent and Ireland Stringer for Irish, British and international media outlets.
My written work has appeared in: The Washington Post; Reuters; The Irish Times; The Sunday Times; The Guardian; New Statesman; Daily Mirror; The Irish News; and other publications.
My broadcasting and commentary work includes: BBC; UTV; RTÉ; Sky; LBC; and others.
I cover breaking news, features, politics, lobby, courts, business, social affairs, the arts, lifestyle, food, travel, reviews, and more.
Variety is one of the great joys of being an independent journalist and working for myself.
As well as being a writer and broadcaster I am also an: event host; panellist; fixer; producer; copywriter; and trainer.
Contact Name: Andrew Grieve
Position Title: Head of Active Travel – Department for Infrastructure
Company Website: infrastructure-ni.gov.uk
Andrew has been Head of Active Travel in DfI since November 2013. He lives in Belfast and cycles regularly for commuting and everyday journeys clocking up around 2,500 miles annually around the city. His background is in mechanical engineering. Following a short time working in industry and four years in academic research at Queen’s University, Belfast he joined the NI Civil Service in 1989. Over the past 30 years he has held a variety of posts dealing with a broad range of public services. He enjoys his current post in active travel with the challenges that it presents for making a real difference to people’s lives – improving health and wellbeing through more active lifestyles, improving the environment through reduced reliance on driving and bringing the economic and social benefits of more ‘people-centred’ places.
Contact Name: Anurag Deb
Position Title: Paralegal at KRW LAW LLP and PhD researcher, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast
Company Website: krw-law.ie , qub.ac.uk
Anurag is a paralegal at KRW LAW, a leading public law and Legacy litigation firm. After being called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2019, Anurag started a PhD in constitutional law at Queen’s University Belfast in 2020.
Contact Name: Aoife Houlihan Wiberg
Position Title: Professor of Architecture, Director of The Architectural Research Group
Company Website: pure.ulster.ac.uk
Google Scholar: scholar.google.com
Aoife Houlihan Wiberg is a Professor in Architecture at The Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment at Ulster University, Belfast. At the School she is Director of the newly launched Architectural Research Group and Lead of the new Zero GHG Emission Building and Neighbourhood Research Cluster. She received her PhD and M.Phil. Degrees from the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture. She is an Associate of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd. and a member of Darwin College, University of Cambridge. She has worked in practice in the UK, Ireland and The Bahamas and has recently returned to the UK after working for a decade at The Research Centre for Zero Emission Buildings and The Research Centre for Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. She sits on several international scientific committees, international reviewer for several leading journals and has been guest speaker in the US, Korea, Japan, Singapore, as well as in Europe.
Contact Name: Carol Fitzsimons MBE
Position Title: Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland
Company Website: yeni.co.uk
Carol Fitzsimons has been Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland in 2009. Having previously specialised in learning & development in the private sector, she is a strong advocate for the benefits of providing young people with the opportunity to develop business and entrepreneurship skills at a young age. She is committed to providing young people in Northern Ireland with the best preparation for success in the new economy through her work at Young Enterprise – Northern Ireland’s leading business education charity.
Each year Young Enterprise helps over 90,000 young people aged 4-25 from across Northern Ireland explore their entrepreneurial potential, with support from volunteer business mentors. The delivery model involves participation in interactive, business simulation games which develop critical skills, such as communication, decision-making, financial management, and creativity. The flagship programme is Company, where students set up and run their own business over an academic year, with opportunities to sell to the general public at Young Enterprise Trade Fairs. As part of Young Enterprise – Junior Achievement globally, the young people are also encouraged to take a global perspective on the world of business.
Carol is committed to ensuring that the next generation have a strong understanding of the new growth business sectors in the economy of Northern Ireland and the opportunities these will provide for them, including the option of business start-up as a career choice open to them. She enjoys bringing together volunteers and organisations from across all sectors of business with young people of all ages, to help create a more prosperous future economy for Northern Ireland.
Carol is an Alumni of the US Boston College Irish Institute exchange on Youth Entrepreneurship, and was a participant in the Global Ambassador’s Program with Vital Voices. Her involvement in these programmes has allowed her to benchmark the work of the charity against global best practice, and develop & implement a strategic vision to make Young Enterprise NI one of the leading providers of Enterprise Education in the world.
Carol holds the Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She was awarded the MBE for services to Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in 2016.
Caroline joined Sustrans in July 2020, attracted by its vision of a society where the way we travel creates healthier places and happier lives for everyone. Sustrans does this by making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
Prior to joining Sustrans, Caroline spent the previous 19 years in public health, where she was responsible for a range of initiatives on healthy eating, weight management and physical activity. Caroline originally trained as a solicitor and also worked for ATD Fourth World, an international anti-poverty organisation, for seven years.
She is passionate about active travel and now cycles more miles in a year than she drives.
Catherine is an International Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate from Ulster University. After studying Digital Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Catherine worked closely with clients in HP, Dell and Cisco on numerous marketing campaigns. She now heads up the marketing department for Obbi Solutions, an award-winning Health & Safety Compliance Software Company and also Macklin Care Homes, an award-winning Care Home group in NI.
In her spare time Catherine works on numerous marketing strategies for local companies, has her own life advice blog and is a massive advocate for personal development.
Chris Armstrong is the EastSide Tourism Development Manager for EastSide Partnership. He started working for the organisation in June 2016.
Chris has previously worked for Ulster Rugby and most notably Outdoor Recreation NI where he was responsible for the strategic development and promotion of Northern Ireland’s official mountain bike trails.
With a 2:1 degree in Marketing & Media Studies, Chris brings with him a wealth of experience in tourism destination marketing and is looking forward to putting EastSide on the map.
Contact Name: Chris Train
Position Title: Independent Specialist Advisor, Energy and Utilities. CT Energy
Former CEO of Cadent, Britain’s largest gas distribution network, Chris is spearheading ENA’s Gas Goes Green programme as the UK’s Green Gas Champion, to create the world’s first zero carbon gas grid here in the UK, to hit our 2050 net zero carbon target. He currently sits on the Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council and is the Advisory Council’s Champion on the Standards and Regulation Work Group.
Chris has 38 years’ experience of working in the UK energy industry, also serving for 8 years as National Grid’s Networks Operations Director, where he was responsible for the real-time running of Britain’s energy networks, ensuring that the country’s electricity and gas needs were met 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
During this period, he also worked closely with industry and Government to implement some of the most radical changes to Britain’s electricity system since privatisation, which have led to Britain’s position as a world-leading producer of renewable electricity, including through offshore wind.
Contact Name: Ciaran Boylan
Position Title: Director/Partner Locus Management
Company Website: locusmgt.com
Ciaran provides a range of consultancy and research services across the public, community/voluntary and private sectors. Specialises in employability and skills, recently produced a report which identified labour market opportunities in Belfast arising from green growth.
Contact Name: Clare Guinness
Position Title: Innovation district Director
Clare Guinness, finance graduate and Institute of Directors Fellow, brings a wealth of finance and investment, management, real estate and infrastructure experience gained in Corporate and Business Banking with Bank of Ireland, as Director of Corporate Services, Fane Valley Group, Chief Executive Officer of Warrenpoint Harbour and most recently, Chief Operating Officer of a London based property regeneration company.
Contact Name: Conor Fegan
Position Title: Planning and Environmental Law Barrister (England and Wales) at Francis Taylor Building Chambers (London)
Company Website: ftbchamber.co.uk
Conor was called to the Bar of England and Wales in July 2018. He is a member of Francis Taylor Building chambers, a leading planning and environmental law set based in London. He specialises in public law, and in particular in planning and environmental law. Conor acts for a range of clients including central and local government, charities and pressure groups, residents associations, and developers. He regularly appears before the High Court (England and Wales), the Planning Inspectorate, and the Planning Appeals Commission. He is involved in a number of ongoing cases which raise climate change related issues.
Declan has been involved in the development of the PEACE PLUS Programme for the past two years, facilitating stakeholder consultations and research associated with the development process. Previous to this, Declan was the Northern Ireland Contact Point for a number of EU Transnational Programmes including the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and North West Europe Programmes, assisting with the development of Projects from Northern Ireland under these Programmes including those with an renewable energy focus.
Contact Name: Debbie Caldwell
Position Title: Climate Commissioner
Company Website: BelfastCity
Debbie Caldwell is the Climate Commissioner for Belfast City Council. An experienced climate change specialist with over 20 years’ experience working in international development, she co-chairs the Belfast Resilience and Sustainability Board and the Climate Commission.
With a background in operation’s planning and materials’ management, Fiacre joined the start-up company Encirc in 1998 as planning, warehousing and materials manager. Prior to being appointed sustainability director for Encirc he held roles in sales, business development, marketing and strategic development. In 2020 he was appointed as Sustainability Director for the Vidrala group, Encirc’s parent company. An MBA graduate from the Ulster business school and alumni of the Timoney Institute, he won the Drinks Business ‘Green personality of the year’ for work undertaken to improve sustainability throughout the glass industry. He is a member of the Business In The Community NI environmental leadership team, a BITC Environment champion and a member of the NI Chamber of Commerce infrastructure and sustainability team.
Contact Name: Gabriella Burnside
Position Title: Entrepreneur Acceleration Manager
Company Website: Entrepreneur Accelerator | Ulster Bank
LinkedIn: (5) Gabi Burnside | LinkedIn
Gabi started her diverse career working for three years in policy tech start-up Ineqe. With her background in economics and corporate governance she then moved to the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. Gabi’s role in the Chamber involved managing seven programmes to help support SMEs and large businesses to trade internationally. Working with over 1200 companies across Northern Ireland allowed Gabi to build a robust network of contacts. Since early 2018, Gabi joined the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur team as Acceleration Manager. Since then Gabi has coached over 200 startups and established businesses, who’ve raised nearly £10m in investment and funding and turning over £6.5m in that time.
Gary Wickham, founding member & CEO of MagGrow, and EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist 2020, is an accomplished and highly experienced entrepreneur & businessman. Gary has a degree in applied science from Trinity College and a Business Masters in Operational management from University College Dublin.
Gary began his career in Henkel Loctite Ireland, where he held several senior management positions. He developed Loctite’s first ever cleanroom facility for the Biomedical and Microelectronic product ranges. Gary was also an active member of the M&A team.
In 2003, Gary joined Reheis Pharma Ireland as Managing Director with a turnover of €40million.
Gary started his entrepreneurial journey by co-founding StayCity apartment hotels, a highly successful business with a turnover of €100million, and over 5000 employees.
In 2013, Gary co-founded MagGrow, a patented, proprietary technology that significantly reduces waste associated with conventional pesticide spray applications, delivering important plant protection products where they matter the most. MagGrow employs over 40 people, it has operations in the USA, Canada, Australasia, and Europe, and has completed over 250 installations in 14 different countries.
Grainia Long is the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the strategic housing authority for Northern Ireland and one of the largest publically owned social landlords in Europe, managing 84,000 homes.
Previously, Grainia was the Commissioner for Resilience for the city of Belfast, and co-Chaired the Belfast Climate Commission. Grainia was also the Chief Executive of the National Child Protection Charity in the Republic of Ireland, ISPCC Childline. This position followed several years working in housing, including as Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), and previously National Director of the CIH in Northern Ireland. She has served two terms as a member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, was a member of the Lyons Commission on Housing Supply and Advisor to the Best Commission on the Future of Housing in Northern Ireland. Grainia is currently Chair of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Trust, a social housing provider in England, and Senior Independent Director on MTVH Group Board.
Contact Name: Harry Connolly
Position Title: Director
Harry Connolly is the Director of Fáilte Feirste Thiar, a local tourism development agency tasked with the responsibility of developing West Belfast’s tourism offering and building sustainable tourism infrastructure.
He has been central to the development of strategies that market the uniqueness of West Belfast as a tourist attraction, re-branding the area as the place to visit in the city.
Contact Name: Helen Keys
Position Title: Founder
Helen is a farmer from Co. Tyrone. She is working on innovative farm systems that go beyond sustainability to regenerative agriculture.
This includes the reintroduction of fibre crops (flax, hemp and nettle) for both textile and composites working alongside the Natural Fibre Composites Collaborative Growth Network.
Helen also works with the Water Innovation Network finding low cost ways to reduce pollution from agriculture and generate new incomes from nature based systems.
Helen is also a founder of Source Grow – a platform to help farmers make informed decisions about planting crops that are in demand from local restaurants, to reduce food miles and support diversification.
Helen works in both QUB and UU with students developing ideas to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Helen is on the Northern Ireland Steering group for the Nature Friendly Farming Network and the Food Working Group for the Belfast Climate Commission.
Contact Name: Joe O’Neill
Position Title: Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour
Joe joined Belfast Harbour in 1997, holding a number of roles including Commercial Manager and Port Manager as well as Commercial Director until his appointment as CEO in 2018. Prior to joining the Port, Joe held positions with Undus Ltd and Cantrell and Cochrane Ltd. Joe is currently a board member of the Simon Community.
John spent his early career coding for a healthcare tech company in Pittsburgh before a 15 year stint in media. A journalist and editor at the North Belfast News, John also ran Ireland’s most successful independent food website, Forked.
In 2013 John launched a wifi software technology startup, which was used in restaurants, cafés, hotels, stadia and vehicles around the world.
John joined Entrepreneurial Spark in 2015 to help support ambitious startups throughout Ireland. The social enterprise was bought over by NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank in 2018. Since joining the team John has worked to support 650+ startups across the country. Those businesses have raised £30m+ in investment and created more than 1000 jobs.
Since 2019, John sits as a member of Ulster Bank’s Regional Board and leads on climate and the drive to support a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Ireland.
John Mc Grillen is the Chief Executive of Tourism NI, Northern Ireland’s tourism development authority. John took up post in 2015 after a long career in Local Government where he was Chief Executive of Down District Council before becoming Director of Development at Belfast City Council. He also has extensive international development experience having worked across the developing world as Chief Executive of the Belfast based international development agency, NI-CO.
Born and raised in the Parish of Tullylish, near Banbridge, John O’Dowd lives in Upper Bann with his wife and three young children.
He has been a member of Sinn Féin for almost 30 years and has been an elected representative for 19 years.
John has been education minister for the last five years and also served as acting deputy First Minister for a time.
Contact Name: Kate Nicholl
Position Title: Lord Mayor of Belfast
The current Lord Mayor of Belfast is Councillor Kate Nicholl who took up office on 1 June 2021.
A member of the Alliance Party, she was elected as a representative for the Balmoral district at the 2019 Local Government Election.
Councillor Nicholl, 33, was born in Zimbabwe and moved with her family to Belfast when she was 12 years old. She attended Methodist College and University College London and is currently enrolled in a master’s degree at Ulster University.
Councillor Nicholl lives and works in South Belfast and is married with an 18-month-old son, Cian.
The theme for Councillor Nicholl’s year in office is ‘Our Belfast’, with a commitment to meet the people in every area, to recognise those who are making a difference in every quarter, and to find ways to work with them for the betterment of the city. She also wishes to highlight the voices of children and young people during her year in office and to champion action on climate change and the environment.
Maria Bos has 15 years of experience from working with innovation, digitalisation and strategy in both the financial industry and within renewable energy. After heading the group strategy and sustainability unit in the Norwegian renewable company BKK for some years, she was appointed CEO of the shore power company Plug in 2020. Originally founded by the Port of Bergen and BKK, Plug aims on speeding up the development of shore power both in Norway and in other countries through designing, building, operating as well as investing in shore power projects. Through Plug Maria has contributed in shore power projects both in the port of Bergen and in other ports in Norway. She holds a degree from the Norwegian School of Economics, specialising in strategic management and finance, and represents Norway in Eurelectrics working group on E-mobility.
Contact Name: 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.
Contact Name: Mark Goldstone
Position Title: Partner
Company Website: freyeurandtrogue.com
Mark Goldstone has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, encompassing operations, commercialization, consulting, M&A and Venture Capital. He has led some of the largest specialist consulting and communications groups in the world and was a founding partner at Forepont Capital (VC).
He was COO of EuroRSCG Life (now Havas), Global CEO of healthcare at top brand and business consultancy, Interbrand and Worldwide President of Doyle, Dane and Bernbach global healthcare businesses.
Mark has executed numerous venture investments, M&A, financing and strategic partnership transactions for a broad array of early stage, middle market and emerging growth companies in technology, life sciences and healthcare services. He has developed successful commercialization strategies and programs from early-stage and market development, to product launch and late-stage lifecycle management for blue-chip pharmaceutical and packaged goods companies including Pfizer, Merck, Novartis, Bayer, GSK, Sanofi, Colgate Palmolive, L’Oreal, Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Roche. In fact, Mark has worked on seven of the world’s top-selling medicines.
Mark began his career as a clinical Pharmacist and is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. He is Board member of the prestigious Galien Foundation.
Maša Klemenčič is currently coordinating the Slovenian national programme for the development of sustainable tourism – the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism (GSST) at the Slovenian Tourist Board. She joined the development team at the STB four years ago after obtaining a Masters degree in geography at Université Grenoble Alpes (France), where she specialised in the development of tourism in protected areas. She gained her first experiences in tourism management working at the local tourism office in Ljubljana (SLO) and later in different locations in the French Alps, where tourism is a well-developed tradition.
Since his election to the State Assembly in the fall of 2002, Michael J. Cusick, a lifelong resident of Staten Island, has worked to improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders.
Shortly after graduating from Villanova University in 1991, Cusick began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council, where he was the representative for the Borough of Staten Island. Following that, Cusick served as the Director of Constituent Services for United States Senator Charles E. Schumer and then as Chief of Staff to former Staten Island Assemblymember Eric N. Vitaliano, where he oversaw the Assembly member’s Albany and Staten Island offices.
Cusick has earned a reputation for dedication and thoughtful public service, tirelessly advocating on behalf of his community. As the senior member of the Staten Island delegation in Albany, with more than two decades of work in government behind him, Cusick brings his expertise to the table while negotiating issues of Island and State-wide importance.
An active member of many civic organizations, Cusick has served on the Staten Island Board of Directors of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Boy Scouts of America. He was the Staten Island Chapter President of the Villanova Alumni Association, and is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, John D. Kearney Division 3, as well as the State Island Athletic Club. In 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Cusick to sit on the Blue Ribbon Panel to enhance collaboration between the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation which honors the legacy of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who laid down his life during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Additionally, Cusick chairs the Handicapped Parking Task Force on Staten Island, which he established shortly after his election. The Task Force works with community groups to address the parking concerns faced by disabled individuals.
In 2011, Cusick developed a program in conjunction with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, known as the Veteran’s Discount Program, that gives veterans a card so they can access discounted items at many local businesses. The number of veterans and participating businesses continues to grow – a tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
In 2012, New York City proposed reopening the former Fresh Kills Landfill as a site for a waste-to-energy facility. Cusick fiercely opposed the plan, citing a state law he helped craft in 1996 which closed the former landfill to the receipt and processing of garbage forever. Standing firm, Cusick and his colleagues won the battle and the administration backed off the proposal.
A passionate activist for Staten Island youth, Cusick labored on behalf of Pouch Camp, a New York City Boy Scout Sanctuary, by securing funding to keep this venerable Staten Island institution from being sold to developers. Cusick also successfully fought to restore yellow school bus serves to Staten Island for seventh and eighth grade students in 2012. In 2008, Cusick created a program called the “Total Fitness Challenge” which encourages Staten Island students from kindergarten through eighth grade to read and exercise during their summer break. An unflagging voice against childhood obesity, he challenges children to keep track of their activities and turn their score cards in upon returning to school. An awards ceremony follows where the children are congratulated for their achievements.
On the legislative front, Cusick is a strong voice on behalf of his constituents in the State Capitol and has sponsored numerous bills which have become law. In 2007, legislation sponsored by Cusick created the 13th Judicial District for Richmond County. Staten Island had long sought its own Judicial District, and now the Island has a significant role to play in selecting justices for the State Supreme Court. In response to protestors who targeted military funerals across the nation, Cusick passed legislation in 2006 that creates a 100-foot buffer zone. As protests continued, he passed two more bills in 2011 that ultimately increased the buffer zone to 300 feet and created a required permit for such demonstrations.
In an effort to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic on Staten Island, Cusick was the architect of a law that established a real time prescription drug monitoring program that requires medical professionals and pharmacists to report and track prescriptions of controlled substances. This law, enacted in 2012, makes New York a leader by being among the first states to have such a program. In 2014, Cusick continued his efforts with a law that required insurance companies to use certain criteria when making decisions about in-patient treatment programs to ensure individuals have access to proper treatment and an expedited appeals process if they are denied. Cusick furthered his work to combat addition in 2016 with a law that allowed trained licensed professionals to administer opioid overdose reversal medication and required hospitals to provide patients with available follow-up treatment options.
Following Superstorm Sandy, Cusick introduced legislation to include home health care and hospice agencies in local Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans that are submitted to the Division of Homeland Security. Cusick saw that chaos that took place in the days and weeks following the storm where nurses and home health care aides were unable to reach homebound patients. Following much input from the agencies, counties, and the Division of Homeland Security, Cusick’s bill was signed into law in 2017.
Cusick has been a member of the American Irish Legislators Society of New York since 2003 and was elected President in 2009. In 2011 he was selected to serve as Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee and, since 2018, he took over as Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee. As Chair of the Energy Committee, Cusick has taken an active role in efforts to secure the energy grid against cybersecurity threats, worked to increase the adoption of electric-drive vehicles, and supported efforts to bring the offshore-wind industry to New York. 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.
Contact Name: Michael McKinstry
Position Title: Chief Executive Officer
Michael is Group Chief Executive at Phoenix Natural Gas, having been with the company since its formation in 1996, initially as Finance Director prior to being appointed Group CEO in 2014.
Michael has been a key part of the senior leadership team throughout Phoenix’s rapid development which has seen it establish a new product and gas infrastructure asset into Northern Ireland. In that time Phoenix have deployed more than £500m of investment in the construction of 4,000km of new gas network, making gas available to over 350,000 properties and connecting more than 230,000 homes and businesses to date.
Alongside its network build, Phoenix have helped to develop a highly skilled independent gas industry supply chain who have facilitated the retrofitting of new highly efficient gas technology into homes and businesses, displacing higher carbon-emitting fuels such as oil. As a result of moving to natural gas, consumers have helped avoid 11 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Phoenix continues to grow its customer base by c8,000 new connections per annum and has further extended its network into a number of new areas including East Down and Whitehead.
Michael has more recently led the businesses decarbonisation ambition in the delivery of world leading responsible business credentials, with Phoenix securing first place in Europe within the GRESB assessment, an internationally-recognised benchmark to track environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Furthermore, Michael’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping the NI Gas Industry’s Roadmap to net carbon zero, contributing regularly to industry and policy discussions on the future role of the existing gas network in distributing renewable gas solutions such as Biomethane and Hydrogen.
Prior to joining Phoenix, Michael undertook various financial management roles across a broad range of business sectors including electricity, heavy engineering and textiles. Beyond business, Michael holds various positions in the charity and education sectors, enjoys travelling and has various sporting interests.
Mike Nesbitt has represented Strangford Constituency as an MLA since 2011, serving as Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party over a five-year period between 2012 and 2017. Mike’s vision is of a society that is truly fair, peaceful and focused on the prosperity of its people. He has been a tireless campaigner encouraging Stormont to do more to address the mental health and wellbeing issues that plague Northern Ireland. He also supports the introduction of a Bill of Rights. Previously, Mike was a Commissioner for the Victims & Survivors of the conflict commonly known as the “Troubles”. A graduate of Cambridge University, he began his career as a broadcast journalist, covering many of the major incidents of the Troubles and the political developments that led to the 1998 Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
Patricia O’Hagan is CEO of Core Systems Ltd, a software development company within the justice sector. Patricia brings over 20 years of international technology experience and success to the company. Through a focus on R&D, she has turned Core Systems into a world leader in offender-facing software with over 200,000 users worldwide.
As a leader she has been instrumental in helping Core crack the lucrative US Corrections market. Her determination within the market has helped the company build brand recognition in the US and has opened the door to a successful partnership with the leading US inmate service providers.
In 2013, Patricia was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Royal New Year Honours list for services to the Northern Ireland Economy.
Patrick is an owner of Bywater Properties; a privately owned UK property development and investment company. Patrick lives in Belfast where Bywater have a number of developments. The Bywater team are passionate about using innovative design to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.
Contact Name: Paul Carson
Position Title: Managing Director, Strategic Power Projects
Company Website: strategicpower.co
Paul has a background in Planning and Renewable Energy development over the past 20 years. He formed an award winning planning consultancy in Belfast in 2003 and through his innovative leadership and business development skills, grew it to become one of the leading planning firms in NI. The firm specialised in large scale developments including renewable energy and key infrastructure projects, set apart by its focus on stakeholder engagement and community consultation.
Whilst maintaining his interest in the planning firm, Paul then established Simple Power, a wind energy development company which he grew quickly to be the largest developer of single wind turbines in Northern Ireland, supported by the UK Government ROCs scheme. Having developed, built and operated 52 wind sites, the company was sold to a London renewable energy fund in 2018.
Paul’s passion for renewable energy has not faded and with his ability to build successful teams and spot opportunities, he has quickly led Strategic Power Projects to being a significant developer in utility scale Solar PV and Battery Storage across Ireland.
Throughout his school years, Paul was a member of Ballywalter Young Farmers’ Club and developed an admiration for the work that farmers do in nurturing and safeguarding this land that we share whilst trying to run profitable enterprises.
Paul has a robust record of achievement in all levels of management roles including founder/CEO of multi-award winning start-up SMEs, securing several international awards for innovation and leading highly successful international collaborative projects. Project successes include forming, submitting and winning several EU R&D bids including the €12.36M GenComm renewable energies bid and the H2020 BIMcert project – the first H2020 project secured by any college in the FE sector. Other project work includes leading winning project bids on renewable energy, energy storage, green technology, clean technology, cyber security, IOT adaptations and Smart Cities.
Paul is the ARISE Programme Manager. He also manages the GenComm project. The Interreg North West Europe funded GenComm project led by Belfast Met is seeking to address the barriers preventing the greater integration of renewables into our energy matrix and to navigate a new energy pathway to energy security. GenComm (GENerating energy secure COMMunities); is a Smart Hydrogen, Integrated renewable energy, generation and storage project designed to develop a new model for exploiting generated electricity from renewable sources to provide energy security for remote communities.
Paul has also led the H2020 BIMcert project which can help transform the building industry. A qualified building workforce is vital if the EU is to reach its energy and climate targets. Belfast Metropolitan College led the way with the BIMcert project which seeks to improve the skills of middle and senior level professionals and blue collar workers in the area of sustainable energy efficient construction.
Contact Name:Paul Narain
Position Title: U.S. Consul General – Belfast, Northern Ireland
Paul Narain took up his duties as U.S. Consul General in Belfast in August 2021. He most recently served as Political & Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Sweden. Mr. Narain’s previous assignments include service as Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and, prior to that, as Deputy Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Greece. In Washington, Mr. Narain has served in the Operations Center – the Department’s crisis management hub – and on the Executive Secretariat Staffs of Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. A career member of the U.S. diplomatic service since 2002, he has also served in Azerbaijan and twice in India.
Mr. Narain has received several superior and meritorious honor awards. In 2013, he was awarded the American Foreign Service Association’s Mathilda W. Sinclaire Award for outstanding foreign language study. In 2018, he received the Department-wide James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence.
Mr. Narain earned a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University, a graduate diploma from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (Bologna Center), and a Master of Arts in conflict negotiation and international economics from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. He was the Department of State’s National Security Affairs Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 2016 to 2017. Mr. Narain has studied Italian, Russian, Hindi, and Greek.
Pekka Timonen is the Mayor of Lahti. He was elected in 2018. City of Lahti has 120 000 inhabitants and it is a centre for an urban region of 200 000 people. Lahti is a pioneer of sustainable urban solutions and the European Green Capital 2021.
Previously Mr. Timonen was General Secretary at Prime Minister´s Office. Earlier in his career he has been Cultural Director of Helsinki and served in managerial positions in private sector. He is the chairman of the board of the Finnish Event Industries and a board member in various foundations and associations.
Timonen holds MA in history.
Peter is a native of Belfast and a global expert in assurance standards and certification. He has had 25 years of international experience assisting multiple global retailers with global supply chain assurance programs focusing on product and process integrity and sustainability.
He led, built a leading ISO certification organisation focused on sustainability and sold this organisation in 2012. Peter has been an advocate of ocean protection and sustainability for many years and developed a responsible fisheries management program that was adopted by some of the leading fishing regions including Alaska, Louisiana, Canada, Iceland, Australia and Norway. Peter continues to develop global standards for environment, social and governance protection which are globally active.
He is an active surfer on the Antrim coast and his concern for the oceans led him to develop and set up the Responsible Plastic Management (RPM) Program, a social enterprise, with services aimed at ocean and climate protection. This RPM Program has engaged over 15 business sectors in multiple countries.
Contact Name: Ruth Kimbley
Position Title: Communications Director, Strategic Power Projects
Company Website: strategicpower.co
Ruth is a qualified Communications practitioner with almost 20 years experience in industries including, travel & aviation, automotive, pharmaceutical and FMCG.
Her initial years were spent in London with global consumer goods organisation Unilever where she worked in Corporate Relations.
Formerly Head of Communications for a Northern Ireland airport, she oversaw external and internal communications strategies often relating to large planning applications that required a significant amount of stakeholder engagement and community consultation. She initiated the airport’s digital content strategy in 2010 which would eventually grow to significantly support all offline communications. With a flare for the creative, Ruth often planned large milestone events that would regularly welcome high profile figures.
In more recent years, Ruth was an Account Director at a leading Northern Ireland Public Relations agency where she oversaw client-related PR activity alongside a team of professional PR and marketing consultants.
She has successfully advised public and private sector clients on communications projects of all sizes throughout Northern Ireland including crisis planning that would involve quick implementation of internal communications plans and adjusting of external plans regarding COVID-19.
Contact Name: Sam McCloskey
Position Title: Director of Sustainability & Climate Resilience, Tetra Tech Europe
Company Website: tetratech.com
Sam was appointed to Tetra Tech in April 2021 to lead on developing their sustainability and climate resilience operating unit. She has spent 17 years in total in consultancy followed by the last 10 years leading a collaborative, industry led, sustainable energy research centre, the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE). With broad ranging experience of managing renewable energy, sustainability and resource efficiency projects across a number of industry sectors, from local to pan-European projects, Sam has a strong focus on strategic oversight. She has had the opportunity to work on a wide range of environment & sustainability projects including the ERDF funded Envirowise programme in Northern Ireland from 2000 – 2011 and in policy, regulatory and stakeholder engagement with Simply Blue Group (floating offshore wind). She is a Non-Executive Director of the Workspace Group, one of the largest social enterprise organisations in Northern Ireland and a Fellow (and Committee Member) of the Energy Institute.
Contact Name: Shaun Kelly
Shaun is the retired Global Chief Operating Officer for KPMG International. In this position, he managed the day-to-day operational aspects of the firm’s Global Strategy and oversaw the delivery of global initiatives. Working with the Global leadership team he drove high performance and efficient service delivery across the KPMG network. He currently chairs KPMG’s Northern Ireland Advisory Board. Shaun is a Non-Executive Director of CRH plc, an international group of diversified building materials businesses, where he is the Chair of the Audit Committee. He also sits on the Board of Park Indemnity a private Bermuda based captive insurance company. Shaun held numerous leadership roles within KPMG in including Vice Chair – Operations for KPMG LLP (2010-2015), Vice Chair in charge of KPMG’s U.S. Tax practice and Regional Head of the Americas Tax practice (2005-2010), member of the firm’s Management Committee (2005-2015) and leader for KPMG’s US and Global Transaction Services practices and Regional Coordinating Partner for the Transaction Services practice in the Americas (2001- 2005) Shaun grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and joined KPMG International’s Irish member firm in Dublin in 1980. He transferred to the U.S. firm’s San Francisco office and was admitted to the US Partnership in 1999. Shaun earned a Bachelor of Commerce, First Class Honors from University College, Dublin. He is a Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland In 2015 Shaun was awarded a degree of Doctor of Science Economics, honoris causa by Queens University, Belfast. In December 2020, Shaun was awarded an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his services to economic development in Northern Ireland.
• Vice Chair and Member of the Board of Directors of the Ireland Funds America
• Chair of the Board of Directors of the Irish Arts Center in NewYork
• Chair of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business North American Advisory Board.
Contact Name: Susan Picken
Position Title: Director Cathedral Quarter Trust and Culture Night Belfast
Company Website: culturenightbelfast.com / cathedralquarterbelfast.com
Susan is Director of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, a cultural regeneration agency working in and around Belfast’s historic city centre Cathedral Quarter. Amongst the projects the Trust delivers is Belfast’s yearly Culture Night event.
Thomas Byrne is the Director of Energy Strategy in the Department for the Economy. He is leading the Northern Ireland Executive’s work to develop a new Energy Strategy that seeks to deliver net zero carbon and affordable energy by 2050. He has been part in Energy Group since 2018, where he was previously Director of Sustainable Energy.
Thomas has over 15 years experience in economic development having previously worked on issues including the Economic Strategy and devolution of Corporation Tax to Northern Ireland. He has a BA (Hons) in Economics and MSc in Applied Economics from Ulster University and is a 2015/16 Fulbright Scholar.
After graduating from Ulster University and a stint with NIACRO and the Probation Board, Tina went on to pursue a successful international recruitment career, giving her over 25 years’ experience in the Recruitment and Employment Services sector, working with some of the world’s largest blue chip companies. After returning to Northern Ireland 2013, she established Staffline Recruitment as a start-up throughout Ireland; taking the company from a standing start to a turnover of £150 million within 5 years. This unprecedented success led to a stream of awards including the UTV Fast Business Growth Award in 2015, IOD’s Director of the Year Award in 2017 and UTV Business Eye’s Business Personality of the Year Award in 2018 and the Belfast Telegraph Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Tzaritsa Asante is a posterity-thinking designer & entrepreneur. In 2020 she founded TZAR! a capsule collection working toward sustainability, empowerment of people within industry through tackling modern slavery, and global diversity.
Committed to celebrating the difference in style & culture, Tzaritsa draws from a long career in International Development across 3 continents. This has enabled her to be suitably cross-culture in approach, whether strategic or grassroots whilst understanding the intersectionality of climate change, and local to global societal impacts.
Together with partners from various backgrounds / industries, she has embarked on a journey that lends itself to asking challenging questions within the fashion industry. She strives for sustainable alternatives in collaboration with circular economy specialists to enable continuous improvements that foster a more inclusive, fairer & ecologically sound brand that is fit for purpose & profit.
She has aligned herself with pioneers within the textile industry, championing sustainability, by: harnessing the ancient wisdoms of overlooked societies; partnering them with new technologies, in order to support human development & low carbon manufacturing.