Boston, November 28, 2023 – Over 700 corporate leaders and friends of Ireland gathered at the Westin Copley Place for The Ireland Funds 42nd Boston Gala in support of charitable, cultural and educational causes across the island of Ireland and locally in Massachusetts.
Caitriona Fottrell, President & CEO of The Ireland Funds and Gene McQuade, Chair of The Ireland Funds America, welcomed those gathered and spoke of the importance of Boston to the history and future of The Ireland Funds. The work of the Gala Committee was recognized, and its members were thanked for their efforts in making the evening an enormous success.
The evening’s Guest of Honor was Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Geraldine Byrne Nason. Ambassador Nason thanked The Ireland Funds for its steadfast support across the island of Ireland saying that the organization’s work, “builds hopes and opens doors.” As the event marked the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, she highlighted The Ireland Funds’ decades-long work in peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
Jean Hynes, CEO of Wellington Management, was honored with The Ireland Funds Distinguished Leadership Award. She was introduced by Abby Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments who spoke of their friendship and her high regard for Jean’s leadership and business acumen in the financial sector. Dating back to 1928, Wellington Management is one of the world’s largest independent investment management firms and Jean Hynes is the fifth CEO and first woman in the company’s history to hold the role. Jean spoke about the power of education in creating opportunity and noted the contributions of The Ireland Funds in the educational sector through initiatives such as its No Mind left Behind Scholarship program, as well as support for programs like the National College of Ireland’s Early Learning Initiative.
The Ireland Funds Humanitarian Award was given to Rev. Dr. Bill Shaw OBE, Director/CEO of the 174 Trust, a non-profit located in North Belfast dedicated to promoting reconciliation. He was introduced by Joe Kennedy III, U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs. Joe spoke of the far reach of Bill’s grassroots work with the 174 Trust impacting lives across Belfast and thanked The Ireland Funds for its ongoing work in Northern Ireland as well. Bill was recognized for his decades of leadership in the areas of peacebuilding, promoting tolerance and mutual understanding.
Notable guests at the 2023 Gala included Sighle Fitzgerald, Consul General of Ireland to New England; Andrew Elliott, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau; Ron O’Hanley, Chairman & CEO of State Street and Board Director of The Ireland Funds America; Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman & CEO of Pfizer; Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna; Mike Roberge, Chair & CEO of MFS Investment Management and Bob Reynolds, President & CEO of Putnam and Board Director of The Ireland Funds America.
The mission of The Ireland Funds is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.
In 2022, The Ireland Funds made grants of over $18 million, supporting the work of 300+ organizations and initiatives across the island of Ireland and around the world.
In Massachusetts, The Ireland Funds provides grants to local charities with past beneficiaries including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, Cristo Rey Boston High School, Rian Immigrant Center and the Irish Pastoral Center.
Photographer: Maura Wayman