On Thursday November 1, 2018, over 500 friends of Ireland gathered to celebrate The Ireland Funds 34th Annual Chicago Dinner Gala held at the Four Seasons Chicago.
Guests were led into the ballroom by the Shannon Rovers Pipe Band. Paddy Homan sang the Irish and US National anthems.
Kyle Clifford, Vice President of Development-The Ireland Funds America, and John Fitzpatrick, Chairman of The Ireland Funds America, spoke about the mission and impact of The Ireland Funds’ work with hundreds of charitable causes and thanked the supporters of the dinner.
Mr. Clifford then presented The Ireland Funds 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Award to Medtronic. Medtronic is a global leader in medical technology as well as a leader in philanthropy. Medtronic chose The Ireland Funds as one of their philanthropic partners and have supported a diverse range of organizations across Ireland that: provide services for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s; increase access to healthcare; promote women’s’ leadership initiatives and advance climate justice.
Ms. Liz Lund, the Global Philanthropy Strategic Operations Director of Medtronic accepted the award.
After guests enjoyed their dinner, Pat Tully, Vice President of Development, auctioned off the ever-popular trip to Ireland and introduced very special entertainment-The Fitzgeralds-a family group consisting of fiddling and step dancing siblings; Tom, Kerry and Julie Fitzgerald.
Following the entertainment, Michael O’Halleran, Chairman of the Ireland Funds Regional Advisory Committee, presented The Ireland Funds 2018 Leadership Award to Mr. Gerald Beeson, COO of Citadel.
The Ireland Funds Leadership Award is presented annually to a visionary leader and philanthropist whose individual excellence is demonstrated by outstanding initiative, impact of work, and inspiration to others.
Mr. Beeson’s father, Gregory, was a Chicago policeman and his mother, Mary Wolff Beeson, stayed home to raise their family. Gerald’s academic success earned him a full scholarship to De Paul University. He then continued on to complete an MBA at the University of Chicago. Gerald has said: “the success of Irish Americans is a testament to the work ethic and sacrifices of prior generations who overcame hardships and succeeded.”
His success has inspired he and his wife Jennifer to give back to their community. They have established scholarship programs through Big Shoulders, Marist and DePaul.
Gerald’s acceptance speech was a real inspiration to all and it was very special that his mother and children were there to see her son and their father honored.
The next and inaugural award-The Ireland Funds 2018 Chairman’s Award- was presented to Thomas F. Meagher, Jr. by his wife Diane. She gave a terrific speech that encompassed his tireless commitment to The Ireland Funds that began as a guest of his Father, Thomas F. Meagher, Sr. at the inaugural Chicago Dinner Gala in 1985.
Tom joined the leadership of the Ireland Funds Chicago in 2006 and became the Chair of the Regional Advisory Committee for ten years establishing the Regional Advisory Committee, the Young Leaders and leading Chicago to be one of the fastest growing chapters in The Ireland Funds. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of The Ireland Funds America.
Michael Sacks, Chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor, then spoke about Tom as an incredible person and business leader.
Tom humbly accepted the award thanking his wonderful wife Diane, Michael Sacks and all his colleagues while reflecting on the very important philanthropic work of The Ireland Funds.
The outcome of the night was outstanding. It was the most financially successful dinner in our 34-year history and will allow us to support such important work both in Ireland through our annual grant round and across the globe. Thanks to the efforts of all our supporters, young people will have access to education, elders in Ireland will receive crucial care, meals will be served to those in need and so many other initiatives and projects will receive the critical financial support they need.
Photographer: Dean Battaglia