On Monday, June 3, The American Ireland Fund Leadership Forum held a private luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “The Pink Palace” was the perfect backdrop for an excellent presentation by Guest Speaker, William McMorrow, President & CEO of Kennedy Wilson. The AIF Leadership Forum is designed to throw a spotlight on those who are affecting change in Ireland and is part of a series of gatherings throughout the United States. Kennedy Wilson (KW) is an international real estate & investment services firm that has recently made a significant and transforming capital investment in Irish commercial real estate. Bill McMorrow spoke about the commitment of KW to the communities in which it invests and the importance of "giving back". Under Bill's direction, Parnell Square on Dublin's north side is about to undergo a massive restoration and will house the National Library once completed.
There was an enthusiastic group of longtime AIF supporters, Young Leaders and many new friends present. West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney welcomed guests to the private dining room of the Polo Lounge, and introduced AIF National Board Member, Bart Murphy. Bart spoke eloquently about the role of different groups like the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick as well as the many members of religious orders who helped maintain strong ties between Los Angeles and Ireland over the years. He spoke also about The Ireland Funds' projects that have made some of the greatest impressions on him, describing why he continues to support The American Ireland Fund.
After lunch, Marjorie Muldowney introduced Bill McMorrow and spoke of what he has done for Ireland during one of the darkest periods in the country’s economic history. Although many issues contributed to the Irish financial crisis, the property bubble was the most significant cause of the collapse. Bill has been a model first responder who led the charge into the chaos because he possessed the expertise to make sense of the property crisis. He showed real courage and a willingness to back Ireland and by making a significant capital investment in Ireland's commercial real estate market, Bill has drawn the line under a falling market, drowning out some of the negative economic chatter. This has helped lift the gloom and despair among Irish people, demonstrating a vote of confidence in the overhauled financial system.
The Los Angeles Regional Advisory Board was represented by Brendan Carroll, Peter Culhane, Sean Kneafsey, Kaitlyn Kyle, and Conor Shalloe.
Guests included Keith Ennis and Ben Chu, Anne & Jimmy Murphy along with sons Sean & Jamie, Margaret Hayhurst, Debbie & Tom Lomis, as well as Tom Barry of UBS, Jim Layden of Deutsche Bank, Sean Browne, Tom Hunt, Tom Kneafsey, Ted Leary, Tom Napier, and Mchele Shalloe. Other guests included Michael Sullivan, John Coughlin, and Daniel Crowley who were attending their first AIF event The Los Angeles Young Leaders included Shannon Anderson, Matthew Doran, Rob Ennis, Alan Hearty, James Kearney, Michelle & Jonathan Loughran, and Caitlin McGinty.
Also present from Kennedy Wilson were: Stanley Zax, Kent Mouton, Barry Schlesinger, Bob Hart, Christina Cha, Matt Windisch, Jeff Condon, Rob Hannan, and Jim Rosten. They were joined by Peter Casey, TV producer of Frasier and Cheers, Paul Keller of Urban Partners, Marchell Hilliard of Bank of America, Wayne Brander and Linda Morgan of U.S. Bank, Tony Horton of Pacific Western Bank, and Gareth Coen, IDA.
The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, which opened its doors in 1912, has been a staple in Hollywood over the years catering to several celebrity guests, including Marilyn Monroe, Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor, who honeymooned with six of her eight husbands. The glamour, the tradition and the history is unmatched. The popularity with royalty and celebrities continued to escalate over the years. Guests included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Elizabeth Taylor's father had an art gallery in the lower level of the hotel. Howard Hughes lived at the hotel on and off for thirty years. The hotel is also home to the Polo Lounge, and the exterior of the hotel was featured on the album cover art of the Eagles' 1976 LP "Hotel California".
This splendid afternoon was a wonderful opportunity for The American Ireland Fund and we are most grateful to Bill McMorrow for making it possible.