6th November, 2014

San Francisco Women’s Luncheon 2014

The American Ireland Fund Women's Luncheon was held on Thursday, November 6th at the Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco and it was a splendid affair.

West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney welcomed the group of 350+ guests and singled out Luncheon Chairs Olivia Gaynor-Long, Kathy Grogan and Maureen McFadden who did an outstanding job and helped produce the biggest Luncheon ever held.  Special guests present included Consul General Philip Grant, AIF Board Directors Pauline Ryan and Bart Murphy, as well as Kathleen Ryan, Susan Hartford, Brian Long, and visiting from Dublin were Derval & Mark Fitzgerald. Former Luncheon Chairs in attendance included Suzi Tinsley, Erin Doyle Ebeling, Meagan Levitan, Kathleen McDonough, and Eileen Moore Murphy.

San Francisco Chief of Police Greg Suhr gave an entertaining introduction to the guest speaker, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes White.  Chief Hayes White joined the San Francisco Fire Department in April 1990. She has served as a firefighter or officer at forty-two of San Francisco’s forty-four fire stations. After a meteoric rise through the ranks, Joanne was appointed Fire Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department in 2004 and is the longest serving Chief in the city since 1956. San Francisco is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief.  Joanne Hayes White oversees a department of approximately 1,500 members. After receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation, Chief White spoke fondly of her parents who have roots in Clare, Limerick and Kerry and about her early memories of growing up in San Francisco.  Joanne also spoke about her career path and how her parents were not thrilled with her plan to join the Fire Department but her passion convinced them that it was the right decision.  She spoke frankly about the challenges of running such an important department and described how family, faith and fortitude have sustained her. During her time in office, Chief White has dealt with a range of difficult situations and in the words of former California State Librarian Kevin Starr, has “dared to do the right thing”.  She has been an effective leader and one with tremendous conviction and the audience showed its warm appreciation.

Special thanks to Honorary Chairs EJ Tracy, Pauline Ryan and Maryon Davies Lewis for their support and sincere appreciation to Denise LaPointe/Lennar Properties, Carmel Slattery Gilmore of Microsoft, Cinta Gibbons, Hood & Strong LLP, The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), The Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation, Virginia Kavanaugh, Mary Hunt, Eileen D’Arcy, UCSF Medical Center, and the University of San Francisco for their generous table underwriting, as well as additional support from Adeline McDonogh at Lafayette 148 New York,  Jillian Manus and Dede Wilsey. Thanks also to the wonderful Celtic Voices duo of Kate Cassidy and Molly McFadden.

The Luncheon Drawing was generously sponsored by Aer Lingus (offering new nonstop service from San Francisco to Dublin) along with The Merrion Hotel, Dromoland Castle, and Sheen Falls Lodge Hotel.  Other sponsors included Cinta Salon, San Francisco Giants, MoMo's Restaurant, Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, Irish Repertory Theatre, Four Seasons Hotel, Keke’s Kitchen and Lafayette 148 New York. The exclusive Ireland trip was won by a delighted Susan Hartford who had travelled up from Los Angeles, with Margaret Nanda, Linda Bawner, Bina Patel, Kim Smith and Sheila Kiernan being our other lucky winners.

Thanks to all our guests for coming together for this spectacular event and supporting The Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign to assist Irish charities.