On Thursday, October 21st, 2021, The Ireland Funds hosted over 75 friends and supporters for an intimate VIP cocktail reception in Washington D.C. to kick off the 29th National Gala.
Honorary Hosts for the evening were Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Mulhall, British Ambassador to the U.S. Dame Karen Pierce and Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau Andrew Elliott.
The Honorable Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and Democratic Leader of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, was the evening’s special guest.
Caitriona Fottrell, President & CEO of The Ireland Funds, welcomed guests and thanked everyone for their continued support throughout the pandemic which has ensured The Ireland Funds can continue to invest in communities, people and organizations across the island of Ireland. She highlighted two initiatives in particular – The Ireland Funds COVID-19 Response Fund and Heart of the Community Fund – which have funded over 140 Irish nonprofits addressing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caitriona introduced The Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), who spoke warmly of her connection to Ireland and commented that while she did not have Irish ancestors like many in the room, she had great pride in having Irish grandchildren who live in Co. Wicklow. She fondly recalled visiting Northern Ireland in 2019 as part of a high-level congressional delegation.
The Speaker introduced the evening’s special guest, her friend and colleague The Honorable Richard E. Neal. Chairman Neal spoke passionately about his Irish heritage, and his steadfast commitment to upholding the principles of the Good Friday Agreement which has furthered peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland. Chairman Neal acknowledged the role so many American leaders such as President Clinton, Senator George Mitchell and the 49th Speaker of the House of Representatives Tom Foley, had played in paving the way towards the peace accords. He also noted that from the earliest days, The Ireland Funds and its network had stepped in with philanthropic support to advance peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland which made an enormous difference.
The evening was a wonderful gathering of Irish and Irish-American business, philanthropic and political leaders as well as friends of Ireland.
Board Directors of The Ireland Funds America in attendance included Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Suzanne Corcoran, Susan Davis, Angela Moore and Mark Tuohey.
National Gala Chairs in attendance included Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Manus Cooney of American Continental Group, Suzanne Corcoran of NicheWellness, Susan Davis of Susan Davis International, Daniel Eubanks of Intuit, Erik Huey of Platinum Advisors D.C., Dennis Lucey of AKIMA, Shannon McGahn of the National Association of Realtors, Brian M.P. McGlinchey of McCarter & English, Bernie McKay of Decisive Public Policy Strategies, Beth Rada of Horizon Therapeutics, Stella O’Leary of Irish American Democrats, George Shevlin of AIG, John Tolman of Tolman Enterprises and Mark Tuohey of BakerHostetler.
The Friends of Ireland Caucus was represented by members in attendance including The Honorable Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA-2), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA-4), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-5), Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-9), Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA-3), Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-5).
Guests of note included Paul Pelosi, Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Economic Mobility Carmel Martin, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Advisor to the Counselor to the President John McCarthy and Former President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue.
All guests were required to show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of reception.
Photos: Erika Layne