The Gold Medal of the American Irish Historical Society
AIHS Gold Medalists
Through McGovern Capital, he has co-founded over fifteen companies, six of which have become world/category leaders, has been lead negotiator/principal in over twenty (20) global joint ventures. McGovern Capital serves as an investment, strategy and licensing participant and advisor to global business. McGovern was a founder of SoBe Beverages, the fastest growing beverage company ever in the US (sold to Pepsi), and McGovern Capital was one of three owners of KX Industries, L.P., the largest manufacturer and worldwide source of carbon water purification filters, having invented and supplied PUR to P&G, the first end-of-tap filter to Brita, and the first refrigerator water filter to Electrolux. He also created the program, supervised and negotiated all licensing of Tristrata’s alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) patents, which technology was incorporated in approximately 40% of all global skin care products, and is sold in approximately 84 countries. He serves/served on many public and private boards including The Sports Authority (Exec. Committee- NYSE).
Mr. McGovern is also known for his nanotechnology involvement, serving as co-chairman of Angstrom Publishing LLC, which together with Forbes publishes a global monthly nanotechnology newsletter currently entitled The Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report. He is a member of the National Board of the Smithsonian (the world’s largest research and museum institution) and is a Trustee Emeritus and a Presidential Councilor (highest honor to alumnus) of Cornell University (having served as the Co-Chairman of the Technology Transfer Committee). Mr. McGovern was named the Cornell “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2007, was given St. John’s University School of Law’s “Distinguished Alumni Award” and awarded The East West Institute’s “Global Game Changer Award.” The Luce Foundation honored him as it’s 2015 Humanitarian of the Year. He also teaches a course on “Global Innovation and Commercialization” at the graduate business school at Cornell University and is a guest lecturer at Cornell NY Tech, MIT, NTU in Singapore, and KAUST in Saudi Arabia. The McGovern Family Incubator for Life Sciences at Cornell University was recently acclaimed as one of the Top 10 Venture Development Centers in North America.
Mr. McGovern served on the Board of the US Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai and was appointed (only foreigner) to the Expo’s Post-Development Committee. He is also Vice Chairman of the Silver Shield Foundation, providing assistance to families of policemen and firemen who die in the line of duty in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
In 1995-99 he chaired peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, for which he received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the U.S. government can give; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; the German (Hesse) Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.
At the request of President Clinton and Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Senator Mitchell served in 2000-01 as chairman of an international fact-finding committee on violence in the Middle East. At the request of President Obama he served in 2009-11 as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East.
He served as chairman of The Walt Disney Company, and as chairman of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of crises in international affairs.
He is now Chairman Emeritus of the global law firm DLA Piper.
Sen. Mitchell is the author of five books. The most recent, a memoir entitled The Negotiator: Reflections on an American Life, was published in May 2015.
In 2008 Time Magazine described him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Mr. Ross was Executive Managing Director of Rothschild Inc. for 24 years before acquiring that firm’s private equity partnerships in 2000. He is a member of the boards of Yale University School of Management, The Dean’s Advisory Board of Harvard Business School, Partnership for New York City, Palm Beach Civic Association, Business Roundtable and the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation. He is Chairman of the Japan Society and the Brookings Institution Economics Studies Council and a Trustee of the Town of Palm Beach Retirement System and the Magritte Museum in Brussels. President Kim Dae Jung awarded him a medal for his assistance in Korea’s financial crisis, President Clinton appointed him to the board of the U.S.—Russia Investment Fund and he served as Privatization Advisor to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Ross formerly served as Chairman of the Smithsonian Institution National Board. He is a graduate of Yale University and of Harvard Business School (with distinction). He is the only person to be elected to both the Private Equity Hall of Fame and the Turnaround Management Association Hall of Fame. Bloomberg BusinessWeek designated him one of the 50 most influential people in global finance.
The Society’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to Irish American Life. The 2013 Medal will be presented to Dr. Kevin Cahill during the organization’s 116th Annual Dinner on Thursday November 7 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Previous AIHS Gold Medalist honorees include: Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Regan; Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; Cardinal John O’Connor of New York; musician Bono; actor Liam Neeson; Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairman Emeritus of the American Ireland Fund; Author Mary Higgins Clark; Sir Anthony O’Reilly, former Chairman of H.J. Heinz Company; Donald Keough, former president and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company and Chairman Emeritus of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees; New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and many others.
As a distinguished doctor of medicine, Dr. Kevin Cahill has not only treated patients including Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan, but has offered his vast expertise to a number of national and international organizations including the United Nations and the New York City Police Department, where he is chief medical advisor for counterterrorism. These efforts to aid human suffering and need come as no surprise considering that Dr. Cahill began his medical career in 1961, studying tropical disease in the slums of Calcutta alongside Mother Theresa.
“Dr. Kevin Cahill has an outstanding reputation for successfully building and guiding the American Irish Historical Society for over 40 years,” said Tom Dowling, President General of the American Irish Historical Society. “Lesser known is Dr. Cahill’s dedication to improving the health and welfare of communities around the world.”
From 1969-2006 he was chairman of the department of tropical medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where he taught over 4,000 medical students over the course of his career. In addition, he has also been director of the tropical disease center at Lenox Hill Hospital, clinical professor of tropical medicine and molecular parasitology at NYU Medical School, and the Consultant in Tropical Medicine for the United Nations Health Services.
“I’m honored to accept this award and thrilled to be considered in the company of the previous Gold Medal winners,” said Dr. Cahill. “Their collective accomplishments are a source of tremendous inspiration and pride to the American Irish Historical Society.”
Respected and admired by his peers, Dr. Cahill’s accomplishments are many: He has received 27 honorary doctorate degrees and written many of influential works that chronicle his experiences as a tropicalist and a physician, as well as articles and essays on his love for Irish literature, art, culture, humanitarian efforts and international diplomacy.
Robert McCann graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He went on to the M.J. Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University when he was awarded a fellowship through the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, he received his M.B.A. in 1982.
McCann has been CEO of Wealth Management Americas and member of the Group Executive Board at UBS since October 27, 2009, and also has been CEO of UBS Group Americas since December 2011.
McCann is the founder of the McCann Learning Center at Bethany College and the McCann Investment Fund. The McCann Learning Center provides support for students with learning disabilities or other difficulties, while the Investment Fund helps students understand the stock market by making real investments
McCann served as the president of the Global Wealth Management Group of Merrill Lynch until January 2009. He also served as an executive vice president at Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. from August 2003 to January 2009, and served as its president of Global Private Client Segment from June 2, 2005.
A committed philanthropist, he is a member of the board of the American Ireland Fund and has donated generously to many of its charities.
McCann was deeply involved in the Northern Ireland Mentoring Program, which brings promising students from Northern Ireland to the U.S. and allows them to work with major companies here.
He has also worked hard to find funding for cross-community educational projects in Northern Ireland after he learned that kids as young as six begin to display religious prejudice.
McCann was initially responsible for bringing Sesame Street to Northern Ireland, where the show filmed 20 different episodes especially aimed at Northern Irish kids.
McCann traces his family roots back to Belfast. His great great grandfather emigrated from there, first to Scotland and then to Western Pennsylvania and worked in a mill.
AIHS President General Dr. Kevin Cahill stated, “Bob McCann is the embodiment of a successful Irish American who has given back both to his heritage and his country. He is a deeply committed philanthropist and has played a significant role in ensuring that peace in Northern Ireland will endure. We are delighted to honor and acknowledge him.”
If his life reads like a true-life version of a script from a Frank McCourt novel, that is because it is. He was born in the little village of Knockaderry in West Limerick in a thatched cottage. His father was suffering from eventually fatal arthritis could work no more from age 42. His mother became deaf at a very young age. There were five young mouths to feed
and very little to go around.
From this unpromising beginning, Michael Dowling climbed to the stars; one of the greatest examples of what Irish grit and determination can do, as well as the power of America to reinvent yourself. When you meet Michael Dowling, you expect to almost see the bootstraps he pulled himself up with, but he is a remarkably modest man for his accomplishments.
He keeps a reminder of his touch beginnings and his adored parents: an exact replica of the thatched cottage he grew up in, built by himself to scale. If he ever feels he is getting ahead of himself, he can reach out and touch that model, and know, once more, that his roots lie deep in the earth of his native land.
He views life as a journey, with lots of detours; as he says, “let the road take you where it may.” His greatest gift was his parents’ belief in him and their insistence that, despite the poverty, he receive a full high school education. At age 17, the road took him to London and the harsh emigrant experience so many Irish have undergone, working in a steel factory, sending money home to his parents. When he completed his high school education, he was considered so bright that he won a place in university, unheard of at that time for a man of his poor background.
To pay his way, he first came to America for summer jobs in 1968. He worked on the docks; he cleaned bars at 5 a.m.; he worked in the sweltering engine room of the Circle Line boasts. Each fall he returned home to finish his degree at University College Cork where he also became known as an outstanding hurler, representing his native County Limerick in Ireland’s oldest sport.
He moved permanently to the States after his graduation with an arts degree working long days, and even some nights, supporting his parents back home. Always interested in helping those less well off, he went to Fordham University and graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Welfare. He was considered such a brilliant student that he soon found himself teaching the topic at Fordham where he quickly climbed the faculty ladder and became professor.
In 1983, the newly elected Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, came looking for an innovative mind immersed in social policy to handle the massive health and human services portfolio. Michael Dowling was appointed Commissioner at the Department of SOcial Services overseeing a budget of $35 billion, dealing with all the state’s welfare, employment, Medicare, child welfare, foster care and a myriad of other programs. He won many awards for his stewardship and showed a particular interest in helping children in need.
Unlike many others, Dowling does not knock those who work in government but praiser them. “I found there were a lot of very smart people in government,” he says, “Sure government makes mistakes, show me any group that doesn’t, but when it comes to really difficult problems – one that I saw such as the homeless, crack, AIDS, and foster children – only government stands between us and disaster.”
His commitment to caring for others became even more evident when he left at the end of the Cuomo era and, shortly afterward, began to play a leading role in the formation of the North Shore – LIJ Health System. He became President and CEO of NS/LIJ in January 2002.
He quickly built a reputation as a doer, creating a partnership with GE and the Harvard School of Public Health to create a “centre for learning and innovation” which is the envy of the medical world. The new medical school at Hofstra is just another of his successful projects.
He is known as a team player. Every Monday he personally meets and introduces himself to each new employee within the system and tells him or her what he expects of them. He hosts lunches for ordinary staff members, to hear their views, and is unafraid to make profound changes when he takes over a new institution, as he has done with Lenox Hill Hospital, which the NS/LIJ recently acquired.
He sees the future of medicine as threefold: one where costs are contained by greater preventive effort such as combating obesity; a move away from payments for the number of tests administered to a far more cost efficient approach; and a new partnership forged between health care executives and the medical professionals who staff the hospitals.
To all who say such visions are pie in the sky, one has only to look at Michael Dowling’s extraordinary life and what he has achieved so far. “Never be satisfied” is a favorite motto of his; another is “we can always do better.” In Michael Dowling’s case that is a daily refrain both for himself and his staff. His parents would expect nothing less
We live in a time of disillusionment and retrenchment when W.B. Yeats’ grim assessment that “the best lack all conviction and the worst are filled with passionate intensity” seems to possess renewed currency. Yet, now was in Yeats’ day, despite widespread apprehension and uncertainty, there are leaders whose integrity, intelligence and involvement give us reason for hope.
These leaders serve in different professions and positions. They work in business, government, labor, academics and the arts. But, wherever they’re found, they serve to remind us that instead of being helpless pawns driven by the faceless, merciless forces of history, we have the power – as individuals and communities – to shape a future better, freer, more prosperous and more just than what has come before.
Robert Kelly, the Society’s 2010 Gold Medalist, is just such a leader. As the unfolding of the Great Recession has taken its toll on institutions and reputations, the nature and stature of Bob’s executive capabilities as chairman and CEO of BNY Mellon have become clearer than ever.
Amid some of the most tumultuous and perilous developments in the history of modern financial markets, Bob has kept his company on a steady course, maintaining and enhancing its position at the very top of the industry. Today, BNY Mellon has $24.4 trillion in assets under custody and administration; more than $1.1 trillion in assets under management; and services more than $12 trillion in outstanding debt.
A true global giant, BNY Mellon employs more than 49,000 people in 36 countries, has assets in excess of $240 billion, a market capitalization of $32 billion, and serves institutions and high-net worth individuals in more than 100 markets.
Under Bob Kelly’s leadership, BNY Mellon’s strength can be measured by more than the size of its assets or the scope of its interests. Just as significant has been the respect and admiration accorded by Industry observers and peers. In 2009, for example, at the same time that BNY Mellon was again ranked by Fortune magazine among America’s Most Admired Companies, the readers of Institutional Investor named Bob Kelly one of America’s Best CEOs.
Often enough in the past, the executive summits of certain industries and professions were deemed to be reserved for those who came from the “right” families, attended the “right” schools, had the “right” social connections. But Bob Kelly achieved his position, not through luck of birth, but by dint of talent, hard work and perseverance.
Prior to joining Mellon, he spent five years as Chief Financial Officer of Wachovia Corporation. Previously, he was with Toronto-Dominion Bank for almost two decades, where he rose to Vice Chairman. He was Chairman, President and Chief Financial OFficer of Mellon Financial Corporation until its merger with The Bank of New York Company, Inc.
In addition to his experience as a CFO, Bob has extensive background in retail brokerage, banking and securities trading. He is a chartered accountant and FCA with an MBA and an honorary doctorate from Cass Business School, City University in London and a bachelor’s degree and honorary doctorate from St. Mary’s University in Canada.
Along with the expertise, experience and insight that Bob Kelly has brought to his role at BNY Mellon is a commitment that goes beyond profit and loss as measured solely in dollars or Euros. He pinpointed that commitment in a recent interview in Irish America this way: “When I celebrate my heritage,” he said, “I’m celebrating my ancestors and the community that supported them.”
The commitment to community – to the well-being of all rather than the success of a few – grows out of Bob’s Irish roots and religious faith, and runs throughout his professional as well as personal life. Two years ago, with his guidance, BNY Mellon established its global Community Partnership Program to promote and support year-round employee team volunteering and fundraising. Since then, working through 1,110 employee teams, BNY Mellon employees have volunteered more than 45,000 hours in assisting 3,000 nonprofit organizations. To date, employee pledges and fundraising along with corporate contributions total more than $26 million.
In addition to his responsibilities as head of BNY Mellon, Bob is Chairman of the Financial Services Forum and President of the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Financial Services Roundtable and the Institute of International Finance and is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Partnership for New York City. He also serves on the Boards of Carnegie Mellon University and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and is Chancellor of St. Mary’s University.
Bob traces his roots to his great, great grandfather, Edward, who was born to William Kelly and Ann Connell in 1817 and eventually emigrated to Nova Scotia. And, as if the surname of Kelly (Ó Ceallaigh in Irish) wasn’t enough to confirm his ethnic origins, he also bears the name of Patrick and celebrates his birthday on the 17th of March.
The saga of Bob Kelly’s success is rooted in the values he shares with millions of other descendants of the Irish diaspora forced to seek opportunity and liberty outside their homeland. It is a story of family and faith, of hard work and individual merit, and of a commitment to service, community and the common good.
In choosing its 2010 Gold Medalist, and adding a new name to our distinguished roster of poets, prelates and presidents, the society deliberated long and hard. Here, at this turbulent, unsettled juncture, we sought a business leader whose life and career paid tribute to those generations of men and women who persevered in the face of defeat, poverty and discrimination, who never lost their faith in the future, and upon whom Yeats bestowed the eloquent and accurate encomium “the indomitable Irishry.” In Robert Kelly, we found that person.
A Notre Dame alumnus, Father Jenkins earned bachelors and masters degrees in philosophy from Notre Dame in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus in 1983. While earning bachelors and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Oxford University in 1987 and 1989, respectively, he also taught in Notre Dame’s London program. He earned a master of divinity degree and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley in 1988.
Father Jenkins has been a member of the Notre Dame philosophy faculty since 1990, and he is the author of numerous scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and The Journal of Religious Ethics, and of the book “Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas.”
Impressive as his teaching and scholarship have been, they have failed to deplete the energy with which he has served for a quarter of a century as a Holy Cross priest, directing Notre Dame’s Old College program for Holy Cross seminarians from 1991 to 1993 and presiding as religious superior of the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2000.
At Father Jenkins’ inauguration as Notre Dame’s 17th president on September 23, 2005, he spoke admiringly of America’s other great universities but pointed out a lamentable abdication all too common in their institutional histories. “Many of them began as religious, faith-inspired institutions,” he said, “but nearly all have left that founding character behind. One find among them a disconnect between the academic enterprise and an overarching religious and moral framework that orients academic activity and defines a good human life.”
That, he allowed, must not happen at Notre Dame. “My presidency will be driven by a wholehearted commitment to uniting and integrating these two indispensable and wholly compatible strands of higher learning: academic excellence and religious faith.”
During the four years subsequent to his inaugural address, Father Jenkins has both insisted and acted upon that commitment. In support of the University’s Catholic identity, he recently appointed Rev. Robert Sullivan as an associate vice president who assists Notre Dame’s colleges, schools, institutes and centers with their academic programs and initiatives that advance the University’s Catholic mission and character. Father Jenkins has led Notre Dame delegations during his presidency to the Vatican to meet with Church officials, including a brief visit with Pope Benedict XVI; to France to celebrate the beatification of Blessed Father Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University’s founding religious community; and to Jerusalem to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the University’s Ecumenical Institute. Most recently, Father Jenkins dedicated Geddes Hall, a 64,000-square-foot building for the Institute for Church Life, which includes the Center for Social Concerns and six other centers dedicated to teaching, research and service to the Church and society.
Father Jenkins’ tenure also has been marked by Notre Dame’s ongoing commitment to scholarly excellence, including the University’s selection as the lead partner in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronic Discovery; the creation of Innovation Park, a tech park located adjacent to the campus; the distribution of $40 million in internal funds for five major faculty research initiatives; the creation of the Notre Dame Forum, a major initiative that provides undergraduates in particular with the opportunity to hear experts on a wide range of global topics; and a significant enhancement to the Glynn Family Honor Program for undergraduates in the College of Science and Arts and Letters.
In his homily at a recent Mass welcoming students to campus for a new academic year, Father Jenkins prayed aloud, “Lord, afflict us with hope. Let us not seek comfort in a blind optimism or a despairing pessimism. Let us confront the issues of our day with perspicacious honesty. Let us respond with courage. Let us call others to the same hope.” That prayer animates Father John Jenkins, and he is determined that it continue to animate Notre Dame.
Declan was educated at Potroe National School, Nenagh CBS and University College Galway (now NUI Galway). When he was just 12 years old, he decided to pursue his passion in journalism and began writing articles for the local newspaper, the Nenagh Guardian, where he later became an intern. At 18, Declan attended University College Galway and studied English Literature and Legal Studies. In addition to his university studies, he took on a full time job working at the Nenagh Guardian which required him to commute to and from Galway (120 miles each way) six days per week for three years.
He graduated with the highest marks ever received at that time in the legal science exams in UCG and was selected as the inaugural recipient of the NUI Galway “Law Student of the Year” award.
A top class sportsman, he won an All-Ireland Colleges hurling medal with Nenagh CBS in 1986. He also won various divisional and county medals with Potroe in various age groups through his youth. Upon leaving university, he continued a career in journalism and began working for the Tipperary Star where he remained for two years. After, he joined the national daily paper, the Examiner, where he worked for five years in various capacities including Agricultural Correspondent and Business and Industrial Relations Corespondent. At the age of 24, Declan was promoted to Deputy News Editor where he managed the news desk several nights per week. At the end of his time with the Examiner he won the prestigious AT Cross award a “Business Journalist of the Year” for his coverage of the Irish steel crisis in Cork at the time. He also wrote a sports column and traveled internationally covering various major sports events such as the Barcelona Olympics and the 1994 World Cup soccer finals in America.
After his career in journalism, Declan left Cork for Dublin to begin a career in public relations. He joined Murray Consultants as a senior consultant and eventually rose to the level of partner. Following Murray Consultants, he joined Fleishman Hillard as a partner and worked on a variety of assignments both domestically and internationally.
Later on, he created Gallagher and Kelly Public Relations with Jackie Gallagher, former advisor to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. They eventually sold their company in 2001 to Cordiant, which owned Financial Dynamics (FD) in the UK at the time and various other assets.
In 2003, Declan agreed to travel to the United States in order the manage these new assets. The same year, he led the management buy-out of Financial Dynamics with his colleague, Charles Watson. Together they built up FD until it eventually expanded internationally. In September 2006, they sold the company to FTI Consulting, one of the world’ largest consulting companies. By this point, FD had become the world’s largest financial communications company, the largest M&A communications advisory business, the largest investor relations company in the U.S., and the representative of hundreds of the most well-known brands and companies throughout the world.
FTI Consulting is now the world’s leading event-driven consulting company, employing more than 3, 300 people in over 20 countries. It is a NYSE listed company with a market capitalization of approximately $3.5 Billion and it is recognized as one of the world’s leading advisors in the fields of communications, economic consulting, corporate finance, forensic accounting and forensic investigations, and the provision of technology solutions that support and advance these areas of expertise. FTI exists to help companies and their stakeholders protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex economic, legal and regulatory environment. They are the trusted advisor entrenched in many of the game-changing events that make headlines, move markets and create business history.
In August of this year, Declan was appointed to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Integration Officer at FTI, taking responsibility for the ongoing integration of FTI’s various businesses around the world as well as business development, client relationship management, corporate strategy and marketing/communications.
In the past year alone FTI has acquired multiple companies spanning from North America to Australia.
Declan continues to serve as Chairman of F.D. in both the U.S. and Ireland and he continues to personally advise a number of leading corporations and CEOs such as Muhtar Kent at the Coca-Cola Company. He was named by PR Week as one of the most influential communications advisors in America and has been named a member of Irish America Magazine’s Business 100 for the past four years. Regularly featured in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Declan has also been featured on television and radio broadcasts as a commentator on business and political affairs.
Currently, Declan serves as Chairman of NUI Galway’s Foundation board in the US, and is a board member of the American Ireland Fund; in 2006, he co-chaired their record breaking dinner. He is also a member of two advisory boards, Glucksman Ireland House and New Mountain Capital, and he formerly sat on the boards of GOAL and Co-Operation Ireland. Declan serves as director of Youth Inc., a New Jersey based non-profit organization dedicated to youth and youth development. Finally, he is a board member of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, an organization created to help the undocumented Irish in America. In 2006, he received the Smurfit Business School Award with former Taoiseach John Bruton. The previous year, he received the NUI Galway Distinguished Alumni Award for business at a ceremony in Galway.
Despite Declan’s many accomplishments throughout his young life, he remains committed to his family: his two parents, Nan and Tom, continue to reside in Ireland with his brother, Alan, a Labor Party senator who has been nominated for the European parliamentary elections in June 2009. Declan resides in New York City with his wife, Julia, and their one-year-old son, Adrian. For his significant accomplishments in the business world, his contributions to the realm of academia, his support of youth development and his leadership in the American Irish community, Declan Kelly is awarded the 2008 Gold Medal of the American Irish Historical Society.
Father Monan served for 24 years as President of Boston College – the longest presidential tenure in the university’s history. During that time, Boston College was transformed from a financially struggling, largely commuter school into one of the nation’s academic powerhouses. He has served for the past 11 years as University Chancellor, a post created when he retired from the presidency in August of 1996.
Father Monan’s presidency was marked by dramatic growth in the university’s academic reputation; significant modernization and expansion of BC’s physical plant; careful attention to the university’s historic Jesuit and Catholic traditions; and substantial increases in student enrollment, quality and selectivity.
The quiet, unassuming Jesuit from upstate New York led Boston College with a steady but firm hand through the 1970s, 1980s and through the mid-1990s. He surrounded himself with a strong management team, and helped build a Board of Trustees populated by leaders in the Boston and national business, education, and religious communities.
An avid skater and golfer, Father Monan understood the role that a strong athletic program could play in a university’s growth, and he oversaw the development of BC athletics into one of the most respected programs in the country, where success on the fields of play was matched by the achievements of student-athletes in the classroom. BC consistently boasts one of the nation’s leading graduation rates among student-athletes.
In its early days, Boston College was home to many of the new Irish immigrants who had made their way to Boston. Recognizing those roots, Father Monan was a strong advocate for BC’s Irish Studies Program, now acknowledged as one of the country’s finest, and for an expansion of the university’s Irish literary, art and cultural collections. He has traveled frequently to Ireland, where he traces his own ancestry, for both business and pleasure. Throughout the years, Father Monan welcomed Seamus Heaney, Garrett FitzGerald, Mary Robinson and others to Chestnut Hill for lectures and programs.
As Boston College’s reputation grew, so did the demand for Father Monan’s expertise, guidance and counsel from educational, civic, business and religious organizations in Boston and nationally. He is former chairman of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, served as a director of the Bank of Boston (1976-96), as interim president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (1996-97), board member of the Naval Academy Endowment Trust, the Yawkey Foundation, and recently chaired a Visiting Committee on Management in the Courts at the request of the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of The National Mentoring Partnership, of the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership, of which he served as co-chair from 1992-2001, and of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. Father Monan is also a member of the Jesuit Philosophical Association, the Society of Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, the Society of Ancient Greek Philosophy, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Beyond these important contributions, Father Monan has been a voice for justice on the world stage, as when he and former Fordham University President Joseph O’Hare spoke eloquently to “60 Minutes” of their outrage at the murders of Jesuit priest-educators in El Salvador in 1989. But though comfortable in the company of the powerful – he counted former U.S. Speaker of the House Thomas P. ‘Tip” O’Neill, Jr., former Congressman Silvio O. Conte, former Congressman Joseph Moakley and other leaders in business and government among his close friends – Father Monan is known also for his quiet caring and compassion for friends, colleagues and others. He was often among the first to the bedside of a sick friend or employee, and personally attended to students and family members during times of trouble. He sought no recognition for these acts of kindness, but performed them with sincerity and regularity.
Prior to joining Boston College in August of 1972, Father Monan held positions as Philosophy Professor, Academic Dean and Vice President at Le Moyne College in New York. Father Monan entered the Society of Jesus in 1942 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1955. He holds his doctoral degree from the University of Louvain in Belgium. He also conducted postdoctoral research at Oxford, Paris, and Munich. He has received more than a dozen honorary doctoral degrees from institutions ranging from Harvard University and Boston College to the National University of Ireland.
Father Monan’s legacy in American higher education is certain. In honoring him this evening, we also choose to recognize a life devoted to the selfless caring for and nurturing of others – students, the impoverished, the oppressed, the weak and needy. In honoring the passing of a dear friend, Father Monan said in his homily, “He saw the inviolable dignity of every human person and felt the irresistible call of those in need.” The same could be said of our honoree this evening, Rev. J. Donald Monan of the Society of Jesus.
In a single magical moment, one life and the life of a people seemed to merge, the dreams, struggles and achievements of millions of Irish immigrants somehow reflected in the remarkable career of this year’s Gold Medalist, Denis P. Kelleher, master of finance, adviser to Irish prime ministers, philanthropist, and both a champion and benefactor of education.
Kelleher was born in 1939 and spent his early years in the nano-small village of Gneeveguilla in Kerry. His father Michael, a shoemaker, was forced by hard times to work mostly in England. His IRA activities also required an interlude in New York. But he later returned to Kerry and married a girl from Scartaglan named Abby O’Brien.
Although her own schooling ended at 12, Abby was passionate about the value of education. And no one fell more completely under her spell than her son, Denis, who developed a life-long love of reading and intellectual challenge. He often keeps three or four books going at a time.
In Ireland, he rode through St. Brendan’s College in Killarney on a scholarship and won another one to Cork College to major in creamery management, of all things. But a career that involved separating milk and feeding “back” to pigs was not inspiring. “This is crazy,” he said, “I’m going to New York,” which he emphatically did when he was only 18.
He soon landed a messenger’s job at Merrill Lynch and began working his way up through the ranks while attending St. John’s University at night to get a B.S. degree and taking advanced courses at the New York Institute of Finance. During more than nine years at Merrill (“where I loved the work”), he got a priceless street-smart understanding of Wall Street and emerged a financial star.
Why a star? What set him apart? “How do you explain Willie Mays?” replies his friend Don Keough. “You can’t. Same with Denis. He’s just a natural. He’s deceptive that way. Very quiet, one of the world’s champion listeners. Also a great ‘study-er’. He digs into and assimilates every detail about a company or any problem he’s dealing with. And he’s unbelievably aware of broad social and business trends.”
In 1966, Kelleher was honorably discharged from the army reserve and married Carol Cieslewicz, a girl he had met on a blind date. Then in 1967 he left Merrill Lynch to become a founder and president of the Ruane Cunniff investment firm, while also serving for a number of years as Vice President and Treasurer of the renowned Sequoia Fund. Along the way, he developed personal relationships with many leaders in the business world, including the legendary Warren Buffet.
In a then pioneering move in 1976, he founded the Discount Brokerage Corporation which offered 75 per cent savings on broker commissions and became a huge success. Five years later, he took the even more ambitious step of creating Wall Street Access, a diversified financial services company specializing in such areas as health care, energy research (e.g. hybrid corn development), wealth management, and fixed income trading.
As a matter of principle as well as concern for his customers, Kelleher has championed fairer trading practices and greater price and quote transparency in the securities industry, campaigning, as an example, for a new Stock Exchange rule requiring public listening of corporate debt securities.
Despite his busy life on Wall Street, Kelleher remained close to Ireland, deeply committed to its needs and involved in its causes including the search for peace in the North. In time, he believes that merging economic interests will reduce divisions but Paisley remains a big problem: “We all have work to do.”
Our Medalist is a long-standing member of the Economic Advisory Board to the Irish Prime Minister. In fact, he was a prime move in the now famous “Brand Ireland” campaign that has played so important a role in the Celtic Tiger boom. As he argued in a seminal paper presented originally to the then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, “we must take on the challenge of rethinking, repackaging and reselling Ireland” under a “Brand Ireland” that proclaims the high quality of Irish products, services and people. Another key to success, he believed, was lowering taxes to encourage investment.
Kelleher serves on our Executive Council and the board of the New Ireland Fund and is involved in numerous other Irish-related activities. But this does not obscure what his long-time friend James Boyle cites as Denis’ strong feelings of admiration and gratitude toward America. To the point, says Boyle, that he will sometimes take his former countrymen to task when they seem to be too critical.
In a way, this affection is reflected in the time, energy, and support he has given to his beloved St. John’s University where he has served for some 15 years as the dynamic, hands-on, and creative Chairman of the Board. St. John’s President, The Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. says hi boss is “very sharp, very driven about getting things done, intolerant of mediocrity, and extremely effective.” In one capital campaign alone, they raised $271 million. With Kelleher’s own efforts reflecting a very emotional commitment to a school with a tradition of giving priority to needy and immigrant students — the same priority that helped him so many years ago.
The Kellehers live on Staten Island, but also maintain a home, complete with a golf course for Denis, on the old Lord Kenmare Estate on Lake Killarney. They have three children – Denis, who heads his own law firm, and Sean and Colleen, who both hold executive positions at Wall Street Access.
For his many accomplishments in the business world, for his long devoted support of education and for his quiet services for Ireland and his leadership in the American Irish community, Denis P. Kelleher is awarded the 2006 Gold Medal of the American Irish Historical Society.