Noreen Bowden has been engaged in Irish diaspora issues for more than twenty years. Previously the Executive Director of the Emigrant Advice Network in Dublin, she also spent five years at Irish Emigrant Publications in Galway, the pioneering digital news service established by Liam Ferrie. She founded in 2009.  Noreen has been a long-time advocate for emigrant voting rights and has also campaigned extensively on the broadcasting needs of the Irish in Britain. Her board memberships include serving on the board of the Irish Immigration Center in Boston, as vice-president of Europeans Thoughout the World in Brussels, and as secretary of Democrats Abroad in Dublin. Born in New York and having lived in Ireland for fifteen years, she has a BA from Notre Dame, an MA in Irish literature and culture from Boston College, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

Billy Lawless is a Galway-born restauranteur and a strong leader in Chicago’s Irish community. Born in Galway city, where he began his career in the hospitality business, in 1998 he emigrated to Chicago and opened a number of businesses and formed the Chicago Irish Pub/Restaurant Association in 2001. Billy has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Illinois Restaurant Association since 2010. He founded the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, is Vice-President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a founding member of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, a member of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council and Co-Chair of the Immigration Committee. Billy has always been committed to developing strong links between Chicago and Galway and he has served as Co-Chairman of the Galway Chicago Sister Cities Committee since 1998. In 2015 he became a Freeman of the City of Galway, and was honored by NUI, Galway with an award of a Doctor of Laws degree.

Kevin J. Sullivan is a first generation Irish American with deep family ties in Cork and Tyrone. He is an Irish citizen. As a Senior Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley in the Clinton Administration Kevin staffed out two of President Clinton’s trips to Northern Ireland and the Republic and was the key driver in creating and launching “Civic Link” which President Clinton announced in Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1998. Civic Link was an ambitious cross community and cross border civic action initiative for secondary students in the Republic and Northern Ireland which funded by the U.S.Dept of Education and the Education Department of  the Republic of Ireland. Over the course of a decade, Civic Link would engage over 12,500 students under the auspices of Co-operation Ireland.  Kevin is a member of the board of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) and served for nine years as its Chairman. He is currently a member of the U.S. State Department consultation group on Northern Ireland. Kevin spent 14 years working for various members of Congress including the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and staffed out three national presidential campaigns. Kevin is a principal at Kevin Sullivan and Associates. Past clients have included Co-operation Ireland, the Irish Higher Education Authority and the Clinton Institute for American Studies at UCD. 


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