“We Are All Immigrants”
The 2013 Business 100 Awards

Michael J. Dowling and Mario Cuomo at the 2013 Irish America Business 100 awards luncheon. Photo by Nuala Purcell

December 11, 2013

The resounding and proud sentiment of the 2013 Irish America Business 100 awards luncheon, as it cropped up throughout conversations and in speeches, was best expressed by the keynote speaker Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore-LIJ Health System. “We are all immigrants,” the son of Kockaderry, West Limerick declared before a crowd of close to 200 Irish and Irish-American professionals and community figures gathered at the New York Metropolitan Club on December 5, including the Business 100 honorees and their guests; former New York Governor Mario Cuomo; Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson; Consul General Noel Kilkenny; and beloved singer/songwriter Judy Collins.

Ringing in its 28th year, the Irish America Business 100 celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Irish-American and Irish-born leaders (children of immigrants and immigrants themselves) in the corporate world. This year’s list includes such leaders in advertising as Leeann Leahy, President, and Greg Smith, Chief Creative Officer, of The Via Agency; Lisa Donohue and Pat O’Connor, CEO and CFO at Starcom USA, respectively; as well as a selection of young leaders in technology like Paul Adams, Head of Product Design at Intercom; Katie Finnegan, Co-Founder of Hukkster; Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder of Foursquare; Ellen Murphy, Vice President of Operations at Virtual Instruments; and Trevor Madigan, Founder of The Vision Lab.

President of Univision Communications, Kevin Conroy; President of Relativity Media Tucker Tooley; President of Domestic Marketing and Distribution of Paramount Pictures, Megan Colligan, are among the honorees representing the Irish in media. The extraordinary success and leadership of Jo Ann Ross, President of TV Network Sales at CBS; Dermot O’Brien, Chief Human Resources Officer at ADP; Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company; Ellen Kullman, President & Chair of the Board at DuPont; and Brian Kelley, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc are also recognized in this diverse list covering a vast range of industries.

At the awards luncheon hosted by Irish America with the support of ICON PLC, founding publisher Niall O’Dowd and editor-in-chief Patricia Harty congratulated the attendees and honorees, especially welcoming into the fold those who were being recognized for the first time this year. Ambassador Anderson then took the podium and spoke to the great progress Ireland has made in recent months, as well as the incredible journeys and contributions of all of the honorees and of Dowling, who grew up in a small Limerick village similar to where the ambassador’s mother was raised.

As he introduced Dowling, Governor Cuomo took time to reflect upon his own path and place as the son of Italian immigrants, and his belief that the term “melting pot” is inadequate when it comes to describing the interplay of immigrant cultures in America. He prefers, he explained, “mosaic,” because it acknowledges both our differences and distinctions, and the beautiful ways in which we join together to create something much bigger. He also hailed Dowling, who served as his health and social services commissioner, as the kind of leader the whole country needs when it comes to health care. Cuomo encouraged those in attendance to, in turn, encourage Dowling to consider taking on a more prominent role in health care on a national level in future years.

Dowling gave a meditative and deeply moving keynote address, centering on the combination of hard work and luck that saw him rise from a childhood of hardship to a highly successful and still-evolving career in the U.S. “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself,” he said. He expressed gratitude towards those, such as Cuomo, who gave him opportunities to test and prove himself, and encouraged attendees to take similar chances on people with the right drive and will instead of simply those who have all the right experience. “Always do the right thing;” he said, quoting Mark Twain, “gratifying some people and astonishing the rest.”

Following the remarks, the legendary Judy Collins, who was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame this past summer, treated the crowd to two song: Both Sides Now, sung as beautifully as ever, and a powerful new composition inspired by her own Irish immigrant ancestors. You could hear a pin drop as she sang – and instantly gained 200 enthusiastic viewers for her Dromoland Castle PBS special, which she recorded in Ireland in September and will air on PBS in March.

Click here to see the full 2013 Irish America Business 100 list and here to read their biographies.

Click here to see Michael Dowling’s Keynote address.

Click here to see photo coverage of the 28th Annual Business 100 luncheon.

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