Thursday, September 29, 2022, 6:30 PM at Manhattan Manor
The African American Irish Diaspora Network (AAIDN) Inaugural Diaspora Leadership Awards Gala will honor four leaders of international stature in the spheres of social justice, scholarship, business leadership, and advocacy: Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland and Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin, who will receive the Frederick Douglass-Daniel O’Connell Social Justice Award; Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., Harvard University Professor and Executive Producer of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who will receive the AAIDN Inspiration and Vision Award; John Samuelsen, International President of the Transportation Workers Union, who will receive the John Lewis-John Hume Leadership Award; and Fionnghuala “Fig” O’Reilly, 2019 Miss Universe Ireland and NASA Datanaut, who will receive the AAIDN Heritage and Diaspora Spirit Award. The event is co-chaired by two well-known members of the community, Miriam Nyhan Grey, founder of New York University’s Black, Brown, and Green Voices Program, and Keith L. T. Wright, Director of Strategic Planning, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP.
The AAIDN awards gala will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2022, at the Manhattan Manor 201 West 52nd Street in New York City. Cocktails are at 6:30 PM followed by dinner and awards at 7:30 PM, the awards gala is black tie.
Launched in 2020, African American Irish Diaspora Network is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to foster relationships between African Americans and Ireland based on shared heritage and culture. Funds from AAIDN’s gala will support scholarships to Ireland and to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as well as supporting activities to amplify entrepreneurship development and artistic and cultural collaborations between Irish and African American artists. AAIDN founder and board chair, Dennis Brownlee, remarked, “We are excited to have received such tremendous enthusiasm and support for our mission throughout the Irish and African American and American communities. Our gala will extend our impact and reach in meaningful ways at an important moment in world affairs.”
Scholarships for US and Ireland Student Exchanges enable African American students to undertake a semester of study in Ireland providing immersive exposure to Irish culture, and for Irish students to study in the United States at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Scholarships for Entrepreneurship Development for aspiring entrepreneurs to study at leading Irish graduate schools of business and to connect with Ireland’s advanced technology infrastructure, educational opportunities, and business partnerships.
Arts and Culture Development building on significant collaborations underway with scholars, artists, writers, producers, and cultural institutions exploring and developing shared cultural affinities of the African and Irish Diasporas.
AAIDN’s board of directors is comprised of prominent scholars, activists, and community leaders. In its short existence, AAIDN has assembled a dynamic network of members and supporters in the United States and in Ireland. AAIDN is inspired by those for whom African American and Irish connections were important, such as Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell, as well as John Hume and John Lewis. Embodied in the honorees of the inaugural AAIDN gala is the continued commitment and passion of these inspirational leaders of the past.