April 21, 2023
Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States
Join us in welcoming the Ambassador to Chicago for a luncheon and conversation featuring Caitriona Fottrell, Marianne O’Shea, Íarlaith Smyth and Trisha Rooney about the strength of the relationship between Chicago and Ireland
Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason
Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason assumed her role as Ireland’s 19th Ambassador to the United States in August 2022. Geraldine was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in New York (2017- 22). Previously, she served as Ambassador to France (2014-17), Second Secretary General in the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) (2011-14), Ambassador and Ireland’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU (2005-11)), and Director of the National Forum on Europe (2004-05).
During her career, Ambassador Byrne Nason has served in Brussels, New York, Paris, Vienna and Helsinki. As Second Secretary-General in the Department of the Taoiseach from 2011-2014, she was the highest ranking female public servant in Ireland. During that period, she also was Secretary General of Ireland’s Economic Management Council.
On her arrival in New York, Ambassador Byrne Nason led Ireland’s successful campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, and led the New York Security Council team for the 2021-2022 term. Geraldine was Chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for 2018 and 2019. She has also co-chaired high-level political negotiations on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and on the ‘Samoa pathway’ for Small Island Developing States.
A native of County Louth, in 2020 Ambassador Byrne Nason was awarded the Freedom of Drogheda, the town’s highest honour and was the third woman to receive the award of its 35 recipients. In 2014, Geraldine was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Ireland’s highest academic honour. Ambassador Byrne Nason holds an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Maynooth University as well as Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Literature from Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth (NUIM). Ambassador Byrne Nason is married and has one son.
Caitriona Fottrell is the President & CEO of The Ireland Funds North America. Caitriona has worked with the organization continuously since 1993.
Caitriona is a highly experienced and a well-regarded leader in the philanthropy sector raising support for over 3,000 charitable organizations across Ireland. She served for several years in the Boston office as Director of Development. She is also a Director of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.
Marianne O’Shea is Vice President of Global Nutrition Sciences for PepsiCo, leading a dynamic team of nutrition experts to guide the nutrition strategy fueling PepsiCo’s innovation and portfolio transformation through nutrition science.
Marianne joined PepsiCo in 2010, prior to that she held various R&D roles within several sectors of the industry including nutritional ingredient suppliers to both food and supplement industry and originally started her career in CPG with Unilever in the Netherlands.
Marianne holds a degree in biochemistry from University College Dublin and has a PhD in biochemistry and nutrition from Dublin City University. She continued postgraduate training at Dublin City University and subsequently during her career received executive training in general management from the University of Chicago.
Íarlaith Smyth is the President of Ornua Foods North America, with responsibility for the Kerrygold brand in the USA, Canada and LATAM markets. Ornua Foods is the proud owner of Kerrygold, Ireland’s first food brand to reach €1bn in annual retail sales. Kerrygold is the No.2 branded Butter in the USA and the No.1 Specialty Cheddar brand in the USA.
Íarlaith started with Ornua Foods in 2011; worked as National Sales Manager for the USA market, progressed to the role of Vice President in 2013 and took over the position of President in 2018. Originally from Ireland, Iarlaith’s career has been built in the CPG sector; prior to joining Ornua Foods, he worked with world leading brands such as Gillette, Oral-B, Duracell, Aptamil, Cow&Gate, Alberto Culver. Iarlaith and his wife Alex have been living in the US for the past 9 years, and now reside in the Chicago suburbs with their two sons.
Trisha Rooney is an enterprising and experienced entrepreneur and civic leader with a deep understanding of both the business and community environments essential to commercial success. Trisha is the President & CEO of R4 Services, an information management company offering storage, vault, scanning, indexing, secure document destruction and disaster recovery with specialties in legal, financial services, healthcare, government and corporate sectors.
She serves as on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and is a founding member of A Better Chicago, a venture philanthropy fund. She is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Club; and serves on the women’s boards of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago.