On Friday, March 7th, The San Francisco American Ireland Fund Gala Dinner was held at the St. Francis Hotel with SFPD Chief Greg Suhr as Master of Ceremonies. John Hartnett, President & Founder of the ITLG (Irish Technology Leadership Group) and a technology investor with SVG Partners, received the prestigious American Ireland Fund 2014 Distinguished Leadership Award. The award was presented by The American Ireland Fund Chairman John Fitzpatrick; Kieran McLoughlin, President & CEO, The Worldwide Ireland Funds, and Dinner Co-Chairs Pauline & John Ryan. John was joined by many family members including his wife, Helen – along with extended members of the Hartnett & Real families and friends from Limerick & the U.S. 450 guests gathered in celebration of John who has been a visionary pioneer in developing a powerful network of Irish people – and friends of Ireland – who are helping to raise Ireland's profile, not just in the San Francisco Bay Area, but on a world stage. The ITLG has attracted a strong and committed following through John's leadership, and his investment in key companies through SVG Partners is showing positive results. One of John's greatest achievements in the past 12 months was to play a part in encouraging Aer Lingus to resume nonstop flights from SFO to Dublin, making it much easier to do business and vacation in Ireland (commencing April 2014).
The American Ireland Fund 2014 International Business Award was presented to Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton for his pivotal role in reviving the Irish bond market. Dr. Hasenstab's key investment, at a critical juncture in Ireland's economic downturn, proved to be the turning point, demonstrating confidence in Ireland's ability to recover. Michael and his wife, Mary Ann were joined by Sonal Desai (also of Franklin Templeton) and her husband Marco Annunziata of General Electric.
The evening sparkled and was filled with a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and goodwill, with a deep appreciation for the fact that both John Hartnett and Michael Hasenstab have been terrific supporters of Ireland. The evening spotlighted the commitment of California to the island of Ireland as support was raised for The Worldwide Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign to assist Irish charities. Over 650 outstanding organizations have been supported by the Campaign.
The audience included special guests, Consul-General Philip Grant and Vice-Consul Kevin Byrne, AIF Directors Bill McKiernan and wife Betsy, Bart Murphy and his wife Eileen, and Craig Sullivan with his wife, Maureen, and AIF West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney. Generous donors included Pauline & John Ryan, Joan & Dave O'Reilly, EJ Tracy & Tracy Industries, Brian & Olivia Gaynor-Long, Bill McMorrow of Kennedy Wilson, Maryon Davies Lewis, Julie & Dan Murphy, Patsy McGinnis, Kathleen Ryan, Carol & John McDonnell, and Diane Wilsey. There were key supporters present from: Aer Lingus, Deloitte, First Republic Bank, UCSF Medical Center, and as well as The Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation, Rory Mullen of IDA Ireland, Gary Hanley of Invest Northern Ireland, Irish Technology Leadership Group, SVG Partners LLC, Sally Ann Flood & Michael Kenny, Orla & John Gilmore, Kathy Grogan of Hood & Strong LLP, Sean Howley, Carol & Rich Moran, The O'Hara family of McAvoy O'Hara Co., and Royal Rose LLC. Sincere thanks to this generous group.
The cocktail reception was held in the Colonial Room with a rousing Irish dance performance by the wonderful students from the Dillon Magh Adhair Academy. The program got underway with much pomp and ceremony as the Hartnett family was piped into the Grand Ballroom by The Irish Pipers Band of San Francisco. The Exclusive Auction and Special Drawing created much excitement with a luxurious Town & Country Getaway to Ireland made possible through the fabulous support of Aer Lingus, Ashford Castle, Dromoland Castle and The Merrion Hotel. Other wonderful donations came from Kerry Egan of The Villagio Inn & Spa, Kerry Murphy of DuMOL Wines, Mary & Joe Toboni of Toboni Vineyard , Sheila King of Sheen Falls Lodge and generous gift certificates from Cinta Salon, Momo's Restaurant, the San Francisco Giants, and the St. Francis Hotel. Musical accompaniment was provided by the magnificent tenor Erich Stratmann, along with pianist Richard Evans.
Dave Martin's House Party rocked the room until midnight with lively dance music, singing and a jubilant sense of celebration!