Asking President Biden to wish my wife ‘Happy Anniversary’- Making the most of opportunities

I’ve been hanging about with a lot of Presidents recently. Last Friday, the local Junior Chamber brought together some of their Past Presidents from the last nearly 30 years alongside their future leaders to celebrate their contribution in developing young leaders and look to what they can do to tackle the problems of today and tomorrow.

I’ve been hanging about with a lot of Presidents recently. Last Friday, the local Junior Chamber brought together some of their Past Presidents from the last nearly 30 years alongside their future leaders to celebrate their contribution in developing young leaders and look to what they can do to tackle the problems of today and tomorrow.

Junior Chamber is a fantastic opportunity for young people in business and the community to learn or sharpen their leadership capabilities whilst making Derry and the world a better place.

There are many famous local and internationally alumni including President John F Kennedy. His library in Washington DC includes a replica of his Oval Office with only two items of personal effect. One a Chair from Harvard and the other a Chair from Junior Chamber.

Stephen Kelly meets President Joe Biden

It’s no surprise then that he said, “Harvard gave me an education, but Junior Chamber gave me an education for life”.

The other President I had the privilege to spend some time with was the current US President, Joe Biden. Alongside many Irish Americans from political, business, sporting and community life in the US and a sprinkling of people from home, it was great to be in the White House with the President on St. Patrick’s night.

President Biden clearly loves his Irish heritage and he clearly loves the craic. So, putting my own Junior Chamber learning in to practice I took the chance to ask him to send a video to my wife wishing her Happy Anniversary. I thought I may only get one chance, so went for it. He jumped in enthusiastically and if honest I’m still buzzing even though the brownie points may have already expired!

Being in Washington DC over the St. Patrick’s celebrations was fascinating. Irish political, business and civic society exploit the life out of it.

They know there is great attention being paid in this White House and throughout the US administration to what’s happening in Northern Ireland and they have a focus on ensuring prosperity to cement our peace.

There was a good presence and great contributions from life in the North but if honest, given political sensitivities, it was much more careful and subdued when compared to the full-on approach of Team Ireland.

2023 is the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and sights are already being set on that. Irish business groups and others are keen to use it as a means of articulating how Ireland is peaceful and as a result a great place to invest for US firms. Knowing that, what are we doing to mark this anniversary and capitalising on the attention it will bring to North? And what is Derry doing to take ownership so those benefits can flow here?

It is a year away so time to start planning, networking and fundraising.

Just like asking the most powerful man in the world to wish your wife Happy Anniversary, Derry should grasp the opportunity and seize the moment when, for one week at least, everyone in the US regardless of their background considers themselves a wee bit Irish.

Stephen Kelly is CEO of Manufacturing NI.