In recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month, I was honored to participate in a number of policy discussions, strategy briefings and political engagements focused on harnessing the enthusiasm and energy of diverse ethnic and immigrant populations from across the US. A combination of policy and politically driven events at the White House, US Senate and Democratic National Committee gave participants from 30 different Diaspora groups an opportunity to meet one another, learn from each other and prove once again that we are stronger together. At a time when our nation continues to mourn the loss of at least 49 innocent lives, it seemed especially meaningful to be having these conversations. While it went largely unsaid, there was no doubt that the question as to why the Orlando tragedy occurred weighed heavily on everyone’s mind. We didn’t debate gun control, religious liberty, equality, or any of the other underlying factors that may have led a deranged murder to commit such a heinous act. Instead we discussed how we could best engage diverse immigrant communities, and make sure that every individual within our nation’s borders has the opportunity to benefit from the ideals our forefathers laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Through these events I met with individuals who identified as Greek, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Arab, African, Asian, Macedonian, Irish (of course), and many others, but for all it was the American portion of their ethnicity that shined the brightest. All shared a common love of their heritage and an equally strong desire to strengthen their
Find a politician that doesn't want their picture taken with firefighters in full turnout gear, shiny truck and new equipment in the background. You can't, can you? However, as Eddie Donnelly, President, New Jersey FMBA, points out in this op-ed posted in NJ.com, those photo ops don't always equal support. Actions matter, not words. We are proud to work with the men and women of the NJ FMBA, and other public safety unions, not just because of their unyielding commitment to keeping their communities safe, but because of their courage to stand up and speak the truth.
Earlier today I had the pleasure of participating in and speaking at the kick-off of the 2016 Belfast Homecoming, of which I am proud to serve as an Honorary Chair, at the Irish Consulate in New York City. Scheduled for October 12-14, this third annual event will be another opportunity for business, political and community leaders from the US and Belfast to come together to continue building peace and prosperity throughout Northern Ireland by establishing meaningful relationships that extend across the Atlantic Ocean. The host of the Belfast Homecoming, Mairtin O’Muilleoir, perhaps Belfast’s most vocal cheerleader, one who has consistently backed up his talk with action, welcomed the crowd with his usual mixture of wit and charm, while simultaneously delivering a sobering reminder that to ensure continued peace, and further reconciliation, none of that care about Ireland, North or South, can let our foot off the gas pedal. It was an honor to share speaking duties today with Consul General Barbara Jones and former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and to introduce the morning’s featured speaker New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The text of my comments follows: Good Morning. Consul General Jones, thank you again for hosting us this morning. None of our efforts to engage the Irish Diaspora, to make a difference in the Irish and Irish American communities we represent, would be possible without the support and enthusiasm of you and your team. It’s a pleasure to join with all of you to kick off the 2016 Belfast Homecoming. I am grateful
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has often spoken about his support for firefighters, police officers, and others that put themselves at risk to keep our communities safe. Despite what he may say from behind a podium, or while holding court at one of his well orchestrated town hall meetings, his record speaks for itself. Earlier this week, Eddie Donnelly, President, NJFMBA, wrote a letter to career firefighters across the US issuing a warning of what a Christie White House might look like for them, their families, their health and their retirement security. We are proud to work with clients that are willing to speak out, while maintaining civility, and stand up for their members against anyone that threatens them harm. You can take a look at the letter by clicking here.
Today we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, nearly 50 years after his death, there are still those that seek not to strengthen communities through unity, but to divide them through hate, anger and fear. This intolerance in Bayonne is disappointing, and not reflective of the community we have been proud to work in for the past several years. We are glad to see many, led by students, standing up and making their voices heard. Diversity is one of Bayonne's great strengths, and we agree with Mayor Davis that "whether it's skin color, religious beliefs, political ideology or anything else that makes us different, much more important is our shared desire for stronger communities that unites us." Dr King taught us that "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends," and with this in mind we are hopeful that Bayonne residents will stand up, not necessarily in support of the project being considered, but against those whose opposition to it is rooted in bigotry and prejudice.