Top 50 Power Women – 2016 – Irish America Irish America Magazine Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:56:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 82361074 Susan Ungaro Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:49:37 +0000 Read more..]]> Susan Ungaro is president of the James Beard Foundation, the leading culinary organization in the U.S. Since taking on the role in 2006, Ungaro has overseen significant growth in global awareness of the Foundation, expanded the number of educational and thought-leadership initiatives, and increased the organization’s culinary scholarship program, which this year will award $750,000 in financial aid for students – the largest amount in JBF history. Of the many initiatives Susan has begun, she is most proud of creating their Women in Culinary Leadership program, which has grown three-fold since it launched in 2013.

Her mother and father were childhood sweethearts, though emigrated separately from Castlegregory, Co. Kerry in 1947 and ’49 respectively, with her father following her mother to New York in a grand romantic gesture of affection. As the oldest of six children, she also says that her parents were her cheerleaders. “Because I was first in the family to finish high school and go to college, I felt a deep responsibility to be a role model for my younger brothers and sister,” she says.

Prior to assuming her role at the James Beard Foundation, Susan worked at Family Circle magazine for 27 years, eventually becoming editor in chief. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from William Patterson University, and resides in New Jersey with her husband, with whom she has three children. She is a member of the Bergen Irish Association.

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Pauline Ann Turley Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:48:34 +0000 Read more..]]> Pauline Ann Turley is the vice chair of the Irish Arts Center, New York. She holds a B.A. in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin. Pauline recalls how she moved to New York right out of college at age 23, knowing no-one, and started as an intern at the Irish Arts Center. “Being Irish, and on my own, people could not have been nicer to me, and I made life-long friendships through the Irish Arts Center.”

Now, the Irish Arts Center is her first love, where she and her colleague Aidan Connolly have raised more than $47 million to build a new Irish Arts Center to better tell the evolving story of the Irish in America through the arts.

Pauline is the fifth of seven children, and was born in Newry, Co. Down, to parents who are also Down natives. Pauline got her first job gathering potatoes with her parents when she was six years old. Her first paying job, however, was weighing mushrooms at a mushroom factory (at age seven), which was followed by a lucrative babysitting career at 10.

As of June 24th this year, she will be married to Charles Garland. She also hopes for more transparency, governance, and affirmative equality policies for women in the workplace.

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Anne Sweeney Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:47:18 +0000 Read more..]]> Anne Sweeney is former co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, having left her post earlier this year to pursue a career in television directing. A leading industry figure, she was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune and one of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes. Anne is a recipient of the Cable Television Public Affairs Association’s President’s Award, the Golden Mike Award for Outstanding Contributions to Broadcasting by the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and the Matrix Award for television from New York Women in Communications, Inc.

Anne was elected director of the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2001. In 2007, she was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. She has received the Committee of 200’s Luminary Award, and in October of 2011 became the first female executive in history to receive MIPCOM’s Personality of the Year. Anne, who earned a B.A. from the College of New Rochelle and an Ed.M. from Harvard, traces her roots to Meath, Kerry, and Mayo.

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Regina Sullivan Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:46:48 +0000 Read more..]]> Regina Sullivan is the head of Shared Services at Fidelity International, a position she has held since 2013. She obtained her B.A. from Boston College, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and a risk management certificate from the Wharton Executive Education Program.

Regina notes that in 2015 Fidelity International, which has operated in Ireland since 2000, “announced the creation of a global shared services structure which now focuses on technology solutions and investment and fund operations across the Fidelity International organization. Dublin is a key location for this Global Shared Services function,” she says.

Fidelity International will also open a new state of the art office situated in George’s Quay, Dublin, in the summer of 2016. This new office, according to Regina, will “become an important location for shared services and associated activities over time.”

Regina celebrates the “history, depth, perseverance and sense of humor” that comes with her Irish ancestry, and believes that courage, humility, a sense of humor, and resiliency are key elements in making a good leader. She would also like to see more “intentional and deliberate inclusion” of women in the workplace.

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Megan Smolenyak Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:45:38 +0000 Read more..]]> Megan Smolenyak is a real life history detective who loves to solve mysteries. You might have spotted Megan or her handiwork on Top Chef, Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Faces of America, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Her news-making discoveries include uncovering Michelle Obama’s family tree, revealing the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, and tracing President Barack Obama’s roots to Moneygall, Ireland, and Vice President Joe Biden’s roots to Mayo and Louth.

Formerly Chief Family Historian for, she also founded Unclaimed Persons.

Megan is the author of six books, including Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are? (companion to the TV series), and conducts forensic research for the Army, BIA, coroners, NCIS, and the FBI.

Megan is all Irish on her mother’s side, with roots in Cork, Kerry, Longford, Leitrim, and Antrim.

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Jean Kennedy Smith Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:44:21 +0000 Read more..]]> Jean Kennedy Smith is the former United States Ambassador to Ireland and founder of VSA, an international organization that provides arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increases access to the arts for all. In recognition of her work for peace, she was named an honorary citizen of Ireland by Irish President Mary McAleese – and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The eighth of nine children born to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., Ambassador Smith is a mother of four and widow of the late Stephen Smith. She lives in New York.

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Aine Sheridan Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:43:14 +0000 Read more..]]> Aine Sheridan is the executive assistant to the chairman of Capital Management LLC at Mutual of America Life Insurance Company. Born in Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford with a mother from Co. Westmeath, she attended the Goff Street Business Academy, in Co. Roscommon, where she obtained an honors diploma in business administration.

In 1991 Aine joined Flannelly Promotions Ltd, a Madison Avenue marketing firm as executive vice president where she expanded The Adrian Flannelly Show, the longest running Irish American commercial radio program, initiating international broadcast links with numerous stations in Ireland and throughout the U.S., while also establishing its website, Adrian Flannelly happens also to be Aine’s husband.

Aine serves on the board of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, and was named “Woman of the Year” by the Longford Social Club of New York, and has also been named one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Irish American Women” by the Irish Voice.

Of her Irish heritage and being a part of the Irish American diaspora, Aine says that “only in the United States can our Irish culture and traditions be fostered with an unmatched sense of pride.”

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Kristen Shaughnessy Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:42:48 +0000 Read more..]]> Kristen Shaughnessy has been with NY1 since 1995 as the station’s weekend anchor and breaking news reporter.

Shaughnessy graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Communications in 1990. She started out in radio and then went on to an upstate NY television station before working for NY1. Ironically, she grew up in a house without a TV. After her family’s television broke, they decided reading was a better option.

During the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Shaughnessy was one of the first reporters on scene. She arrived before the first tower fell. Due to the loss of cell phone service, she found the nearest pay phone to report back to the studio. Mid-way through the conversation, she had to drop the phone and run as the tower came down.

Kristen worked first in radio and then at a television station in upstate New York before coming to NY1.

Kristen is married to Joe Bush, a professional golfer. They have two girls. She traces her roots back to the mid 19th century, from the southwest of Ireland.

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Anita Sands Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:41:30 +0000 Read more..]]> Dr. Anita Sands is currently a board director of three Silicon Valley public companies – Symantec Corporation, Service Now, and Pure Storage, and serves as an advisor to Grand Central Tech, a leading NYC technology incubator where she mentors startup tech companies.

Dr. Sands is from Co. Louth, and proud to be a part of the Irish diaspora which she considers a national treasure. In that regard, she believes that “Ireland’s great balance is off the books, in our ability to connect and in the value of our connections.” On four occasions she has been invited by the Taoiseach to participate in the Global Irish Economic forum, and is a former all-Ireland public speaking champion. She earned both her Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics and bachelor’s in physics & applied math from Queen’s University Belfast. She earned her M.S. in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where she was a Fulbright Scholar. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum, the New York Women’s Forum, and a mentor for W.O.M.E.N. in America – an organization that enables women to fulfill their maximum potential in their chosen profession.

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Sharon T. Sager Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:40:04 +0000 Read more..]]> Sharon T. Sager is a managing director and private wealth advisor at UBS Private Wealth Management. A CIMA, she began her career in financial services in 1983 with Kidder, Peabody & Co., which was acquired by Paine Webber Inc. and then by UBS. Sharon is only one of sixteen women to be named to Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors each year since the list’s inception in 2006, and was also featured in Barron’s “Best Advice” column. In addition, Sharon has appeared on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street and Closing Bell. Sharon was named to the 2014 Financial Times Top 400 Advisors, as well as to REP Magazine and’s Top 50 Wirehouse Women list 2012-2015. Last June, UBS presented Sharon with the “Aspire” award, a recognition that she serves as a role model for other advisors and as a culture carrier for the firm.

A native New Yorker, Sharon earned a B.A. from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Her father’s family, the O’Tooles, are from Galway, and her mother’s family, the Carrolls, hail from Cork. She and her husband, Loring Swasey, live in Manhattan and Long Island. She is co-chairman of the board of overseers for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, secretary of the board for Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs, a member of the Economic Club of NY and the President’s Circle, James Beard Foundation, and was a mentor with the Clinton Economic Initiative UBS Small Business Advisory Program.

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