Speaker Bios

Carolyn Wakeham

Carolyn is currently the Community Engagement Coordinator at The Commons – a business hub and coworking centre located in the beautiful and historic town of Bonavista Newfoundland. Carolyn’s career has primarily been in financial services for small business, where she gained tremendous experience working with entrepreneurs to scale and grow their companies. Carolyn has a keen interest in fostering rural economic development, supporting women entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Derek Butler

Derek Butler is the Executive Director of the Association of Seafood Producers, having joined the Association at its founding in 2004. He also serves on various industry boards, including One Ocean, the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research Advisory Board, the provincial Fisheries Advisory Council and served a term on the federal Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. As CEO Derek is responsible for the operations of the Association, Board management, industry and government relations, and public policy.

Immediately prior to working with ASP, Derek served in Africa and the Middle East with the Washington-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, managing and implementing democracy aid programmes, including in Madagascar, Morocco and Yemen. Derek has also worked with Foreign Affairs Canada, the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security and in the Canadian parliament as a legislative aide. He holds both a BA and an MA in Political Science from Memorial University, and studied two years at Université Laval in Québec City.


Minister Charlie McConalogue

Minister Charlie McConalogue was appointed as Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine on 2 September 2020.

He was born in October 1977 and is from Gleneely in Co. Donegal. From a farming background, he was educated at Carndonagh Community School before going on to study at UCD where he studied Economics, Politics & History. He first became involved in politics while attending UCD.

After working in Fianna Fáil Headquarters for a number of years, as well as working abroad in Australia, Minister McConalogue returned home to work on the family farm before being elected as a Donegal County Councillor in 2009. In 2011, Charlie was elected TD for Donegal North East.

Minister McConalogue was appointed previously as Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with responsibility for Law Reform and prior to that, he held the positions of Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Children, Education and Skills, and Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Shauna McClenaghan

Having graduated from UCD with a B Soc Sc (Hons) followed by a Postgraduate Diploma In Business Studies through the Smurfit Business School, Shauna was awarded an M Sc in Social Policy and Administration from University of Ulster. She is currently Joint CEO of Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), a multisectoral, not for profit, community led local development company based in the Inishowen Peninsula of Donegal for over 20 years. From her hometown in County Galway and prior to moving to Inishowen, Shauna spent a decade in California working in the financial services sector. Her Social Science and Finance background have proved useful in her management of social inclusion programmes since 2000 and have contributed to the development of other successful partnership collaborations for Inishowen over the past two decades.

Shauna is actively engaged in the design and implementation of policies in the areas of Social Inclusion, Education, Community Development and Enterprise Development. She has expert knowledge cultivated for a period of over 20 years, playing a critical role in combating social exclusion, poverty and unemployment both through the range of programmes currently delivered and through the brokerage and agency role performed at local level. She has considerable experience in accessing and managing both private and public funding both on a national, cross border and international level over the past two decades. An award winning reputable, innovative and agile organisation, IDP aims to embed social inclusion across the spectrum of services and supports, reinforcing the economic environment in order to contribute to job creation and improving the organisational ability of local communities, encouraging people to think about the longer-term potential of their area promoting new ways of enhancing the natural and cultural environment. The work involves collaborating on an interagency basis to develop innovative responses, streamline support and create synergy.

Mike Gatherall

Tourism champion for over three decades. Along with his immediate family members, Mike started Gatherall’s Boat Tours in 1984 (inc. 1992) as an alternative source of employment during the downturn in the local fishing industry. Realizing that the greatest demand for services lay beyond the resident market, Mike began marketing beyond the province of Newfoundland in in 1992.

The operation initially employed a small fishing vessel repurposed to carry small groups of visitors and continued to grow throughout the years to include a modern high speed catamaran vessel with a capacity of 100 persons, retail space, an events
centre for 165 persons and several vacation homes.

While his current roles include COO, CFO and CIO, he is adamant that staff are not asked or tasked with any duties that he would not perform himself.  Mike holds a diploma in Naval Architecture and has completed numerous business courses along with a wealth of continuing education gained through over three decades in business.  Married to Heidi for over 25 years, he has three daughters and a dog and spends free time exploring Newfoundland’s backcountry by snowmobile.


Andrea Peddle

Director of Tourism, Marketing and Visitor Services.

Andrea started her career in the advertising agency business and moved to the client side when Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism tapped her on the shoulder, in 1986Within Tourism, Andrea grew from advertising officer to the establish Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s first Travel Trade and Sales Team, and then their first Advertising and Engagement Team. Currently the Director of Tourism, Marketing and Visitor Services, Andrea continues to work with the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador to market the province as a desired and off the beaten path tourism destination. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism has won over 350 regional, national and international marketing awards including Tourism Industry of Canada’s Marketing Campaign of the Year (twice)Best in Show at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), and a CASSIE (Canadian Advertising Success Stories), Canada’s premier advertising award.   

Tourist spending in Newfoundland and Labrador reached $1.14 Billion, supports 2,700 businesses and 20,000 jobs. 

Christopher Parker

Programme Manager, Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

Christopher has lived in Canada in Toronto and Ottawa for 22 years and received a MA in Political Science and BPA (Hons) in Public Administration from the Universities of McMaster and Windsor. He worked extensively in immigrant services and NGO’s before moving to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000 with his family.
Christopher started his work with the Northern Periphery Programme when it was known as the Article 10 pilot project “Nordic –Scottish Cooperation” in 2001. Since then, he has continued to work principally developing Northern Periphery Arctic projects. Christopher has spoken about project development, programming of the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme throughout the Europe, and more recently about the Arctic Cooperation, COVID-19 response call in the NPA , and welcomes the opportunity to talk you!

Cllr Rena Donaghey

Cathaoirleach Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall.

Cllr Rena Donaghey is married to Patrick with four children, 2 boys and two girls and has a background in Social Welfare where she worked for 13 years. She has been a County Councillor in Donegal for 21 years and also served for 5 years on Buncrana Town Council, her home town. She would like to see an increase in women representatives in Irish politics, as there is a great imbalance.

Rena is currently the Cathaoirleach (Mayor) of Donegal County Council. She has been employed by Donegal Education & Training Board (ETB) for over 20 years, on a part-time basis, teaching computers. She served as chairperson of Donegal ETB, the largest education and training provider in County Donegal, in 2017-2018.

In her early years she was an inter-county camogie player, a sport which she really enjoyed.

Currently involved with many community organisations she is also chairperson of Inishowen’s Digital Hub in Buncrana, presently under development.

Killian McLaughlin

Killian McLaughlin qualified as a solicitor in 2014. He practiced in the offices of C.S. Kelly & Co. in Buncrana, County Donegal. A keen nature lover, Killian has been fascinated by Irelands native animals, in particular the animals that were once native to Ireland, but have since gone extinct. Wolves were so common in Ireland that it was once nicknamed “Wolf Land”. Bears, Lynx and Wild boar could also be found on this small island.

 In 2019 Killian founded the Wild Ireland sanctuary on the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal. In 23 acres of woodland, Killian offered sanctuary to rescued animals from all over the world. Wild Ireland is now home to a pack of wolves, Brown Bears, Lynx a family of Wild boar and many other animals.

 Killian has also stared in a four part series on RTE “Return of the Wild, The Bearman of Buncrana”. Wild Ireland has welcomed over 50,000 visitors in the short time that it has been open. Killian is keen to promote Donegal on the international mark as an international wildlife destination, with Wild Ireland at the heart, for tourists from all over the world to meet these magnificent animals up close and personal.

Liz Doherty

Liz Doherty is a fiddle player, teacher and arts consultant from Co. Donegal, Ireland. She is the founder and director of I Teach Trad, a new company offering training and professional development for teachers of traditional music. Her academic credentials include a PhD (Cape Breton fiddle music) and she has lectured in traditional music at UCC and at Ulster University, Derry as well as in Canada, the US and Australia; she was recently recognised with a National Teaching Fellowship from the UK’s Higher Education Academy for her work in this area. Liz has taught Irish fiddle music at festivals and events around the world. She has performed and recorded with Mícheál Ó Súillebháin and the RTÉ National Symphony and Concert Orchestras, Riverdance -The Show, and with bandsBumblebees, Fiddlesticks and Nomos; she also has two solo recordings. She is currently a member of Culture Ireland’s Expert Advisory Committee.

Cineál & Cineál Óg

Cineál was set up in 2018 by the Inishowen Traditional Music Project (ITMP) to highlight the wealth of young traditional musicians emerging in Inishowen. ITMP was keen to provide a platform for musicians to develop stage craft, explore arranging music and work on new commissioned music. For the past two years Cineál have received rave reviews regarding their unique sound, their growing confidence and ownership of the music. The underlying element all these musicians have in common is a love for music, and this project has provided an opportunity to perform and develop music in a social environment. Among the group are All-Ireland Champions and out of the ten members five are currently studying music at third level in Limerick, Maynooth and Dublin. Cineál is a ten piece group; Ruaidhrí Mc Carron, Maeve Gillen, Kieva Mc Gonigle, Oisin & Niamh Duffy, Darragh O’Connor, Katelyn Mc Daid, Breda Doherty, Ella & Deirdre Mc Grory. The group have inspired a new group of musicians Cineál Óg who are following in their footsteps.


Deirdre Mc Grory

Deirdre Mc Grory (vocals), is an emerging young singer and musician from the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal. Equally proficient on whistle or as vocalist, Deirdre has taken part in Fleadhanna Cheoil successfully and has appeared with youth ensembles Coirm, Inishowen Traditional Music Project Ensembles and most recently Cineál. In 2016 she was selected to be part of Feis Spè Ceilidh Trail performing throughout the Highlands in Scotland. Deirdre has years of experience teaching at Ceolan School of Music – Moville, Ceol na Coille Summer School – Letterkenny and Millstreet Trad Fest – Cork.

In 2018 Deirdre was invited to perform at the Féile na hInse, Traditional Arts at a special concert celebrating the music from Honoria Galwey Collection ‘Old Croonauns and other tunes’. Honoria Galwey collected music in Inishowen during the 1800’s.

Deirdre is currently in her fourth year studying Traditional Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.


Colin Corcoran

Colin Corcoran is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), award-winning entrepreneur and social innovator.

Hailing from Riverhead, SMB, Colin’s professional career crosses all sectors. He has been in senior policy roles with the provincial government, senior management with charities and non-profits, active in the private sector as a consultant and entrepreneur and recently in the academic sphere as an instructor in regional development at Memorial University. Through his varied career he has launched new social enterprises, unveiled the social enterprise plan for a charity, and worked to transform his own private business into a social business. Colin is currently the Director of Finance and Administration at Genesis – a non-profit technology hub in St. John’s.

He has served on numerous boards/committees and is a trusted adviser to small enterprises, start-ups and social enterprises. He is a member of the CPANL Board of Directors, member of the SucSeed advisory board and has provided mentorship and advice to hundreds of entrepreneurs. As a former small-town mayor, Colin actively works in providing solutions to challenges facing rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Colin is the founder of SMB Connect – a social enterprise building strategic connectivity infrastructure to spur regional economic development.

Colin was named a Top 50 Emerging Leader for Atlantic Canada, a Canadian Global Entrepreneurship Week Ambassador and featured in numerous professional publications. He is most proud, however, to be called a husband to Nanci and father to two little girls, Nora and Bridget.

John Andy Bonar

John Andy Bonar has almost 40 years experience in the public and private sectors having held director level positions in both sectors in the UK and Ireland. He is currently Vice President for Research, Equality and External Affairs at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) and holds Institute wide responsibility for Research, Enterprise and Innovation, Internationalisation, LifeLong Learning and ExternaL Engagement.

John Andy is a Director of 3 not-for-profit Community and Sporting organisations.

He holds a significant number of Regional, Cross-Border and National representational roles on behalf of LYIT.

John Andy has been part of a small team at LYIT that recently won significant competitively bid funding for 3 multimillion euro Interreg VA Research and Innovation Projects with UU, Catalyst and Queens in Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing and Personalised Medicine.  He also leads CoLab, LYIT’s Innovation Centre, which is home to over 60 high potential tech start-ups employing over 200 graduate level knowledge workers. CoLab is the NW Partner of Catalyst’s Innovation Centre at Ft George in Derry.

He has also assisted Dr Paddy Hannigan recently in winning Enterprise Ireland funded Regional Technology Cluster support for the Killybegs Marine Cluster and he represents LYIT on the NW ICT/FinTech Cluster Group. John Andy also helped secure over €5m competitively bid funding to establish an Ocean Innovation Centre on the LYIT campus in Killybegs to drive collaboration with key industry stakeholders and exploit the enormous potential of the Blue Economy to create high value employment and grow exports.

John Andy is a graduate of NUI Galway with an Honours Degree in Commerce and an Honours Masters Degree in Regional Economics as well as a number of other continuing Professional Development qualifications.

At LYIT John Andy was previously a Lecturer in Business and Head of School of Business before assuming his current role in 2007.

Adrian Begley

Adrian Begley is chair of Arranmore Island Community Council, which in recent years has been working extensively on projects to make Arranmore Island sustainable for the future. Chief among these has been the establishment of Ireland’s first island based digital shared workspace to allow the island’s diaspora who can work remotely to relocate home, and along with Three Ireland, put in place internet connectivity solutions across the island to benefit the wider community.

Meadbh Seoighe

Maeve Seoighe (Joyce) works as an Enterprise Executive with Údarás na Gaeltachta assisting enterprises across the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking regions of Ireland) to develop their business plans and create employment.  Support is provided through a range of soft supports, grant aid and investments. In 2016 Tourism was added to her portfolio and she is now implementing the 2018-2020 Tourism strategy for the Gaeltacht. Destination marketing to promote the Gaeltacht’s unique offering in terms of language and culture will be central to this.

 Prior to joining Údarás na Gaeltachta Meadbh worked in the television and film sector and as an independent marketing consultant.


Nicole Helwig

Nicole Helwig heads the Centre for Social Enterprise at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she is responsible for setting strategy and direction to fulfill the centre’s mandate to nurture social entrepreneurs, strengthen social enterprise and drive social innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador. Nicole is also program co-ordinator for Memorial’s MBA in social enterprise and entrepreneurship (MBA-SEE), which is the only MBA program in Canada purposefully designed to develop business leaders who are committed to sustainable and social business practices.

Nicole’s circuitous career path has provided her with a wealth of experiences and exposure to societal issues around the world. She holds a bachelor of arts from McGill University (humanistic studies program) and a master of business administration from the University of Strathclyde (Malaysia International Centre). She is also is also a Social Innovation Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom). Outside of work and raising her young daughter, she is a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Better Business Bureau and Kittiwake Dance Theatre.

More about Nicole: https://gazette.mun.ca/public-engagement/creativity-is-innovation/


Maria Gallagher

Economic Development Office, Donegal County Council. Maria led a remote working consultation and the development of a region-specific remote strategy for Donegal and is also Chapter Lead for the Donegal Grow Remote Chapter.

Robert W. Verge

ROBERT W. VERGE, P.Eng., MBA, CPA, CA, CMC is currently Managing Director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation.  Prior to taking that position in 2010, he spent most of his career as a professional engineer and management consultant.  In that role, he had a broad range of experience in the fishing industry, including projects in resource management, resource development, harvesting, processing, and marketing of fish products.  And his work literally took him around the world, giving him an understanding of how the Canadian industry compared with those of other countries

Dr. Mark White

Director; Enterprise, Employment and Property, Údarás na Gaeltachta

 In May 2018, Mark was appointed to the role of Director of Enterprise, Employment and Property at Údarás na Gaeltachta. Údarás is the Irish State Agency responsible for supporting and developing those parts of Ireland where the Irish Language is the spoken language of the community. Údarás is the Enterprise Development Agency for these areas, and has responsibility for economic, social and cultural development there.  Mark heads up the Enterprise and Property function of the Agency.

 Mark’s background is entrepreneurial: he co-founded (in 1999) and was CEO of a weather forecasting business Nowcasting Weather, which was sold to Meteogroup, Europe’s largest private weather company with operations in 17 countries around the globe. He has worked in the commercial weather services business for 17 years, and after the acquisition by Meteogroup became responsible for all MeteoGroup’s services to the Global Shipping, Ship Routing and Offshore Industries. Prior to this he served as Regional Director with the company, responsible for MeteoGroup UK (General terrestrial forecasting with a special emphasis on Roads, Rail, Energy and Media), MeteoGroup Offshore (focusing on the Global Offshore Oil and gas and Renewables Industries), and MeteoGroup US (General terrestrial forecasting with a special emphasis on Energy).

Dr. White received a Ph.D in Marine Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has worked in a wide variety of marine based commercial operations in technical and managerial roles including fish and shellfish aquaculture, and in marine research management the Ireland’s Marine Institute.

Margaret Cunnigham

Margaret Cunningham has been managing the Glencolmcille Folk Village for 16 years, she is a native of Glencolmcille parish with deep roots in the music, language and Culture of this wonderfully isolated coastal Parish in South West Donegal. Her background is in Tapestry Weaving, Traditional Irish Music, song and photography. Along with managing the Folk Village Margaret promotes the region through photography, television and social media mostly through the medium of Facebook. Born into a family steeped in the tradition of knitting, weaving, fishing etc. she was the ideal local representative to take the position as manager of The Folk Village after having co run a very successful Tapestry Weaving Art and learning studio for 11 years called Taipeis Gael with other local  Artists. She is very passionate about her native parish of Glencolmcille and very excited to be connecting with places of similar culture such as Newfoundland ,pride of place in our Folk Village Fisherman’s cottage is a message in a bottle from Lewis Knight who lived in St. Johns , he through the bottle in to sea at the Gulf of Labrador off an Ice Breaking ship called the Northern ranger, his family visited us and we are delighted to be in contact with them.

Fógra faoi Rúndacht agus Síniú Leictreonach: Tá an ríomhphost seo agus aon iatán a ghabhann leis rúnda agus tharlódh go mbeadh ábhar íogarach tráchtála san áireamh ann. Is leis an duine / nó daoine sin amháin a bhfuil siad seolta chucu a bhaineann siad agus ní ceart iad a léamh ná a scaoileadh chuig aon tríú páirtí gan cead roimh ré ó Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tabhair faoi deara freisin nach nglacann Údarás na Gaeltachta le sínithe leictreonacha d’aon chineál chun conradh a dhéanamh. Caithfidh gach uile shíniú a bheith i bhfoirm fhisiciúil. Deimhníonn an fo-nóta seo chomh maith gur seiceáiladh an teachtaireacht ríomhphoist seo ar fhaitíos víris. Tabhair cuairt ar ár suíomh idirlín ag

Paul Lansbergen

Paul Lansbergen
Fisheries Council of Canada

Paul joined the Fisheries Council of Canada as President in November 2017.  In the summer of 2019, he was appointed to the Canadian Environment Domestic Advisory Group under the C/EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and elected as a Co-Chair.  Paul has 25 years’ experience in public policy, advocacy and association leadership.  For 15 years, Paul was an integral part of the senior management team at the Forest Products Association of Canada.  Prior to that he was at the Canadian Fertilizer Institute and a political advisor on Parliament Hill.  He is recognized for his strategic and innovative insight, as a consensus builder, and as a progressive leader.  Paul is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and has two degrees in Economics.  He volunteers with the Canadian Society of Association Executives and the Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure as well as raised over $100,000 for the Run.

Paul Harrigan

Paul Harrigan is from Inishowen, Co.Donegal.

A multi – instrumentalist, he has toured and performed with groups such as Lunasa, The Hell Fire Club with Shane McGowan, Terry Woods -The Pogues – and the legendary Ronnie Drew -The Dubliners, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (Ireland), Renaud Séchan , Jean-marc Padovani, Dirty Linen, (France) and BlØf (Holland). 

Paul set up his music school Ceol na Coille in 2011 and every summer welcomes traditional music enthusiasts from all over the world during a week long Summer Program.

Paul’s solo album of Uilleann Pipe music, Music from The White Stone was released in 2019 and features Tim Edey on guitar and Inishowen musicians, Roisin McGrory and Joleen McLaughlin.


Joleen McLaughlin

Joleen McLaughlin (harp)
Joleen has toured and performed internationally as a soloist and also, with siblings Lorna and Karen, with the Internationally renowned ‘Henry Girls’ since the age of 17.
Joleen’s instinctive mastery of the unique Irish Harp Tradition has awarded her numerous awards, opportunities and invitations to perform and tutor internationally in countries such as Germany, Italy, Sweden, U.S.A., Scotland,(including the Shetland & Orkney islands) England & Ireland.
Currently while not touring with the Henry Girls Joleen is studying under the direction of Janet Harpisons’ teacher and student training programme at the University of Ulster.

Craig Foley

Chief Executive Officer Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador

Craig Foley, Chief Executive Officer of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, has been working within Newfoundland and Labrador’s tourism industry for more than 20 years. Having held numerous positions on industry boards and committees, Craig believes collaborative partnerships are the best approach to advance the tourism industry and the operations of those working within it. Recognizing the potential of tourism to positively impact the economy and way of life for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, and with extensive experience in strategic planning, development and implementation, Craig works tirelessly to ensure sustainable industry development and growth. Craig currently sits as Chair of the Provincial/Territorial Tourism Industry Associations group and has a seat on the TIAC Board of Directors.

Kevin Anderson

Head, School of Fisheries

Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University

Retired as regional director general of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for Newfoundland and Labrador, Kevin Anderson assumed his current position as head, School of Fisheries at the Fisheries and Marine Institute in May 2020.

Mr. Anderson, originally from L’Anse-aux-Meadows, began his career as a high school teacher and principal in coastal Labrador before joining DFO as a fishery officer in 1991.

He held a variety of positions with the department, including negotiator for the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement signed in 2005; director of conservation and protection; and regional director of fisheries and aquaculture management.

He also recently served as senior advisor on Indigenous relations for the department and the Canadian Coast Guard.

As senior advisor for Indigenous relations, he was instrumental in last year’s signing of the Coastal First National Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement in British Columbia.

Mr. Anderson taught graduate-level courses in fisheries policy resource management as a part-time instructor at the Marine Institute since 1999. He also served as a member of the institute’s industry advisory committee.

He holds a B.Ed. and BA from Memorial University, along with an M.Sc. in marine policy from the London School of Economics.

Joan Crawford

A native of Donegal Joan studied at University of Ulster where she graduated with a B.A. Hons in Hotel & Tourism Management with a Diploma in Industrial Studies.  She then went on to attain a Master’s in Business Administration from University of Ulster.

Joan has worked in the Tourism sector for over 20 years both having worked with Aer Lingus, North West Tourism, Donegal Tourism and now Fáilte Ireland. In late 1999, she took up a position with North West Regional Tourism and worked in various roles going onto take up a Marketing Executive with Donegal Tourism Ltd. Most recently Joan has been working as a Manager on the delivery of the Wild Atlantic Way Programme, one of the strategic programme areas in the Fáilte Ireland strategic plan

Diane Hollet

Diane is a founder and partner in several businesses in marine bioactives, bringing new products and sources of active ingredients to market. Previously involved in the IT sector for 15 years, her interest in sustainable natural resource development grew into a consulting practice and investments in processing. Work in fish hydrolysates and marine plant fertilizers has expanded to seaweeds for functionals foods, and interests in a composting facility to handle residual biomass.

Joe O’Brien

Joe O’Brien is co-owner and operator of O’Brien’s Whale & Bird Tours in Bay Bulls. Joe began his career in the fishing industry but as things changed and a closure loomed, he saw potential in the tourism sector. Along with his brother, Loyola, he began running tours to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. His company has grown significantly since its inception and is now comprised of three boats, a restaurant, an event building, and shuttle service. Throughout his career, Joe has served on many boards and committees in support of the industry. Joe is currently an active board member of Hospitality NL. As Joe prepares for his 37th season in business, he continues to be an ambassador for both tourism and the province.

Sonja Mills

Sonja Mills grew up in the town of Clarenville, Newfoundland. She studied at universities in Nova Scotia, earning Kinesiology, Law and MBA degrees. After several years of practicing law in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax, Sonja and her wife returned to Newfoundland to start the Port Rexton Brewing Company in 2016. Aside from enjoying craft beer, Sonja is a Councillor for the Town of Port Rexton and a board member for Port Rexton Pride.

Sonja is extremely committed to promoting and contributing to the sustainable development of her community along with her business partner and wife, Alicia. In a small community of 350 people, through the Port Rexton Brewery, they created 5 full-time, year-round permanent positions and employ an additional 4 part-time employees in the summer season. They have also enabled a second local business (a grilled cheese and chip food truck) to open and operate at their location free of rent, creating an additional 1 full-time and 4 part-time jobs in the community. They are currently undergoing an expansion, with plans to create additional jobs for the local community as a result.

Through their business, they have also initiated numerous community-building and fundraising events, such as the 1st and 2nd annual Port Rexton Pride weekends, Ales for Trails (trail running race fundraiser for local hiking organization), Youth Mini-Market (entrepreneurship market for youth under 19), annual Spring fundraiser for the Port Rexton & Area Fire Dept., hosting spring and fall stuff swaps at the brewery (bring clothes and household items to give-away or exchange), weekly trivia night fundraisers for various local organizations, etc.

List of Awards:

· 2019 Government of Canada, Women Entrepreneurship Fund – Awarded $100,000 towards our expansion

· 2018 Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Canadian Tourism Awards – Finalist – Innovator of the Year Award

· 2018 Royal Bank of Canada Women Entrepreneurship Awards – Winner of Ones to Watch Award for Eastern Region

· 2017 Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) – Winner – Trailblazer Award

· 2017 Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador – Winner – Innovator Award

Tracy Keogh

Tracy is a co-founder of Grow Remote – an award-winning non-profit making remote work both visible and accessible locally. The organisation is now in 130+ local communities with a newly founded full time team in place. Having 10+ years’ experience in technology startups, Tracy spent the last few years in community development in regional and rural Ireland. A graduate of economics and finance from the University of Limerick, Tracy currently works in Bank of Ireland having set up their innovation programmes in the west.

Richard Donnelly

Richard has over 30 years’ experience in the seafood industry with a diverse range of roles ranging from working as a Marine Biologist with Mowi Ireland to his current position as Salmon and Shellfish Manager with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).  His career began with a Master of Science from Trinity College followed by a range of jobs, including working on the commercial development of Ireland’s eel fisheries for the Electricity Supply Board to angling tourism with Inland Fisheries Ireland. Following on from this sales and marketing of seafood became his real passion. Working in Belgium as Sales and Marketing Manager with Pan European Fish Auctions (PEFA) gave him a taste of the international seafood market with responsibility for sales in Europe, Asia and South America. This lead to a role in the then Marketing Division of BIM in which Richard worked with numerous Irish seafood companies on market research in Europe, USA and Asia. Prior to his current role he was appointed General Manager at Abbeyfield Foods where he was involved with the sale of seafood products throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Manuel Hackett

Manuel Hackett is the Manager of Community Development the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). He is responsible for the West Coast, Labrador and Northeast Avalon regions for the province of Newfound and Labrador. Prior to joining ACOA, Manuel worked in various community-based organizations and Trade Team Newfoundland and Labrador where he was responsible for developing and implementing community and business development strategies, investment attraction programs, export development initiatives and managing various Community Development Funds.


Edelle and Paul McDaid

Donegal Hydro Harvesting is the company of husband and wife team of Edelle and Paul McDaid. Inishowen Algae is their pilot project. They are Donegal natives and, after years working in other countries, have settled in Inishowen with their three young boys.

 Edelle McDaid graduated in applied computing in 2007, and has 13 years’ experience in software testing, product management and development management.

Paul McDaid has worked on engineering and construction projects for 12 years and has been researching and prototyping renewable energy for 10 years.

The aim of the Inishowen Algae Project is to provide a means to farmers to utilise marginal land to grow algae.

E: info@inishowenalgae.com


Twitter: @inishowenalge

LinkedIn: Edelle Mc Daid


Tom Byrne

Tom Byrne is a harmonica and accordion player living in Buncrana,Inishowen, County Donegal and is a recent recipient of the ‘LiveIreland Male Musician of the Year’ award  and the ‘Top Tradition in Review Awards Male Musician of the Year 2016′ ‘Chicago Irish American News’ . Tom has always been interested in many styles of music, clearly apparent in his repertoire and compositions. from blues to classical to traditional, jazz or French musette.  His father Paddy was a fiddle player from Malin in Inishowen who was the inspiration for Tom to start playing music. Tom  has played with some of the great older fiddle players and carriers of the tradition in Donegal including Francie Dearg Byrne, James Byrne, Dinny McLaughlin and Seamus Grant.

Tom’s fascination for playing traditional music on the harmonica has astounded concert goers in Ireland and abroad. His 2009 recording entitled ‘Tom Byrne’ has received critical acclaim and in 2011 he released an EP of original songs featuring The Henry Girls on Vocals. Tom has been busy this year recording a new album with guest musicians which features a number of his compositions on harmonica and accordion.

Contact thomaskbyrne@gmail.com


Roisin Mc Grory

Roisin Mc Grory (fiddle), Culdaff, Inishowen Co.Donegal. Roisin is a well known as a fiddle player and teacher and founding member of Inishowen Traditional Music Project (ITMP). Over the past 20 years she has devoted much of her time to the preservation and promotion of traditional music in Inishowen.
In 2016 Roisin released her solo album, ‘The Brae Road’. www.roisinmcgrory.ie

The Inishowen Traditional Music Project

The Inishowen Traditional Music Project (ITMP)

Inishowen Traditional Music project (ITMP) was set up in 1999 to preserve and promote traditional music in Inishowen. The project is made up of a voluntary group of individuals who play, teach or who have a love of traditional music. 

Initially the project was focused on providing expert tuition to children by delivering workshops, master classes and collaborative projects. Since its formation ITMP has carried out a range of projects from publishing, producing a film ‘Ark of Tides’ about the life and music of Dinny McLaughlin, commissioning new work, developing youth projects and the Inishowen Adult Music Ensemble. Since 2018, Inishowen Traditional Music project has hosted a Summer Concert Series in Iconic venues throughout Inishowen. Féile na hInse festival was also established in 2018 and in the first year celebrated the music and life of music Collector Honoria Galwey. The festival will take place again in Inishowen in April 2021.

The Laurentic Forum is organised and facilitated by the Ulster Canada Initiative with funding, sponsorship and support from the following organisations: