The Irish Americans
The son of a shoemaker, Denis Kelleher moved from his home county of Kerry to New York in search of employment after the death of his father. Kelleher was not in New York more than two days before he landed a job as a messenger for Merill Lynch, a job through which Kelleher gained tremendous experience.
He would eventually pursue undergraduate studies at St. John’s University and in 1981 he founded Wall Street Access, a financial services organization with expertise in money management and trading for institution and hedge funds. He is now a member of the Independence Community Bank and The New Ireland Fund.
;Growing up in Ireland, I thought New York was the city of possibility and now I know that’s a reality,” Kelleher told the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. “Helping others is the greatest high you can get. That’s what business is about too. If you just go into business to make money, then you have missed the boat.”
Kelleher has certainly done his share of helping; he and his wife established “The Good Deeds” foundation, which provides financial rewards for those in Ireland involved in altruistic work. He also funds suicide prevention efforts in rural Ireland and has worked behind the scenes to advance political stability and peace in Northern Ireland. In 2005, Kelleher was the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. He is married with three children.
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