The New York Irish Center's “Ireland Today 2022 - The Inaugural America-Ireland Youth Conference” will bring together prominent experts, educators, and students from the US and the island of Ireland to discuss urgent global topics including gender-based violence, world peace, and climate change.

IrishCentral is delighted to be partnering with the New York Irish Center to bring you the "Ireland Today 2022" free live stream video conference from Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 22. Each day will feature a two-hour panel talk moderated by distinguished thought leaders followed by a question and answer session.

Internationally recognized experts on a number of urgent global topics will come together for "Ireland Today 2022," including panel moderators Nisha Varia of until recently of Human Rights Watch (May 20), Sarah Crowe of the UN and formerly UNICEF (May 21), and Claire Byrne of Ireland's Green Party and Dublin City Council Member (May 22).

Confirmed conference participants include students and educators from the following institutions: University of Illinois, Chicago; the Southern Poverty Law Center; The University of Notre Dame; Queen's University Belfast; Trinity College Dublin; University of Ulster; Georgetown University; Oberlin College; University College Cork; Baruch CUNY; Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Online registration for the free three-day conference is now open via IrishCentral will be live streaming the three-day conference.

George C. Heslin, New York Irish Center’s executive director, says: "'Ireland Today 2022’ supports the next generations who will inherit our two great nations – the United States and the Island of Ireland.  

“We want to give participants the opportunity to create global connections and encourage travel and cultural engagement to both countries.

"We also want to foster peer relationships between higher education institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. So we are delighted that so many educators and outstanding students from prominent universities from both the US and Ireland will be collaborating together.”

Ryan McNally, New York Irish Center’s director of Social Care and a graduate of Ulster University will serve as the conference producer, and Hannah Ciesil, a graduate of Baruch College-CUNY, is the conference coordinator.

 Key support for this event comes from the Consul General of Ireland in New York (Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Program) and The Northern Ireland Bureau.

“Ireland Today 2022 - The Inaugural America-Ireland Youth Conference” schedule and speakers

Friday, May 20, 1 pm - 4 pm EST: "Gender-Based Violence: A Road to Understanding"

“The aim of this conversation is to identify the causes of gender-based violence in both cultures and forge a road to solutions.”

Moderated by Nisha Varia, until recently Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch, Women's Rights Division


  • Kyle Friedler (he/him) - University of Illinois Chicago, MA Public Administration student
  • Raven Hodges (he/they) - The Intelligence Project Research Analyst, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Roisin Keenan (she/her) - President, of Queen’s University Belfast’s feminist and equality society
  • Stephanie Nilva (she/her) – Attorney (matrimonial law specializing in domestic abuse), Executive Director of Day One, graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Saturday, May 21, 1 pm - 2:30 pm EST: "Shifting Landscapes: The Value of Peace"

"The aim of this conversation is to touch on global conflicts, like Ukraine/Russia, Palestine/Israel, election violence in Kenya, etc., and discuss how peace can be achieved by reflecting on the Irish Peace Process."

Moderated by Sarah Crowe, Senior Communications Consultant with multiple UN agencies.


  • Dr. Brendan Ciaran Browne (he/him) - Trinity College Dublin - Asst. Prof. Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation
  • Sarah Nanjala (she/her) - Notre Dame, Master of Global Affairs student
  • Ryan Conner (he/him) - Georgetown - Walsh School of Foreign Service, MA in European Studies student
  • Casey Donahue (he/him) - Georgetown, MA in History + MS in Foreign Service student
  • Eóin Cummings (he/him) - Queen's University Belfast, President of QUB Politics Society

Sunday, May 22, 1 pm - 2:30 pm EST: "Tackling Climate Change Together"

“The aim of this conversation is to discuss the reality of climate change and realistic steps and measures young people of both cultures can take to shift the tide in our favor.”

Moderated by Claire Byrne, Green Party Politician, Climate Campaigner, and Dublin City Council Member


  • Marissa Kuriakos (she/her) - Oberlin College, Environmental Studies major, sophomore
  • Maeve Richardson (she/her) - Co-Chair of University College Cork’s Student Green Campus Committee & Communications & Engagement Officer UCC Students’ Union 2021/22
  • Jelena Collins (she/her) - Oak Park and River Forest High School, senior; Executive Director & Co-Founder of Chicago's Youth Climate Coalition
  • Tiarnán Burns - 2nd-year undergraduate student at Queen’s University Belfast, founding member of QUB Politics Society

“Ireland Today 2022 - The Inaugural America-Ireland Youth Conference” moderators

Nisha Varia (she/her)

Nisha Varia was until recently the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch's women's rights division. As a researcher in the women's rights division between 2003 and 2014, she conducted investigations, published reports, and carried out advocacy campaigns on migrant domestic workers’ rights across Asia and the Middle East. Her advocacy contributed to the adoption of the groundbreaking 2011 International Labour Organization's Domestic Workers Convention.

Varia's other work has included developing training materials for interviewing survivors of sexual violence and research on human rights impacts of coal mining in Mozambique, women’s political participation in Afghanistan, and abuses against refugee women in Nepal.

Sarah Crowe (she/her)

Sarah Crowe is a Moderator, Writer, Strategist, and Senior Advisor/Consultant for UN Communications. In 2022, she helped craft a major UNESCO Global Report on the impact of Covid on the cultural sector. She previously lead on Convening at the UNICEF Office of Research Innocenti in Florence where she moderated and organized the Leading Minds conferences with high-level panelists to interview children and young people on key issues of our time: mental health together with WHO in 2019, COVID-related content in 2020 and 2021 such as vaccine doses, distribution, and the great divide, online learning, climate change, and a special focus on Africa. At Innocenti in Florence, she managed the communication team, launched the Report Card into Child Wellbeing, and advised the team of researchers. She helped rebrand Innocenti and produced a 10-part podcast on the Future of Childhood with global experts. Crowe previously worked as UNICEF’s Chief of Crisis Communications and the Spokesperson for UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake, from 2015 to 2018 and as the Regional Chief of Communications in Delhi from 2008 to 2011.

Before joining the UN, Crowe worked as an international journalist and has covered major global news and current affairs events such as the end of apartheid, the Mandela era, civil wars in DR Congo, Angola, and Somalia.

Claire Byrne (she/her)

Claire Byrne is a politician, climate campaigner, environmental education specialist and sustainability consultant for the events industry. She is a Green Party Councillor in Dublin for the South-East Inner City. First elected in 2014, Claire’s work is dedicated to influencing public policy in the areas of climate action, planning, waste, equality, arts, culture and active transport, aiming to create a climate resilient Dublin while improving the quality of life for its citizens. She is Chair of the Dublin City Climate Action Plan Committee, an active member of the Arts and Culture SPC along with several other boards and committees.

Claire is also parliamentary assistant to Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Environment, Climate Action, Communications and Transport was the Green Party candidate for the Dublin Bay South By Election 2021. She has been an active member of the Green Party for almost 20 years, was part of the Programme for Government negotiation team for Arts and Culture in 2020 and has worked with the Party through two terms in Government.

Claire is passionate about exploring the interface between creativity, politics and climate as a way to communicate both the challenges and solutions of the climate crisis and to inspire positive, meaningful behaviour change through effective public policy.

Online registration for the free three-day conference is now open via The three-day conference will be live-streamed here on

*Originally published May 9, 2022. Updated on May 17, 2022.