The head of one of Massachusetts’ leading business associations will receive this year’s prestigious Spirit of the Diaspora Award at the premier business and investment conference for the Irish diaspora.

President and chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, James E. Rooney, will be presented with the accolade at the Belfast International Homecoming which takes place between 28 and 30 November in the city.

Jim will become the fifth recipient of the award and will join a roll call of distinguished bridge builders and global trailblazers which includes Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, Moët Hennessy USA CEO Jim Clerkin, Concentrix president Chris Caldwell and founder of, Seamus McAteer.

Jim will be presented with his award at a gala banquet to conclude the three-day event which brings together Irish and Scots Irish diaspora from across the globe. He will be joined at the event by business luminaries such as: Head of International Investment at Invest NI, Alan Wilson; the Vice President of Concept to Consumer at Reebok, John Lynch; Chief Executive Officer of the Irish American Partnership, Mary Sugrue; and Lord Willie Haughey OBE, founder and chairman of City Facilities Management Holdings Ltd, one of the largest privately-owned facilities management companies in the world.

Leading legal lights will also attend the event including Dr Karen McCullagh, a law lecturer, and course director at the University of East Anglia and Colin Harvey, Professor of Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast and a Fellow of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

This year’s event will also incorporate the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic which will see NCAA Division 1 college basketball return to the city.

As to this year’s Spirit of the Diaspora award recipient, Jim is a legendary figure in the Massachusetts business world under whose guidance the Boston Chamber of Commerce has become the leading voice of the Boston business community on public policy issues.

A former Chief of Staff to Mayor Menino of Boston, Jim was executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Centre Authority and has previously been recognized as one of Boston’s Most Powerful People by Boston Magazine and as a Power 50 Game Changer by the Boston Business Journal.

Speaking of the Homecoming event, Jim said: “Boston has experienced a rapid transformation in the past two decades, but our link to Ireland remains strong. And this link goes far beyond ancestral roots - though those roots are a point of pride for me and many others.

“From my view at the Chamber, I see great business relationships and opportunities between Boston and Belfast continuing to thrive thanks to our long-standing partnerships and new connections being made through programmes like the Belfast International Homecoming.”

For more information on the Belfast International Homecoming Business and Investment conference go to

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