The American Irish Historical Society (AIHS) in New York will award its 2010 gold medal to Robert (Bob) Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of BNY Mellon, which has a market capitalization of $30 billion. It is also one of Ireland’s largest employers.

In an interview with the Irish Voice, Kelly said he was “pretty excited” by the award, which will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria at the AIHS’s annual dinner on Thursday, November 4.

Irish roots are important to me and the event is a great annual occasion,” he said. “I’m just delighted that such a great Irish American institution has chosen me as their medalist,” he added.

Kelly traces his Irish roots to Lismore, Co. Waterford where "My his family emigrated  from in 1818 to Nova Scotia, Canada, where Kelly grew up.

His wife Rose also has Irish roots, and her family emigrated to Nova Scotia in the 1600s. They have two children who will be present on the night.

Kelly was recently in Ireland, where his company is the fifth largest employer there. He met with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and discussed the current economic downturn with him.

“The good news is that Ireland is dealing with it, and they are ahead of Greece, Spain and Portugal in that sense,” he says. “You have to take a long term view and they are doing the right thing."

He warned, however, that Ireland should not increase its corporate tax rates as some European leaders have been demanding.

Kelly has won major acknowledgement for how he handled the global crisis in his own bank.

In 2009, BNY Mellon was ranked among America's Most Admired Companies, as compiled by Fortune magazine. He was also named one of America's Best CEOs for 2009 by Institutional Investor magazine, and a top 10 bank CEO in 2006 and 2007 by U.S. Banker magazine.