Leaders in Creativity & Innovation

24th January 2015 | Four Seasons Hotel

IUSA CONFERENCE 2015: Leadership in Creativity and Innovation

By Declan Dunne, IUSA Vice President and Conference Chair

16184115718_58fe4292d1_kOver a hundred delegates turned out to celebrate the Ireland United States Relationship

We were delighted with the excellent feedback from delegates whom spoke of their enjoyment of the fourth annual conference of the IUSA took place on Saturday 24th January at the Intercontinental Hotel Ballsbridge. One hundred and eight people turned out in their own time for the event. Declan Dunne Vice President of the IUSA welcomed delegates and set the tone for a relaxing but stimulating morning. He reminded everyone present of the commitment of the IUSA to the Ireland United States relationship and set the scene for the conference theme.

IUSA Congress 2015Dublin’s new Start up Champion emphasises the importance of perseverance in innovation

Declan introduced Niamh Bushnell the newly appointed Start up Champion for Dublin highlighting her achievement as a serial entrepreneur and the recognition she has received in the US and in Ireland. Niamh’s keynote address recounted her journey in creating new products and services and going on to establish and support businesses in her field. The audience was impressed with her energy and perseverance to start up and stick with significant projects from conception through to commercialisation and sustainability.

IUSA Congress 2015RTE Six One News Anchor Bryan Dobson works his magic

He then introduced Bryan Dobson RTE Sixone TV news anchor who had kindly agreed to give freely of his time to moderate the panel discussion. Bryan went on to introduce the Panel members, Superintendent Collette Quinn, DCU President Brian MacCraith, TCD School of Education PhD student and Alternative Miss Ireland Sinead Burke, and Social Entrepreneur and Presidential appointee to the Council of State Ruairi McKiernan. With typical skill and professionalism Bryan Dobson drew out from the panel members examples of their creative process and innovations across their wide ranging sectors.

IUSA Congress 2015Learning from the US applied by the Gardaí in Ireland

Colette Quinn talked about her work in collaboration with the FBI and how she was involved in bringing back learning from the US and leading the implementation of the Garda Cycle Unit which was a big innovation at that time in Ireland. There was keen attention and lots of laughter from the audience as Bryan encouraged the panel members to share insights into the practical challenges of leading innovation in their organisation and he was challenged playfully about his own work in leading change.

16185524859_3685645143_kIncorporating marketable skills and the key competencies employers seek in third level courses

Brian MacCraith spoke about leading a third level institution, making the connections with key business leaders who go on to employ graduates, understanding the skills they wanted from graduates and changing the course connect to make that happen. He spoke of business leaders initial disappointment with some graduates in terms of their communication skills, their problem solving skills and ability to apply the learning in practical ways in the work place. He described how he went back to DCU and added modules to every course address the acquisition of these and other key skills. He described the e-passport which allowed students progressively document their progress in developing these competencies.

IUSA Congress 2015“Why are you a boy?” Learner centred education the way forward

Sinead Burke, a little person, described to the audience her first day as a primary school teacher in inner city Dublin where the students were taller than her. When challenged why she was so short she asked the pupil “Why are you a boy?” When he replied he was born that way, she replied “Well I was born this way”. Sinead enthralled the audience with her passion for her PhD subject which looks at learner centred education and empowering the learner voice.

IUSA Congress 2015The bravery required to stop and make a space for the new

Ruairi McKiernan, a serial social entrepreneur and a challenging voice for Ireland realising its full potential not just as an economy but as a society spoke about what we have lost in the crash. Clearly driven from higher order values he challenged us, inspired us and made us laugh. His humility, courage and honesty was refreshing as reflecting on past successes he described the process of breaking down everything you currently do and conceive of to make space for a new reality you have not yet conceived of. Wow.

Bryan Dobson moderated a lively audience discussion with a queue of delegates waiting their turn to participate. As it evolved the subject of innovation in the educational system was the overwhelmingly most popular subject.

IUSA Congress 2015Lunch, Inspiration, awards and entertainment….

As we moved into the ballroom for lunch Siobhan Byrne Learat the President of the IUSA took up her position on the second stage of the conference. She spoke passionately of the work of the IUSA and Ireland US relationship and introduced US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. The Ambassadors own family story of his grandparents leaving Ireland for the US with nothing and his pride at returning as US Ambassador had the audience enthralled. He spoke about the importance of the TTIP transatlantic trade agreement and encouraged support for it.

Siobhan and the Ambassador presented both awards and we were again wowed by the amazing international achievement of these IUSA alumni. Finally we were entertained over coffee by The Young Folk back from the US South by South West music festival in Austin Texas, one of only six emerging bands selected to represent Ireland.

Some Images from the IUSA Congress 2015

Download the Full 4 page Conference Flyer in PDF here



2015 is the Year of Irish Design. Creativity and Innovation cuts across all sectors and generations and feeds into the design thinking methodology. Come and hear compelling Thought Leaders in, Public Policy, Business Innovation, Culture and Design, New Thinking on Citizen Engagement and he Universities role in promoting Scientific breakthrough leading to commercial application. Hear them speak about how they engage in the creative process and how it bears fruit in their particular discipline.

Where & When

24th January 2015 from 09:30 until 15:00 in the Four Seasons Hotel, Simmonscourt Road, Dublin 4.


Congress is open to everybody. All are welcome.

How much

Ticket prices are €50. Please sign up before the 24th January


Yes. Lunch is included.

How Do You Sign Up

Sign up through Paypal with the button below before 24th January.


09.30   IUSA Annual Congress and Board Elections 2015

10.30   Conference Registration and Welcome Reception

11.00   Opening Keynote Speaker – Niamh Bushnell

11.30   Leaders in Creativity and Innovation Panel Discussion, moderated by Bryan Dobson

12.10   Moderated Q&A

12.45   Lunchtime Address by Ambassador Kevin O’Malley

             Presentation of  Inaugural Alumni Awards

14.30   Closing Reception with musical performance by The Young Folk

Who is coming?

Bryan Dobson

RTE Six One News Anchor

Ruairi McKiernan

Activist & Youth Campaigner

Brian MacCraith

President DCU

Niamh Bushnell

Dublin City Council, Start Up Commissioner

Sineád Burke

PhD Student & Blogger

The Young Folk

Musical Performance

Amb Kevin O'Malley

US Ambassador to Ireland

Collette Quinn

Superintendent, Director Diversion Programme

IUSA Distinguished Alumni Awards

For the first time the new IUSA Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony has taken place at the conference luncheon. This was an exciting opportunity from the Ireland United States Alumni Association (IUSA) and U.S. Embassy Dublin to express appreciation to the distinguished individuals honored, by the IUSA and the Embassy, through this award, and to seek to raise public awareness of the critical role played by alumni of U.S. exchange programs—including J1 alumni—in Irish society today.

Our inaugural winners of the awards have been announced. More information can be found here.

Past speakers have included

Stuart Dwyer – Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Dublin

Geraldine Byrne Nason – Secretary General, Department of An Taoiseach

Robert Lynch – President/ CEO, Americans for the Arts

Fiach Mac Conghail – Director, Abbey Theatre

John Fitzgerald – Research Professor, ERSI

Conor Pope – Journalist, Irish Times

Patrick Murphy – Director, Royal Hibernian Academy

Roy Greenslade, Professor of Journalism

Madeline Quirk – CEO, Wexford Chamber of Commerce

John Kiernan – CEO, Quintiles

Diane Brace – US National Public Radio

Check out Conference 2016