President’s Annual Report

From ICC President Sean F. Cahillane
Annual Report
Delivered on Sunday Oct. 13, 2013 at the ICC Annual Breakfast at the Yankee Pedlar Inn

Sean CahillaneI’d like to update the membership and the general public about the status of current events and the operations of the Irish Cultural Center. This President’s Report conveys the most recent happenings, the “comings and goings” of the ICC, a state-of-the-organization message, if you will.

The ICC Board of Directors has spent much of 2013 retooling, restructuring and reinvigorating the organization. We at the ICC are setting the foundation for 2014 as a time of growth; we are setting the stage for expansion. We are pressing forward and moving along!

Here’s what’s been happening:

Sister Judith E. Kappenman, noted author and SSJ, retired after a long tenure as our dedicated Executive Director. The board conducted a search, and in February hired Ellen Dziura, a Springfield native now residing in Chicopee. Ellen is hard working, smart, and effective, a dedicated woman who fits well in the role of director. Ellen has transitioned into the multi-tasked duties of the executive director successfully.

President Chip Costello timed out after nine years of enthusiastic and dedicated service to the ICC. Chip continues to serve the ICC as its Irish Language Committee Chair. The Board of Directors elected me, Sean F. Cahillane, to take over from Chip as President. My term began in January, 2013.

The ICC conducted a lengthy Strategic Planning Process last winter; we engaged the services of an outside facilitator to help guide our planning process to an enlightened and successful conclusion this spring. We learned that the ICC is well respected and widely know throughout the region. The ICC has no negative public image, instead projecting a completely positive image in the community, thanks in part to our rich menu of mostly free events that celebrate and  nurture our Irish culture. Our name recognition and membership is spread though the Western New England region, including Northern Connecticut, Vermont, Central Massachusetts and the four Western Counties.

The Strategic Planning Process produced the following achievements.

  • A newly created Vision Statement:
    The Vision is to foster an appreciation of Irish culture.
  • A redrafted Mission Statement to more accurately reflect current and future activities:
    The Mission of the IRISH CULTURAL CENTER is to cultivate a connection with Ireland, through the arts, culture, history, language, and heritage. The IRISH CULTURAL CENTER offers opportunities to engage in educational, travel, and social events that promote Irish culture.
  • Numerous strategic goals were accepted
  • Updated and rewritten Bylaws
  • A new Membership Application Form
  • A new modernized, flexible, sharp and snazzy website: the site is intended to enhance the ICC’s public image and communications abilities. I must single out one of our board members — Katie Doe — for her professional insights in designing and implementing the new web image for the ICC.
  • A Business Plan: our first-ever business plan will be approved by the board of directors soon. It will serve as the structure a guide to our 2014 activities, budget, membership, events and fundraising. Please look for in to be posted on the website by December.

The ICC was also fortunate to be invited to play a major role in ‘The Irish Legacy: Immigration and Assimilation in the Connecticut Valley during the Industrial Revolution,” an exhibit that ran through the summer at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History located at the Quadrangle. Many of our artifacts were loaned out for display. Special thanks go to all ICC members who loaned artifacts for this beautiful and informative exhibit, and also to Ellen Dziura and ICC Board Member Mary Ellen O’Brien, who contributed time and talent to the exhibit itself, as well as to leading several arts and crafts sessions for children at the exhibit.

The ICC continues to maintain a good loyal relationship with the Elms College. The college has been a good friend to the ICC these past 13 or so years. A mutually beneficial relationship continues to flourish between us. This year, the college and the ICC successfully acquired a fourth Fulbright Scholar, a young woman from Ireland, Síobhra Aiken. It is our good fortune to have these Fulbright scholars from Ireland in our community year after year. This past spring, Elms President Sr. Mary Reap and ICC representatives met with the Fulbright administrators from Dublin to discuss and evaluate the Fulbright scholars’ placement. Fulbright administrators are well pleased with the scholar placements here in Western Massachusetts, and plan to continue with the placement of future scholars at the Elms.

Sadly, the ICC as of this past summer lost the use of our beautiful, Harry Potter-style, leaded glass offices, display museum and meeting spaces. The growing educational expansion needs of the college required changes. The Elms is in a growth and expansion phase, and we wish them well. The ICC is forever grateful for their past, present and future support and hospitality. If not for the commitment and leadership of the college the ICC may never have taken root and  flourished. Establishing new digs is an ongoing matter discussed by many board members and visitors alike. The museum, library and genealogy elements of the ICC have been and continue to be popular. Other museum quality donations are in the offing for the ICC, preservation of such unique historically relevant items is a priority.

We at the ICC are growing, the ICC seeks to maintain and enhance the Irish Culture, to grow our footprint throughout Western New England, to increase the quality and quantity of our event and program offerings. We will do this in 2014 three ways:

  • Firstly, a membership drive. The ICC needs to capture on our membership and volunteer roles “devotees of all thinks Irish”. Please look to our new application form, found on the website, and sign up yourself. If you’re already a member cajole, brow beat, persuade friends and family members to join now! The vitality of any organization is enhanced by new faces; bring ideas, energy and resources to bear.
  • Secondly, increases in the financial support of sponsors and attendance of participants at quality program events. An upcoming Christmas concert on December 8th afternoon with Irish musicians from the Dingle Peninsula and other parts of Ireland promises to be a rousing good time. It is a big undertaking bringing these renowned musicians to our community. A strong and reliable financial support system ensures and provides for a smooth running, quality programs and effective administrative operations.
  • Lastly, by seeking out grants, donations, bequests and income producing enterprise arrangements. The ICC is an independent, federally registered, bon-a-fide, 501(C) 3, charitable organization. If you have money lying around and you don’t know what to do with it, send it to the ICC. We can take it in as a tax free donation. We will spend the money wisely for you.

In closing, the ICC enterprise, this Irish centered organization will grow, flourish, become stronger and endure because of our individual actions to make things happen to get involved, and to our commitment to keeping the Irish arts alive in Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley, and beyond.

Many thanks to you,
Míle buíochas a thabhairt duit,
Sean F. Cahillane
President, Irish Cultural Center

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"It’s great to be a part of this initiative to promote Irish studies. You should keep up the good work because there are so many lessons to be learned from Irish history, and Irish culture is beloved to so many people."
– Dr. Christine Kinealy
Professor of History and Irish Studies at Quinnipiac University