Phew! This year JCI Ireland celebrates its 60th Anniversary and what a whirlwind first three months it’s been in JCI this year so far! We have had some fantastic wins already, even though we are only in the first quarter of the year. Thank you to all of our members for creating such a brilliant team ethic and sense of “we are all working together” in 2017. It’s your dedication and hard work that is making this happen, and by doing so you are helping your own communities, businesses, your members and your own personal development. So be proud of what you have achieved on your journey so far. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening…
The 2017 team actually started in November 2016 as the executive academy got underway. The executive council and local president team came together in Mayo for some team building, planning and training (as well as a little socialising :). It was this effort that really put us on the right path for 2017, so that we could hit the ground running with a plan in January.
AGM, First National and Local Officer Training
Kicking off the year with a bang, the AGM for 2016 as well as the First National Meeting of the new team and the Local Officer Training weekend was hosted by JCI Mayo. As usual Local President Deborah Mc Andrew and the JCI Mayo team did a stellar job of hosting us for the weekend in the beautiful Breaffy House Hotel. The fantastic achievements of 2016 were officially wrapped up and the new year began. At the transfer of chains ceremony in the evening Brian Smyth handed over the leadership of JCI Ireland to myself and the new team. Brian looked immensely proud (and happy!), although speaking to him afterwards, he expressed concern with how he was going to fill all the free time now available in his life as Immediate Past President!
In case you hadn’t heard already :), the European President’s Meeting was held in Portmarnock in Dublin in February. This was the first international event JCI Ireland has hosted in thirty years and it was a resounding success. One hundred and twenty delegates from all over Europe (and Japan!) attended and the feedback after the event has been overwhelming. We were delighted to welcome JCI World President Dawn Hetzel and also JCI Secretary General Arrey Obensen to Ireland and to introduce them to our members. It also gave us and JCI Europe the confidence to put forward an interest in hosting European Conference 2020 and planning for that is now in the initial stages. Well done to Deputy National President Laura Enache on leading the EPM COC team, and to all the members of that team: Donegal President Ann Louise McClintock, 2014 National President Derek Reilly, 2010 National President Mark Kelly, Dublin President Theresa Cahill, JCI Dublin member Silvija Delekovcan and 2016 National President Brian Smyth. And thank you to all our volunteers on the day for your hard work.
At EPM 2017 we also launched a new national academy for JCI Ireland, JCI Comms Academy. At the academy, hosted by JCI Fingal as their first national event, our members were trained in how to communicate professionally both internally and externally on behalf of JCI. The first academy was a huge success and was also visited by special guests JCI World President Dawn Hetzel and also JCI Secretary General Arrey Obensen in the afternoon. Thank you to National Director of Communications Keira Keogh and Local President of JCI Fingal Conor Daly.
The next national event saw us travelling to the beautiful Dun Laoghaire where JCI Southside hosted a weekend of training and debating in The Royal Marine hotel. With expert training from the likes of Carr Communications as well as model debating, a lovely evening meal and a lively debate competition in the Sunday the weekend was packed full of things to do. We also had our first official visit from our JCI Vice President Celine Bléher, who took part in all activities and met individually with our local presidents. Congrats Rob, Susan, Stephen, Deirdre and all the Southside team and a great weekend!
Our local branches around the country have hit the ground running this year, with fantastic work by all local presidents. Membership numbers are growing and engagement with our members is very high, with new members getting stuck in and involved in local projects. It is fantastic to see fresh faces at all our trainings and events and a testament to the dedication and hard work of the local presidents in leading their branches. Well done :)
National Coverage of TOYP
The TOYP awards are in full swing and as I write this, the last local awards ceremony took place in Dublin last night. As is always the case, our local branches and members have found and recognised incredible nominees, who will now go on to the national finals. To trend nationally multiple times on Twitter, to get coverage in the national press and to have such a high profile shows that JCI Ireland is not only growing, but growing as a brand as well. This is very meaningful to us, as it means that we as an organisation can make a bigger impact and affect even more people, in line with our mission to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. Congratulations to National Director of Community Éabha O’Leary-Fitzpatrick, and to all partaking branches and we now look forward to the national TOYP awards in Donegal.
We are achieving our goal of increasing the number of national partners this year from one to (at least) three. Allied Irish Bank have come fully onboard as a national partner for the community pillar, increasing our exposure to the public and providing support for branches running the awards. Along with Bank of Ireland supporting the business pillar, we are now in a strong position to build on these relationships in the future. For helping to make this happen, thank yous go to National Director of Community Keira Keogh, Immediate Past President Brian Smyth, National Director of Partnerships Mary-Kate Portley and National Director of Business Ronan Neacy. This also has the positive effect of strengthening our reputation, making it easier for us to attract more national partners and provide more opportunities for our members. We have also just partnered with the Irish Refugee Council and are now working on how we can engage with them to help and impact refugees within Ireland. In addition, JCI Galway Local President Dominick Whelan leads the Global Let’s Do It Campaign in Ireland and will oversee the pilot project in Galway this year.
JCI UK and Belfast
Speaking of partnerships, I am delighted to report that we are getting on fantastically well with our neighbours in JCI UK, both in Northern Ireland and over in England. Last weekend, myself and Deputy President Laura Enache met with the JCI UK National Council, as well as with members of JCI Belfast, to grow and strengthen our relationship with the North. Along with members of JCI Derry, we hope to run several cross-border projects together this year, as well as attending each other’s national events as guests, setting the example of promoting peace and cooperation within our country.
So what’s coming up next? Around the corner in April, we have Leadership Academy on 28th-30th April in Roscrea in Co. Offaly. Organised by Director of Individual Karen McCrann, the academy trains the next generation of our members in leadership and teamwork. This year the tickets have been flying out the (internet) door, which shows the level of interest our members have. There are still some left, so to book yours go to http://la.jciireland.ie.
JCI Donegal, led by Local President Ann Louise McClintock and with project manager Emma Boylan, will host our next national event on Saturday 13th May. President’s Day will see a day of leadership training by world TOYP winner and JCI Global Ambassador John Loughton, as well as the public speaking competition at both novice and advanced level and outdoor team building in the beautiful Donegal countryside. In the evening, glitz and glamour are the order of the night with the National TOYP Awards & Gala Dinner. The whole day will take place in Harvey’s Point resort on Lough Eske in Donegal and after visiting the venue last weekend, I can tell you we are in for a treat. All I can say is if you miss it, you’ll regret it!
It’s off to Basel, Switzerland in late May to this year’s European Conference. With quirky promotional videos, and after speaking with Etienne, Switzerland’s National President, I can tell you we are in for another awesome JCI Europe event, with training, corporate tours, party nights and opportunities to build international relationships all on the cards. I remember my first international event in Leipzig, Germany in 2014 and I can tell you; if you haven’t been to an international event in JCI before, this is what will open your eyes to the possibilities and global community JCI has to offer!
After TOYP in May, the focus will then shift to this year’s Friendly Business Awards. National Director of Business Ronan Neacy has been working quietly in the background (so far!), preparing the groundwork and helping local business officers and presidents to get ready for the project. And what a project it is! This year we will aim again for national coverage and exposure of our project, which in the last few years has gained a reputation in Europe as a perfect example of how JCI can impact its local community. Indeed, JCI Malta, who visited last year, are now running their own FBAs, using Ireland as their model!
Lastly, preparations are well underway in JCI Cork led by Local President Carol O’Donovan, to host this year’s National Convention in October. With venue confirmed, partnerships in place and 60th Anniversary celebrations to plan, Cork have everything in hand and are working hard to beat JCI Galway, who ran such a spectacular event in 2016!
I hope you have stayed with me right to the end! As you can see above, it’s been a jam-packed year so far and we’ve only just gotten started. If I have left something or someone out, then my sincere apologies! There is so much in the pipeline and so much excitement in JCI at the moment. Personally, it is inspiring to me to see so many new members join JCI and get stuck in, with more long-standing members guiding and mentoring them along the way.
And if you have just read the above and are thinking “I’d love to be part of an organisation like this”, then just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch with your nearest branch!
And think to yourself, this time next year, #WhatCouldIBe?
2017 JCI Ireland National President