16 May 2012 NUI Maynooth formally recognised the achievements of influential Irish American Thomas J Donohue, in an Honorary Conferring ceremony which was held on 16 May. Thomas J. Donohue is president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, which, with over 3 million corporate members, is the world’s largest business federation. Dr Donohue received his Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Professor Philip Nolan, President, NUI Maynooth, who described him as “as a model of strong and principled leadership, a consistent proponent of individual rights and deeply committed to education”.
Under his leadership, the US Chamber of Commerce has become a lobbying and political force to be reckoned with in the United States and across the globe. During Donohue’s tenure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber has helped secure many legislative victories, including major tax cuts, more sensible workplace and environmental regulations, and increased funding for transportation. Since assuming his post in September 1997, Donohue has revitalized the organization, increasing its membership, tripling its budget, and expanding its influence in Washington and around the world.
Born in New York City, Mr Donohue earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and an MBA from Adelphi University. Among his early positions, he served as a Vice President at Fairfield University, an executive in the US Postal Service, and 13 years as president and CEO of the American Trucking Association. He was a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce for some time, and rose to lead the federation from September 1997.
Since that time, as The New York Times writes, “through Mr. Donohue’s efforts, the Chamber has become the most visible and effective business lobby in the country.” According to the Washington Post, “He has succeeded on many measures. Today the Chamber is by far the most muscular business lobby group in Washington. From its historic headquarters opposite the White House it wields huge political influence and last year (2010) took in $189m in contributions and grants, roughly five times its pre-Donohue inflows.”
In his citation, Professor Lawrence Taylor said, “While unabashedly pro-business , Mr Donohue has been able to work with, as well as against, his political opponents, for example collaborating with Michelle Obama on a very successful program securing jobs for returning veterans. He has also brought his abilities to bear in a wide range of causes and charities, from the Boy Scouts to a program feeding the hungry in DC. He is an impassioned defender of the rights and dignity of immigrants, and serves on a variety of boards, including those of corporate giant Union Pacific and Marymount University.”
Speaking at a breakfast meeting with An Taoiseach in Iveagh House last year, Mr. Donohue reflected on the strong economic ties between Ireland and the US and noted that “as each of our countries struggle to repair and grow our own economies, we must never forget that our destinies are tied together.”
Tom Donohue is a 2009 recipient of the Sir Michael Smurfit Lifetime Achievement Award presented by ICCUSA and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by the National Ethnic Coalition.
Ends 16th May 2012
Further information from:
NUI Maynooth +353 1 708 3363
Deirdre Watters: +353 86 803 5274