Key Note Opening Dinner Event

1718-2018 Ulster Scots Diaspora Reunion & Conference opening keynote will be held on August 14, 2018 from 6:00 PM -9:00 PM. The event will feature a cocktail hour and dinner  in Bowdoin's Main Lounge. This special event is possible with support from:

Northern Ireland Bureau, Maine Ulster Scots Project, and St. Andrews Society of Maine support.

This special event is exclusively available to 5 day ticket holders only as seating is limited.

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Norman Houston, Director, Northern Ireland Bureau

Norman Houston, Director, Northern Ireland Bureau

Norman Houston

Norman Houston is the Director/Counsellor of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, D.C. Norman has over 38 years of experience working as a senior official in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, including 13 years working in a diplomatic role.

Norman's early career included spells with the Industrial Development Board (i.e. the predecessor to Invest NI), where he managed the organization's public relations campaigns in Asia Pacific and its trade development activities in Continental Europe. This is his second posting to Washington, D.C.; he was the First Secretary at the Bureau from 1998 to 2002.

Norman has spearheaded the Executive's international strategy in the U.S. and Canada since 2007; during Northern Ireland’s longest period of continuous devolved government in over 40 years. Norman was the first Northern Ireland diplomat to escort the First Minister and deputy First Minister into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush in December 2007. Norman facilitated similar meetings with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during their tenure in the White House, as well as with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has built up the Bureau's profile on Capitol Hill and with various branches of the U.S. government, including the White House, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Norman has also developed the Bureau's footprint in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles and New York.

Norman was born and raised in Larne, County Antrim. He has an adult daughter and son. He has a First Class Honors Degree in Modern History from the Open University.

Journalist, Author & Keynote Colin Woodard

Journalist, Author & Keynote Colin Woodard

Colin Woodard

Colin Woodard is a historian and journalist and author of five books including American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America and The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier. A longtime foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chronicle of Higher Education, he has reported from more than 50 counties and seven continents, including five years in Eastern Europe during and after the collapse of the Soviet empire. He is currently State and National Affairs Writer at the Portland Press Herald – where he won a 2012 George Polk Award and was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist – and is a contributing editor at Politico.

A frequent public speaker, he has been a guest on CNN, PBS News Hour, MSNBC’s Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, NPR’s Weekend Edition and On Point, BBC World Service, and other national programs and cable history documentaries. His third book, The Republic of Pirates, was the basis of the NBC series “Crossbones” and inspired an major video game by French software maker Ubisoft. He has written for dozens of major publications, from The Economist to Smithsonian and reviews books for the Washington Post.

Woodard has a B.A. in history from Tufts University and an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago, where he won the 1997 Morton Kaplan Prize for best thesis (on the causes of ethnic conflict in the Balkans.) He was an exchange student in the Fall of 1989 at the Karl Marx University of Economics in Budapest and a Pew Fellow in International Journalism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently a trustee of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, and serves on the advisory board of the University of Maine’s Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed pubic policy journal.