2022 Speakers

FRIDAY

John King Bellassai, JD – President, Council of Scottish Clans & Associations (COSCA)

John King Bellassai is an attorney and management consultant. He is a  graduate of Georgetown University’s College of Arts & Sciences and  the Georgetown University Law Center. 

John’s maternal grandfather, after  who he is named, emigrated to New York City from the little Loch Lomondside town of Killearn (of Rob Roy Fame) in Stirlingshire in 1910.

John’s  interest in his Scottish heritage has been a life-long one. He is  President of the Council of Scottish Clans & Associations (COSCA),  which is essentially the national professional association for the clan societies in America, of which there are some 140. A Past President of  the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, DC, John is currently Vice  President of The National Capital Tartan Day Committee, Inc, Past Chancellor (in-house legal counsel) of the American Clan Gregor, Society, Inc. (ACGS). He  and his wife, Judith Walton, live and work in Washington, DC.

Susan R. Miller – New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

Susan R. Miller is the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Director of Programs; editor of the NYG&B’s New York Researcher magazine; a managing editor of the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer. She has researched her New York and New England families for more than 25 years. Susan organizes the New York State Family History Conferences and has presented genealogical lectures at national and regional conclaves. Beyond genealogy, Sue is a life-long sailor (racing and cruising) and Past Commodore of the Manhasset Bay and Frostbite Yacht Clubs.

Charles L. Sherwood

Charles L. Sherwood lives in Denver and is recently retired from full time employment, having spent over43 years as an attorney and oil & gas professional.

Charlie has been active in Scottish cultural groups for over 20 years. Charlie is or has been on the Executive Board of the Clan Scott Society (President 2011-2015, 2020-present), Scottish Club of Tulsa past-President), Colorado St Andrew’s Society, and Council of Scottish Clans and Associations.

Charlie first visited relatives in the Scottish Borders as a child in the 1960’s and has made numerous trips to Scotland since. Charlie and his wife Dona are collectors of Scottish Malt whisky and were co-founders of the Oklahoma Malt Whisky Society. Charlie has taken formal training in single malts and he and Dona frequently hold charitable whisky tastings.

SATURDAY

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Professor Emeritus Sir Thomas Martin Devine – Kt, OBE, BA, PhD, DLitt, HonD Univ (Strathclyde, 2006), Hon DLitt (Queen’s, Belfast, 2001), Hon DLitt (Abertay, Dundee, 2001), FRHistS, FSAScot, FRSE, Hon MRIA, FBA

Tom Devine, is the Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and
Palaeography in the University of Edinburgh, the world’s oldest and most
prestigious chair in the field. Before then he was Glucksman Research Professor
of Irish and Scottish Studies at Aberdeen and Professor of Scottish History at
Strathclyde ,where he also became Deputy Principal in the 1990s.

He is the author or editor of over forty books, several of which have become
international best sellers, and around 100 articles in academic journals and book
collections.His most renowned work is The Scotland Trilogy, an epic three
volume series of over 1600 pages in total , published by PenguinRandom House,
on the history of the Scottish people at home and across the world since the
sixteenth century.

Sir Tom Devine also has a high media profile and contributes regularly to
newspapers, social media, periodicals, radio and television both at home and
abroad. He was awarded the Senior Public Engagement Prize of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh(RSE),Scotland National Academy, in 2010 for his many
contributions as a leading ‘public intellectual’.

He has received 26 prizes, honorary degrees, and other recognitions , both
nationally and internationally, during his career. Most notably in 2001,with the
Nobel Laureate,the late Sir James Black ,inventor of beta blockers, he was
awarded the Royal Medal, Scotland’s supreme academic accolade ,by HM The
Queen on the recommendation of the RSE. In 2014 he was knighted ‘for services
to the study of Scottish history’, the first scholar to be honoured for that reason.
Four years later, the Joint Committee on History and Archives of the Houses of
Lords and Commons of the UK Parliament bestowed on him its prestigious
Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sir Tom has also achieved the rare distinction for a humanities scholar of being
elected to all three of the national academies in the British Isles for which he is
eligible:RSE(FRSE),Royal Irish Academy(HonMRIA) and the British
Academy(FBA).

The Times noted in 2013 that ‘Tom Devine is as close to a national bard of
Scotland as the nation has’, while, for Scottish Field, in 2014, ‘Sir Tom Devine is
the rock star of Caledonian historians whose work in unraveling Scottish
identity makes him de facto the father of the nation.’ The Financial Times
concluded in 2021 that Devine is ‘Scotland’s most distinguished historian since
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)’.

 

Camilla G. Hellman, MBE – President, American Scottish Foundation

Camilla Hellman’s career has been transatlantic relations, undertaking projects both in Britain and the United States to further  collaboration between the two countries.

Camilla joined the American-Scottish Foundation in 2009 as Development Director, becoming  Executive Director in 2012 and was elected President in 2017. In addition to increasing the ASF’s  charitable work, Camilla has developed diverse event programs, often involving exhibits and performances, with a strong multimedia platform.

Camilla represents the ASF on the National Tartan Day New York Committee. Camilla serves on the Board of The Foreign Press Association and Make Music New York.

In 2007, Camilla was honored by HM Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the MBE for services to British-American relations.

Gus Noble, OBE – PresidentChicago Scots

Gus Noble, OBE was born in 1969 in Dundee, Scotland. He grew up in the Duns, in the Scottish Borders. In 1992, after graduating from the University of Stirling, Gus moved to Chicago, where he worked for the British Consulate General for seven years. 

During this time he  concentrated on developing UK-US trade and investment. In 1999, Gus completed a Business to Business Marketing Strategy course at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Following 1999’s devolution of Government authorities in the United Kingdom, Gus established and operated the first overseas office of the Welsh Assembly Government in Chicago. Gus took up his current appointment in August 2004. 

Gus serves on the Board of the Admiral at the Lake and the Rosehill Cemetery Reserve Fund. Gus supports Newcastle United Football Club and plays electric bass guitar in a Scottish-American honky-tonk band. Gus is married to Aisha. They have two sons, Bobby and Langston.

William Robert Petrie – Chair, Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada (CASSOC)

William (Bill) is a Toronto native with primarily a career in Information Technology, Business Analysis and Knowledge Architecture.   After spending several decades in Quebec, William returned to the Toronto area where he now provides corporate training, science grant advisory services and audio/visual consulting.

William, as a tenor, has toured several times with choirs for performances in France (Notre Dame), Vatican City, Wales, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy.   Performance tours in Ireland and Scotland are currently on hold. 

William combines his paternal Scottish heritage of MacGregors through roots back to Edinburgh in the early 1800s with United Empire Loyalists (Merritts and Hamiltons) on his maternal side. He is a member of the Clan Gregor Society – Canada Council and co-editor of the Maple Leaf MacGregor newsletter (www.mapleleafmacgregor.ca).  

In the past, William has served on the Senate of York University and the IT Curriculum Advisory Committee for the University of Toronto Engineering Faculty. In addition to being Chairperson of CASSOC, William is also the editor of An Drochaid – The Bridge, CASSOC’s quarterly newsletter. 

Maggie McEwan – Senior Vice President, Scottish Studies Foundation

Maggie McEwan was born close to London, England and spent many summers in Balloch sailing on Loch Lomond with her Scottish cousins. Maggie lived her teenage years in Southport, Lancashire and later worked and studied in Liverpool. Maggie emigrated to Toronto, Canada as the first stop on her working journey around the world. Having recently received notice that she had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, she quickly found work in the computer lab at the University of Toronto, as a Systems Analyst on their new mainframe system.  

She has a son and family in Toronto, a daughter and family in Chicago and now lives in the countryside around Toronto and Guelph.

Maggie’s wish to nurture and preserve the Scottish heritage and culture in Canada led her to return to Scottish Country Dancing and to join the Boards of various non-profit Scottish Societies.

She became a member of the Scottish Studies Foundation some years ago and was quickly invited to join the Board of Directors.

Maggie is a past President of the Foundation, Canadian Commissioner  for the Clan MacEwen Society and a volunteer for Fergus Highland Games.

Michael Reid – American Scottish Foundation

Michael Reid, a member of the American-Scottish Foundation board and several of its committees, has long been active in Scottish-American affairs, having also served on the regional council for Clan Donnachaidh Society and the board of New York Caledonian Club, the planning committee for SNACC, as well as of the Cameron Scottish Dancers, and is active in two other New York City-based Scottish dance groups.  

His working life has included nearly two decades of supporting senior executives and boards at nonprofits in the education and healthcare fields as well as for profit firms in the financial technology arena.  But Reid has also had success as a performer, singing with New York Grand Opera, New Jersey State Opera, National Grand Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York Philharmonic, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble for Early Music, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Renee Fleming, Soupy Sales, the Muppets and many more artists.  He has also provided a home for a succession of rescue dogs, mostly miniature Schnauzers.