2022 Speakers

FRIDAY

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Morrow, KStJ, QC DL

The Very Reverend Canon Dr. Joseph John Morrow, KStJ, QC, DL is the current Lord Lyon King of Arms. He was appointed to the role on 17 January 2014 and sworn in on 27 February 2014 before the
Lord President of the Court of Session. As such, he is both a judicial officer and a member of the Queen’s Household for Scotland. Lyon Morrow is also a member of the bar and President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.

 

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.

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.

Keith MacGregor, Clan Gregor Society of Scotland

Keith MacGregor is the North American Representative for the Clan Gregor Society of Scotland and has served on the Society’s Council for twenty six years. He is co-administrator of the MacGregor Surname Project/FTDNA and tour director/guide for the clan’s International Gathering 2022 in Scotland.

He has organized and led eight years of professional archaeological outings in Glenorchy and Glenstray, the original MacGregor homelands, which uncovered a trove of information about the early clan’s medieval settlements and were published for the Society during “The Year of Archaeology – Scotland 2017”. He is currently involved in the preservation of the carved stone monuments of the MacGregor chiefs, discovered at Dalmally church in Argyll. Keith’s professional career in media spans decades as Executive Director for the Fox Broadcasting Networks, New York.

Cameron Steer – American Scottish Foundation

My name is Cameron Steer and I am a young Scot living in Rochester, New York. At the age of 17 I was very fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to come to the United States of America to study at Medaille University while representing the school at sports on a scholarship, though I came for Soccer, I quickly picked up Lacrosse too and now have earned a place in the Scotland National Lacrosse setup. 

Around my sophomore year of college, I was given the opportunity to write and produce media content of the American Scottish Foundation and represent them as Youth Ambassador. They provided me with many media opportunities and experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise, as well as giving me a platform to explore and learn about my Scottish heritage and culture, also introducing me to the Scottish-American Community here on the east coast. This has been really special to be a part of and I’m very thankful for the kindness of the American Scottish Foundation in looking after me and particularly how being a part of this great organization as well as the North American Scottish Community as a whole has helped me in my transition to life here in America, and while I’m over 4000 miles from my family and home in Scotland, I have been welcomed with open arms and made to feel right at home in the US. The greatest achievement of my time here in America has been welcoming my son Colton with my beautiful wife. I have loved life in America so far, and it has provided me so many beautiful life experiences at such a young age.  I am so very grateful for the Scottish-American Community and they way they’ve received me. 

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)’.

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine

Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine is the twenty-fifth head of the Clan since Labhran, name forefather of the MacLarens (MacLabhruinn) eight hundred years ago. The Clan is one of the most ancient of the Gaelic kindreds and its line of chiefs descends from King Lorn Mor of the 6th century. Donald succeeded his father in 1966. He became Convenor of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs in 2018.

The Chief’s home is at the Kirkton, Balquhidder in the heart of the ancient dùthchas, the patrimony of the Chiefly House of Clan Labhran.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Alan D BeckSenior Vice President, Robert Burns World Federation

Beck studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of
Scotland). He later won the entrance scholarship to the Postgraduate Opera Course at the Royal Northern College of Music. In 1995 Alan won the British Wagner Society Singing Competition at Covent Garden and was subsequently awarded the society’s bursary. Later that year, he also won the Wolfgang Wagner Singing Competition in London.

Alan has sung all over the world in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Wellington,
Christchurch, Aukland, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Tampa, Houston, Vancouver, Winnepeg, Toronto,
Mexico City, Santo Domingo, Aviles, Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, Vilnius, Brussels, Vienna, Budapest, Belfast, London and all over Scotland.

Alan has taught singing for many years for organisations such as the Junior Royal Northern College of
Music, the Junior Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Youth Choir of Scotland, and he is
currently the Vocal Coach for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus. Alan is a great fan of Robert Burns and delivers the Immortal Memory numerous times each year. He is currently the President of The Greenock Burns Club (The Mother Club) and lives in Greenock with his wife Polly and their two sons.

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.

Paul Johnston – President of Clan Johnston/e America

Paul Johnston retired in 2020 after more than 45 years in the residential building products industry. This included 26 years as Product Manager for a large Canadian housing manufacturing company where he was involved in the design, manufacturing, and sales of a variety of housing components. This led to a very successful program exporting housing to Japan.

Paul has been President of Clan Johnston/e in America (CJA) since 2017, which serves both the USA and Canada. This is the official Clan Johnston/e for North America as recognized by the Chief: The Right Honourable Earl of Annandale and Hartfell. Paul also serves as Chief Commissioner to Lord Patrick Annandale for North America.

Within CJA, Paul chairs the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) whose purpose is to identify, document, and prioritize CJA issues and needs, and coordinate solution and resources to address them. The SPC is the Executive Committee for CJA and manages the strategy and business affairs of the Organization.

Paul’s Scottish roots come from both his paternal and maternal grandfathers who emigrated from Scotland to Ontario in the early 1900’s. He enjoys a variety of outdoor sports and activities as well as the study of his family genealogy. Paul and his wife Nikki live in Thornhill, Ontario. He can be reached at: President@ClanJohnstone.org.

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.

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. 

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.

Erin Roberts – Founder of the National Capital Highland Games in Ontario

As a former highland dancer for over fifteen years, and highland athletics athlete who picked her first caber while posted to Washington in 2015, Erin Roberts had a wonderful experience of being welcomed into the highland community in the USA. However, upon her return to Canada in 2017, she found it very difficult to find a highland games that welcomed female throwers that weren’t already established in the elite category. So, how do we get better if there is nowhere to compete?

In 2019, she grabbed hold of her dream to create a highland games inclusive to all levels of fitness and found a home within the Capital Fair in Ottawa, Ontario. This venue offered the use all of the essential items needed to launch this kind of event such as; the land to host, security and support from the board of directors and those expensive porta-potties! The rest of the logistics, networking and execution was up to Erin to deliver. After a lot of hurdles, road blocks and conversations that ended in “but, why not?”, the National Capital Highland Games was created. In 2019, they proudly had over 100 highland dancers compete and 45 athletes in the highland athletics competition. Half of those athletes were new to the sport and more than half of them were women. To celebrate this success and show their appreciation, they paid the women better prize money than the men. “We built it – and they came”. They found the business model that worked and they just held another successful event on August 20, 2022.

Jim Sim – President of the Midwest Pipe Band Association

Jim Sim started drumming lessons with his Father at the age of 8. He
worked his way up the solo ranks and eventually was placed in the Open. His early
influences in drumming were from his father and John Kirkwood Sr. from St. Catharines,
Ontario. In 1975 along with Pipe Major Ian Swinton, the new Midlothian Scottish Pipe
Band was formed. In 1985 the band was promoted to Grade 1 which achieved one of the
band’s goals which was to go from Grade 4 to Grade 1 in ten years using mostly players
taught by Ian and Jim. Midlothian won many titles several times including the U.S. Open
Championship, and the North American Championship and several placings in the top 6
at the World Championships.


Jim retired from active playing after the 2009 season to devote more time to
teaching and judging. Jim has taught many young players who have gone on to win
many contests of their own as well as many of the bands in North America. He is
currently a Full Adjudicator and President of the MidWest Pipe Band Association.

Bob Creighton – President of Scots in New England

Robert Blake (Bob) Creighton, is Glasgow born, a former pupil of Glasgow’s St Mungo’s Academy, and a graduate
of that other fine city institution, the University of Strathclyde. Bob came to the US in the 1980s. Originally Chicago based, he relocated to Connecticut in the late 1980s and has been active in Scottish-American activities ever since.

In a professional capacity, Bob’s company, MentorShop, has supported many of the
more prominent Scottish organizations and institutions in the US including the Scottish
Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland,
Scottish Development International, Scottish Council for Development & Industry, City
of Glasgow, Communities Scotland, Scotland’s Super College – City of Glasgow
College, most Scottish universities, Glasgow School of Art, Royal Incorporation of
Architects in Scotland, and individuals and companies in virtually every Scottish
business sector.


Over the years, Bob has also supported numerous Scottish not-for-profit interests in the
Americas including the National Trust for Scotland and Glasgow’s Riverside Museum.
He pioneered the Scottish schools’ program Local Heroes – Be All You Can Be and
continues to provide on-going support to Scotland’s Saltire Foundation participants.
Bob tells us that his interest in the subject of Scots in the US – initially encouraged at
Strathclyde under the instruction of the well-known historian, Sir Tom Devine – was
reinforced when he became a regular participant at the Scottish Coalition’s annual
gathering in Sarasota, FL, in the 1990s.

The Rt. Hon. Viscount Dunrossil

Andrew Morrison, 3rd Viscount Dunrossil was born London in 1953. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he came to US in 1981. He has made San Antonio, Texas his home for the last 30 years being engaged in the banking and financial services industry. Professionally, he served as the former Chairman of the American Financial Services Association. Andrew’s grandfather, the 1st Viscount, was Speaker of the House of Commons; and then subsequently Governor- General of Australia. Andrew’s father, the 2nd Viscount, was a career diplomat, Governor of Bermuda and Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles (in Scotland). Of particular note, his mother, Mavis Dawn Spencer-Payne, retired as chairman of the Gloucestershire County Council on her 80th birthday, after more than 30 years on the council.

The Morrisons are a distinguished Highland family. The Viscount’s grandfather’s older brother was first chief of Clan Morrison in 350 years. Today, Andrew serves as Chieftain of Clan Morrison for North America – a hereditary position first granted to his father; and he serves as an Executive committee member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. The Viscount previously served as Chairman of the Society of Scottish Armigers. Today he is their Vice Chair, and the Lord Lyon serves as their President. He is on the Advisory Board for COSCA and an Honorary Patron for the American Scottish Foundation. He is married with four children.

Rory ‘Gus’ Sinclair – Piper

Rory ‘Gus’ Sinclair has been doing music in one way or another all his life. To begin
with, there was a piano in the family home in Deep River and he noodled on the
instrument almost daily till he left home for University. While in Deep River he took
lessons on the Great Highland Bagpipe and the Saxophone. In addition, he played
clarinet and ukulele in two folk groups – self-taught on both. While at University he took
up guitar – learning on his roommate’s instrument. The guitar has been a constant in
his life ever since.

In 1991 Rory ‘Gus’ took up his bagpipes again and competed at Highland Games with
some success in Piobaireachd [classical form] as well as light music. Since taking up
his piping again he has composed over 20 original pipe tunes and has produced 4 CD’s
of pipe music both traditional and with other instruments in genres and songs that have
never seen pipes: Bob Marley, Chuck Berry, Cajun, Calypso inter alia.

Rory is a member of the Piobaireachd Society and has attended their annual
Conference for many years. In 2006 Rory presented a paper on 3 important piping
artifacts that have turned up in Canada, the most important of which is the chanter that
belonged to the legendary piper, bard and composer of Piobaireach, Iain Dall MacKay,
the Blind Piper of Gairloch. This chanter now has pride of place in the Museum of the
Piping Centre in Glasgow.

Rory ‘Gus’ is a community activist and volunteers for several not-for-profit organizations.
He is a retired residential contractor but still consults and recommends trades.

Alan McCall – Scots’ Charitable Society

Alan McCall is currently the President of the Scots’ Charitable Society, the oldest charitable organization in the western hemisphere, founded in 1657. The society exists to assist individuals of Scottish heritage with financial hardship relief as well as college scholarships to undergraduate Scots.

Born into a family of eight to William and Anne McCall who emigrated from Glasgow in 1952, Alan has proudly preserved his heritage by organizing many Scottish events in the Boston area. Before becoming president, he was the Events Committee chair and the Scholarship Committee chair for the Scots’ Charitable Society.

David Radley – Fergus Scottish Festival

I am a retired Aircraft Designer, living near Eden Mills, Ontario. I have always been interested in my Scottish heritage (my mother was a Baird) and I am on the standing council with the Clan Baird Society. I first became involved with the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games in 2003 as a Sponsor’s representative and then started volunteering with the Festival the following year. I joined the Board of Directors in 2012 and have been on the Board for 9 of the last ten years and president for 8 of those 9 years