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.

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.

Tessa Spencer – National Records of Scotland

Tessa Spencer is a history graduate from the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow where she studied medieval history and the history of medicine respectively. She is a professional archivist and has worked at the National Records of Scotland for nineteen years in various roles.


In her current post as Head of Outreach and Learning, she is responsible for education in the archives, to connect and engage everyone with Scotland’s history, heritage and culture. She also facilitates access to the archives for higher education collaborations and partnerships.

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.

Graeme Mackenzie MA – Chairman, Association of Highland Clans and Societies

Graeme Mackenzie is a Scottish historian and genealogist with over thirty years’ experience researching and writing about the Highland clans. He studied history at Cambridge University and worked initially as a rock music writer and broadcaster, developing an interest in country and bluegrass music whilst helping organize the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival. Graeme is the Founder of Highland Roots.

In 2013 he published “Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd: Clan and Family History in the Highlands of Scotland”, and he followed that up in 2015 with “Highland Clan and Family Histories: A Guide to Published Histories, Genealogies & Family Trees”. 

His latest publication is “Septs, Septnames, and Surnames of the Highland Clans”. He’s the founding Chairman of the Association of Highland Clans and Societies, which has a membership representing over 40 clans, and serves on the Scottish Government’s “Clans and Ancestry Forum”. He travels regularly in North America.

Lt. Governor John Cherry, Jr. – Chairman of The Trustees, St Andrew’s Society of Detroit

John Cherry became Michigan’s Lt. Governor in 2003 when he was elected along with Governor Jennifer Granholm. Together, they served as Michigan’s Executive leaders for the constitutionally allotted eight years. Before that Lt. Governor Cherry served the people of Michigan for more than 20 years as a State Representative and as State Senator. 

For  six of those years, he served as the Senate Democratic Leader. During  his nearly three decades of state public service, John Cherry developed a  reputation as a fair-minded legislator who forged relationships with  other legislators regardless of political party. During his service, John authored and co-sponsored several Michigan laws dealing with  political reform, environmental protection and conservation.

The  Cherry Commission on Higher Education & Economic Growth brought higher education into the larger discussion of creating and retaining  jobs in Michigan. It was also recognized nationally as a road map for  higher education policy, and it won praises from President Obama when he came to Michigan to unveil his National Community College Initiative.  During his tenure as Lt. Governor, John Cherry was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saginaw Valley State University, an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Central Michigan University and a gubernatorial appointment to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact.