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Thomas J. Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Since assuming this position in 1997, Donohue has built the Chamber into a lobbying and political powerhouse with expanded influence across the globe.
During his tenure, the Chamber has helped secure business victories on Capitol Hill, in the regulatory agencies, in politics, in courts of law and in the court of public opinion, and before governments around the world.
In an era of economic and fiscal challenges, Donohue has led efforts to expand trade and domestic energy production, rebuild America’s infrastructure, combat an avalanche of new regulations, protect intellectual property, revitalize capital markets, and aggressively advocate legal, tax, education, and entitlement reform. In addition, he has vigorously challenged attacks on free enterprise, while working to protect the business community’s right to speak and participate in the political and policy affairs of the nation.
Under Donohue’s leadership, the Chamber has emerged as a major political force in races for the Senate and the House of Representatives. As part of this bipartisan effort, millions of grassroots business advocates, as well as the Chamber’s federation of state and local chambers and industry associations, mobilize in support of pro-business candidates.
Donohue established the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which advances significant legal reforms in the courts, at the state and federal levels, and in elections for state attorneys general and Supreme Court judges. He has dramatically expanded the activities of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s law firm, which represents the business community’s interests in the courts. And he has reinvigorated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which houses Hiring Our Heroes, a program that identifies job opportunities for returning veterans and military spouses.
Previously, Donohue served for 13 years as president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, the national organization of the trucking industry. Earlier in his career, he was deputy assistant postmaster general of the United States and vice president of development at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
Born in New York City, Donohue earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s degree in business administration from Adelphi University. He holds honorary degrees from Adelphi, St. John’s, Marymount, Bradley, and Pepperdine universities, as well as the National University of Ireland at Maynooth.
He is a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award and the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Area Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He holds the highest civilian honor from Germany and South Korea, as well as the Order of the Crown (Commander Class) presented by the Crown Prince of Belgium.
Donohue and his late wife, Liz, have three sons and five grandchildren.
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The ‘next parish over’ is how previous generations of Irish men and women described their connections to the U.S. With over 32 million Americans claiming Irish descent, the bonds of affection between the two countries remain deep. Forged over centuries from the flow of Irish emigrants to the U.S., these bonds have been nurtured and strengthened over succeeding generations through familial ties, culture, politics, and of course through our intertwined economies.
Today, our historic partnership is poised for an even brighter future, thanks to our common values, shared interests, and joint commitment to free enterprise.
Over the course of the past several decades, Ireland has emerged as a world leader in R&D and high-value manufacturing. Ireland is also on the cutting edge of the digital economy. In this context, Ireland is among the most attractive destinations for American investment. Ireland has one of the world’s most open economies. Through its access to the EU single market, a competitive tax regime, and by embracing globalisation, Ireland has become a centre for global trade in both goods and services that delivers substantial value for foreign investors.
Recent years have seen increased challenges to our free enterprise approach, which has greatly benefited our citizens, companies, and consumers alike. Free trade has fuelled our shared prosperity, but it is now being challenged on both sides of the Atlantic by those who view globalization as a threat. Against that backdrop, our respective business communities must strongly champion the benefits of trade, investment, and innovation.
In the context of Brexit, it is clear that Ireland will become even more important as a bridge for U.S. policymakers to Europe and for U.S. companies seeking access to the EU market. The Brexit challenge will also require closer collaboration between the American and Irish business communities, especially as Ireland becomes increasingly important in the decision-making process in Brussels. Many U.S. firms use Ireland as a gateway to access the EU and other international markets, and will continue to do so no matter how Brexit ultimately turns out.
With our shared history and our inextricably linked economies, Ireland and the U.S. developed a deep and enduring economic partnership. We look forward to continuing to seek out opportunities and to meet future challenges together.
Thomas J. Donohue is CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Danny McCoy is CEO of Ibec, the group that represents Irish business.
You can read the piece in its entirety on Ireland's Sunday Business Post website. The piece originally ran on January 28, 2018.
It's time for Washington to turn its attention to tacking the next big to-do item: large-scale modernization of our infrastructure.