Category: Alumni Events, Alumni Stories, Campus & Community

Title:The sun shines on Georgetown’s first John Carroll Weekend in Ireland

dancer at banquet

Each spring, the Georgetown University Alumni Association (GUAA) hosts an event called John Carroll Weekend to celebrate the university, its alumni community, and the GUAA’s highest honors: the John Carroll and Patrick Healy Awards. The event, which changes locations each year to showcase a different city, is open to alumni and friends from all class years and each of Georgetown’s schools.

This year, for the first time in its 75-year history, John Carroll Weekend was held in Ireland. 

Always eager for an adventure, 1,100 Hoyas hopped the pond to explore “The Land of Saints and Scholars” from April 18 to 21. The host city of Dublin offered the perfect backdrop for cultural tours, garden walks, intellectual programming, museum visits, and cherished social events, including the President’s Welcome Reception and John Carroll Award Banquet. 

Celebrating friendships, awardees

On Thursday evening, 780 Hoyas gathered at the Guinness Storehouse for the President’s Welcome Reception. Part museum and part event space, the Guinness Storehouse features multiple levels of exhibits about the beer and its long history in Ireland. Attendees learned how to pour the perfect Guinness, danced along to a U2 cover band, and toasted their friendships at the rooftop Gravity Bar. 

On Saturday evening, 650 Hoyas celebrated the John Carroll and Patrick Healy Awardees at the Royal Dublin Society. Attendees at this black-tie gala enjoyed music by local musicians and a surprise performance of traditional Irish drumming and dancing. But the focus was on the outstanding Hoyas who received awards

The John Carroll Award recognizes alumni whose achievements and record of service exemplify the ideals and traditions of Georgetown University and its founder. This year’s winners included: Melissa Bradley (B’89), Peter Croncota (B’83), The Honorable John K. Delaney (L’88, Parent’22), Patrick J. Grant (C’73, L’77, Parent’07,’07,’09), Michelle Shara Mauboussin (B’86, Parent’17,’19), Peter Mellen (C’89, MBA’98, Parent’26,’28). 

The Patrick Healy Award honors friends of the university whose record of service to the Georgetown community and professional achievements exemplify Georgetown University’s ideals and traditions. The 2024 winner was Tony Johnson (Parent’95, ‘97, ‘01), the former Olympian who served as Georgetown rowing coach for many years. 


Luncheon with two of Ireland’s leaders

On Saturday, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and Northern Irish peacebuilder Monica McWilliams headlined a JCW luncheon to reflect on the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles” and to discuss how the peace continues to be sustained 26 years after the Good Friday Agreement. The session was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. 

McWilliams spoke of coming together with Protestant and Catholic women to form a cross-community coalition that ultimately earned seats at the peace table. The women negotiators are credited with ensuring topics such as housing, integrated education, and victims’ rights and reconciliation were included in the Good Friday Agreement. “That’s the value-add that women bring to the table,” said McWilliams. 

Mary Robinson, who served as the first female president of the Republic of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, discussed the risks she took to build bridges between people in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In her inaugural address, Robinson vowed to “extend the hand of friendship and of love” to those in the north, and she went on to visit Northern Ireland more than any past president. 


Tory Pratt (SFS’11) wins Alumni Pitch Competition

Each year at John Carroll Weekend, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance hosts a “Shark Tank-style” pitch competition between three ventures that were created, managed, and led by alumni. 

The winner of this year’s $100,000 investment prize from members of the Georgetown Angel Investment Network was Tory Pratt (SFS’11), founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Company. She designs premium cocktail syrups, mixes, and citrus juices that are handcrafted by a small team in Washington, DC. 

The two other finalists pitching at Medley in downtown Dublin were Doug Grant (MBA’16) of Atlantic Fish Co, which is focused on sustainable seafood, and Shawn O’Connor (SFS’99), of DWUS Inc., which provides comprehensive supports for mental health and education. 

The judges of the sold-out 2024 Alumni Pitch Competition included 2024 John Carroll Award Winner Melissa Bradley (B’89) along with Heather Galloway (SFS’98) of Sollevo, Devon George (B’01) of DMV Capital, and Eric Woods (B’91) of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The event was emceed by GEA President and 2024 John Carroll Award winner Peter Mellen (C’89, MBA’98, Parent’26, ’28). 


Program highlight: Thinking Forward

What do Ted Lasso and Immanuel Kant have in common? What can we do about the memory problems experienced by athletes in contact sports? What can birds tell us about our environmental challenges, and how does climate affect our own wellbeing?

Ten of the university’s most forward-thinking professors came together in Dublin for a special TED Talk-style event. Featured faculty and topics included:

  • Recovering the Brain’s Forgotten Memories – Mark Burns, Ph.D., Georgetown School of Medicine
  • Singing Spirit in the Body: Black Cultural Expression – Anita Gonzalez, Ph.D., Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences and Co-Founder, Racial Justice Institute
  • Ordering Disorder: Governing the World to Come – Charles Kupchan, Ph.D., Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Birds Can Save the World – Peter Marra, Ph.D., Dean, Earth Commons
  • Grape to Glass: Sustainability, AI, & the Global Wine Industry – Michael O’Leary, Ph.D., (Parent’25), McDonough School of Business
  • Social Change & Social Cohesion: The Story of the 21st Century in Ireland – Cóilín Parsons, Ph.D., Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences and Director, Global Irish Studies
  • Believing in Humanity: Lessons from Ted Lasso & Immanuel Kant – Karen Stohr, Ph.D., (Parent’24,’27), Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences
  • Storytelling is not a Luxury: The Power of Intersectional Narrative – Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Ph.D., Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences
  • How Judges (Self) Empower: Fragile Courts Under Authoritarian Pressure – Yvonne Tew, Ph.D., Georgetown University Law Center
  • Mental Health Vulnerabilities on the Frontlines of the Climate Change Crisis – Shabab Wahid, Dr.PH, MPH, School of Health


Program highlight: Frederick Douglass in Ireland

Beginning in the 1790s, a significant number of Black abolitionists traveled to Ireland and other British Isles to raise awareness and support of antislavery work. The most prominent visitor was Frederick Douglass, who spent four months in Ireland at the beginning of Ireland’s Great Hunger in 1845-46 after the publication of his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Douglass was met by enthusiastic crowds and called his time in Ireland “transformative.” His experiences and friendships with important Irish figures helped inform his worldview and shape his work for the rest of his life.

A special event on Friday evening examined this history and the social justice work Douglass’s descendants continue today in Ireland and the U.S., moderated by Anita Gonzalez, Ph.D., professor of Performing Arts and African American Studies at Georgetown and co-founder of Georgetown’s Racial Justice Institute.

The discussion featured Kenneth B. Morris Jr., great-great-great grandson of Frederick and Anna Douglass and co-founder and president of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI); Morris’s mother Nettie Washington Douglass, co-founder and FDFI Chairwoman Emerita; and Dr. Laurence Fenton, writer, editor, and author of Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Black O’Connell (2014); and Celeste-Marie Bernier, Professor of United States and Atlantic Studies and Personal Chair in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. 

In her remarks, Nettie Washington Douglass said “I feel very close to my great-great grandfather when I’m here. I feel how moved he was by being treated in Ireland, for the first time in his life, ‘like a man, not a color.’ It’s something he remembered for the rest of his life.”


Tours in and around Dublin

Each John Carroll Weekend includes special tours and activities around the host city, with a schedule informed by a committee of local alumni. Dublin and the surrounding areas offered plenty of opportunities for exploration, learning, and conversation. 

Georgetown professors led tours dedicated to every interest, from birdwatching to literary history to religious art. Attendees visited places like Marsh’s Library, Croke Park, the James Joyce Center, and the Abbey Theatre; discussed history, architecture, and music; and mastered useful skills like how to mix a perfect Irish Coffee. And the focus wasn’t only on Dublin City. Tours were offered to areas such as Howth, Wicklow, and even Belfast. 


Don’t miss next year’s JCW in Philly

John Carroll Weekend 2025 will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from April 3 to 6, 2025. Here’s your chance to experience this historic city in a whole new light! 

Planning is already underway for curated tours at popular historic sites, off-the-beaten-track attractions, even some Hoya-owned businesses. In addition there will be the thoughtful programs, memorable events, and unique venues that attendees have come to expect at both domestic and international John Carroll Weekends. Stay tuned for more information on the 2025 JCW awardees and the events planned. 


Read more about the luncheon event with Mary Robinson >

Learn more about the Alumni Pitch Competition >

See the full list of activities plus videos from past events >

Read Julia Farr’s reflections on the JCW tradition >