a Newbridge woman has been appointed to head up charity Concern’s fundraising drive in the USA.
Aisling Studdert, originally from College Park, was appointed to the position of Concern Worldwide US Fundraising Manager in March.
She was previously responsible for digital fundraising and has worked out of the New York office for the last 12 months, from where her new role will also be based.
“My husband, Mehdi, grew up in Mali. His father is from Mali and his mother is French. We met when I was working for Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam,” she said.
“His father came from a poor background but managed to get educated and won scholarships all the way from primary to secondary school and on to France where he met his wife and Mehdi’s mother.
“His parents went back to Mali 30 years ago and are now running a primary and secondary school in Bamako. And I see how his father has returned to his own country, giving back to the country what he managed to achieve. It’s a real example of how when one person’s life is changed, then many others are also changed,” Aisling explained.
Aisling spent four and a half years in Amsterdam working for Tourism Ireland before moving to New York (where her sister also lives), where she spent another 4 and a half years still promoting Ireland.
“Seven years ago I visited Mali. Of course I had heard and read about extreme poverty but had never seen it first-hand. What I saw in Mali hit me and I think the seed was sown. When I came to work in New York I saw some terrible poverty and it was then that I began doing some volunteering for Concern. I did the four mile Fun Run in Central Park.
“Also, my Dad, who is a retired Army Officer, worked in Lebanon and the Congo and that gave the family a sense of the importance of development aid. It’s important that people help people who are in dire need,” Aisling said.
Aisling is a past pupil of the Holy Family Secondary School and St Conleth’s Primary School. She studied European Studies, and French and German at UCC before spending a year in Italy where she taught English in Parma. “I remember people from Concern calling to our school in Newbridge and I also did the Concern Fast one year,” she recalled.
There are 50 people working in the Concern New York office, which is now 20 years old. There is a separate US Concern board which is made up of 23 people, who come from a wide range of industrial and commercial life in the US.
“We run different fundraising events, some of the main ones being the Winter Ball and the Spring Fun Run in Central Park. We are all the time looking to build our donor base so we can help more people.
“This year we hope to have over 1,000 people taking part in our Spring Fun Run in Central Park, which raised €230,000 last year for our work in Haiti. This year’s donations will be applied where they are most needed.”