LEAP™ (Leadership & Executive Acceleration Program) is all about helping ambitious professional Irish and Irish-American women living in the Greater New York/Tri-State area get more opportunity — to have a voice in important discussions - to have a seat at the table with the decision makers, and to promote a culture of women helping other women.

We encourage professional Irish and Irish-American women from the Irish community in the Greater New York area to apply.

With support from the Irish government, the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) developed this leadership and professional development program to advance participants career goals, and personal growth. Working in teams, LEAP in the Community inspires women to channel their collective skills towards real world social problems – making the New York City community better for all.

Program members are professionals and entrepreneurs at various stages of their careers. We encourage professional Irish and Irish-American women from the Irish community in the Greater New York area to apply.

LEAP™ is tailored to:

  • Increase advancement opportunities for Irish and Irish-American women in their field of choice

  • Support professional development of Irish citizens in New York

  • Improve capability of Irish community organizations

  • Promote connectivity between Irish and Irish-American professional and cultural associations and organizations

Key Program Objectives

Program participants will:

  • Improve their leadership skills and business acumen with a better understanding of team-building, talent management, conflict resolution and goal setting.

  • Enhance their personal brand and influence in an organization.

  • Polish and improve their negotiation skills.

  • Improve their communication skills by confidently presenting their vision in clear messages that engage others

  • Tackle real business challenges in order to make a measurable difference in the Irish community

  • Expand their personal perspectives through a deep understanding of themselves, their team, and their business partners.

  • Build a powerful network that will help them to sustain their development during and after the program.

LEAP™ Executive Board

Mary McEvoy, Co-founder & Director

Mary McEvoy is currently Senior Director, Global Procurement at PepsiCo located in Purchase, New York where she has global responsibility for sweetener procurement. Mary has held positions of increasing responsibility in R&D and procurement spanning ingredients and packaging during her 19 year career at PepsiCo.

 Mary is actively involved in non-profit organizations and is the former co-chair of the New York chapter of the Irish International Business Network. She is also the co-founder and director of LEAP, a novel leadership acceleration program which is sponsored by the Irish government through the Emigrant Support Program which links Irish and Irish American female professionals with community organizations to solve real business challenges. She also serves on the advisory board of Self Help Africa and the board of WPEO (Women Presidents’ Educational Organization), a regional partner of WBENC which is the nation’s leading advocate for women-owned businesses.


Susan O'Brien, Co-founder & Director

Susan is Founder & CEO of Smigin, a language learning company with a unique focus on conversation skills. Having lived and worked in 8 countries, Susan realized that there was nothing on the market that helped users with simple, everyday conversation as most products focused heavily on grammar and structure. As an Irish entrepreneur living in NYC, Susan has grown Smigin to have users in over 175 countries.

Susan has held executive positions in both public and private companies in the USA and Europe. With 15 years of Sales & Marketing experience in over 30 countries globally Susan has an innate knowledge of global sales strategies.

Susan is a board member of the Irish International Business Network, NYC. She is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post on the topics of startups and entrepreneurship.


Kelly Hoey, Senior Advisor

Kelly Hoey is the author of Build Your Dream Network (January 2017 / Tarcher Perigee).

Kelly’s career story is one transformation, and can only be explained by her unique ability to tap into networks and make valuable connections. Her career started in corporate law, eventually transitioning to the management side of Big Law. A chance opportunity in 2009 to work with a visionary leader sparked her transition from earning a paycheck to seeking equity. Co-founding a startup accelerator then an interim CMO role with an emerging tech company are just part of her journey of reinvention as an author, influencer and investor. In addition to her portfolio of angel investments, she is a limited partner in two venture capital fundsand an advisor to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. On top of her professional pursuits, Kelly is the Chief Tech Ambassador for the YWCA of NYC’s Girls Geek Club. She has appeared on CNBC’s Power Pitch, contributed to publications such as Fast Company and Inc., and works with inclusive companies including Comcast and Capital One.   

Mary Ann Pierce, Senior Adviser

For twenty years, Mary Ann Pierce has fused the Internet to events. As Founder and CEO of MAP Digital, she co-created with her global banking clients, MetaMeetings, a compliant and interoperable FinTech event management platform that produces immersive attendee experiences and content marketing for financial services, marketing, pharmaceuticals, technology, social innovation and CEO conferences worldwide.

Mary Ann is on the board of Digital.Irish, Irish International Business Network – NY and Cuala Foundation. She travels frequently to Ireland in search of technology partners and shares an office with ChannelSight at One O’Connell Street, in Dublin.

Maura Kelly, Senior Adviser

Maura is an Emmy award-winning producer and principal of Purple Mountain Media. Her career spans leadership positions in broadcast television at PBS/ WNET where she built successful media franchises and helped raise over $15 million for programs and EdTech initiatives -- to working with top-tier media companies, such as The Jim Henson Co, PBS Kids, the Tribeca Film Institute -- to non-profit work in Ethiopia and Peru. Through her consultancy practice, Purple Mountain Media, Maura helps creators and organizations develop and launch projects that leverage creativity, content and technology. Maura is a  Curator and frequent speaker at conferences and events; and a contributor to the Huffington Post. 

Recently, she was Program Director and on the Board of Directors of NY Women in Film & Television- a leading industry association that promotes gender equality in media and entertainment. She is on the Board of Directors of IIBN NY.  Maura holds a Masters from NY Institute of Technology where she was also an adjunct lecturer. @MauraKellyMedia

Program Director: 
Saoirse Giles

Creative Director:
Kaye Kagaoan