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Monthly Men's Luncheon Speakers

Mark J. Finlay

January 12, 2022 Speaker: GUEST SPEAKER

Mark J Finlay

Mark is an inspiring public speaker, known for his unique blend of Irish wit and wisdom, honed from twenty five years of corporate governance, public service and peace making. Mark has spoken to large audiences and to strategic leaders at events in Austria (Vienna), Belfast, Brussels, Canada, California, Connecticut, Dublin, Florida, Georgia, Jordan (Amman), Kansas, London, Limerick, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State and Washington, D.C.

Mark Finlay was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and divides his time between Washington, D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina where he and his wife Karen attend St. Philip's Church. 

Mark grew up during Northern Ireland’s “troubles” that raged from 1968 until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and was actively involved in the peace process and in post-conflict transformation as an ambassador of reconciliation.

For a decade, from 1996, Mark was a Director of a UK-based real estate group, where he delivered Public Private Partnerships and major city regeneration projects.  During the mid-1990’s, without declaring his faith motivation, Mark became involved with conflict resolution before there was a so-called peace process.

In 2002 he was appointed by a UK Government Minister as a Commissioner of the Port of Belfast, the third-busiest port in the UK, which encompasses Europe’s largest waterfront regeneration, known as Titanic Quarter, where RMS Titanic was built.  

In this context Mark first began to work with and befriend people from all political parties in Ireland.  He served in this public office for three years and was subsequently elected as Chairman of South Belfast Partnership, a cross-government initiative created following the Good Friday Peace Agreement to bring about transformation of some of the island of Ireland’s most disadvantaged inner-city communities. 

In 2003 Mark was appointed a Director of the Ireland-US Council (IUSC) in Dublin and in 2016 was appointed to the Board in New York.  The IUSC was created following President John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland in 1963 to promote economic links between the United States and Ireland. 

In 2011 Mark was commissioned by government to author Northern Ireland’s Global Diaspora Strategy to examine how to better connect with the region’s “scattered seed," an estimated 50 million Irish and Scots-Irish in North America. 

In 2007, stemming from his work in reconciliation and peace, Mark was invited to to be part of a small team to serve the island of Ireland’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) in Washington, DC.  The NPB is in effect hosted by the men and women of the U.S. Congress weekly prayer breakfast groups, involving Senators and Representatives from both political parties.  

Every President since President Eisenhower has attended the NPB, which takes place on the first Thursday of February every year.  Annually over 3600 people attend, with representatives from every state joined by 750 international leaders, typically from around 150 countries. Attendees are invited to gather in the name of Jesus of Nazareth--not a Protestant Jesus, not a Catholic Jesus, just Jesus!   NPB guests include representatives from different denominations and faith traditions. Recent guests have included HRH King Abdullah of Jordan II and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In 2012 Mark was called to relocate from Ireland to USA, and in December 2014 was invited by the incoming Co-Chair of the NPB, to support him, as a volunteer, with faith-based initiatives and international relations. This has led to spending a lot of time as a volunteer and to deep friendships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. 

Mark and Karen make themselves available, to walk with and disciple those leaders and emerging leaders that The Lord gives them.  As a couple they serve together as ambassadors of reconciliation.

Both Mark and Karen are Fellows of the CS Lewis Institute and Karen serves as a Mentor of Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy though CSLI.  The Finlay family is often heard to tell people they “come from the Kingdom of Narnia”, a reference to fellow countryman CS Lewis, who was born and raised just yards from the Finlay’s home in Belfast. 

In recent years Mark has been privileged to travel and to visit leaders in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Banja Luca, Belfast, Belgrade, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Sarajevo, Vienna and Zagreb.