LIBERTY SUNSET: Taking pride of place at the Irish 40 Under 40 were honoree mental health nurse Kris Maines and his wife Roseanne Hui

Irish Echo 40 Under 40 told to 'stay in the saddle'

Honorees from across the U.S. at the 17th annual Irish Echo 40 Under 40 gala have been told that resilience — "staying in the saddle" — is key to a successful career.

Addressing the 2024 awardees at the View at the Battery at the very tip of Manhattan, iHeartMedia President of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Mike Biondo told the young ambassadors they should "embrace every opportunity, even those disguised as challenges".

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"Take risks, be adaptable and never underestimate the power of resilience: 'Stay in the saddle'," he told a full house at the annual event which this year was sponsored by global technology firm Options. 

"Embrace authenticity," he added. "In a world that demands conformity, your unique perspectives, experiences and values are your greatest assets. Don't be afraid to bring your whole self to the table and remember that diversity of thought and background fuels innovation and success."

With Irish and Italian roots — "Gaelic and Garlic" in his words — Biondo said he had taken inspiration from both traditions but "particularly from my mother who emigrated from Ireland at the age of 15."

"Having an Irish mother is having someone fierce in your corner," said the iHeartMedia President whose mum is a McPhillips from Belfast. "I was constantly told I would do great things in this life, that I was a descendant of the High King Brian Born, that anything was possible."

He added: "The magic of the Irish is not just found in folklore; it's woven into the very fabric of our existence. It's in the music that stirs our souls, the literature that transports us to distant lands, and the warmth of the community that binds us together."

You can see a full list of the 40 honorees online. The special People's Choice Award - decided by internet vote — went to Luke Gibbons who received over 20,000 votes. 

Other business partners in the 2024 celebration were the AOH and Kalikow.

Among VIP attendees were New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, Grit V.C. co-founder Mike Flannery, New York artist and film-maker Marcus Robinson, Vice-Consul at the Consulate of Ireland in New York Ellen Flanagan, Boston Irish Business Association President Laura Hamilton, Greater Boston Irish Cultural Center President Martina Curtin, AOH President Danny O'Connell and LAOH President Marilyn Madigan.