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Tim Kenny
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2017 Recipient of Outstanding Achievement UL Alumni Award – Society


A proud native of Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry, Tim Kenny attended Rathmorrell National School, followed by Causeway Comprehensive where his mentor John O’Regan, Maths Teacher and Principal had a big influence on guiding him to University. Tim graduated in 1981 from the University of Limerick (then NIHE Limerick) with a National Diploma in Business Studies. He began his working life as a Treaty Accountant & Credit Controller with global general insurance and reinsurance company QBE, based at their offices in Shannon, Co Clare. In 1987, Tim applied for a Donnelly Visa and along with many Irish graduates of that era, he headed to the US. Tim recalls “I left Ireland with just £200 in my pocket but knew that hard work would help me succeed.”

After arriving in the U.S., Tim first took up a position with Unione Italiana Reinsurance Company of America and following this, he joined the Reinsurance Corporation of New York where, as Vice President and Controller, he directed the corporate financial function. In 1994, he re-joined QBE Insurance Group, where he rose through the ranks as Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and in 2000, he became President and Chief Executive Officer of QBE North America. Under his stewardship, QBE expanded through acquisitions in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Panama, with revenues increasing from just under $100 million to over $4.5 billion.

Having always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit, Tim left QBE to set up his own business in 2009. Staying with the sector he knew best, Tim co-founded Aran Insurance Services Group in 2009 with long-time colleague and friend, John LaCava. Tim also re-established connections with his alma mater when in June 2015, he joined the Board of the UL Alumni Association “to give back to the institution that gave me a head start in life and to make a difference.” Since then, Tim has had a key role in the re-launch of the New York UL Alumni Chapter, of which he is Chair of the local Chapter Committee.

In July 1999, twelve years after his arrival in the US, Tim was in his backyard with two of his friends having a few drinks after a day of golf, when he challenged them “on how we might give back to society in return for our good fortune in business”. While none of the three had a connection with childhood cancer, they were moved by this particular cause. And a plan was formed, with the target to raise $17,000 on March 17th by getting 17 people to raise $1,000 each by shaving their heads (this was an intentional act of solidarity with the many children losing their hair while undergoing chemotherapy). On their inaugural event on St. Patrick’s Day 2000, over $104,000 was raised and by 2002, the one million dollar mark had been reached.

And so it turned out that this very casual conversation between friends led to the formal establishment of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in 2004, with Tim Kenny, John Bender and Enda McDonnell as its co-founders. From the outset, the goals of the not-for-profit Foundation are clear: to raise money for childhood cancer research, to boost research capability, to increase survival rates and to raise overall awareness of childhood cancer.

To date, over $300 million has been raised by St. Baldrick’s at events across 50 US states and over 28 countries including Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada, Iraq, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Bermuda and others. In the past year alone, close to $40 million has been raised. The range of grants now include hypothesis-driven research grants, scholar awards and infrastructure support to help local institutions treat more children in clinical trials, their best hope for a cure. In 2010, the Foundation hosted its first Research Priorities Summit attended by over 25 of the most respected paediatric cancer researchers and oncologists from the US, Canada and South America. As a result of research supported by St. Baldrick’s, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved a new drug that drastically increases the cure rate for high risk neuroblastoma patients, the third only specific children’s cancer drug to be developed and approved in the past 20 years. On August 30 of this year, the FDA again approved a transformative CAR-T Cell Therapy (Immunotherapy) for children with leukaemia.

Today, as Chairman Emeritus and current Board Director of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Tim is proud of what the Foundation has achieved. He adds “St Baldrick’s is the world’s biggest volunteer-driven fundraising program for children’s cancer and the second largest funder of paediatric cancer research after the US Federal Government.”

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