Alumni of the Month: February 2012

Improving Lives through Innovation

February 24, 2012

John O’Loughlin Kennedy of Ireland has been selected as the U.S. Department of State’s Alumni Member of the Month for February 2012 in recognition of his entrepreneurial and humanitarian efforts that have improved lives around the globe. O’Loughlin Kennedy received a 1961 Fulbright Student Program scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he studied at the Graduate School of Business Administration. He credits the Fulbright Program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with giving him the confidence and ability to affect positive change in the world. Today O’Loughlin Kennedy is a thriving member of the Irish business community.

“My Fulbright scholarship in 1961 certainly changed my life for the better and I can honestly say that it did as much or more in the lives of millions of others,” states O’Laughlin Kennedy. “The experience of the Graduate School of Business Administration at UCLA and the can-do attitude that I absorbed in California gave me the necessary confidence, authority and know-how when my wife, Kay, and I decided to do something about the famine in Nigeria in 1968. We took the initiative and started CONCERN; since then thousands of wonderful young people, and some not so young, have improved the lives of literally, millions of their brothers and sisters by sharing their skills in developing lands.” O’Loughlin Kennedy has continued to exhibit his results-driven attitude with the recent founding of an award-winning company, WINICabs with fellow Fulbright alumnus Patrick Duffy. WINI, which stands for “When I Need It, Where I Need It,” is an automated taxi dispatch system that links taxis with customers using mobile phone technology. WINICabs was named winner of the prestigious Aepona/Neustar Developer Challenge at the Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently being tested in Dublin, Ireland, before its international launch later in 2012.

During his time as a Fulbright student, O’Loughlin Kennedy describes being “blown away” by the upbeat attitude he encountered and the encouragement he received to question established thinking. In 1968, after his return to Ireland, O’Loughlin Kennedy put this can-do attitude to work when he founded AfricaConcern in response to the famine that was ravaging Nigeria. AfricaConcern eventually became Concern Worldwide, a major international charity that raises 200€ million annually and employs over 3,000 people worldwide.

Beyond his extensive entrepreneurial endeavors, O’Loughlin Kennedy has served as a tireless advocate for the Irish Fulbright Alumni Association (IFAA) since its founding in 1993. More recently, O’Loughlin Kennedy gave his support to the newly established Ireland - United States Alumni Association (IUSA) by participating in early planning meetings that led to the establishment of the interim board of directors in January 2011. He has been an enthusiastic advocate for the new alumni association, most recently participating in a business panel discussion on the trade and investment relationship between Ireland and the United States.