An Ambassador Story: Denis O’Brien

To hear of Concern Worldwide’s mission to “end extreme poverty – whatever it takes” is one thing. To see this mission carried out in operations is another.

Denis O’Brien, an Irish entrepreneur who is passionate about international philanthropy, grew up with a deep appreciation for Concern’s humanitarian and development programs around the world. Seeing firsthand how Concern operated in Ethiopia in the early 2000s, he realized what it truly means to work with the world’s most vulnerable communities — those that are struggling with natural disasters, climate change, extreme hunger, famine and conflict — to achieve lasting changes. 

Reflecting on the experience, Denis O’Brien said, “Concern operates in the toughest possible circumstances and consistently deliveres. It is one of the best-managed organizations I’ve seen operating anywhere.”

Since his travels with Concern to Ethiopia, as a previous Board Member and now Chairman of the Board, Denis has been involved in everything from Concern’s emergency responses to humanitarian crises to ongoing development initiatives to break the cycle of extreme poverty with accessible, safe water and inclusive, equitable education. Most notably, he took part in Concern’s response to the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake and traveled to Concern’s program areas around the globe, including South Sudan and Kenya.

Visiting these communities has strengthened Denis’ commitment to Concern, as he has been struck by the pragmatism of Concern’s activities, the relationship-building with local communities and a learning-first approach that asks community members what they need.

Commenting on Concern’s impact, Denis shared, “They’re in it for the long haul – they don’t leave when the television cameras go home, and that’s critical. Addressing poverty, especially extreme poverty, is a long-term commitment, and Concern’s compassion and their willingness to invest long term in the poorest communities is a core part of their DNA.”

Denis’ efforts to support and lead Concern Worldwide as Chairman stem from his deep commitment to philanthropy, a value instilled in him by his mother, who was his inspiration in founding the Iris O’Brien Foundation in 2000. He has carried these same values with him into his professional life, as his business success, like founding Digital, is built on providing affordable, fast and reliable connectivity across the Caribbean and beyond.

According to O’Brien, one of the most important aspects of his involvement with Concern is the great friends he’s made. Specifically, he mentioned the previous chair Tom Moran, who led Concern until his passing in 2018.

For those interested in joining Denis and getting involved with Concern, he recommends:

You can learn more about Denis O’Brien on Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn and YouTube.

Concern Ambassadors are our most generous supporters, and help increase Concern’s capacity to create long-term solutions to extreme poverty.