The National Capital Tartan Day Committee
National Tartan Day Symposium
Thursday, April 6th, 2023
2:00 – 6:30 PM
Location: The DACOR Bacon House
1801 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
- Chris Thomson, Scottish Government Counsellor USA, Scottish Affiars Office USA
- Rt. Hon. Andrew Morrison, Viscount Dunrossil
- Donal MacLaren of MacLaren, Chief of Clan Laurin and Convenor, Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs
- Prof. Duncan Sim, University of the West of Scotland
- Ian Houston, President, Scottish Business Network
- John Bleed, Director, Confederation of British Industry (CBI Washington DC)
- Peter Wilson, President, Great Scot International
- James P. Ambuske, PhD— Historian & Senior Producer, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media (RRCHNM), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
- Alexandra Duncan, Board Member, Scottish American Women’s Society (SAWS) and Virginia Scottish Games (VSGA)
Scottish Government Counsellor USA
Chris Thomson joined the Scottish Government USA team in October 2021. Prior to his move to America, Chris spent a number of years working in Economic Development for the Scottish Government in Scotland, most recently as Head of Clyde Mission, where he was tasked with taking a Mission based approach to making the river Clyde and its immediate environs “an engine of sustainable and inclusive growth for the city, the region and Scotland”. Before this he led delivery of regional economic development investments and partnership initiatives across Scotland. A West of Scotland native and 13-year veteran of the Civil Service, Chris also spent six years working for the Scottish Prison Service in Edinburgh, implementing and delivering a major policy review. Chris studied Sociology at the University of Glasgow, and HR and Management at the University of the West of Scotland.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, Chris Thompson joined us to deliver greetings from the Scottish Government and to give us an update on future Scottish Government initiatives.
Rt. Hon. Andrew Morrison
Andrew Morrison, Viscount Dunrossil, was born in London and educated at Eton and Oxford, where he studied the Classics.
After joining a bank (Kleinwort, Benson) he moved to the US. For the last thirty years Andrew has made his home in San Antonio, Texas, during which time he has been a principal spokesman for the consumer finance industry. He is a former chairman of the American Financial Services Association and a co-founder of the National Installment Lenders Association. Andrew retired from the Consumer Finance industry in January 2022. He is now a Director of the Equitable Growth Fund, which is dedicated to addressing the problem of unequal access to critical resources among minorities and lower income communities.
Lord Dunrossil is closely involved with various organizations dedicated to strengthening the ties between Scotland and its Diaspora. He is the US representative for the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, serves on the Advisory Board of the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA) and is an Honorary Patron of the American-Scottish Foundation. He is also a former Chairman of the Society of Scottish Armigers, whose President is the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, and is a Director of Scottish Heritage USA.
Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine was born in 1954 and succeeded his father as Chief in 1966. He is the twenty-fifth head of the Clan since Labhran, name-forefather of the Clan eight hundred years ago. He is descended from King Lorn Mor of the fifth century.
Donald was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford; Trinity College Glenalmond in Perthshire, where he learned to play the pipes; and Edinburgh University, where he took a MA Hons. degree in Classics and English and played rugby for the combined Scottish Universities XV.
He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1978. After postings in Berlin, Moscow, Havana, Caracas and Kiev he served in Tbilisi, Georgia as Her Majesty’s Ambassador. He left the FCO in 2008 and now runs a partnership teaching people to speak persuasively called Perfect Pitch.
Prof. Duncan Sim
University of the West of Scotland
Duncan Sim is Honorary Senior Research Fellow (and formerly Reader in Sociology) at the University of the West of Scotland. His research interests lie in issues of ethnicity and identity and particularly in relation to migrants and diasporas.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, Duncan Sim is Honorary Senior Research Fellow (and formerly Reader in Sociology) at the University of the West of Scotland. His research interests lie in issues of ethnicity and identity and particularly in relation to migrants and diasporas.
James P. Ambuske, PhD
Historian & Senior Producer, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media (RRCHNM), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Jim Ambuske is a Historian and Senior Producer at R2 Studios, the podcast division of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. At R2 Studios, Ambuske produces, creates, and hosts narrative history podcasts for general audiences. He is the executive producer of The Green Tunnel Podcast, and is developing new series on the history of the American Revolution and the Scottish Atlantic world.
Ambuske’s scholarship centers on the era of the American Revolution, with a special interest in Scottish emigration during the period, Loyalism and transatlantic law, the British Atlantic world more broadly, and digital history. He is the co-director of the 1828 Catalogue Project, which reconstructs and interprets the legal texts that Thomas Jefferson selected for the university’s original library, and the Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Project, a multi-institutional transatlantic effort to explore everyday life in early America and the British Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through the printed records of Scotland’s supreme civil court.
Board Member, Scottish American Women’s Society (SAWS) and Virginia Scottish Games (VSGA)
By day, Alexandra can be found herding attorneys in her 9-5 gig. Most weekends find her herding a very different group, highland games athletes. Having been born into and growing up in the Scottish Country Dance, Clans, and Highland Games communities, she has spent more than 25 years working for the Virginia Scottish Games (VSGA) and Mid-Atlantic Scottish Athletics (MASA). Alex is finishing her term as Membership Secretary for the Scottish American Women’s Society (SAWS) of Washington, D.C.
Amongst her VSGA jobs, Alex has done everything from learning how to create websites to building a social media campaign, picking up trash to putting on a reception for Sponsors and VIPs, chauffeuring mobility impaired guests to directing parking, hiring bands to baking for the VIP tent, and whatever else it takes to put on a successful festival. Alex began scorekeeping with MASA before it was MASA, now judges at most of their events (and a few others), and has helped bring MASA into the 21st century. In this time, MASA has grown to host not just men’s athletic events, but to include women and adaptive athletes, increasing the number of festivals, classes, and competitors. In all of these endeavors, she has been known to conscript unsuspecting friends and family members (who honestly should know better) into action.
Alex has a longstanding relationship with the Clan Donnachaidh Society, through her parents in the New England Branch and on her own with the Mid Atlantic Branch. She has also spent a number of years working with the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals to improve networking and access to resources for those running Scottish Games and Festivals. Some of the deepest friendships and adopted family members have come about from all of these activities.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, Alexandra Duncan joined us to deliver news from the Scottish American Women’s Society (SAWS), a nonprofit membership organization open to all women in the DC Metro Area who were born in Scotland or descend from one or more Scottish immigrants to America (female or male), and from the Virginia Scottish Games (VSGA).
Clan Gregor Society of Scotland
Keith MacGregor is the North American Representative for the Clan Gregor Society of Scotland and has served on the Society’s Council for twenty six years. He is co-administrator of the MacGregor Surname Project/FTDNA and tour director/guide for the clan’s International Gathering 2022 in Scotland.
He has organized and led eight years of professional archaeological outings in Glenorchy and Glenstray, the original MacGregor homelands, which uncovered a trove of information about the early clan’s medieval settlements and were published for the Society during “The Year of Archaeology – Scotland 2017”. He is currently involved in the preservation of the carved stone monuments of the MacGregor chiefs, discovered at Dalmally church in Argyll. Keith’s professional career in media spans decades as Executive Director for the Fox Broadcasting Networks, New York.
President of SHUSA, Great Scot International, The Scottish Weaver, The Scottish Grocer
Peter Wilson is the founder of Great Scot International, The Scottish Weaver and The Scottish Grocer.
Great Scot International Inc was Founded and Incorporated in 1997. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company was initially involved with the supply of Scottish food products and unique gift-ware and then evolved into weaving and supplying tartan plaid fabrics and merchandise in worsted wool and non-wool fabrics.
SCOTTISH HERITAGE USA was founded in 1965 by Ward Melville “to recognize and enhance the original bonds of ancestral and national character among the peoples of Scotland and North America; and to disseminate knowledge of their respective cultural heritages; and in furtherance of such purposes to support the preservation of historic sites, the maintenance of centers of artistic and literary endeavor and such other activities as may be appropriate”.
Peter is a Board Member of the Scottish Tartan Authority.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, Peter Wilson joined us to discuss the current trade and economic issues between Scotland and the United States.
Principal Policy Adviser, Confederation of British Industry
John Bleed serves as Principal Policy Adviser in the Washington office of the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s largest business organization. He assists the CBI’s member companies and its UK-based staff in analysing relevant regulatory and economic policy developments across North America, focusing in particular on issues related to international trade, investment, national security, and climate policy.
Before joining the CBI, John spent time working in the U.S. House of Representatives and as a fellow at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Europe and Middle East desk. Originally from Chicago, John holds an MA in security studies from Georgetown University and a BA in history and international affairs from Furman University in Greenville, SC.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, John Bleed joined us to discuss the current trade and economic issues between Scotland and the United States.
President, Scottish Business Network
Ian Houston has spent his career in Washington, DC as an international non-profit leader, a policy advocate for diplomatic engagement and global poverty alleviation, and intercultural dialogue. He formerly w1orked in the U.S. Congress on policy staff. He currently serves as a consultant and as the Ambassador for the Scottish Business Network (SBN) in Washington, DC.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, Ian Houston joined us to discuss the current trade and economic issues between Scotland and the United States.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, John Bleed, Ian Houston, and Peter Wilson joined us in a panel discussion to discuss the current trade and economic issues between Scotland and the United States.
Curator of Collections and Chairman of Museum Committee, DACOR and DACOR Bacon House Foundation
T.J. Holland has over twenty-five years of professional experience in international consumer financial services, relationship management, member service, payment systems, funds-transfer operations, and project management. Consistently adding value through dedication and leadership.
Helping us celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tartan Day, TJ Holland, Curator of Collections and Chairman of Museum Committee, DACOR and DACOR Bacon House Foundation discusses some of the key Scottish features of the DACOR Bacon House in Washington, DC.
DACOR Bacon House
DACOR Bacon House (an historic home in downtown DC, very near the White House and the World Bank) is the headquarters of the Retired Foreign Service Officers Association and it also has some very interesting Scottish connections.
Like the World Bank Building around the corner and the White House right down the street, it was built on land originally owned by one of the two Scots whose extensive holdings (farmland) were acquired by the new U.S. Government, shortly after the Constitution was ratified, and on which much of “official” Washington was built.
Originally called the Ringold House, John Marshall was a lodger there while serving as first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Its later owner, a prominent Washington socialite, was a direct descendant of John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore–last colonial Governor of Virginia. Lord Dunmore’s life-sized portrait, by Joshua Reynolds, hangs in the parlor there. (As a young man, he served as a page to Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and was present with him at Culloden. Later pardoned due to his tender age and the influence of his uncle, who’d remained loyal to the Hanoverians during the 1745 uprising, Lord Dunmore then went into British military service, as did many highlanders.)