2024 Grand Marshal
Cathleen Steinau Buckheit
Cathleen Patricia Steinau Buckheit is a third-generation Irish American who has been an active member of the Irish community for a large majority of her life. She grew up Irish step dancing with the Kathleen Mulkerin School of Irish Dance, toured Ireland as an Emerald Dancer in 1997, and was crowned Queen of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2003. Her role as Parade Queen and involvement in the Irish community led her to join the New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee in 2003, where she has been an active member ever since.
Over the years, Cathleen has chaired and co-chaired many events for the parade committee and has also served as Vice President and President of the West Haven Irish American Club. One of the many things Cathleen loves about the parade is the fact that it is steeped in tradition. Cathleen is very excited to take on the role as the 2024 Parade Chairman and will be the 13th female to hold this position since the Parade's inception in 1842.
Cathleen is currently employed as a kindergarten teacher at Calf Pen Meadow School in Milford and has been teaching elementary school for the past 20 years. She lives in West Haven with her husband, son and two step-daughters. They love living by the beach and spending their summers on the shore with friends.
Fiona is a first-generation Irish American and has been a part of the Irish community here in the States for a long time. Growing up, she danced with the O'Keefe School of Irish Dance along with her sister, Sinead. She followed in her sister's footsteps and was crowned the 2013 New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen. Fiona and her family are members of the New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club, where she helps co-chair the New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen Committee.
As Parade Queen, Fiona joined the parade committee and since then went on to chair events such as the Bed Race, lent her voice to singing the national anthems at many events, co-chaired Social Media, and for several years was the Broadcast Chair. She has worked with WTNH and their team to produce countless interviews, features, and most importantly the live broadcast of several parades and two in-studio "Celebrating Irish Heritage" shows.
Fiona is currently employed as a Senior Manager in Investments at the Connecticut Green Bank and as a cantor for her church, Our Lady Queen of Angels in Meriden. She enjoys singing, playing the piano, cooking and baking, painting, and spending time with her family. She lives in West Hartford with her husband, Manny and son, Tomás.
Chief of Staff
Michael dePascale joined the Greater New Haven Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 2017 after becoming President of the Knights of Saint Patrick where he served as President from 2017 to 2019. Mike served as Corporate chair in 2019 and has chaired other events including the annual golf tournament, the Shamrock Open, in 2023.
Mike was elected to the position of of Chief of Staff by the Executive Parade Committee in 2023.
Mike is a Delivery Lead for MassMutual and resides in Branford with Susan Roberts.
Jim McGovern joined the New Haven Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 1995 after becoming an officer of the Knights of Saint Patrick where he served as President in 1997/98. Recruited to the Parade Committee by past Grand Marshal, the late Kevin J. Smith, he was asked to serve as club Marshal for the Knights and was instantly hooked.
Jim was asked to chair the Annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner in 2005 with 2020-2003 Grand Marshal, Seamus Bohan and they still chair the event to this day. Jim chaired the annual golf tournament, the Shamrock Open, in 2005 and for several years following. He continues to work on this event each year.
Jim was elected to the position of Chief of Staff by the Parade Executive Committee in 2007 and was honored to be named the Grand Marshal of the New Haven Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 2010. Jim served as the Executive Secretary for the Parade Committee from 2019-2023.
Jim is a Senior Security Consultant for Securitas Technology Inc. He resides in North Haven with his wife Trish and their three children Grace, Molly and Jack.
Bernadette Smyth LaFrance
Bernadette Smyth LaFrance is the daughter of Margaret Ann Wynne and the late John Francis Smyth. John and Ann Smyth were born in County Leitrim, Ireland. Bernadette’s upbringing as a first-generation Irish American influenced her calling to become active in the community. Members of the Smyth and Wynne families have promoted Irish culture and heritage since they stepped off the boat in New York.
Bernadette was proud to be crowned Queen of the 1994 St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Grand Marshal of the 2008 Parade. In 2015, Bernadette became the second woman to earn the Knight of the Year honor and first to be awarded the traditional Green Jacket by the Knights of St. Patrick. She is the first recipient of the Kevin J. Smith Award for Excellence in Executive Leadership presented in 2018 by the Parade Committee’s Executive Board of Directors.
In June of 2019, Bernadette was immensely honored and proud to have been elected by the Executive Committee as the first-ever, female Executive Chairman in the history of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade that dates back to 1842! Bernadette served as Executive Chairman from 2019-2023.
Over the past 25 years, Bernadette has served on numerous committees, has been chairman of many events for the Parade Committee, the NHGF&H Club/IACC and the Knights of St. Patrick. Along with the late, former Grand Marshal, Kevin J. Smith, she became the co-founder of the Corporate Fundraising Committee. Since 2003, hundreds of thousands of corporate contributions have helped fortify the financial sustainability of our historic parade in the 21 st century. This initiative sparked the elevation of the parade broadcast as well. Bernadette secured a partnership with Rich Graziano of WTNH News 8 beginning with the 2018 Parade. The partnership presents our historic parade in all its grandeur and magnificence LIVE, as well as the station promoting “All Things Irish” year-round!
Bernadette resides in Guilford with the four most important men in her life: her husband Rob, and their three sons, John, Joseph, and James. While Bernadette is honored to have held these historic Irish titles and received prestigious awards, her most proud, fulfilling and rewarding title of all is “Mom”!
Ann Cotter Ballard
Ann Cotter Ballard has been an active member of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee since 2004. Celebrating her 20th year, Ann is excited to be stepping into the role of Treasurer. She has chaired several parade events including the initial Shamrock Open Golf Tournament, Wine Tasting @ Anthony's Ocean View, and Emerald Isle Fashion Show. Prior to being elected to Parade Treasurer, Ann held the position of Corporate Chairwoman.
Through her involvement in the Greater New Haven Irish community, Ann hopes to pass along her love of being Irish to her three daughters and granddaughter Briella, who has marched with the Parade Committee in many Mystic St. Patrick's Day Parades. Ann is employed as a Principal Sales Engineer with Frontier; she is celebrating forty years in the Communications industry in 2024. When not involved in parade activities, Ann's Passions include golfing, vacationing in Florida and Cape Cod and hanging with her rescue tomboy cat, Stormy.
Patrick J. Smith
Patrick J. Smith has been on the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee for many years, serving in various roles. Patrick was proudly named the Grand Marshal of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2018 and has taken on the role of Parade Coordinator since 2022.
© 2023 Associated Irish Societies, Inc.