University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Trina Vargo

'85 graduate is founder and president of the US-Ireland Alliance

Trina Y. Vargo, class of ‘85, is the founder and President of the US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating Americans about Ireland and strengthening the relationship on the basis of education, culture and business.

Trina Y. VargoVargo created the organization in 1998. In that capacity, she created the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program, recognized as one of the most prestigious scholarships for study abroad for young Americans. She also created an annual event in Hollywood, Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film. The event celebrates the contributions of the Irish in Film.

Vargo graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in Political Science and History. As the recipient of a Rotary International Fellowship, she attended McGill University in Montreal, where she obtained an M.A. degree in Political Science.

From 1987 until May 1998, Vargo served as a Foreign Policy Adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) in Washington D.C. During her years with Senator Kennedy, she worked directly with political leaders in Northern Ireland, the Clinton Administration, and the Irish Government, serving as a key behind-the-scenes player in the Northern Ireland peace process. She was instrumental in negotiating a visa for Gerry Adams to visit the United States in 1994. That visit led to the historic IRA cease-fire declaration in August 1994.

In 1993, Vargo assisted Ambassador Madeleine Albright in preparation for her Senate confirmation hearings for the Cabinet post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She also helped prepare Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, for her June 1993 confirmation Senate hearing. She has briefed all subsequent US Ambassadors to Ireland, Democrats and Republicans.

In a personal capacity, since 1988, Vargo has advised U.S. presidential campaign teams on Irish issues. Most recently, she served as the Obama campaign’s adviser on Irish issues.