Our Team

Our team has a wide breadth of experience in key areas. We can investigate issues, explore possible partnerships and exchange best practice strategies. We can also provide you with information and advice regarding organizations whose potential for real growth can be to the practical benefit of both Northern Ireland and the United States.

Norman Houston

Norman Houston

Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau

Norman Houston is the Director/Counsellor at the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, D.C. Norman has over 38 years experience as a senior official in the Northern Ireland Civil Service including 13 years working in a diplomatic role.

Norman's early career included spells with the Industrial Development Board (i.e. the predecessor to InvestNI) where he managed the organization's public relations campaigns in Asia Pacific and its trade development activities in Continental Europe. Later posts included policy responsibility for senior civil service development and Tourism Ireland, the cross-border publically-owned tourism company that markets the island of Ireland overseas. This is his second posting to Washington, D.C.; he was the First Secretary at the Bureau from 1998 to 2002.

Norman has spearheaded the Executive's international strategy in the US and Canada since 2007, during NI's longest period of continuous devolved government in over 40 years. Norman was the first NI diplomat to escort the First Minister and deputy First Minister into the Oval Office to meet President George W. Bush in December 2007. Since that historic meeting Norman has facilitated similar meeting with President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He has built up the Bureau's profile on Capitol Hill and with various branches of the US Administration including the White House, State Department and the Department of Commerce. Norman has also developed the Bureau's footprint in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and in New York.

He was also responsible for organizing the first official visit to Brazil by the First Minister and deputy First Minister in March 2013.

Norman was born and raised in Larne, County Antrim. He has an adult daughter and son. He has a First Class Honors Degree in Modern History from the Open University.

Stewart Matthews

Stewart Matthews

First Secretary and Head of Administration

Stewart Matthews was appointed as First Secretary and Head of Administration at the Northern Ireland Bureau in October 2012. Stewart's primary role includes helping Northern Ireland Departments and Ministers by promoting NI interests in the US and Canada and building relationships of mutual benefit. He also monitors policy developments in the US and Canada and supports inward visits by Ministers and officials as well as visits to Northern Ireland by American and Canadian contacts. Stewart also has responsibility for heading up the Bureau's administration arrangements, including business planning and corporate governance.

Before taking up post in Washington, Stewart worked in the Department for Regional Development (DRD) as Head of its Strategic Planning Branch, providing direct support to the Permanent Secretary and Departmental Board on business planning, performance management, corporate governance and risk management issues. Stewart previously worked in a range of other posts in DRD.

His prior responsibilities have included developing the primary legislation that established NI Water as a Government owned company, developing NI's first Regional Transportation Strategy and serving as Private Secretary to three Minsters. Originally from Newtownards, Co Down, Stewart attended the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall) where he earned MA and MEng Honors degrees in Chemical Engineering. He then worked in London within the Scientific Services Division of Sainsbury's (one of the UK's leading retailers). Subsequently he worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Ulster's Engineering Composites Research Center before joining the NI Civil Service in 1999.

Lorraine Turner

Lorraine Turner

Head of the New York Office

A native of Merseyside, England, Lorraine Turner currently heads up the Northern Ireland Bureau's New York office. Prior to joining the Northern Ireland Bureau, Lorraine played a vital role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, working for the British Consulate in New York as the Northern Ireland Press and Public Affairs Officer. Her love affair with New York began as soon as she arrived in 1997 when she served as an Immigration Officer in the British Consulate.

During her career in New York, Lorraine has been a welcomed friend to both the British and Irish communities. Leading up to the establishment of the new Northern Ireland government, she was an ardent supporter of the Peace Process and played a pivotal role in making sure that both communities were given access to the highest levels of government and business leaders.

In her current position as the head of the Northern Ireland Bureau in New York, Lorraine has been tireless in her efforts to maintain and strengthen the relationships she had already developed while everyone's focus was on the Peace Process. Drawing from her past experience as a Public Affairs Officer, she has reached out to both the Irish and British communities to make certain that their interest in Northern Ireland continued beyond the Peace Process. She has hosted both business leaders and political leaders when they arrive in New York in the hopes of finding support for the new Northern Ireland. Ms. Turner is a graduate of John Moores University in Liverpool, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in media and culture studies. Continuing her education, Lorraine also spent time at the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. Lorraine was awarded an MBE in HM Queen's 2004 New Year's list for her services to the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

Tracy Blanton

Tracy Blanton

Finance Manager & Executive Assistant to the Director

Tracy is originally from Glasgow, Scotland and joined the Northern Ireland Bureau in 2002. Before emigrating to the United States she was employed as a Human Resources Professional in a range of industries and businesses around the United Kingdom. Tracy is married and resides in Annapolis, Maryland.

Kirsten Fruit

Kirsten Fruit

Public Affairs & Outreach Officer

Kirsten Fruit joined the Northern Ireland Bureau in December 2015. In her role as Public Affairs & Outreach Officer, Kirsten serves as the Bureau's primary point of contact for young professional networks in the United States and Canada. She is also responsible for promoting via various social media channels, in person meetings, and Bureau sponsored events Northern Ireland's many unique cultural, academic, and political contributions. This work is part of the Bureau's larger mission to inform opinions about Northern Ireland and promote the region as vibrant, modern, and outwardly-looking. Prior to becoming the Public Affairs & Outreach Officer, Kirsten served as the Bureau's Administrative & Governance Officer, where she assisted the Director and First Secretary with corporate governance, ministerial briefings, and White House, State Department, and Congressional engagement efforts.

Prior to joining the Northern Ireland Bureau team, Kirsten attended graduate school at The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) where she received a Master of Science with Distinction in Politics and Communication. Kirsten completed her undergraduate education at The University of Montana, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Journalism and Political Science (Public Law). As a student, Kirsten spent a summer in Dublin interning for Maxmedia Ireland Limited, a content marketing agency that works closely with Tourism Ireland to promote tourism efforts in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Kelsey Fraser

Kelsey Fraser

Administrative and Governance Officer

Kelsey Fraser joined the Northern Ireland Bureau in September 2016 as the Administrative & Governance Officer. In this role, Kelsey assists the First Secretary with the Bureau's corporate governance, provides support with briefings for the Executive Office, and assists the Director and First Secretary with their White House, State Department, and Congressional engagement.

Before joining the Northern Ireland Bureau team, Kelsey graduated from the University of North Carolina's Transatlantic Master's Program where she earned an M.A. in Political Science. During this time, she spent a year abroad studying European Governance and Security at the University of Bath (UK) and the University of Siena (Italy). Prior to that, she earned her B.S. in Global Trade from High Point University in High Point, North Carolina. She has previously worked in Washington, D.C., New York City, Geneva, Switzerland and Bonn, Germany. Kelsey is originally from Lockport, New York.