Norman Houston spent over forty-four years of his working life in the Northern Ireland Civil Service before retiring at the rank of Assistant Secretary in October 2019. He has the unique distinction of being the longest serving director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, D.C. As director of the Bureau he was the de facto ambassador for Northern Ireland to the United States. He held that position from October 2007 to his retirement last year. Norman had served as the deputy director (First Secretary) from 1998 to 2002. In total he spent sixteen years working as a diplomat in Washington, D.C. and as such he has direct experience of working with the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. Norman has also well acquainted with Capitol Hill and with the British and Irish diplomatic missions in North America.
Norman was instrumental in arranging the first visit to the Oval Office by the then First Minister, Dr Paisley and the then deputy First Minster, Martin McGuinness In December 2007 and for all subsequent visits by Northern Ireland’s political leaders. He occupied a unique position among representatives from devolved administrations in securing regular access at the highest levels at the White House, the Department of State and on Capitol Hill.
Norman’s role also brought him into regular contact with colleagues at InvestNI and Tourism Ireland and with visiting delegations for NI’s local councils, business associations and universities. He is experienced in dealing the US media , the Irish American and the wider US business community.
That level of access combined, with his in-depth knowledge of NI government departments has allowed him to remain a strong advocate of promoting our small region in the world’s largest economy.
Norman was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen in June 2019 in recognition of his work in promoting NI overseas.
He has also been honoured by the US-Ireland Chamber of Commerce; The International Irish Immigration Centre, Boston; Cinemagic USA; Golden Bridges Boston; The First Irish Theatre Festival; The Ireland Funds USA; The Washington Ireland Program and the Mayor’s Office of the City of Los Angeles.
Despite sharing the same last name, Norman is not related to either of the other two Directors of Houston Solutions!
Norman’s long experience in US politics, academia , the Arts and business is a welcome addition to our skill set at Houston Solutions.