Influential Caribbean Women who has impacted our history, culture and society…..



Jamaican-born Canadian pianist Maria Thompson Corley gave her first public performance at the age of eight. Since then, she has appeared on radio, television, and concert stages in Canada, the United States, Central America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Europe, both as a solo and collaborative artist, including performances in Budapest at the Liszt Academy, and in Carnegie Recital Hall, Aaron Davis Hall and Alice Tully Hall, all in New York City. She has collaborated with such artists as Metropolitan Opera soprano Priscilla Baskerville, and internationally renowned clarinetist James Campbell. Her performances as soloist with orchestra include engagements with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gunther Schuller, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser, and the Allegro Chamber Orchestra, with Brian Norcross.

Her first CD, Dreamer, a collaboration with tenor Darryl Taylor, was released internationally on the Naxos label. Her subsequent discs, on Albany, include a recording of the first twelve of African American composer Leslie Adams’ etudes for solo piano and Soulscapes, consisting of music for solo piano by African American women.

Her undergraduate work was completed at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she studied with Alexandra Munn, whose teachers include Irwin Freundlich. Maria Corley received both Masters and Doctorate degrees in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where she was a student of renowned Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor and the only pianist admitted into the doctoral program for the period of two years. She was also chosen to represent her alma mater in a tour of Central America, where she gave performances and master classes.

Aside from being an accomplished pianist, Maria Corley is an author, whose first novel, Choices, was published by Kensington. She is also a composer and arranger of music for both solo voice and chorus, with pieces commissioned and recorded by the Florida A&M University Concert Choir, the Tallahassee Boys Choir, and soprano Randye Jones.

She currently serves as staff accompanist at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Maria Corley is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and a Rotary Club Paul Harris fellow.



Dame Louise Agnetha Lake-Tack, GCMG, DStJ

 Louise Lake-Tack was born on July 26, 1944 at Long Lane Estate in the Parish of St. Phillip’s, Antigua.

She was educated at the Freetown Government School before attending the Antigua Girls High School in St. John’s

After graduation Dame Louise migrated to the United Kingdom (UK) where she pursued studies in nursing at the Charring Cross Hospital. Following her studies, she was employed at the National Heart Hospital and the Harley Street Clinic. She also studied at a number of educational institutions. These include City of Westminster College, Thames Valley University, the Open University, Holborn Law School and the Council of Legal Education to Study for the bar. She also served as a magistrate, and sat at Pocock Street Crown Court and Middlesex Crown Court to hear appeals from the lower courts.

 A devout member of the Anglican Church, she studied for one year to become a Christian counselor at her local church. “All Souls.” Langham Place, London. She also worked as a volunteer in the All Souls Christian Bookshop for several years.

 Dame Louise is a former member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and helped to raise funds for the educational arm of that movement. She is a member of the Antigua and Barbuda National Association (London) for the past twenty-four (24) years. She sat on the church committee of that group which was instrumental in arranging the annual Antigua and Barbuda Independence Church Service in London.

 Dame Louise is an avid reader, occasional writer and a very keen gardener who enjoys growing grapes.

 She took office as Governor-General on 17 July 2007. She is the first female Governor-General of  Antigua & Barbuda.

Dame Louise is a widow with two (2) children.


Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack presents Dame Deborah Mae Lovell, Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the USA and the OAS with her insignia as a Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (DCN). 

Dame Deborah Mae Lovell, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS, was knighted during an investiture ceremony at Government House on Thursday.

Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack, presented Dame Deborah Mae with her insignia as a Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (DCN) for services as a civil servant and career diplomat.

Dame Deborah Mae credited her late mother Mrs Delores Lovell, for her accomplishments and the resulting recognition.

“The late Mrs Delores Lovell instilled in us the need for public service, and the imperative to give back. She died too soon, before she could have seen the fruit of her labor,” Lovell said.

“I would want at this moment not to think of Dame Deborah Mae Lovell, but to think of Mrs Delores Lovell who was my hero, who is my inspiration, and to whom I owe this high honor.”

Dame Deborah Mae has given nearly 29 years of her life to the public and diplomatic services.


The Honorable Audrey Patrice Marks, Jamaica’s tenth Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), assumed duties in May 2010. Ambassador Marks holds both a Bachelor and Master degrees in Business Administration. Ambassador Marks is the founder of Paymaster (Jamaica) Limited, a multi-transaction company which she conceptualized and started in 1997. The company has created 150 agencies in Jamaica, providing services to over 1.4 million customers and employment for over 400 persons with annual transactions of over $40 Billion Dollars. It is the first multi-transaction agency in the Caribbean.

Marks was born in St. Mary, Middlesex, Jamaica, and graduated from Marymount High School in Highgate. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, and, in 1991, her Master’s degree in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship in Florida. Marks worked for Air Jamaica while studying for her Bachelor’s degree. In 2003, she became chairperson of the Tourism Product Development Company.
A career entrepreneur, Ambassador Marks started and operated businesses, ranging from a 100-acre banana exporting farm, transportation company, to a real estate sales and development company. She has also operated a Venture Capital Company with diverse investments, including manufacturing, travel and entertainment companies. .  

Ambassador Marks holds the distinction of being the first female President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM), an organization which promotes investment and trade between the US and Jamaica.

Ambassador Marks is married to Jassel Dunstan and they have two daughters – Morgan and Madison. She enjoys playing golf, mentoring young adults and spending time with her family.

 Ms. JENNY GUMBS, B.A., Honorary Consul General, GRENADA

Jenny Gumbs

Jenny Gumbs, Honorary Consul Generalwas born in St. George’s, Grenada. She attended the St. George’s Methodist School and the Anglican High School in Grenada. She continued her studies at the Ryerson University in Toronto, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Governance.

Ms. Gumbs was appointed to the Grenada Public Service before being transferred to the Consulate General of Grenada in Toronto. She was appointed as Hon. Consul in 2000 and to the position of Hon. Consul General in 2007.

Ms. Gumbs combines an active career with a deep commitment to volunteerism. She is actively involved with community organizations serving the Grenadian community in Canada and has also volunteered for the National Kidney Foundation of Canada. She is a founding director of the Grenada Hospital Endowment Fund. She also served on the Entertainment Committee of the Consular Corps Association of Toronto and on the Board of the Caribbean Canadian Literary Expo.

In 2007 she was the recipient of a Ryerson University Alumni Award of Distinction.

Ms. Gumbs was appointed to the Advisory Council for the Department of Public Administration and Governance at Ryerson University in May 2008.

She is married with one daughter.


Cherine Smith Valbrun concentrates her practice in complex commercial, securities, and tort litigation matters. She has extensive experience in civil litigation, including breaches of contracts, employment issues and disputes, commercial torts, and shareholder and partnership disputes. She also has experience in drafting and negotiating commercial agreements. She has represented clients from a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, accounting services, information technology consulting, retail merchandising, homeowners’ associations, and other service providers. She has represented individuals and corporate entities in class action and multi-party litigation. Ms. Smith Valbrun was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica.


University of Miami, B.A., Political Science, cum laude, 2003.

General Honors, Departmental Honors.

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 2006.

Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association Scholar.

2005 Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division National Bar, Association Scholar.

2004 Pro Bono Pledge Honoree, International Law Society.


President (2009-2010), Board Member (2010-2011), Caribbean Bar Association.

Member, Broward County Bar Association.

Member, Dade County Bar Association.

Member, Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association.


Her Excellency Dr. Paulette A. Bethel is a global citizen with a wide range of experience as an educator, diplomat and negotiator. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1980 and obtained her M.A. and B.A. from Howard University and the University of Toronto, respectively. Ambassador Bethel also holds a Certificate for Creative Processes Facilitation, as well as a Certificate for International Negotiations: Practical Skills and Techniques.

In 1976, Dr. Bethel lectured in Sociology for the Social Sciences Department at the College of The Bahamas (COB). She was subsequently appointed Chairperson of that Department in 1977 in which capacity she served for one year.

Ambassador Bethel began her career in international affairs in 1980 when she was employed by the United Nations as Assistant Social Affairs Officer in the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs (CSDHA) in Vienna, Austria. In 1983, after joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was accredited as Deputy Chief of Mission/Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations. She was subsequently posted to Washington D.C, in 1988, as Deputy Chief of Mission/Minister Counsellor with dual accreditation to the White House and to the Organization of American States (OAS).

After many years in the Foreign Service of her country, Dr. Bethel continued her work in the international arena, taking on the post of Director of the Department of Fellowships, in 1994, at the OAS becoming the first Bahamian national to hold a senior-level position in that Organization.

Upon relocating to The Bahamas in 1997, Dr. Bethel was employed in the private sector in the area of international financial and corporate services dealing with risk management and compliance issues.

In 2003, Dr. Bethel was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Commonwealth of  The Bahamas to the United Nations and presented her credentials to then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 4, 2003. She is the first female Ambassador of  The Bahamas to the United Nations.

Dr. Bethel’s keen interest in global governance and global democracy has evolved as a natural outcome of her formal education in the field of Sociology, combined with her wide range of experiences on the global stage as both a diplomat and international civil servant.

Dr. Bethel has one daughter; Avery Bethel.


Dessima M. Williams was appointed Ambassador of Grenada to the United Nations on February 17, 2009. Williams’ diplomatic service prior to her new assignment includes representing her country as chief non-governmental organization (NGO) delegate to the Special Committee on Decolonization’s Caribbean Regional Seminar in Saint George’s, Grenada, in June 2007. She served also as Grenada’s NGO observer/delegate to various General Assembly sessions over the last nine years; NGO delegate to the 1995 Fourth United Nations Conference on Women and NGO Forum in Beijing; and NGO delegate to the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, also in 1995.

Williams has extensive academic experience: as an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Brandeis University, from 2003 to 2006; visiting Professor at Florida Atlantic University in 2002; and Jacob Ziskind Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology, also at Brandeis University, from 1992 to 1995. She is the author of the report, Gender Dimensions of HIV/AIDS in Grenada, and was a co-author of a multi-volume report to the United Kingdom Department for International Development, Realization of Human Rights in the Caribbean Territories, in 2002.

Williams serves on the board of the Inter-Agency Group of Development Organizations in Grenada, and the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., among others.

She received a doctorate in international relations and a master’s degree in international development from the American University in Washington, D.C., in 1995, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Minnesota in 1976.


Jacinth Lorna Henry-Martin became Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United States on Feb. 23, 2011, with concurrent accreditation as Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States in Washington.

Henry-Martin most recently served as director of U.S. operations for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. She also previously served as director of culture and parliamentary secretary for culture in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Environment; federal minister of government, an elected position with portfolio responsibilities in information, culture, youth and sport; and as the deputy high commissioner of St. Kitts and Nevis in the United Kingdom.


La Celia A. Prince became Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on May 30, 2008.

Ambassador La Celia Prince was born in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 1999 she obtained an LLB (with honors) from the University of the West Indies in Barbados and then went on to gain her Legal Education Certificate from the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad, qualifying as a lawyer in 2001. In that year, she was enrolled at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) as well as the Supreme Court of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ambassador Prince first practiced as a barrister-at-law and solicitor in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before going off to do master’s studies in law at Cambridge University. In 2003, through a technical cooperation agreement between the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Ambassador Prince took up a fellowship in multilateral trade negotiations. She was assigned to the CARICOM delegation at the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico, followed by a brief stint at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. At the end of this assignment she worked at the Secretariat of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) in Brussels, Belgium on matters pertaining to multilateral trade and development, and in particular the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreements between ACP countries and the European Union. Her final assignment in Belgium was as a consultant with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, where she focused exclusively on CARICOM-EU trade and development partnership.

Arriving in Washington in September 2005, she has served as minister counselor at the Embassy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and alternate representative to the Organization of American States, working on bilateral agreements between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and partners in Latin America, as well as actively participating as a delegate of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Government in various multilateral trade forums.


Her Excellency Gillian M. S. Bristol is a national of Grenada, born in that nation’s capital of St. George’s to parents from St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. She was educated at the prestigious St. Joseph’s Convent High School in Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, and obtained honors degrees in languages and law at the regional University of the West Indies studying in Barbados and Jamaica (B.A. and LL.B.). Ms. Bristol is a true West Indian in every sense of the word.

 Ambassador Bristol is no stranger to the multilateral relations community of the Americas having served for nearly 17 years in several portfolios at the Organization of American States (OAS) based in Washington, DC, with a membership of the 35 independent countries in this region. Her initial role at the OAS in 1992 as Special Assistant to the then Assistant Secretary General, was followed by a lengthy tenure as Committee Secretary responsible for hemispheric security-related matters, and concluded with specialized programmatic work in a senior position at the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism.

 In May 2009, Ms. Bristol was appointed by the Government of Grenada as its Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America as well as its Permanent Representative to the OAS. In those capacities Ambassador Bristol heads Grenada’s Mission in Washington, DC, representing her country’s interests to the Government of the United States and the other 34 other countries which comprise the OAS, and fosters closer relations between Grenada and Grenadians in the Diaspora throughout the United States. In August 2010, Her Excellency was also accredited as Grenada’s non-resident Ambassador to Mexico and presented her credentials to the President in January 2011.

The Ambassador has held several elected posts at the OAS including representing Grenada as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (March 2010 to March 2012) and President of the Retirement and Pension Fund Committee (2009 to present). Between January and June 2011 she assumed additional multiple roles as the Coordinator for the Caucus of CARICOM Ambassadors in Washington, DC, the Chair of the OAS Permanent Council, Chair of the OAS General Assembly Preparatory Committee and General Committee. She also presided over preparations for the Special General Assembly at which Honduras was reinstated to the regional body.

 Among her interests Ambassador Bristol ranks the protection of fair labor practices as reflected in her successful roles in three different periods as President, Vice-President and member of the OAS Staff Association Committee. She also has a passion for empowering youth, and a love of culture, the performing arts and foreign languages.


Add yours

  1. An excellent media resource. Thanks for this valuable information. Please keep it coming as I continue to prepare to launch this innovative magazine of Africans and their Caribbean kins.

  2. Please include the Haitian-born Governor General of Canada (Quebec). She is, after all, outstanding and Caribbean! Thank you

  3. I tip my hat off to these women; their achievement should never go unnoticed; and this program is doing a good job to see that that don’t happen.

  4. I did not see Betty Boyea-King on your list, she is originally from St.Vincent and the Grenadines and currently is head to the United States UN office in Geneva.

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