INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN, Pt. 7

Here is a collection of profile stories which traces the history, experiences, challenges and successes of outstanding women from the Caribbean territories, as they navigate the traditionally male dominated arenas. 

“The collection brings together in one place, a distinguish group of women who have contributed in significant ways to the development of the Caribbean and the Americas. Who have pushed against the odds to achieve their goals and who have been quite extremely influential in the business and political landscape” 

LUNDEN De’LEON

Some women are go-getters. Some women are business-minded. Some women use their struggles as building blocks for their success. Dirrty Records Founder/Filmmaker Lunden De’Leon is all of these things.

According to dictionary.com, an entrepreneur is a person “who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” In a perfect world, a smiling picture of the stunning De’Leon would accompany this impressively apt definition.

The Barbados-born, South Carolina-bred Lunden De’Leon had her fair share of ups and downs before she came to be known as the powerhouse she is now. After a brief stint as a Burger King employee as a teenager, De’Leon, who was bitten by the entertainment bug after seeing her gospel-singer father perform, decided to pursue her dreams and found herself in Hollywood, homeless and with only $200 to her name.

Through a roommate, who would offset things in De’Leon’s life in ways she could never imagine, things began looking up. After attending a model calling, De’Leon, whose motivation was solely to overcome her “hungry and penniless” state at the time, the Caribbean beauty not only booked the audition, but scored a one-year modeling contract the same day. Not long thereafter, De’Leon made her small screen debut on the hit series Vital Signs, – filmed in Los Angeles, but broadcast in Germany – in which she starred as a young woman trying to make it in the United States, a story-line not too far off from the rising star’s own life. De’Leon continued to make a name for herself with a host of subsequent movie and television appearances, including the NBC sitcom, Just Shoot Me!

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De’Leon’s biggest break, however, came in 2003 when she launched her very own record label, Dirrty Records. Upon the label’s success in its home of Los Angeles, a second branch was set up in South Carolina, where the entrepreneur still calls home. With an eclectic roster of artists signed to the label, including Seattle-based punk band The Slumps and the British indie rock quartet, The Fades, whose music has already been featured on the NBC hits “Life” and “Friday Night Lights,” De’Leon proved that she was an innovative force to be reckoned with. And people took notice.

What followed was a mention in New York-based hip hop magazine The Ave, vaunting De’Leon as “one of the most significant women in entertainment” and in 2004, an induction into the Caribbean Hall of Fame, alongside reggae legend Bob Marley and acting great Sidney Poitier. Since then, De’Leon, who also received her own day (February 7) in Los Angles as proclaimed by former Mayor James K. Hahn, has made sure not to rest on her laurels. The year of 2009 marked the inception of Palmetto Film Studios, De’Leon’s film company, which distributes between five and seven films a year………..Bio Source: EzineArticles

 QUEEN NANNY

Queen Nanny or Nanny (c. 1686 – 1733), Jamaican National Hero, was a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the eighteenth century. Historical documents refer to her as the “Rebels (sic) old obeah woman,” and they legally grant “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs . . . a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland . . .” (quoted in Campbell 177, 175). Nanny Town was founded on this land. Much of what is known about Nanny comes from oral history as little textual evidence exists.

Queen Nanny, born in Ghana in western Africa, to the Ashanti tribe, was brought to Jamaica as a slave, ( there are references to her coming as a free African dignitary). There were already slave rebellions taking place in Jamaica, rebellion and Maroon villages were growing. Soon after arriving in Jamaica, Nanny and her five brothers escaped from slavery. Her brothers Cudjoe, (also a famous Maroon leader) Accompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, became leaders of the Maroons, which included free Africans, escaped slaves.

By 1720 Nanny had taken full control of the Blue Mountain Rebel Town. It was renamed Nanny Town. There Nanny, and her people had cleared land for food cultivation. She was said to have had an excellent knowledge of herbs, as well as being a nurse and a spiritual leader.

 

From 1728 to 1734, Nanny Town was defended against British attack. The Maroons were better equipped and more knowledgeable of the mountainous terrain than the British. In 1734 a party of Nanny’s Maroons were sent to join those in the west of the island. Three hundred men, women and children set out on one of the longest marches in Jamaican history. This march, known as the “great trek” from Portland to St. James, and it is believed that they were to join Cudjoe’s warriors. Some say it is because Cudjoes wanted peace with the British, whilst Nanny wanted to unite the Maroons.
The slave rebellions that followed were inspired by Nanny and other freedom fighters. These rebellions made the British Government abolish slavery. Queen Nanny is known to the Maroons of today as “Granny Nanny”. Today the Maroons of Moore Town have kept their history through songs and word of mouth. Nanny is regarded as a Priestess and Queen Mother by the Maroons.
After Queen Nanny’s death the Windward Maroons were led by her successor ‘Quao’ who had experience in resisting the British. It was in 1739 that Quao signed a treaty with the British, whereby land was ceded to the Windward Maroons, and they were allowed independence.
The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1975 and a Memorial was erected. Her portrait is on the 500 Jamaican dollar bill.

 Dr. PATRICIA ALLISON BISHOP

Dr. PAT BISHOP,TC, H.B.M., BA Hons. (Fine Art), MA (history), Hon. D. Litt

Pat Bishop is was one of the most versatile Caribbean women of our day. A citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by birth, she was a National Scholarship winner from the Bishop Anstey High School. She proceeded to King’s College, Durham University where she studied Art. Upon completion of this degree, Miss Bishop returned to Trinidad where she taught Art at her Alma Mater for a few years. However, her restless spirit led her to U.W.l. Mona where she subsequently received her MA in West Indian History, her thesis being “Runaway Slaves in Jamaica, 1807 to 1823”. Bishop lectured history at U.W.l. at both the Mona and St. Augustine campuses for some eight years. She was also a lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the Jamaica School of Art 1970 to 1972.

 It was this combination of study in both the Arts and History of the Caribbean that later blossomed into her deep interest in, and pioneering work with the steel band movement in Trinidad. She focused this interest with the WITCO Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and as its conductor took the band on eight major USA tours including two major concerts at Carnegie Music Hall. She was the first to conduct a combined steel band and symphony orchestra, this being the Desperadoes and the New York Pops Symphony in mid 1980’s.

Dr. Bishop with the Exodus  Steel Orchestra.

It is as the Musical Director of “The Lydian Singers’ that Miss Bishop has been able to bring to audiences in Trinidad and abroad her talent as a musician, producing first-class performances of the great classics by Verdi, Rossini, Dvorak, and Beethoven. She has also presented the operatic works Koanga by Delius, L’Elisir D’Amore by Donizetti and Turandot by Puccini to Trinidad audiences.

Dr. Bishop has not let her gifts with the paintbrush behind for she has exhibited her work not only in Trinidad, but also in Barbados and London. Of interest she exhibited thirty-seven miniatures, wooden bas-reliefs and objects on the subject of the “Journey of the Magi” – a series on the pursuit of disinterested wisdom and its consequences. Her philosophy, deeply rooted in classical Christian theology and her life in the church are expressed in these and other art forms.

 In 1994 she received the Trinity Cross, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest National Award for her contribution in the field of Art and Community Service.

Over the past eleven years, Pat has been instrumental in establishing the Lydian Singers as one of the Caribbean’s premier choirs. Her fervid passion to let the ethereal medium of music soothe, comfort and uplift has led the choir to victory in 1987 Music Festival, where they were awarded the most outstanding choir and performer of the festival.

Her expert training and guidance have been precipitated numerous triumphs for the Lydian soloists. In 1997, Barry Martin captured the award of “The Most Outstanding Performer” of the National Music Festival. Following a clean sweep of the major awards in the 1990 festival, Pat’s tutorship led Edward Cumberbatch to claim the coveted top honours at the Senior Vocal Recital Class at the International Eisteddfod of South Africa in 1997.

Dr. Bishop at the age of 71 died of a heart attack on August 20/2011.  Bishop strived for excellence in everything she did, from art to advocacy, creativity to commentary. She was intelligent, quick-witted and well-read, knowledgeable about a plethora of subjects, and passionate about art and music…with a special affinity for the music of the steel pan, Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument. A believer in the power of the arts to transform and uplift, she was a staunch cultural advocate.

SEN. BERTHIA MONICA PARLE 

Sen. Hon. Berthia Monica Parle, MBE, Deputy President of the Senate.

Born is Castries, St. Lucia, she received her education at St. Joseph’s Convent in Castries. Berthia began her career at the Government  Treasury, where she received a CIDA Scholarship to pursue a Diploma Course in Middle Management/Hospitality Studies at the Barbados Hotel School from 1973 – 1975.

She graduated with honours. In addition, she received the K.R. Hunte Award for Excellence, for the most outstanding student and the Pink Pelican Award for excellence for the best Housekeeping student. This was the beginning of an illustrious 27-year hospitality career.
On completion of her Diploma Course, Berthia held several Housekeeping and Accounting positions at an Executive level in various fine Resorts in St. Lucia, Bermuda and Germany where she became fluent in German.
In 1983 Berthia (now married) returned to St. Lucia and after one Accounting position at Steingerberger Hotel, she joined in with several other investors and opened St. Lucia’s famous “Capones” Italian Restaurant/Pizzaria and Sweet Dreams Ice Cream Parlour, and then opened a second restaurant, The Patio. Berthia was the major managerial force behind the success of these restaurants.
After ten years in restaurant operations, Berthia decided to return to the hotel industry, as the General Manager of Bay Gardens Hotel in 1995, together with her husband.
As General Manager of this 71-room resort, Berthia has in just six years, created another success story. Together with her husband and her management team, they have a facility which is a market leader in the small hotel sector, being used as a model by lending institutions, as a hotel that exemplifies the highest standards of service, excellence and profitability. As a result, Bay Gardens now enjoys average occupancies of 80% due to her creativity, marketing skills, knowledge of the hotel and tourism industry, and a dedication to consistently strive for perfection and total quality operations in all her endeavours. Bay Gardens has also gained the reputation as one of the foremost small hotels in the Caribbean region. She is also responsible for marketing the new Bay Gardens Inn, and working very closely with the Hotel’s General Manager.
Berthia herself is widely considered to be one of the most powerful women in OECS tourism, and St. Lucia’s foremost small hotelier. Her contribution to the hotel sector and tourism in general are well documented and her dedication, commitment and professionalism are greatly admired by her peers in the industry. Her influence, energy, and enthusiasm are admirable qualities, which she brought to her appointment as Chairperson of the CHA Small Hotels Committee from 1998 – 2000. 
Mrs. Parle conducted several training courses for the small hotel sector in the Bahamas, Dominica and Tortola, and was instrumental in organizing two successful Caribbean Small Hotel Retreats in St. Lucia, giving independent hotels the knowledge and tools to survive in this fiercely competitive environment.
Mrs. Parle also played a major role as a panelist, moderator and keynote speaker at every Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) meetings – a gathering of regional, leading journalists and Editors from the region, Europe and North America, to educate journalists on a myriad of tourism topics, to better assist in educating the populace at large and creating a greater awareness of tourism as the engine of growth and its impact on the economies of the region.
Berthia has been married for twenty-four years to John Anthony Parle, a fellow Irish Hotelier.They have a nineteen-year-old son.
She held several positions in the tourism industry including President Elect of the Caribbean Hotel Association, (former) President of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) and Director of the St. Lucia Development Bank, Member of the St. Lucia Tourist Board and Deputy Chairperson of the Board’s Marketing Committee, Chairperson of the Caribbean Hotel Association Advocacy Committee, (former) 4th and 1st Vice President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA). She was inaugurated to President in June 2004 for a 2-year term – June 2004 to June 2006. Berthia is the first woman in the history of this regional organization to be appointed to such high-ranking positions of this prestigious Organisation. 
In June 2004, Berthia Parle was awarded the honor of Member of the Order of the British Empire, MBE, on the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.
House ladies of St Lucia: From left—Rosella King, Justice Suzie d’Auvergne, Berthia Parle, Jeannine Compton-Antoine, Dame Pearlette Louisy, Virginia Albert-Poyotte and Emma Hippolyte at the Opening of the House of Parliament.

Berthia  was appointed by the Governor General to serve as independent Senator in the First Session of the Tenth Parliament in Castries, Saint Lucia. She was subsequently elected by her peers to serve as Deputy President of the senate.

PAT McGRATH

Pat McGrath was raised in Northampton, England by her mother Jean McGrath, a Jamaican immigrant. McGrath credits her mother for her love of fashion and make-up, saying that Jean would comment on clothes as they watched classic movies together. McGrath has no formal training in fashion or make-up, having completed only an art foundation course at a Northampton college. Of her career, she has said, “I really love being a makeup artist. It never gets mundane or predictable and every shoot and show is different.”

McGrath’s career breakthrough came while working with Edward Enninful (then fashion editor of i-D magazine) in the early 1990s, when her innovative use of color “brilliantly solved the world’s ennui with grunge” and helped launch i-D to a position of international importance. In the mid-1990s, she worked both with minimalist Jil Sander and with surrealist John Galliano, where she became known for her “latex petals stuck to faces, vinyl lips, bodies drenched in powder paint, [and] stylized Kabuki physiognomies.”

Since then, McGrath has worked with photographers including Steven Meisel (who now rarely shoots without her), Paolo Roversi, Helmut Newton, and Peter Lindbergh. In addition to appearing in i-D, photos of her work have been published in fashion magazines including American, English, and French Vogue, W, and Harper’s Bazaar. She attends four fashion show seasons (counting couture) each year and has worked with designers including Prada, Miu Miu, Comme des Garçons, and Dolce and Gabbana. Additionally, she designed Armani’s cosmetics line in 1999 and in 2004 was named global creative-design director for Procter and Gamble, where she is in charge of Max Factor and Cover Girl cosmetics, among other brands. During McGrath’s constant travels to work locations, she takes between thirty and fifty bags of materials, tools, and reference materials.

As a makeup artist, McGrath is known for her wide range; according to Edward Enninful, her work spans from “the highest couture to club kids.” She is also known for her inventive use of materials: her most creative make-up is handmade, and she works mainly with her fingers instead of with brushes.

In an interview with Vogue.com UK during London Fashion Week (Sept. 2008) McGrath explained her creative process, saying: “I’m influenced a lot by the fabrics that I see, the colours that are in the collections, and the girls’ faces. It’s always a challenge but that’s the key – to make it different every time.”

DIANE JULIE ABBOTT

Diane Julie Abbott (born 27 September 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, when she became the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons. In 2010, Abbott became Shadow Public Health Minister after unsuccessfully standing for election as leader of the Labour Party

Abbott was born to Jamaican immigrants in London in 1953. Her father was a welder and her mother a nurse. She attended Harrow County Grammar School for Girls, and then Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read history. At Cambridge, she was tutored by historian Simon Schama. After university she became an administration trainee at the Home Office (1976 to 1978), and then a Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties (1978 to 1980). Abbott was a researcher and reporter at Thames Television from 1980 to 1983 and then a researcher and reporter at the breakfast television company TV-am from 1983 to 1985. Abbott was a press officer at the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone from 1985 to 1986 and Head of Press and Public Relations at Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1987.

Abbott’s career in politics began in 1982 when she was elected to Westminster City Council serving until 1986. In 1987 she was elected to the House of Commons, replacing the deselected serving Labour MP Ernest Roberts as MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington.

Abbott has a record of differing from some party policies, voting against the Iraq war, opposing ID cards and campaigning against the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons. She has been seen as a ‘maverick, a free-thinker, willing to rebel against the party machine.’

Abbott’s speech on civil liberties, in the debate on the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 won The Spectator magazine’s ‘Parliamentary Speech of the Year’ award and further recognition at the 2008 Human Rights awards.

Abbott has served on a number of parliamentary committees on social and international issues. For most of the 1990s she also served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons. She went on to serve on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Abbott chairs the All Party Parliamentary British-Caribbean Group and the All Party Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Group.

Abbott is founder of the London Schools and the Black Child initiative, which aims to raise educational achievement levels amongst black children.

In May 2010, she was re-elected in her constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, with a doubled majority on an increased turn-out.

On May 20/2010 Abbott announced her intention to stand in the Labor leadership contest. She secured the necessary 33 nominations by 9 June, assisted by the withdrawal of fellow left wing candidate John McDonnell and unexpected support from fellow candidate David Miliband. On Saturday 25 September 2010, Ed Miliband was announced as the new leader of the Labor Party with Abbott eliminated in the first round of voting after securing 7.24% of votes.

Abbott was later appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health by Ed Miliband, taking shadow responsibility for a range of issues including children’s health, maternity services, sexual health, tobacco, nursing, obesity and alcohol abuse. Following her move onto the front-bench, the Telegraph said on 27 September 2011 that Abbott had ‘become one of Labor’s best front bench performers’.

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Hon. PAULA COX, JP., MP., PREMIER

Premier Cox was first elected to Parliament as a Devonshire North MP, in a bye-election in October 1996. This followed the death of the former Opposition Leader, L. Frederick Wade, JP, MP on August 13, 1996. Currently Premier Cox is the Minister of Finance.

She has had varied experience in Government having held a number of portfolios. She has served in a number of Cabinet portfolios. Under the premiership of the Honourable Jennifer Smith, JP, MP, now Dame Jennifer Smith, Premier Paula Cox was appointed as the first PLP Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety. She and her father, the late C. Eugene Cox, JP, MP were unique as both were Ministers in the first PLP administration and the only serving father-daughter duo.

Premier Cox has gained respect across party lines for her brilliance as an articulate young lawyer and administrator. While the Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety, she was named in the Bermudians’ Best of Bermuda Gold annual listing as the most effective politician for 2001.

She was appointed Minister of Education and Development on November 1, 2001.

Following the July 2003 General Election, Premier Cox was appointed as Attorney-General and Minister of Education. She served in this dual portfolio until January 2004. In 2003 she was again cited in the Bermudian’s Best of Gold’s annual listing as the most effective politician. This accolade was repeated in 2006 in her capacity as Minister of Finance.

In 2003, while Premier Cox was currently serving as the Attorney-General and Minister of Education and Development, Wheelock College invited Premier Paula Cox to accept an honourary doctorate in Education. Premier Cox received this honourary degree at the May 2004 Wheelock Commencement exercise. In January 2004, after the death of her father, the former Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, the late C. Eugene Cox, CBE, JP, MP, Premier Paula Cox was appointed the Minister of Finance.

In her professional life, Premier Paula Cox works as a lawyer, is Corporate Counsel, at ACE Limited. She previously worked as Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel of Global Funds Services at The Bank of Bermuda Limited. This impeccable background, allows her to give the PLP Government and Party a strong voice in international financial matters, particularly with her expertise in the field of international law and international business organisation.

Premier Paula Cox for many years was one of the closest aides of the late Opposition Leader, Hon. L. Frederick Wade. She was his first Shadow Parliamentary Secretary, and at the same time the PLP’s Public Relations Officer.

Premier Cox earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from McGill University, a post-graduate Diploma in International Law from the University of Manchester, England and is a member of the Bermuda Bar, having trained in the United Kingdom as a Solicitor.

Premier Cox is the only daughter of retired educator Mrs. F. Alinda Cox. She is married to a businessman from Cameroon, Mr. Germain Nkeuleu and she has two brothers, Jeremy Cox, the Supervisor of Insurance at the Bermuda Monetary Authority and Robert Cox, an electrical engineer, who currently works in the United States.

Bermuda Premier Paula Cox (right) and U.S. Consul General Grace Shelton exchange copies of the ratified U.S. – Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) on April 12, 2012.

4 thoughts on “INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN, Pt. 7

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      1. Thanks for the information. I plan to publish some of these profiles in the next issue of my magazine, The I-Life Magazine…a mega global magazine for Africa & Middle East, Caribbean, USA & Canada. To advertise or subscribe , pleas send me an email or call 347-965-3630. Thanks again.
        Publisher

  1. Thoroughly researched and skillfully presented. Also…richly educational, informative and entertaining in content and scope that establish a deserving prominence and pride-of-place for some Caribbean women in their distinguished areas of professional interest and function. But is it too much to hope for subsequent issues to be more widely inclusive of other “stalwarts” who are equally deserving…from a wider regional perspective? By such a projected diversity in scope, one therefore hopes that the commendable effort and merits of this truly worthwhile and thoughtful initiative could be enviably sustained.

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