INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN – 1/14

Her Excellency Dr. GENEIVE BROWN-METZGER

Style: "Porcelain vivid"Geneive Brown Metzger is a nationally recognized diaspora strategist and Caribbean-U.S. Business Analyst serving U.S.- and Caribbean-based public and private sector organizations.

After building a career in public relations for almost thirty years, Dr. Brown Metzger’s path turned to diplomacy when she was asked by the Prime Minister of Jamaica to serve as the eighth Consul General (2008-2012) heading up the largest mission in Jamaica’s foreign service.  She represented Jamaican nationals in thirty-three states, Puerto Rico and Bermuda and brought a business perspective to the position—driving investment and trade, leading delegations in mining, housing and waste management to Jamaica, and spearheading investment fora, including at Bloomberg.  She secured over US$1M of cash and in-kind contributions from foreign investors to charities in Jamaica.

She served on the USAID/Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Think Tank in 2010-2011 leading up to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton inaugural Global Diaspora Forum in Washington in 2011.  She contributed to the Forum’s Toolkit and to its publication, “Diasporas: New Partners in Global Diaspora Strategy”, published by USAID/MPI.  She challenges the notion of “brain drain” in a transnational world; a subject she writes about, and promotes volunteerism among professional diasporans as a means of repatriating vital skills and knowledge to home countries.  She is currently developing a propriety volunteer program with the assistance of USAID Diaspora Alliance partners, CUSO and Accenture.

She dedicates her time to promoting tertiary education and entrepreneurship in Jamaica, serving as Co-chair of the University of Technology, Jamaica West.  She is also North American Adviser to the University’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences/Sapna Initiative-Incubator for new technology entrepreneurs.  In this capacity, she fosters strategic relationships between UTech and organizations in the United States in science and technology.

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Dr. Brown Metzger has been featured in The New York Times, on FOX NY television, and on Black Entertainment Television (BET).  She is a founding member of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations U.S.—the largest Jamaican diaspora organization in north America.  She has won awards for marketing, including from the energy industry for an on-line curriculum sponsored by KeySpan, “Energy Choices: The Challenge”.  She received the WOW award from the Westchester Business Journal in 2010.

Up until her appointment as Consul General, Mrs. Brown Metzger ran a successful public relations and marketing communications firm, Geneive Brown Associates (GBA), which she founded in 1984.  The firm was merged with the worldwide public relations agency, Ruder Finn, in 1990, where she started the Emerging Markets Division.  There, she served clients in South Africa and the Caribbean, helping to build a practice in travel, tourism, academia, and economic development.  She launched and implemented the University of the West Indies’ capital campaign and established the university’s first U.S.-based foundation and board.  She is a founding member of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Geneive-Brown-MetzgerDr. Brown Metzger began her career in 1977 working for Jack Greenberg, Esq., then head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who succeeded Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  She was the administrator and editorial assistant of the twenty-fifth anniversary program commemorating the U.S. Supreme Court landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education.  This was to be her glimpse into diplomacy and the U.S. State Department—a collaborator on the celebration that featured a summit on desegregation and brought leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.  Subsequently, she was a research and policy analyst for the New York Civil Liberties Union (1978-81) and vice president, development at the National Council of Negro Women (1981-84).

A community leader, she has served on Governor Mario Cuomo’s Committee on Black Affairs (1993), NYC Chancellor’s Committee on Creole Students 1989-1991, and the Westchester Board of Governors (2005-2007); IFCA affordable housing board (2003-07).  She currently in on the boards of the St. George’s Society, the Morris Heights Health Centers, Friends of the Penn Relays/University of Pennsylvania; and mentors young Jamaican professionals and entrepreneurs.

caribbean-trade-councilSen. Dodd poses with (l to r) Consul General Geneive Brown Metzger, Consul General Harold Robertson and Sgt. Andrew Lawrence

An amateur violinist and devote of the arts, she is the founder of the Amadeus Circle at the Paramount Center for the Arts (NY) where she served as vice president (2002-07), and co-founder of Opera Ebony, the longest running black opera company in the U.S.  She has produced chamber music concerts in Jamaica. Geneive Brown Metzger resides with her husband in Westchester, New York.

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KERRY WASHINGTON

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Scandal” star Kerry Washington  was born in The Bronx, New York City, the daughter of Valerie, a professor and educational consultant, and Earl Washington, a real estate broker. Her father’s family is African American, from South Carolina and Brooklyn, and her mother’s family is Jamaican American, from Manhattan; Washington has said that her mother is from a “mixed-race background but from Jamaica, so she is partly English and Scottish and Native American, but also descended from African slaves in the Caribbean”.  She is related to former secretary of state Colin Powell through her mother.

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Washington performed with the TADA! Youth Theater teen group and attended the Spence School in Manhattan, graduating in 1994. She attended The George Washington University, graduating in 1998 Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in anthropology and sociology. She also studied at Michael Howard Studios in New York City.

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HANNAH LOWE

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In her debut book Chick, poet Hannah Lowe — born in the UK to an Afro-Jamaican father and white British mother — comes to terms with family history

Despite the swell of her belly, Hannah Lowe is perched, apparently comfortably, on a wide bench at the British Library in London. The child who is coming will bear her father’s name, she says. “It’s important for me not to lose the name, because the child won’t feel the connection to the Caribbean that I do.”

Chick, Lowe’s first collection of poetry — published in February 2013, and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection — is also named for her father. A mixed-race Chinese-black Jamaican immigrant to Britain, Chick was a professional gambler who was already in his fifties when Lowe and her brother were born. They grew up in Ilford, just outside London, where their white British mother was deputy head teacher at a primary school.

The complex legacy of her father’s life is at the heart of Lowe’s writing. Not only was he a gambler, he was also willing to stack the odds in his own favour. Lowe and her brother knew their father gambled for a living, but that he played dishonestly was something they saw only in glimpses. Her brother caught him ironing cellophane around a pack of cards, to make them appear new; in a hall cupboard there was a little guillotine for shaving the sides off of cards; there were pots of ink, penknives, and scalpels around the house, and a dentist’s drill her father used for loading dice. These objects inhabit her poems, but only past childhood did she make sense of them.

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“When I said to my mum later, ‘Where was Dad doing this?’ she said, ‘Oh, love, he’d be doing it wherever you weren’t.’ The way that that sort of shifts the memories of your childhood is quite incredible,” Lowe explains. “And then these little things start to make sense: I remember seeing him loading dice and not knowing what he was doing, and the door sort of being pushed shut in my face.”

All of this within the façade of white middle-class family life. Both children looked white. “We both really identified as being white, because we were both treated as white. We are white in one way, but I think there was always the sense of feeling very different as well,” Lowe says. More than just the presence of their black father, there was, for example, the fact that they ate Jamaican food. Their father spent nights out gambling, returning to the family home at dawn, then much of the day asleep, but he did all the cooking. “He was a house husband. But he wasn’t like a traditional man — he was happy to do all the cooking, make cakes and puddings. He loved all that.”

Lowe’s was a childhood full of contradictions. Her father both was, and was not, part of family life. They all went on family holidays together, but Lowe says he sometimes felt like a lodger. He ferried the children around, but Lowe was known to tell friends he was a taxi driver her mother had sent to collect her. “I was always having to explain him to other people,” she says, “but it wasn’t just the fact that he was black and I was white. It was the fact that he was so old. He looked like a grandfather, and often he’d just got out of bed because he’d been playing cards all night, so he was this old dishevelled man with his hair stood on end.” One of the difficulties about promoting Chick, she says, is getting across that it’s “not just about having a black dad,” but about all the things her father was.

Ralph Lowe (“Chick” was a gambling nickname) had a tragic upbringing. Born in Jamaica in 1925 to a Chinese immigrant shopkeeper and his black servant, he believed that his own father had “bought” him from his mother to use as a lackey in the shop. Lowe says her grandmother gave up all claim to her son and later refused to acknowledge him, and her father found a receipt which seemed to indicate money had changed hands. Ralph was brutalised by his father, and would often run to his mother’s house, begging her to let him stay, only to be sent back. Lowe says her father was haunted by the knowledge that his mother didn’t want him.

Much of what Lowe knows about her father’s early life is from notebooks and tapes he used to document his own story. Lowe was studying literature at university, “and I kept doing courses in black women’s writing and postcolonial literature, but I wasn’t putting it together. I just thought, Oh, I’m interested in this. I was just beginning to realise that perhaps I was interested in the story of his life, and in my identity and how race is constructed, all of those things — and then he died.”

Because of his age and lifestyle, her father had been ill for much of her childhood, but was diagnosed with cancer while she was at university. The cancer went away, but came back two or three years later, by which time Lowe had started a master’s degree in refugee studies. It was just three weeks between this new diagnosis and his eventual death. Her mother called her at university and told her to come home. “By the time I got there, he could hardly talk any more. It put me — without being overly dramatic — into a sort of psychic crisis. I realised that I needed to know his story, and he was going to die, and there was nothing I could do to bring him back. It was just too late.” When he lost consciousness, Lowe was completely grief-stricken. “But it was not just the grief of losing a father, it was a sort of cultural grief, really.”

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For “years and years and years after,” she would dream he was still alive. “In these dreams I go out into the street. I’d be looking for him, the road signs would be all wrong. They were sad dreams. I can laugh about them now, but I was always dreaming that I had the chance to talk to him again.” Long after his death, and after many years of academic writing, Lowe began writing poems about Ralph. She joined a creative writing class, and it became a running joke that every week she would bring in a new poem about her father. A decade on, with the publication of Chick, and having just found a publisher for a family memoir which intersperses chapters about her own childhood with fictionalised chapters about 1930s Jamaica based on her father’s notebooks, she may finally have gone as far as she needs to into her father’s life. Although her racial identity remains an open question.

At a recent history conference, Lowe witnessed an eminent white historian being challenged by a woman in the audience, who wanted to know when he felt the narrating of black history should be in the hands of black people, and what he was doing to facilitate this. Lowe seems personally affected by having witnessed the exchange. She says that after years and years of never making any claim on a black identity — “for all the reasons that I wouldn’t, because I have had all the privileges of a white upbringing, to the extent that I know those privileges still exist” — the experience of publishing Chick made her realise that hers is accepted as another black British voice. “But to hear that woman say that — I still can’t square it.” The only thing of which she is certain is that there are no absolutes. “Twenty or thirty years ago in Britain, when minority literature, black literature, started getting studied, things were said like, ‘These are voices from the margins that have unique insights,’ and I think things that I can say complicate that a bit, because I’m not a voice from the margins at all.”

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She wonders if the things that she can say might make people think about “passing” and ideas around it — “because, let’s face it, two hundred years ago, if I’d been born in Jamaica, I’d have been a slave. On the ‘one drop’ theory of racial purity, plantations in Jamaica had people working on them who looked like me . . . Does it make people think, actually, what is race, what does ‘black’ look like?” Lowe wants the child she is carrying to share the legacy of her father, although she’s still unsure how this will be communicated. Will it involve having to say something like, Oh, my dad was black? “For years and years and years I never said anything like that. It was in poetry that I got to make a claim.”

Source:(Caribbean Beat by Melissa Richards)

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Dr. AVIS GLAZE

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Jamaican born Dr. Avis Glaze is an international leader in the field of education. As one of Canada’s outstanding educators, she has been recognized for her work in leadership development, student achievement, school and system improvement, character development and equity of outcomes for all students. As Ontario’s first Chief Student Achievement Officer and founding CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, she played a pivotal role in improving student achievement in Ontario schools. Her primary focus in education is on building capacity to ensure that all students achieve, regardless of background factors or personal circumstances. It is her core belief that educators play a fundamental role in sustaining democracy.

Avis completed two Master of Education programs – one in educational administration, a second in guidance and counselling, and a Doctorate in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She also has training in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Facilitation, and the Assessment of Emotional Intelligence. She has taught at all levels of the education system, in rural and urban areas, in public and Catholic schools, and at the elementary, secondary, community college and university levels. Avis has been a superintendent of schools in several school districts, an Associate Director of Education with the York Region District School Board and Director of Education of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. At the university level, Avis has been an Adjunct Professor in counselor and teacher education in faculties of education in Ontario. She also served as an Education Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education and as Research Coordinator with the Ontario Women’s Directorate of the Ministry of Labor.

In 1994, Avis served as a Commissioner on the Ontario Royal Commission on Learning and had the opportunity to influence the direction of education in Ontario through the recommendations of the Commission. She has extensive experience in international education and was chosen by the Canadian government to assist with educational reform in South Africa. She represented Canada at the UNESCO conference on Inclusive Education in Riga, Latvia. As well, she knows schools across the globe firsthand, having worked with educators in Australia, England, Finland, Singapore, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Caribbean and many parts of the United States.

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Within her community, she served as Chairperson of the Harry R. Gairey Scholarship Fund, helping outstanding black students to attend university. She has established the Avis Glaze Scholarships with the Markham African Caribbean Association for university or college education and has supported a scholarship for studies in education at the University of Ottawa.

Avis has received honorary doctorates from several Canadian universities and has won more than thirty awards for outstanding contribution to education, including Educator of the Year, The Distinguished Educator Award, the 2001 YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the Harry Jerome Award, the Sandford D. McDonnell Lifetime Achievement Award for Character Education offered by the Character Education Partnership in the United States, and The Order of Ontario, among others.

After serving as Ontario’s first CEO of The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Avis was later appointed as Ontario’s Education Commissioner and Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education. Her consulting company, Edu-quest International Inc., offers a wide range of services internationally. She continues to motivate and inspire educators through speaking engagements and consults with school districts, non-profit organizations and businesses to maximize talent and achieve results. She also served as Adviser to the Minister of Education in New Zealand on national standards.

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Avis continues to be the inveterate learner that she is, taking courses at every possible opportunity. She recently received designation as a Visible Learning Certified Trainer, in John Hattie’s work, offered through Corwin Press in Thousand Oaks, California.

Dr. Glaze is a consummate capacity builder in teaching, Improving student achievement, leadership development and school system improvement. She is skilled at motivating and inspiring teachers, principals, system leaders, policy makers politicians, parents and business leaders to realize their potential in improving their schools. She co-authored Breaking Barriers: Excellence and Equity for All (Glaze, Mattingley and Levin) on the high impact strategies to improve education systems in general, and schools in particular. Her most recent book, “High School Graduation: k-12 Strategies that Work,” (Glaze, Mattingley and Andrews), identifies the research-informed strategies to improve graduation rates for all students regardless of socio-economic or other social or demographic factors.

Avis’ international contributions to education was, once again, recently recognized when she received the Robert Owen Award, the first of its kind offered in Scotland, from Mr. Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Dr. Avis E. Glaze

Why do you do what you do? It is my belief that one’s fortunate position in life is often due to the combination of circumstances and the opportunity to utilize one’s talents. I have found that a good education empowers and provides the impetus to contribute to the well-being of others. As an educator, I have considered it my primary purpose to help students think critically, feel deeply, and act wisely and ethically. That is a privilege we enjoy and a responsibility we assume in our efforts to contribute to active and responsible citizenship. As it has been said, I believe that much is expected of those who have been given a lot in life. I care deeply about people and believe that I should give of my time, energy, talents and skills to help others. I love my adopted country, Canada. I believe strongly that I should play my role in nation building.

Education: ED.D., Ed. (1980); M.Ed., OISE/University of Toronto (1976, 1979); BA/Hons, University of the West Indies (1972).

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