OUTSTANDING CARIBBEAN WOMEN – TM

 

Help us honor the strength and innovation of Caribbean Women! Discover their stories that inspire….

CAMILLE WARDROP ALLEYNE 

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Camille Wardrop Alleyne is a brilliant aerospace engineer whose accomplishments in that field have been extraordinary. In the highly technical fields of science and engineering where women are in the minority, she has achieved against all odds, being one of a few women of color and the only woman of Caribbean descent in a senior management position at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The recipient of several recognition awards from NASA, she has played a lead role in the design and development of space vehicles, among them the state-of-the-art Orion crew exploration vehicle. She has also received commendations from the US Department of Defense for her work on its ballistic missile defense system.

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Based at the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, USA, Ms Alleyne is the Assistant Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS), which is NASA’s only human space flight program since the closing of the Space Shuttle program. She is responsible for communicating the scientific and technological accomplishments of the ISS and the benefits to life on Earth to the top leadership at NASA, the US Congress, the general public, and scientific, research and educational communities. She also leads an international education task group, which identifies ISS educational activities that can inspire students and attract them to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

Prior to this, Ms Alleyne worked on the Orion project with a team of engineers designing and building the next generation of crew exploration vehicles to replace the current fleet. This new vehicle will have the capability to transport astronauts to destinations beyond Low Earth Orbit such as the moon, asteroids and potentially, Mars. As Manager, Test and Verification, she was responsible for ensuring that the Orion crew and service modules were tested and certified to meet their functional and performance requirements. She was also part of the team that worked on design issues for the crew exploration vehicle cockpit and the integration of the crew module system and subsystems.

Ms Alleyne started her career at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, where she operated and tested the equipment responsible for ensuring ideal environmental conditions for astronauts and cargo in the Space Shuttle. She then took on a lead role in the Constellation Program, managing its architecture requirements and leading the integration of its various engineering systems.

Before joining NASA, she was an aerospace systems engineer with the US Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense, where she led analysis and integration of several ballistic missile defense projects. They included the Ground-Based Mid-course Interceptor and Aegis Weapon System. She also co-led the planning and execution of the US Navy’s test that marked the first time an AEGIS ship or any mobile platform tracked a boosting Intercontinental Ballistic Missile into outer space.

Camille Wardrop Alleyne

Camille Wardrop Alleyne was born on 12th October, 1966 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. She grew up with an innate curiosity about the wonders of space and the workings of airplanes. Her parents nurtured these interests by encouraging her to take things apart and reassemble them. As a child, she would sit on the trunk of her dad’s car, star-gazing and thinking about outer space and how she could get there. Camille attended Mucurapo Girls’ RC School in Trinidad, St. Francois Girls’ College, Trinidad, Howard University, BSc in Mechanical Engineering, Florida A&M University, MSc in Mechanical Engineering (Specialization in Composite Materials), University of Maryland, MSc in Aerospace Engineering (Specialization in Hyper-sonic Aerodynamics and Propulsion).

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Dr. FRANCES LOUISE CHANDLER, OBE.

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Senator Dr Frances Louise Chandler is Barbados’ first female agronomist, and the first agronomist to serve as Independent Senator. She chose to become an agronomist because she recognized the importance of improving food production and increasing food security in her country.

Dr. Frances attended the Codrington High School and Queen’s college and studied for a degree in Agriculture at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.  She later completed a PHD in Crop Science.

She was born on 16th December, 1946 in St Phillip, Barbados. Her father started as a welder in a sugar factory before he was promoted to sugar factory manager. She lived in an area surrounded by cane fields and attended a small primary school in the countryside. For her Advanced Level examinations, she and another student undertook a detailed study of the cultivation of a sugar cane field, recording all operations from planting through to harvesting. It looked at the growth of the crop as well as the weed flora, and her overall examination results won her a national scholarship.

Dr Chandler worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and also the Caribbean Agricultural, Research and Development Institute (CARDI) for almost three decades. She did extensive research on onions to expand the growing season, by selecting a high yielding, disease-tolerant variety with a long shelf life. She also did considerable work on various root, fruit and vegetable crops like yams, melons, lettuce, ochroes and sweet peppers.

frances chandlerSenator Dr Frances Chandler, honored for service to agriculture was presented with the Order Of The British Empire (OBE) insignia.

Dr. Chandler is known for her work on the production, handling and packaging of fresh produce in Barbados for international markets.
In 1997, she started her own consulting business, Horticultural Business Solutions Inc. She uses her extensive experience to increase the efficiency of individual growers and companies involved in food production, marketing and distribution.

She credits her parents’ good examples of discipline, industry and a good work ethic for her success. She assures students that pursuing careers in science and technology is rewarding. It inculcates discipline, practicality and logical thinking, which are useful in every facet of life.

Dr. Chandler was awarded the Queen’s College Association Award in 1985 and a gold medal from the Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) in 1984.  She also received the Barbados Agriculture Society Award in 1984 and was the first woman to be awarded the Inter American Agricultural Award for Young professionals for the Antilles.

 

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DAME OLGA LOPES-SEALEDame Olga Seale

Dame Olga Lopes Seale, affectionately known as ‘Auntie Olga’ was a radio broadcaster who used her profession to help children in Guyana and Barbados.

Born in Guyana in December, 1918, she married a Barbadian, Dick Seale in 1939, and came to Barbados with her then young family in 1963.

She was the first woman broadcaster in Guyana where she worked for ‘Radio Demerara’ and it was there that her charity worked began.  She founded the ‘Needy Children’s Fund first’ in Guyana and acquired the nick name “Auntie Olga”.

After settling in Barbados, Lope-Seale would join the then Barbados Rediffusion Services Limited  now known as Starcom  Network and she continued with helping children through her profession and community work.

She started the Needy Children’s Fund in Barbados and has helped thousands of children throughout the island and this resulted in her being awarded the ‘Member of the Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) in 1981 by the Government of Barbados and in 2005, she was made a ‘Dame of St. Andrew’.

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Perhaps the most notable part of Auntie Olga’s charitable work was the attention she gave to each child.  She visited children in their home environment, assessing their needs and the ways she could help improve their lives and she delivered hampers, food vouchers and clothing vouchers to them.

 Lopes-Seale also focused on the education of children making it possible for many to attend school and she also tried to make them feel special and important as individuals.  She held a Christmas party for the children every year and gave birthday gifts to many.

She garnered support from companies to donate funds and she got local organisations to collaborate on projects and communities to get behind her immensely successful fundraising events.

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Lopes-Seale Dame Olga "Auntie "

 Over time the Fund in Barbados developed to enfold not only needy children, but also mentally and physically disabled kids and the elderly.  It raised money for expensive medical operations and equipment that would help children to lead more normal lives. Her work with the elderly involved visiting them in their homes, supplying spectacles and again, wheelchairs, clothing and gifts. She wanted everyone to feel equal and included – testament to a big heart and a tremendous will to fight for others.

Lopes-Seale died in Barbados in 2011 at the age of 92.

 

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 Dr. SHIRIN HAQUE

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“I will never forget flying in a helicopter over the volcano in Montserrat, filming for a documentary with the stench of sulfurous gases stinging our nostrils! Nor can I forget being told that I would never get any grants for Astronomy in the Caribbean, or be able to get a job here in this area. Not getting into Engineering as an undergraduate was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have always seen failure as navigating a person to the future they really belong to and where their major contributions are likely to be. At the University of Virginia, working toward my PhD in Astronomy, I realized that there were thousands in the developed world doing what I could do. In the Caribbean, I could make a difference. Ten years later, this has turned out to be true.”  Dr. Shirin Haque

 Dr Shirin Haque is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and she has a passion for learning and teaching and this led her to taking up the post as head of the Department of Physics at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine and she is the first woman to do so.

Born on 1st December, 1964 in Patna, India, she came to Trinidad with her parents at age 7 when her father, a plant virologist, was offered a position at UWI.   She attended the St Joseph TML School and the St. Augustine Girls’ High School in Trinidad before studying for a Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of the West Indies.

​Her love for physics led her to completing a Mphil in Physics (Astronomy and a PhD in Physics (Astronomy) in association with the University of Virginia.

 Dr. Haque’s  distinguish academic achievements earned her the UWI Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award in 2002, the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Association of Atlantic Universities in 2004 and the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.

 She is the co-founder of the Caribbean Institute of Astronomy (CARINA) and the Society for Physics Advancement Research and Collaboration (SPARC). She started an observational astronomy program at St Augustine, in collaboration with the University of Turku in Finland, and its success brought international attention to UWI.

 A strong believer in the importance of education, Dr Haque has distinguished herself as a dynamic student-centred instructor and an outstanding role model, especially to young women. She was the first in the department to make her courses available online, and has introduced a new course in astronomy for non-science majors. She also conducts astronomy workshops for teachers, provides career guidance to secondary students, and gives public lectures in astronomy. She was the co-chair of the International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) held in Trinidad in 2009, with participants from 17 countries.

 She is also working with universities in the USA, Canada and Finland on an astro biology study of the Pitch Lake and mud volcanoes in Trinidad. Astrobiology is the interdisciplinary study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. It encompasses the search for habitable environments. The local sites under study by Dr Haque’s team have an extreme environment for harboring life since, at the subsurface, there is no light or nutrition as we know it. The findings can provide insights into how life began and whether it can exist on planets with similar conditions. The study has generated much interest and has been featured by the BBC and Discovery Channel.

 Science popularization is Dr. Haque’s forte with over 40 public lectures and numerous local and foreign popular science articles and television appearances. SUNY, Stony Brook dedicated a web page to her demo in Physics.

Dr Haque speaks and writes in the media on topics in astronomy, and has produced two science documentaries for television, “Adventures in Discovery” and “All is Number”, with a third underway entitled, “Losing Paradise”.

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 She also completed a MPhil in psychology, using wave technology and mathematical concepts to model psychological phenomena, e.g. how the impact of life events decays with time.

​Dr Haque enjoys popular science writing, photography, long drives with music, and quilt making. She collects Kelly dolls, and loves cooking and spending time with her two daughters.

 She fondly remembers as a young child looking at the moon with a pair of binoculars and being blown away by its beauty and today she advises young students to keep their  childlike curiosity.  “There is so much in the natural world just waiting to be discovered. Never lose your childlike curiosity and fascination with things.”

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HER EXCELLENCY Dr. MARION WILLIAMS, PhD.

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Dr. Marion Williams served as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados from 1999 to 2009. She has worked in the area of economics and finance for most of her working life.  She holds a PhD. from the University of Surrey and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of the West Indies.  She is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers (FCIB) of the U.K., and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).  Dr. Williams was the first President and a founding member of the Barbados Institute of Banking and Finance.  She is a former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Center for Monetary Studies (CCMS).  In 2006 Dr. Williams was the recipient of the Award of Honorary Fellow of the Caribbean Association of Banking and Financial Institutes (CABFI).  She received a national honor of Gold Crown of Merit by the Government of Barbados in 2006.

She has represented the Bank at several meetings and conferences, both regionally and internationally; has published articles in local, regional and international journals, and has served on many advisory boards and committees.  She is the author of three books “Liberalizing a Regulated Banking System: The Caribbean Case”, published by Avebury, “Managing Public Finances in a Small Developing Economy – The Case of Barbados”, published by Praeger, and “Strategic Re-positioning   A Caribbean Perspective on Economic Policy Making”, published by the Central Bank of Barbados.

Dr. Williams is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Barbados at Geneva.

Ambassador WilliamsAmbassador Williams and husband Mr. Clyde Williams

SENATOR, KERRYANN IFILL

SENATOR KERRYANN

“Full of firsts”: Senator Kerryann Ifill has created history in Barbados by becoming the first woman, first disabled person and the youngest person at the age of 38 to be elected to this role.

A graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and postgraduate student of Durham Business School, Senator Ifill began losing her sight at the age of four. This exceptional lady was the first blind person to complete her course of study and within three years, to honor a promise she made to herself.

She has never let blindness affect her life.  “I look at life this way – you do what you are supposed to do and you do it the best way you can. If you happen to be blind, well, just find a way to do it. With being blind, I do not waste time complaining over my being blind… Blindness is a part of me. That is like saying, today I won’t be a woman. You are a woman all of the time. Yes, we have challenges to overcome as women but that does not mean that we have to stop being who we are. We are women, I am blind. That is part of it, so I do what I have to do,” is her pragmatic perspective.

Her life has been one of determination and dedication to excellence. She has pursued her career goals while working full time at the Barbados Council for the Disabled. Senator Ifill would like to see the Ratification of the Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities come to fruition in Barbados. According to Kerryann – as she likes to be called –  there must be more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  “People with disabilities are citizens, we are entitled to the rights like all citizens; one of those rights is the right to work and the right to contribute. We don’t have to be service recipients. We can be service providers as well. 

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NAOMIE MELANIE HARRIS

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Naomie Melanie Harris (born 6 September 1976) is a British-born actress. She is best known for her starring role as Selena in 28 Days Later, her supporting turn as Tia Dalma/Calypsoian the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films, and as Eve Moneypenny in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall.

Harris was born and brought up in London, and educated there at St Marylebone School. Her mother, Lisselle Kayla, is originally from Jamaica, and her father Winston is from Trinidad. They separated when she was a child, and she was raised by her mother. Her mother worked as a screenwriter on EastEnders. After graduating in 1998 from Pembroke College,Cambridge, with a degree in Social and Political Sciences, Harris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Harris has appeared in television and film since she was nine, including a stint on the remake of the science fiction series The Tomorrow People. She became internationally well known in 2002 with her lead performance in Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later, opposite Cillian Murphy, In the same year, she starred in the television adaptation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.

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Since then, Harris has been cast in supporting roles in big budget films, such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s ChestPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. She also did a comic turn in Michael Winterbottom’s well-regarded indie ensemble piece, A Cock and Bull Story, and appeared with Josh Hartnett in the 2008 release of August. She starred in Channel 4’s adaptation of the novel Poppy Shakespeare, which was first shown on 31 March 2008. She also appeared in BBC’s historical drama Small Island in December 2009.

She played Elizabeth Lavenza in Danny Boyle’s stage production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the National Theatre from 22 February to 2 May 2011. She plays the lead role in The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, which premiered on 18 May 2011 in the Seattle International Film Festival.

Harris co-starred in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, playing Eve Moneypenny. She is the first black actress to play Moneypenny. In 2012, Harris was the voiceover for the Boss Nuit Pour Femme advert starring actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

Harris will portray Winnie Mandela in the upcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on the book of the same name, opposite actor Idris Elba. The film will be released on 29 November 2013.

Naomie+Harris+Skyfall+Madrid+Photocall+uYY4UFlpfyAxNAOMIE MELANIE HARRIS

INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN #11

INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN

 JEAN AUGUSTINE, P.C., C.M., M.Ed, LL.D.

JEAN AUGUSTINE

From 1993 to 2005, Augustine was a Liberal member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Etobicoke, Lakeshore. She is a former member of Cabinet, and a former school principal. Augustine served as the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1994 to 1996, and was the Minister of State for multiculturalism, and the status of women until 2004.

Augustine was born in Grenada. She studied at the University of Toronto where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education. Later on she received a Honorary Doctor of Laws from the same institution. After university she was an elementary school principal with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto.

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She has served on numerous organizations and Boards including the National Black Coalition of Canada, the Board of Governors of York University, the Board of Trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children, the Board of Directors of the Donwood Institute, the Board of Harbourfront and Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. She was also National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada.

In the 1993 federal election, Augustine became the first African Canadian woman elected to the Parliament of Canada and subsequently the first black woman in a federal Cabinet. She also served three terms as Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus.

In February 2002, Augustine was elected Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. On May 26, 2002, Augustine was appointed Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women). In December 2003, she was re-appointed to the new Cabinet as Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women). In 2004, she was appointed to the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole, making her the first African Canadian to occupy the Speaker’s Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.

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Augustine was the Founding Chair of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population & Development, Chair of the National Sugar Caucus, Chair of the Micro-credit Summit Council of Canadian Parliamentarians, Chair of the Canada-Slovenia Parliamentary Group and Chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Group.

On November 28, 2005, Augustine announced her intention to retire and that she would not be a candidate in the 2006 Canadian election.

In 2007, Augustine was nominated by the Government of Ontario to become the first Fairness Commissioner, a position created to advocate for Canadians with foreign professional credentials.

She is the recipient of the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, the Kaye Livingstone Award, the Ontario Volunteer Award, the Pride Newspaper Achievement Award, the Rubena Willis Special Recognition Award and the Toronto Lions’ Club Onyx Award.

In 2009, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for her distinguished career as an educator, politician and advocate for social justice in Canada”

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“ORDER OF CANADA”

For over four decades, Jean Augustine has advocated for the rights of women, immigrants and visible minorities. Upon immigrating to Canada, she became involved with her community, volunteering with numerous health and social welfare organizations. She also provided leadership as the former national president of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. During four successive terms as a member of Parliament, she held various portfolios, including that of secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women. Her legacy includes the federal declaration of February as Black History Month in Canada, and the motion that brought the Famous Five monument to Parliament Hill.

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BERYL AGATHA GILROY

An innovative Caribbean writer, novelist of the black diaspora and London’s first black head teacher.

Beryl-Agatha-GilroyBERYL AGATHA GILROY

Beryl Agatha Gilroy (née Answick) (30 August 1924 – 4 April 2001) was a novelist and teacher, and “one of Britain’s most significant post-war Caribbean migrants”. Born in what was then British Guiana (now Guyana), she moved in the 1950’s to the United Kingdom, where she became the first black headteacher in London. She was the mother of academic Paul Gilroy.

Gilroy was born in Skeldon, Berbice, Guyana. She grew up in a large, extended family, largely under the influence of her maternal grandmother, Sally Louisa James (1868–1967), a herbalist, manager of the family small-holding, keen reader, imparter to the young Beryl of the stories of “Long Bubbies”, Cabresses and Long Lady and a treasury of colloquial proverbs.

Gilroy did not enter full-time schooling until she was twelve. From 1943 to 1945, she attended teacher training college in Georgetown, gaining a first-class diploma. She subsequently taught and lectured on a UNICEF nutrition program. In 1951, at the age of 27, she was selected to attend university in the United Kingdom. Between 1951 and 1953 she attended the University of London pursuing a Diploma in Child Development.

Although Gilroy was a qualified teacher, racism prevented her getting a post for some time, and she had to work as a washer, a factory clerk and maid. She taught for a couple of years, married and spent the next twelve years at home bringing up and educating her children, furthering her own higher education, reviewing and reading for a publisher. In 1968 she returned to teaching and eventually became the first Black headteacher in London. Her experiences of those years are told in Black Teacher (1976).

Later she worked as a researcher at the Institute of Education, University of London, and developed a pioneering practice in psychotherapy, working mainly with Black women and children. She gained a PhD in counselling psychology from an American university in 1987 while working at the Institute of Education.

In 2000 she was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the Institute “in recognition of her services to education”.

She died of a heart attack at the age of 76 on 4 April 2001. As noted by Roxann Bradshaw: “Two days later over one hundred Anglopjone women writers from around the world gathered at Goldsmith College in London, where Dr Gilroy had been scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the 4th annual Caribbean Women Writers Association conference. The news of her death was received with great sorrow for the passing of one of the first wave of Anglophone women writers, whose contribution to Caribbean women’s literature is invaluable.

An orange skirt suit worn by Beryl Gilroy was included in an exhibition entitled Black British Style at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2004.

Gilroy’s creative writing began in childhood, as a teacher for children and then in the 1960s when she began writing what was later published by Peepal Tree Press as In Praise of Love and Children. Between 1970 and 1975 she wrote the pioneering children’s series Nippers, which contain probably the first reflection of the Black British presence in UK writing for children.

It was not until 1986 that her first novel, the award-winning Frangipani House was published (Heinemann). It won a GLC Creative Writing Prize in 1982. Set in an old person’s home in Guyana, it reflects one of her professional concerns: the position of ethnic minority elders and her persistent emphasis on the drive for human freedom. Boy Sandwich(Heinemann) was published in 1989, followed by Stedman and Joanna: A Love in Bondage (Vantage, 1991), and a collection of poems, Echoes and Voices (Vantage, 1991). Then came Sunlight and Sweet Water (Peepal Tree, 1994), Gather the FacesIn Praise of Love and Children and Inkle and Yarico (all Peepal Tree, 1994). Her last novel, The Green Grass Tango (Peepal Tree) was published in 2001, sadly after Beryl Gilroy’s death in April of that year.

Gilroy’s early work examined the impact of life in Britain on West Indian families and her later work explored issues of African and Caribbean diaspora and slavery.

In 1998, a collection of her non-fiction writing, entitled Leaves in the Wind, came out from Mango Publishing. It included her lectures, notes, essays, dissertations and personal reviews.

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Dr. MERLE HODGE

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Merle Hodge was born in 1944, in Curepe, Trinidad, the daughter of an immigration officer. She received both her elementary and high-school education in Trinidad, and as a student of Bishop Anstey High School, she won the Trinidad and Tobago Girls’ Island Scholarship in 1962. The scholarship allowed her to attend University College, London, where she pursued studies in French. In 1965 she completed her B.A. Hons. and received a Master of Philosophy degree in 1967, the focus of which concerned the poetry of the French Guyanese writer Léon Damas.

Hodge did quite a bit of traveling after obtaining her degree, working as a typist and baby-sitter to make ends meet. She spent much time in France and Denmark but visited many other countries in both Eastern and Western Europe. After returning to Trinidad in the early 1970’s, she taught French for a short time at the junior secondary level. She then received a lecturing position in the French Department at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica. At UWI she also began the pursuit of a Ph.D. in French Caribbean Literature. In 1979 Maurice Bishop became prime minister of Grenada, and Hodge went there to work with the Bishop regime. She was appointed director of the development of curriculum, and it was her job to develop and install a socialist education program. Hodge had to leave Grenada in 1983 because of the execution of Bishop and the resulting U.S. invasion. Hodge is currently working in Women and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

To date, Merle Hodge has written two novels: Crick Crack, Monkey (1970) and The Life of Laetitia, which was published more than two decades later, in 1993.

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Hodge’s first novel, Crick Crack, Monkey, concerns the conflicts and changes a young girl, Tee, faces as she switches from a rural Trinidadian existence with her Aunt Tantie to an urban, anglicized existence with her Aunt Beatrice. With Tee as narrator, Hodge guides the reader through an intensely personal study of the effects of the colonial imposition of various social and cultural values on the Trinidadian female. Tee recounts the various dilemmas in her life in such a way that it is often difficult to separate the voice of the child, experiencing, from the voice of the woman, reminiscing; in this manner, Hodge broadens the scope of the text considerably. Cultural appropriation, when those who are colonized appropriate the culture of the colonizers, is exemplified in the story of Crick Crack Monkey.

The Life of Laetitia (1993), the story of a young Caribbean girl’s first year at school away from home, was well received, one review calling it “a touching, beautifully written coming-of-age story set in Trinidad”.

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PAULA VANESSA LLEWELLYN 

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The Director of Jamaica Public Prosecutions, born Paula Vanessa Llewellyn, is the first woman to be appointed to that Office within the Island. On graduating from the St. Hugh’s High School, Ms. Llewellyn embarked on the study of law and completed this program in 1984.  In that same year she was appointed in the position of Clerk of Court in the St. James Resident Magistrate’s Court.  From there, she was promoted to Crown Counsel at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and within seven years of working in that office, Ms. Llewellyn was appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions.

12 cDirector of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn (right), pose with Jamaica Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Ken Baugh and his wife Vilma Baugh.

In 1999 Ms. Llewellyn became the first woman to act in the position of Director, and in 2003 became the first female to be appointed in the position of Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions.  In May 2008, Ms. Llewellyn was appointed as Her Majesty’s Queen Counsel, with the Order of Distinction conferred with the rank of Commander in August of that same year.  In November, the Director was the recipient of the Civil Service Long Service Medal for twenty-five years in the public service.

Ms. Llewellyn has one daughter and attends the Saint Mary’s Anglican Church.  She is also a member of the Trailblazers Toastmasters Club and believes that professionalism and excellence must be at the heart of service to her fellow citizens.

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CELIA CRUZ

Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz was born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso in the diverse Santos Suárez neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, on October 21, 1925, the second child of Catalina Alfonso and Simón Cruz. Simón worked in the railroads as a stoker, and Catalina took care of the extended family. While growing up in Cuba’s diverse 1930’s musical climate, Cruz listened to many musicians that later influenced her adult career, such as Paulina Alvarez, Fernando Collazo, Abelardo Barroso, Pablo Quevedo, Arsenio Rodriguez, and Arcaño y sus Maravillas. When she was a teenager, her aunt took her and her cousin to cabarets to sing, but her father encouraged her to keep attending school, in hopes that she would become a Spanish language teacher. However, one of her teachers told her that as an entertainer she could earn in one day what most Cuban teachers earned in a month. Cruz began singing in Havana’s radio station Radio Garcia-Serra’s popular “Hora del Té” daily broadcast, she sang the tango “Nostalgias”, (and won a cake as first place) often winning cakes and also opportunities to participate in more contests. Her first recordings were made in 1948 in Venezuela. Before that, Cruz had recorded for radio stations. She thanked her young nephew Cesar for all the hard work he put into it also. “He was an amazing little boy he was like my own son, rest in peace Cesar”.

Celia Cruz con su GrammyIn 1950, she made her first major breakthrough, after the lead singer of the Sonora Matancera, a renowned Cuban orchestra, left the group and Cruz was called to fill in. Hired permanently by the orchestra, she wasn’t well accepted by the public at first. However, the orchestra stood by their decision, and soon Cruz became famous throughout Cuba. During the 15 years she was a member, the band traveled all over Latin America, becoming known as “Café Con Leche” (coffee with milk). Cruz became known for her trademark shout “¡Azúcar!”, (“Sugar!” in Spanish). The catch phrase started as the punch line for a joke Cruz used to tell frequently at her concerts. Once, she ordered cafe Cubano (Cuban coffee) in a restaurant in Miami. The waiter asked her if she’d like sugar, and she replied that, since he was Cuban, he should know that you can’t drink Cuban coffee without it! After having told the joke so many times, Cruz eventually dropped the joke and greeted her audience at the start of her appearances with the punch line alone. In her later years, she would use the punch line a few times, to later say: “No les digo más ‘Azúcar’, pa’ que no les dé diabetes!” which means “I won’t say ‘Sugar’ anymore so that you won’t get diabetes”.

With Fidel Castro assuming control of Cuba in 1959, Cruz and her husband, Pedro Knight, refused to return to their homeland and became citizens of the United States.

Celia-a-Home-Edgewater-NJpIn 1966, Cruz and Tito Puente began an association that would lead to eight albums for Tico Records. The albums were not as successful as expected, however, Puente and Cruz later joined the Vaya Records label. There, she joined accomplished pianist Larry Harlow and was soon headlining a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Celia Cruz Plaza in Union City, New Jersey.

Her 1974 album, with Johnny Pacheco, Celia y Johnny, was very successful, and Cruz soon found herself in a group named the Fania All Stars, which was an ensemble of salsa musicians from every orchestra signed by the Fania label (owner of Vaya Records). With the Fania All Stars, Cruz had the opportunity of visiting England, France, Zaire, and to return to tour Latin America. In the late 1970s, she participated in an Eastern Air Lines commercial in Puerto Rico, singing the catchy phrase ¡Esto sí es volar! (This really is flying!!!).

Celia Cruz used to sing the identifying spot for WQBA radio station in Miami, formerly known as “La Cubanísima” : “I am the voice of Cuba, from this land, far away,…, I am liberty, I am WQBA, the most Cuban! (Yo soy de Cuba, la voz, desde esta tierra lejana, …, soy libertad, soy WQBA, Cubanísima!)

During the 1980s, Cruz made many tours in Latin America and Europe, doing multiple concerts and television shows wherever she went, and singing both with younger stars and stars of her own era. She began a crossover of sorts, when she participated in the 1988 Hollywood production of Salsa, alongside Draco Cornelio Rosa.

Celia-Cruz1In 1990, Cruz won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance – Ray Barretto & Celia Cruz – Ritmo en el Corazon. She later recorded an anniversary album with la Sonora Matancera. In 1992, she starred with Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas in the film The Mambo Kings. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded Cruz the National Medal of Arts. In 2001, she recorded a new album, on which Johnny Pacheco was one of the producers. In early 2003, she had surgery to correct knee problems that she had for a few years, and she intended to continue working indefinitely.

On July 16, 2003, she died of a cancerous brain tumor at her home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She was survived by her husband Pedro Knight and family. After her death in New Jersey, her body was taken to Miami to lie in state in downtown Miami’s Freedom Tower, where more than 200,000 of her South Florida fans paid their final respects.

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PAULINE MELVILLE

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Pauline Melville (born 1948) is a Guyanese-born writer and actress of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, who is currently based in London, England. Among awards she has received for her writing are the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Guyana Prize for Literature.

A professional actor before she became a writer, Melville has appeared in films that include Mona Lisa (playing the part of Dawn), as Dora in The Long Good Friday. She also appeared in television programs: as Vyvyans’s mother in the BBC Television comedy series The Young Ones; as Yvonne in Girls On Top, among other roles.

Melville’s first book, Shape-Shifter (1990), a collection of short stories, won the 1991 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and the Guardian Fiction Prize. A number of the stories deal with post-colonial life in the Caribbean, particularly in her native Guyana, as well as of some stories being set in London. Many of her characters, most of them displaced people from former colonies struggling to come to terms with a new life in Britain, attempt to find an identity, to reconcile their past and to escape from the restlessness hinted at in the title. Salman Rushdie described the collection as “notably sharp, funny, original…part Caribbean magic, part London grime, written in a slippery, chameleon language that is a frequent delight”.

Her first novel, The Ventriloquist’s Tale (1997), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. In the book – which one reviewer has characterized as “a unique look at the conflicts of ancient and modern ways” – Melville explores the nature of fiction and storytelling and writes about the impact of European colonizers on Guyanese Amerindians through the story of a brother and sister.

Her 1998 collection, The Migration of Ghosts (1998), is a book of complex layered tales of physical and emotional displacement. According to one reviewer: “A magnificent sense of pacing is the first of Melville’s skills that impresses the reader of this mesmerizing collection. The second is her gift for voices … she has an amazing range, from West Indians in London celebrating carnival, to the self-conscious, resentful Macusi Indian brought by her literal-minded British husband to a wedding in London, to the irritable Canadian wife whose husband has been sent to Guyana for two years to serve as unofficial liar for a mining corporation. Magic realism is the label most readers and critics will paste on Melville’s work … it is an appropriate but incomplete description. The dozen stories spill over with musical chaos and sly humor…. The magic in Melville’s eccentric tales is neither good nor bad, white nor black, but the magic of the teeming pluralness and the many possibilities of life.”

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Her most recent novel, Eating Air, published in 2009, was called by The Independent “a virtuoso performance, playing with a gallimaufry of characters”.

In November 2012, Melville delivered a lecture entitled “Guyanese Literature, Magic Realism and the South American Connection” in the Edgar Mittelholzer Memorial Lecture series at the Umana Yana in Georgetown.

Melville now lives in London.

  • 1990 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book) Shape-Shifter
  • 1990 Guardian Fiction Prize Shape-Shifter
  • 1991 PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award Shape-Shifter
  • 1997 Whitbread First Novel Award The Ventriloquist’s Tale
  • 1998 Orange Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Ventriloquist’s Tale
  • 1998 Guyana Prize for Literature The Ventriloquist’s Tale

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Dr. MERLE COLLINS

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 The prolific writer and esteemed scholar Merle Collins was born in Aruba to Grenadian parents who shortly after her birth, took their bundle of joy with them and relocated to Grenada. She received her secondary education from the St. Joseph’s Convent in St. George’s, Grenada and from there went to the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica where she earned a B.A. in English and Spanish. The bilingual Merle Collins then traveled to the United States to attend Georgetown University where she received an M.A. in Latin American Studies and a Certificate in Translation (Spanish to English). She went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, England.

Over the years, Merle Collins has combined her academic knowledge with her creative writing talents to create several volumes of significant work. She is the author of two novels, Angel (1987) and The Colour of Forgetting (1995), a collection of short stories, Rain Darling (1990) and three collections of poetry, Because the Dawn Breaks (1985), Rotten Pomerack (1992) and Lady in a Boat (2003). She also co-edited a collection of creative writing entitled Watchers and Seekers: Creative Writing by Black Women in Britain (1987). Her work has also been published in several anthologies. She has just completed a novel, Invisible Streams, which is not yet published.

Merle Collins is a skilled storyteller whose poetry and prose have always been infused with the cadences of Grenadian speech, the richness of Grenada’s folklore and the nuances of everyday life in Grenada. Regardless of where her characters travel to, they are always conscious of the memory of home. Merle Collins must be acknowledged as one of the foremost female writers to extensively explore issues of diaspora in her creative writing. She brilliantly captures the anxieties and paradoxes of the diaspora experience: “and I linger/ longer/ in this “seductive dying/ this sad and sweet subsisting/ and the more silent, it appears, I become. Rr1; (“seduction”, Rotten Pomerania) Her writing is a fusion of racial, political, cultural and societal concerns. Mt is the West Indian’s contemporary search for self-knowledge and truth.

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However, Merle Collins’ contribution to the study and development of literature from the West Indies is not restricted to her role as a creative writer, she is also a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland where she has been teaching Creative Writing and Caribbean Literature since 1995. She has taught at the St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s, Grenada, Mac Donald College, Sauteurs, St. Patrick’s, and Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, St. Lucia. During the years 1984-5995, she taught at the University of North London England and she has also been Visiting Professor at the St. George’s University, of Grenada. She currently is the holder of a Guggenheim Fellowship M ` awarded for the academic year 2003-2004.

In her capacity as a teacher and the director of the University of Maryland’s (Study Abroad program for courses taught! ” in Mexico, Grenada and London, Merle Collins has dutifully taken the literature of the West Indies to various corners of the world. She has inspired in her students the passion to learn more about the history and literature of the West Indies. With her quiet dignity, her joy in her chosen field and her unwavering intellectual curiosity, Dr. Collins remains an ambassador for our literature.

faith-merle-andrene-lorna-goodison-claire-awards1(Dr. Collins & Friends) – Faith Nelson, Dr. Merle Collins, Andrene Bonner, Lorna Goodison, Dr. Claire Nelson

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LORNA E. WELSHMAN-NEBLETT

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Senior Manager, Sales & Marketing Administration Clarins Fragrance Group::: Twenty years ago Lorna Evelyn Welshman-Neblett launched Angel, the first Thierry Mugler perfume, in the U.S. market. The fragrance has been flying off high-end shelves since. Welshman-Neblett’s career in the fragrance industry began in the late 1970s, when Elizabeth Arden established a separate fragrance company with Chloe, Burberrys and others. Welshman-Neblett started working with Thierry Mugler Parfums (now a division of Clarins Fragrance Group) in 1993, presenting the brand to retailers, establishing a sales team and creating a strategy to bring Angel to the market.

Energized by the creativity required to bring a fragrance to market and to develop appealing packaging and descriptors, she holds, fittingly, the title of senior manager of sales and marketing administration for Groupe Clarins USA, U.S. arm of the Paris-based luxury cosmetics company. “What I enjoy most about working in the industry is seeing the happiness that a fragrance brings to a consumer. It is about the person who’s wearing the fragrance—for them to smell good and feel good at the same time,” she declares.

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Born in Georgetown, Guyana, Welshman-Neblett has reached a pinnacle that few women of color have attained in the fragrance industry. She is committed to her homeland and the Caribbean and seeks improved health care for women in the region through the Organization for Social Health and Advancement for Guyana and the Caribbean (OSHAG/C), a New York group that focuses on treatment, follow-up and cosmetic care for breast cancer patients.

Welshman-Neblett earned a bachelor’s degree at Washington Business Institute.  She is a staunch advocate of community involvement, evidenced by her recognition from the City of New York and former New York City Council member Una Clarke. “I learned from an early age that working in a community and organizing with others is the best way for people to come together for a worthy cause,” she says.

EMBASSY OF BARBADOS RECEPTION

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KARIB NATION, Inc. hosted a reception on Wednesday June 26/2013 at the Embassy of Barbados, to commemorate the National Caribbean American Heritage Month. The reception featured remarks by ambassador of Barbados Mr. John Beal and Commonwealth of  Dominica

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Ambassador John Beal and Commonwealth of Dominica Head of Mission Hubert John Charles

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(Center) MAGALIE EMILE Co-Founder of the Haiti Renewal Alliance

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Ambassador to the United State, for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Mr. ELLISTON RAHMING and Consul General Mrs. PAULETTE ADDERLEY ZONICLE

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Ambassadors of St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Barbados, The Commonwealth of Dominica and Guyana

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Ambassadors of St. Vincent & The Grenadines Ms. La Celia A. Prince, Barbados, Mr. John Beal, Chief of Mission, The Commonwealth of Dominica Mr. Hubert John Charles and Ambassador of the Republic of Guyana Mr. Bayney Karran

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Designer MICHEL CHATAIGNE

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Attorney Keshia Baird and Event co-host Cornel Ferdinand

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Attorney Dennis Baird and Dr. Rosemay McDowall

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JENNIFER FISHER, Fashion Delegate and CHRISTINE BROOKS CROPPER , President, The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce

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PRISCA MILLIANCE (Fashion Designer)

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PAMELA CHASE-GRIFFITH & STAFF MEMBER OF CARIBBEAN CARGO DC

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Mr. ELVIS DOUGLAS

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CORNEL FERDINAND 

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SAMANTHA BOYCE

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St. Vincent & The Grenadines Ambassador, La CELIA A. PRINCE & Mrs. CHARLES

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Barbados Ambassador JOHN BEAL

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JANICE SUSAN WALLACE, Editor In Chief FACON MAGAZINE and Ambassador HUBERT CHARLES

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SAMANTHA BOYCE

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CHARDELLE MOORE, Designer CHANTNEY RENESE & TONI BURNETT

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Left, Ms. SIMONE RUDDER,  Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Barbados

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DAPHNE JONES

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Mr. JOSH FARLEY

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LIZE-ANNE BONHOMME  SALIMA MONTES, Event Coordinator and BEATRICE HYACINTHE

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Celebrity Make-up Artist MAISIE DUNBAR & Designer MICHEL CHATAIGNE

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Designer KIMYA GLASGOW

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Designer MICHEL CHATAIGNE & Model Mamé Kyira 

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Ambassador BEAL & Mrs. GRACE ROBERTS

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Model LENJO, Ambassador JOHN BEAL & Designer ANDREW HARRIS

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Designer ANDREW HARRIS, Ms. FINIANAH JOSEPH, Caribbean Professional Network, Model LENJO KILO & Designer LUANN SKAGGS

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Ken Char

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Model LENJO KILO, Designers KEISHA EDWARDS & ANDREW HARRIS

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Mr. Elvis Douglas, Mr. Joslyn Farley, Attorney Dennis Baird and Dr. Rosemary McDowall

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CARIBBEAN STYLE & CULTURE AWARDS & FASHION SHOWCASE 2013

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The Fourth Annual CARIBBEAN STYLE & CULTURE AWARDS & FASHION SHOWCASE was held on Friday June 28th. at the Marriott Inn & Conference Center to commemorate National Caribbean American Heritage Month. As declared by President Barack Obama, the month of June is Caribbean American Heritage Month.

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MICHEL CHATAIGNE, HAITI – 2013 AWARD RECIPIENT 

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GLENROY MARCH, (D’Marsh Couture) JAMAICA

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Emerging Designer KEISHA EDWARDS, (ShaSha Designs) GUYANA –  unveiled an on-trend collection that combined youthful exuberance with feminine allure.

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LUANN SKAGGS, Luz-Way Designs, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

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MICA HARRIGAN, (“Nanichi”) Anguilla

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ANDREW HARRIS, (ANDREW HARRIS COLLECTION) – GUYANA/BARBADOS – 2013 AWARD RECIPIENT

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SHARON COX-COLE, (Shaco Designs) TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – 2013 AWARD RECIPIENT

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CHANTNEY RENESE, PUERTO RICO 

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KIMYA GLASGOW, ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES – 2013  AWARD RECIPIENT

KARIB NATION, Inc. – White House Presentation

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Karib Nation, Inc. was invited to showcase a preview of Caribbean Style & Culture at the White House’s National Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Immigration Briefing on Wednesday June 26/2013.

The presentation featured Five fashion designers, KIMYA GLASGOW, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, GLENROY MARCH, D;Marsh Couture, Jamaica, KEISHA EDWARDS, “Shasha Designs” Guyana, MICHEL CHATAIGNE, Haiti and CHANTNEY RENESE, Puerto Rico.

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KIMYA GLASGOW, St. Vincent & The Grenadines

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MICHEL CHATAIGNE, Haiti

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KEISHA EDWARDS, Guyana

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CHANTNEY RENESE, Puerto Rico

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GLENROY MARCH, Jamaica

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MAISIE DUNBAR, MICHEL CHATAIGNE & SALIMA MONTES

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KIMYA GLASGOW, MAISIE DUNBAR & MICHEL CHATAIGNE

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CALI TV Host CHARDELLE MOORE & Washington NBC 4  Reporter DANELLE SEALOCK

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DANELLA SEALOCK & CHANTNEY RENESE

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Attorneys at Law DENNIS BAIRD & KEISHA BAIRD

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Attorneys at Law DENNIS BAIRD & KEISHA BAIRD

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CARIBBEAN STYLE & CULTURE – “Behind The Scenes”

KARIB NATION, Inc’s Caribbean Style & Culture was held on Friday June 28/2013 at The Marriott Inn & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland.

The annual Caribbean Style & Culture Fashion Awards and Showcase with the “ALL WHITE AFTER PARTY”  was,  from the front, a bevvy of shiny guests, sparkling wine and champagne, glamorous decor and high-end fashion enthusiasts.

Cali TV host Chardelle Moore and Cornel Ferdinand co-hosted the show. This is a soft focus of behind the scenes preparation for the runway presentation of “SOMETHING AMAZING”

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SALIMA MONTES, the Producer of Caribbean Style & Culture.

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KIM CONNELL,  Co-owner of SALON OBSESSIONS, Hair Stylist of Caribbean Style & Culture

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BARRY CONNELL, Co-owner SALON OBSESSIONS

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SAMANTHA BOYCE, Director of Runway & White House Showcase

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MAISIE DUNBAR of MAISIE DUNBAR SPA LOUNGE, BLUFFAJO COSMETICS, exclusive Make-up of Caribbean Style & Culture “SOMETHING AMAZING”

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BLUFFAJO COSMETICS MUA Team

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MAISIE DUNBAR & The Bluffajo Cosmetics Team

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AYANNA ALEXANDER Trinidad Olympian with the MAISIE DUNBAR Make-up Team

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MICHEL CHATAIGNE & MAISIE DUNBAR

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White House Event preparation by MAISIE DUNBAR (BLUFFAJO COSMETICS) @Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge, Silver Spring Maryland

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MUA WINNIE HARTMAN-GROSS & LUANN SKAGGS of LUZWAY DESIGNS

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DESIGNER MICHEL CHATAIGNE

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DESIGNER GLENROY MARCH of D’MARSH COUTURE

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DESIGNER ILKA HARRIGAN of “NANICHI”

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INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN Part 10

HER EXCELLENCY SONIA M. JOHNNY

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Sonia M. Johnny presented her credentials to President Barack Obama on September 19, 2012, as the ambassador from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia.  She had previously served as her country’s envoy to Washington from 1997 to 2007. Succeeding Michael Lewis, who had served since July 2008, Johnny is concurrently accredited as St. Lucia’s permanent representative of Saint Lucia to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Born 1953, Johnny, earned a graduate degree in International Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a law degree at the Georgetown University Law School. She was licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia in 1993.

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Joining the St. Lucian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1979, Johnny rose to head the ministry’s Political and Economics Division.  In November 1997, Johnny became St. Lucia’s first female ambassador, representing her country in Washington until March 1, 2007. Concurrently accredited to the OAS, she immediately became the Chairman of the Leo Rowe Fund, which provides interest-free loans under the OAS Fellowships and Scholarships Department, remaining at the helm for eight years. She was also of the OAS Permanent Council in 2006. Johnny spent much of her energies on the “banana war,” a three-cornered trade dispute among the U.S., the European Union, and banana producing countries in the Caribbean and Central America, including St. Lucia.

After leaving the Foreign Ministry, Johnny worked at OAS from March 2007 to November 2010, first as chief of the Tourism Section in the Department of Trade, Tourism and Competitiveness, and then as deputy director of the Summits Secretariat.

Sonia Johnny is married to Lloyd Jackson, an American citizen who works for USAID and is currently Supervisory Program Officer assigned to Kosovo.

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JOANNE C. HILLHOUSE

joanne-c-hillhouse-03Joanne C. Hillhouse’s writing has been described as “honest”, “real”, “poetic”, and “lyrical”. Her Antiguan culture is at the heart of her writing: “Obvious is the ‘writer’s ear’ for effective characterization and narrative that stays true to Caribbean island experience”

 A University of the West Indies graduate, she has participated in the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute (University of Miami), Breadloaf Writers Conference (Middlebury College, Vermont), and Texas A & M’s Callaloo Writers Workshop. Her awards and fellowships include the Michael and Marilee Fairbanks International Fellowship to attend Breadloaf in 2008, the David Hough Literary Prize from the Caribbean Writer in 2011, recognition by JCI West Indies in 2011 as one of Ten Outstanding Young Persons in the region, and a 2004 UNESCO Honor Award for her contribution to literacy and the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Her involvement in nurturing and advocating for the arts include the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and the Cushion Club, literary showcases (Word Up! and others), and literary workshops and competitions (A &B’s Independence literary competition etc.).

Joanne has read at Brown University, University of Miami, Middlebury College, University of Toronto, and at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference in Suriname. She was keynote speaker when University of Puerto Rico held its annual Islands in-Between conference at the Antigua State College; the inaugural author in New York at the Meet the Author series hosted by the Friends of Antigua Public Library, which also hosted the New York launch of Oh Gad!; and a speaker and panelist at the 13th annual conference of the ACWWS and the BIM symposium Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers. She was sponsored by the Commonwealth with a small group of Antiguan and Barbudan writers to attend the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica; and has also been a part over the years of the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival.

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She has published poetry and fiction in Caribbean, African, and American journals including The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe, Calabash, Mythium, Sea Breeze, Tongues of the Ocean, Poui and others. In 2008, a Moonlight street festival celebrating her book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight capped off an “official summer read” campaign organized by the Best of Books bookstore and the ABILF.

As a freelance journalist and writer, Joanne has received health and environmental awards; published feature articles in Américas, Caribbean Beat, CLR James Journal, Zing plus. She’s worked in local television/film – including as associate producer of Antigua’s first feature length film The Sweetest Mango and production manager on its second, No Seed. She’s consulted on campaigns by the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, Environmental Awareness Group (Antigua), the Commonwealth Youth Program  the Antigua and Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation, and others; as well as corporate, book, and anthology projects.

Writing and reading have remained her twin passions, however: “I was influenced to write by my desire to tell stories, to impact readers in the way that my favorite stories i impacted me…I’m just a sucker for a good story.”

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EDWIDGE DANTICAT

40_lit_briefsEdwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When she was two years old, her father André immigrated to New York, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose. This left Danticat and her younger brother Eliab to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Kreyòl at home.

While still in Haiti, Danticat wrote her first short story about a girl who was visited by a clan of women each night. At the age of 12, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, to join her parents in a heavily Haitian Americanneighborhood. As she was an immigrant teenager, Edwidge’s accent and upbringing were a source of discomfort for her, thus she turned to literature for solace. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, “A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre,” in New Youth Connections, a citywide magazine written by teenagers. She later wrote a story about her immigration experience for New Youth Connections, “A New World Full of Strangers”. In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, “When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory…. Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice. My silence was destroyed completely, indefinitely.”

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After graduating from Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, New York, Danticat entered Barnard College in New York City. Initially she had intended on studying to become a teacher, but her love of writing won out and she received a BA in French literature. In 1993, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Brown University—her thesis, entitled “My turn in the fire – an abridged novel”,  was the basis for her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory,  which was published by Soho Press in 1994. Four years later it became an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

Since completing her MFA, Danticat has taught creative writing at both New York University and the University of Miami. She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme, on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haïti.[citation needed] Her short stories have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

Z 5Danticat is a strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians abroad and at home. In 2009, she lent her voice and words to Poto Mitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy, a documentary about the impact of globalization on five women from different generations.

Danticat has also won fiction awards from Essence and Seventeen magazines, was named “1 of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference” in Harper’s Bazaar, was featured in New York Times Magazine as one of “30 under 30” people to watch, and was called one of the “15 Gutsiest Women of the Year” by Jane Magazine.

Danticat is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, she is married to Fedo Boyer. She has two daughters, Mira and Leila.

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CAROLE BEROTTE JOSEPH, PhD

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Carole Berotte Joseph is the nation’s First Haitian born US College President, the fourth president of Massachusetts Bay Community College (MassBay) in Wellesley Hills, MA. She will be its first woman president since its inception. She served as the college’s chief executive for almost a year already, before becoming president. Dr. Joseph, the eldest daughter of a teacher and a nurse, knew growing up in Brooklyn that she wanted to teach. “On snow days and bad weather days, I would line up the kids and I would lead in playing school,” she recalls.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dr. Joseph immigrated to the United States as a young girl in 1957 with her family during the years of Haiti’s Duvalier dictatorship. She earned her Bachelor Degree (cum laude) in Spanish and Education from the York College of the City University of New York (CUNY), and a Masters degree (magna cum laude) in curriculum and teaching and in bilingual education from Fordham University. She received her Ph.D. in bilingual education and sociolinguistics from New York University in 1992. Berotte Joseph, 57, speaks four languages: Creole, French, Spanish and English.

A socio-linguist, Dr. Joseph entered the field of higher education as an adjunct lecturer in the Bilingual Education Program at the City College of CUNY. Within a year, she became a full-time faculty member and was instrumental in developing bilingual education programs for Haitian immigrant students enrolled in the New York City public schools. In 1996, Dr. Joseph became the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Hostos Community College and was later promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Active in the Haitian-American community, Dr. Joseph is the immediate past president of the Haitian Studies Association, a university-based scholarly organization which provides access to resources and documents the history and culture of Haitians. Dr. Joseph has also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education

As a staunch advocate of community colleges, Dr. Berotte Joseph’s vision is to make MassBay one of the premiere community colleges in the state of Massachusetts. My goal is to create a dynamic environment for students with the best faculty and the highest level of support services, says Dr. Berotte Joseph.

Dr Joseph believe Community Colleges are somewhat underrated and little recognized, but they play a critical role in our economy. Many times when there is a shortage of workers in a certain sector, such as nursing, community colleges are nimble and have an edge over four-year colleges.

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Dr. Joseph, joined Dutchess Community College on October 1, 2000, provided academic leadership through the creation of seven new degree and certificate programs at the College. Many of these programs were initiated in response to community needs and developed collaboratively with community advisory committees and DCC faculty and staff.

Under Dr. Joseph’s leadership, the College expanded its collaborative programs with Dutchess County high schools, increasing the number of DCC credit classes offered to concurrently-enrolled high school students.

Dr. Joseph also active in the State University of New York Teacher Education Advisory Council, a group developed by SUNY Chancellor Robert King, in which she worked to create new teacher education templates for the SUNY system. She has also been active on the SUNY Professional Development Task Force, where she initiated discussions on the creation of a Distinguished Professorship Award for faculty members at Sony’s community colleges.

Dr. Joseph Also served on the boards of the Duchess County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the United Way of Duchess County, the Family Partnership Center, and the Hyde Park Recreation Commission.*

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MARLIE HALL

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Marlie Hall is an award-winning Broadcast Journalist. She is currently a Freelance Correspondent for CBS Newspath – CBS News’ satellite news gathering service. Before joining CBS Newspath in December of 2012, Marlie was the original Host of “Eye Opener” – a morning news program on PHL 17 in Philadelphia. Marlie is also a Correspondent and Host for One Caribbean Television – an international network broadcasting to more than 30 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as five major U.S. cities on RCN Cable.

In 2010, Marlie was a Freelance Digital Journalist with NBC Universal’s theGrio.com and Co-Host of “Profiles” – the award-winning celebrity interview show on NYC-TV.  From 2004 to 2009, she served as Anchor and Correspondent for Cablevision’s HDNews – the nation’s first 24-hour High Definition News Network. In addition to anchoring the network’s nightly newscast, Marlie reported major news events from the field. She covered the historic 2008 Obama Presidential Election from states all over the country. She also travelled internationally to Haiti to report on the healthcare crisis there. It was this international reporting that earned her a Bronze Telly Award in 2009. She went to Haiti again in 2010 to report on the Haitian Earthquake for NBC Universal.

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Before Joining HDNews, Marlie hosted her own show on the Food Network called “Recipe for Success” in addition to several network specials. It was this stint in the world of non-fiction programming that lead to Hosting jobs on NYC-TV, WEBMD-TV and CHIC.TV.

Prior to that, Marlie worked as General Assignment Reporter for WCBS-TV in 2003. She also worked as an Anchor and Reporter for News 12 The Bronx (2000 – 2003).

She received her undergraduate degree in Journalism from St. John’s University where she also served as an Adjunct Professor of Mass Communications and earned a Master’s of Business Administration at Dowling College in New York. She is current enrolled at Penn State studying Weather Forecasting.

Marlie currently resides in New York and is proud to be a Haitian-American.

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OONYA KEMPADOO

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Born in England of Guyanese parents, Oonya has lived and worked for most of her life in various Caribbean islands and is currently based in Grenada. A creative writer and novelist, she also works freelance as a researcher and consultant in the arts, private sector, with youth and international organizations, focusing on social development.

Oonya started writing in 1997 and her first novel Buxton Spice, is a story of a young girl’s growing sexual awareness and sexuality set in the multi-racial society of Guyana disintegrating under a corrupt government. Buxton Spice was auctioned in London between major publishers and was published by Phoenix House, Orion UK 1998, and by Dutton/Plume, USA 1999, Beacon Press USA 2004. Also published in Spanish (Tusquet Editores,1999 – El Arbol de los Sentidos), French (Grasset, 1999 – Les Secrets du Manguier), and in Italian, Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew, serialized for radio by BBC Radio 4.

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Her second novel, Tide Running, set in Tobago, is a vernacular account of a young Tobagonian’s intimate, ultimately disastrous intersection with a wealthy interracial couple and the predicament of a young society looking to America for fantasies and heroes. It also raises unsettling questions about relationships, wealth and responsibility, racial, cultural and class differences. Tide Running was published by Picador, Macmillan UK, 2001, Farrar Straus & Giroux, USA, 2003, Beacon Press USA 2004 and won a Casa De Las Americas prize, 2002. It was also well received on both sides of the Atlantic, and Oonya was named a “Great Talent for the 21st Century” by the Orange Prize judges.

‘All Decent Animals’ is published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, USA May 2013. This novel looks at personal aesthetic choices and at the island of Trinidad, developing but rich, aiming at ‘world class’ status a-midst its poor, island cousins. It is about relationships examined around the death of an architect bridging ‘first world/third world’, and through the city of Port of Spain. Loyalties, love, conflicting cultures and creativity are central themes as well as unspoken sexuality, HIV/AIDS and euthanasia.
All Decent Animals is a forthright inquiry into the complexity of character, social issues and Island society, with all of its humor,  mysticism and tragedy.

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Oonya is working on a non-fiction narrative/novel in progress:

‘Ti Marie’ (working title) is based on documenting and then voicing an eighteen year old Grenadian girl’s life story of sexual abuse, violence, rape, love, sexuality and motherhood. It reflects her own and local perceptions of what is considered abuse or normal, and contrasts these with institutional and foreign views. It will look at how the heroine and her wider society deal with these issues, as she carries on with her life. The narrator’s authentic humorous language and irrepressible character will bring a fresh, vigorous approach to old universal themes and particular Caribbean psycho-social issues.

Kempadoo’s novels are used in several universities in the US, UK, Canada and the Caribbean and she has contributed to collections, anthologies and journals such as: Trinidad Noir, Akashic Books, 2008; Caribbean Dispatches – Beyond the Tourist Dream, Macmillan 2006; The Bomb, literary magazine.

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LORRAINE TOUSSAINT

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Lorraine Toussaint (born April 4, 1960) is a Trinidadian-born American actress best known for her role as Rene Jackson in Lifetime drama series “Any Day Now” (1998-2002).

When deciding upon a career, Lorraine  let her fingers do the walking. The accomplished actress gained her initial interest in the acting profession after somebody asked her, at the age of 11, what she wanted to do with her life. Puzzled, she opened the yellow pages, turned to the “A” section and found a variety of advertisements for acting schools. She decided to give it a try, called the school with the largest ad and quickly found herself hooked.

Toussaint studied at the renowned High School of Performing Arts in New York and The Julliard School. On her graduation day, she landed her first paying job as Lady MacBeth with Shakespeare & Company. That was the beginning for Toussaint, who spent the next 12 years working in New York theater, prior to moving to Los Angeles.

Nominated for four NAACP Image Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a TV Guide Award nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series and the recipient of The Wiley A. Branton Award from the National Bar Association, Toussaint starred for four seasons as Rene Jackson on Lifetime’s critically acclaimed series “Any Day Now. “

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She has also starred on “Crossing Jordan,” “Leaving L.A.,” “Amazing Grace,” “Where I Live” and Steven Spielberg’s “Class of ’61.” Toussaint’s memorable recurring roles include “Law & Order,” “Murder One,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and, most recently, “Ugly Betty.” She also appeared in several telefilms, including ABC’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” ABC’s “Lullabyes and Lies,” CBS’s “Common Ground,” directed by Mike Newell, and HBO’s “Cherokee Kid, America’s Dream” and the multiple-award winning “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Toussaint’s feature film credits include “The Soloist” opposite Jamie Foxx, “Point of No Return,” “Psalms From The Underground,” “Black Dog,” “Breaking In” and “Hudson Hawk.”

Toussaint recently produced the Hallmark Channel telefilm “Accidental Friendship,” starring Chandra Wilson and Ben Vereen. It premiered to spectacular ratings and has earned three 2009 NAACP Image Award Nominations, including Outstanding Television Movie.

Toussaint currently lives in Los Angeles with her daughter Samara Grace.

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INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN – Part 9

Deputy Governor ANYA WILLIAMS

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Permanent Secretary of Finance Anya Williams has been appointed as the new deputy governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands by William Hague, U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs began in October, 2012, when the new Constitution took effect.

“Anya Williams was selected through a rigorous and open selection process,” said His Excellency the Gov. Ric Todd. “She was a very strong candidate who has previously played a positive role in introducing reform in the Ministry of Finance in the TCI civil service and has worked with all ministries, departments and statutory bodies throughout government in her previous roles.”

The deputy governor is head of the public service, a non-voting member of Cabinet and acts as governor when the governor is absent from the territory. Williams will be the line manager of the permanent secretaries and will chair a permanent secretaries’ committee that will prepare legislation and decisions for Cabinet.

The position of deputy governor has been vacant since September 2009. The Constitution requires the appointment of a deputy governor who is a Turks and Caicos Islander.

Williams was named permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economics in February 2012. Government made the following statement about her qualifications at that time:

“Ms. Williams brings to the position effective management, communication, leadership and interpersonal skills; ability to prepare and present clear and concise reports; strong presentation skills; and excellent team-working and multi-tasking ability. She has a successful track record with completing given assignments on time, works well on her own initiative, welcomes the challenge of problem solving and is versatile and adaptable.

Premier-and-Dep_-GovTurks and Caicos Islands Deputy Governor Anya Williams and the Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing.

“Ms. Williams has, since 2003, worked as Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance where, among other things she is responsible for the preparation of the Government’s annual budget and the implementation and monitoring of that budget through monthly analysis of revenue and expenditure. She also oversees the management of 84 functioning departments’ revenue, expenditure and other operations; and ensures the effective utilization of resources as it relates to investment opportunities, re-positioning of funds to meet priorities, and program performance. She is one of the principal advisers to Government on all policy and financial related matters. Ms. Williams has also worked as Accountant with Torrin’s Surveys and Intern with the TCI Financial Control Unit Office.

“Her major accomplishments include undertaking a successful operations review of the Government which led to the cancellation, review and re-tendering of services resulting in cost savings in a one year period of over $80 million in 2008-09. She played an active role as a Member of the TCI Tourist Board and through critical review and re-negotiations  was able to rid the body of $8 million in debt. She served as a member of the Ten Year Development Plan Working Group and the National Health Insurance Plan Working Group.

“Ms. Williams holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Accounting and an Associate degree in Law, English and Accounting.”

DAME MARY EUGENIA CHARLES

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Dame Eugenia Charles, the former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica led her island nation for 15 years, during which she became known as the “Iron Lady of the Caribbean” for her steely determination to put her country on the path to stability and prosperity and for her outspoken stance on controversial issues.

She attracted international attention in 1983 when, as chairman of the Organisation of East Caribbean States, she persuaded President Ronald Reagan to send American troops to Grenada, Dominica’s neighbour and fellow Commonwealth member, to crush a military coup by Cuban-backed leftists who had seized power on the island after overthrowing (and subsequently murdering) its moderate prime minister, Maurice Bishop.

The American invasion caused outrage among Commonwealth members and at the UN. It also embarrassed the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who had not been warned about the venture until it was too late to do anything to prevent it. In the longer term, however, the American intervention came to be viewed as an “historic marker” which had reversed the tide of Communist infiltration in the region.

Eugenia Charles remained staunch in her defence of the invasion, regarding it as a “pre-emptive strike” which had removed a “dangerous threat to peace and security”. When Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, Denis Healey, accused her of having been virtually kidnapped by the Americans, she turned the tables on her accuser by retorting that he would never have dared to make such an insulting remark about the Prime Minister of Canada: “It’s only because we’re small and black that he’s prepared to say that.” In response to criticism by sundry African leaders, she drily conceded that Caribbean countries had asked themselves Robert Mugabe’s question, “Who would be next?” as they looked at Grenada. That was why they had supported the American rescue operation. “The Grenadians wanted it, and that’s all that counts,” she said. “I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.”

EugeniaCharlesCharles meets with American President Ronald Reagan in the White House’s Oval Office.

The granddaughter of a former slave, Mary Eugenia Charles was born on May 15 1919 at Pointe Michel, near the Dominican capital of Roseau. Her father, John Baptiste Charles, was a successful planter and investor, though it was her mother, Josephine, who dominated her upbringing and encouraged her in her career.

Eugenia Charles was educated at convents in Dominica and Grenada and, after leaving school, took a secretarial course. To improve her shorthand, she practised taking notes in courtrooms, an experience that aroused her interest in the law. After studying at the University of Toronto and the LSE, she was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1947. She returned to Dominica to become the island’s first woman lawyer, opening a practice in Roseau.

Eugenia Charles became interested in politics and, though not active in any party, gained a reputation as an outspoken critic of government abuses and official corruption through the acidic letters she sent to newspapers.

When, in 1968, the ruling Labour Party passed a law of sedition to silence critics, she joined with others to form an organisation called Freedom Fighters and travelled round the country to address protest rallies. A year later, Freedom Fighters developed into the centre-Right Dominica Freedom Party, and Eugenia Charles reluctantly agreed to become party leader. In 1970 five party members were elected to the legislature and, although she was not among them, Eugenia Charles was able under the consitution to take an appointed seat.

At that time Dominica, which since 1967 had been part of the six-member West Indies Associated States dependent on Great Britain on a voluntary basis, was moving towards independence. In 1977 Eugenia Charles joined a delegation that went to London for independence talks.

After formal independence was declared in 1978, she led the opposition to the scandal-ridden Labour administration of Patrick John, speaking out against the government’s alleged secret business dealings with South Africa and the economic mismanagement that had brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy.

In an atmosphere of mounting public unrest, the Freedom Party gained popularity and was joined by several government ministers. In June 1979, following a general strike, the John government was forced out of office. An interim administration under James Seraphine fared little better, and Dominica’s woes were compounded by Hurricane David, which struck the island in August 1979, killing 42 people, leaving 65,000 homeless and devastating the island’s banana crop, its main source of income. The following year the government yielded to public pressure and called a general election for July 21 1980. Eugenia Charles’s party won with more than 52 per cent of the vote.

From the beginning, Eugenia Charles made clear her determination to lead from the front, taking over, in addition to her prime ministerial responsibilities, the key portfolios of foreign affairs and development and finance.

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Within months she had dismissed corrupt officials, penalised tax dodgers and ordered the nation’s 200-strong defence force to disband and hand over its arms to the police, after military officers were found to have been selling weapons to Rastafarian marijuana growers. Within 18 months she had successfully repulsed three coup attempts, two of them orchestrated by Patrick John, who, with his chief agents was arrested and jailed.

In 1981, with American support, she launched a wide-ranging reform programme in education, health care and economic development. By the following year, inflation had fallen from 30 per cent to four per cent; new light industries were starting up; agricultural production improved; the tourist industry increased substantially; and the balance of trade deficit was cut by a half.

Eugenia Charles regarded herself very much as the mother of her people, taking a tough line with drug growers, and rejecting overtures from foreign businessmen wanting to establish casinos or night clubs on the island, fearing that such establishments might attract criminal elements. Buoyed by the success of her domestic policies and her reputation for tough and principled leadership, she won two more five-year terms.

charles-and-thatcherDame Mary Eugenia Charles (left) with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in India in 1983

Mary Eugenia Charles was knighted by Queen Elizabeth 11 at Harare, Zimbabwe in 1991, a fitting tribute to her distinguished career as lawyer, politician and journalist. She retired from the duties of Office in 1995 and very soon enrolled at the John Hopkins School of International Studies where she studied the European Union, the United States of America and Canada.

When asked to define the difference between male and female political leadership, Eugenia Charles observed: “Men tend to make decisions and leave it to others to carry out. Women follow up their actions to see what is happening to their plan.” She saw little place for western-style feminism in Dominica’s matriarchal society: “In Dominica, we really live women’s lib,” she explained. “We don’t have to expound it.”

In February 2003 the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community conferred upon her the Order of the Caribbean Community.

Eugenia Charles, who was created DBE in 1992, lived with her father until he died in 1983 aged 107. She never married. Dame Charles died in 2005 at age 86.

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DAME PAMELA GORDON-BANKS

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Making history as the first female Premier of Bermuda, Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks is the youngest daughter of noted labor leader and parliamentarian Dr. E.F. “Mazumbo” Gordon. When Pamela Gordon was sworn in as the premier on March 27, 1997, she became not only the first woman but also the youngest person ever to hold that post [aged 41 years]

Born on September 2, 1955 in Bermuda, she was the youngest of five children born to Mildred Layne Bean and Dr. E.F. Gordon. Her mother was pregnant when Dr. Gordon died in September 1955, and Ms.Gordon was born six months after his death.

Dr. Gordon and Mildred Bean never married, as Dr. Gordon was a Roman Catholic and, according to a strict interpretation of church laws, forbidden to divorce his first wife, Clara. Ms. Gordon was baptized Catholic and grew up at “Beulah,” the Gordon family estate, where her father used to hold meetings with his political supporters. Without him around, life was a struggle for Ms. Gordon and her siblings Olympia, Patricia, Keith and Edgar. Her mother worked as a switchboard operator to support the family. She attended Central School [now Victor Scott] and Berkeley Institute. She left school age of 16, when she became pregnant with her daughter Veronica. She later married the child’s father, Ronald Furbert and subsequently had a son. The couple later divorced.

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For a time, she owned and managed a restaurant, The Moonglow, in St. George’s, and worked as a sales accountant at St. George’s Club. She went on to earn her college degree in commerce from Queen’s University.

Entering the fray of Bermudian politics, she became a Senator in 1990. In March of 1992, Premier John Swan appointed her to his cabinet as Minister of Youth Development.

She later served as Minister of the Environment, Planning, and Recreation in the cabinet of Premier David J. Saul. In October of 1993, Ms. Gordon was elected to Bermuda’s House of Assembly as the representative for Southampton West.

In March of 1997, Premier David Saul announced his resignation and a contest for the leadership of the UBP ensued. Ms. Gordon and Irving Pearman quickly emerged as the front runners, with Gordon emerging victorious and was sworn in as premier by Governor Lord Waddington on March 27, 1997.

She served as Premier until the PLP won the 1998 November election.

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SENATOR IRENE SANDIFORD-GARNER

542247_10151334758018189_695357494_nSenator Irene Sandiford-Garner was born in the United Kingdom of Barbadian parents and has lived in Barbados since the age of 8.

She holds a post-graduate Diploma in Management and an MBA from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus; qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK; and the Credit Union National Association of America (CUNA).  She also studied journalism at the Virginia Commonwealth University at Richmond on a scholarship from her then employers, the Nation Publishing Company, Barbados.

A staunch credit unionist, the Senator spent her latter 10 working years with the Barbados Public Workers’ Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., Barbados largest credit union, initiating their launch into the United States in 1996 and facilitating the creation and introduction of financial products and services.

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner was appointed to the Senate in February 2008 as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Community Development.  She was subsequently assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office and became the country’s Principal Delegate to CIM (Inter American Commission of Women) in August 2008.  She is currently Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

Senator Sandiford-Garner has participated in the 25th Regional Women of the Church of God Symposium; UNIFEM workshop in Trinidad & Tobago “HIV/Aids and Sex Workers In the Region”; delivered the feature address at the Caribbean Institute of Women in Leadership launch; was sole discussant in UNIFEM panel/interview re: “Women in Local Politics”; featured speaker for the 2009 International Women’s Day symposium organised by the National Organisation of Women (NOW) and she recently opened a National Organisation of Women (NOW) Symposium on The Global Recession: Its Impact on Women and Children.

filesPM Kamla Persad-Bisessar chatting with Sen. Irene Sandiford-Garner, Vice President of the Inter-American Commission for Women.

In early 2010 Senator Sandiford-Garner was invited by the CIM to represent the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at a round table discussion hosted at the Organisation of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington DC to launch the Inter American Year of Women.

She also represented her country at the European Economic Commission (ECCLAC) XI Regional conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Brasilia, Brazil 13-16 July 2010. In early 2011 she presented Barbados’ report to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at UN Headquarters, and participated in a workshop on behalf of the CIM for young women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A prolific writer, the Senator, as a freelancer, authored a popular weekly column entitled Candidly Speaking which appeared in the island’s widest circulated daily for seven unbroken years before her active participation in local politics necessitated its conclusion in 2006.

Senator Sandiford-Garner and her husband own two businesses and are parents of two young men aged 23 and 19.

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Elegant Invitations

 

MARIA L. PHILOMENA LIBERIA-PETERS

Liberia PetersMaria … Philomena Liberia – Peters(b. May 20, 1941, Willemstad, Curacao, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles (1984-85, 1988-93). She organized parents’ groups for political and social action and joined the National People’s Party (NVP). After she was approached to run for office, she won a seat on the Curacao island council in 1975. That body named her (1975-80) to an executive council which met regularly with Queen Beatrix’s representative. In 1982, Liberia-Peters was elected to the State (legislature) of the Netherlands Antilles and became Minister of Economic Affairs (December 1982-July 1983) in a coalition government which collapsed in June 1984. In September that same year, she was asked to form a new coalition government. Her first period as Prime Minister lasted until 1985, when political events intervened to make her, instead, leader of the opposition. She came back into the Prime Minister-ship in the spring of 1988. In 1993, her party was again defeated and she became head of the opposition once more, serving as a member of parliament and political leader of the NVP until 1994

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The Honorable JULIANA O’CONNOR-CONNOLLY, JP

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Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP is a Caymanian politician and the current Premier of the Cayman Islands. O’Connor-Connolly has served as premier since 19 December 2012, having succeeded McKeeva Bush, who was removed by way of a no confidence motion the previous day. O’Connor-Connolly currently serves as the second elected member for the district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, serving her fourth term in the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands.

O’Connor-Connolly is the first-ever female Premier of the Cayman Islands. Before becoming Premier, she was the Territory’s Deputy Premier serving from November 2009 until December 2012. In 1997 Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly became Cayman’s first woman minister when she was chosen to fill a vacancy on Executive Council as the Minister of Community Affairs, Sports, Women, Youth and Culture. O’Connor-Connolly has previously served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from November 2001 to October 2003. From October 2003 to April 2005 she served as Minister for Planning, Communications, District Administration and Information Technology.

O’Connor-Connolly was elected Deputy Premier during the Cayman Islands general election in 2009, and in addition to assuming the post of Deputy Premier, she served as Minister of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture. In 2012 O’Connor-Connolly assumed the post of Premier of the Cayman Islands she also currently serves as Minister of Finance, District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture.