Sunday, November 12, 2017

Minna Israel has made Jamaica proud

Observer column for Monday October 30, 2017 - updated

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Last Friday, ten outstanding women leaders strode onto the stage of the international women's Forum annual conference held in Houston. The leader who was inducted in the IWF Hall of Fame was former US Secretary of State and the first ever woman US presidential candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Jamaica's first woman Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller is also an IWF Hall of Famer.

The other nine were honored as "women who make a difference", and Jamaicans should be proud that among them was none other than our own Minna Israel, the second Jamaican to be thus honoured.  The first was the IWF Jamaica Founding President the dynamic Pat Ramsay, who received the award five years ago at the San Francisco IWF Conference.

Minna was recognized as the first Caribbean woman to be the country manager of a major Bank and a leader in many other spheres of national life. In 2011 Minna Israel was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of the West Indies and the citation noted that the "fracture which Minna Israel has generated in the proverbial glass ceiling may very well have terminally compromised its structural integrity". 

Thirty years ago, banking was a male-dominated field; it must have taken tremendous competence and professionalism for Minna Israel to have moved up the ranks to become Scotiabank's country manager for the Bahamas and later the first woman president of the Jamaica Bankers Association.

This was a quantum leap not only for women in banking, but also for those in other areas of Jamaica's private and public sectors. From Minna, her fellow Jamaican women learned that they could be leaders while still embracing the fine qualities of their gender – dedication, compassion, and resilience. It is no wonder then that in a recent survey, Jamaica was found to have more women managers per capita than any other country in the world.

The photographs out of Houston last Friday showed the tremendous support that Minna received from her Jamaican IWF sisters, led by president Camille Facey, founding president Pat Ramsay and fellow members Patsy Atterbury-Latchman, Valerie Facey, Jeanne Robinson-Foster, Anya Schnoor, Jackie Sharp, Marcia Forbes, Allison Peart, Therese Turner-Jones, Scarlette Gillings, Corinne McLarty and Peta-Rose Hall. The bonds are strong as we celebrate and support each other, checking in ego at the door and stepping into a space of positivity and affirmation.

Jamaica is ahead of the curve in acknowledging gender equality, though lagging in our representation in the highest offices. We in the IWF and other women's organizations such as the St Andrew Business and Professional Women's Club, the Women's Leadership Initiative, Women Business Owners and WMW Jamaica, are not seeking dominance, but rather equality. If more decision-makers were aware that organizations which strive for gender balance are more profitable and successful, we would be leaps ahead.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CCRP Honours some of Jamaica's finest

For Seniors Week last month, and the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) held their Living Legacy Awards event where Jamaicans of many walks of life were honoured.  

They are St John’s Ambulance Head of Nursing Marie Clemetson, lecturer/composer Noel Dexter, international sports organizer Michael Fennell, broadcaster and actress Leonie Forbes, volunteers and educators Cecile and Norman Jarrett, lecturer and human rights activist Horace Levy, lecturer and former Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris, retired JDF Chief of Staff Major General Robert Neish, St John’s Ambulance volunteer and instructor Clembert Powell and NDTC founding member and dance instructor Patricia ‘Patsy’ Ricketts.

We were bowled over by the untiring efforts of these excellent Jamaicans. In his reply on behalf of the awardees, Mike Fennell also paid tribute to the many other generous Jamaicans who may never gain similar recognition.   

CAFFE celebrates 20 Years

CAFFE 20th:  Founding member of Citizens’ Action for Free & Fair Elections (CAFFE) Archbishop Emeritus Edgerton Clarke (centre) with Founding Chairman Dr Alfred Sangster (left) and current Chairman Dr Lloyd Barnett, after the presentation of a Citation to mark his 50th Anniversary as a Bishop. Occasion was the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the local election monitoring organisation held recently at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.

Director Grace Baston led the Litany of Thanksgiving at St Luke’s Church recently for the 20th Anniversary of Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) founded by the late Father Jim Webb SJ. The priest resolved to start CAFFE after he arrived at a polling station in Kingston’s inner city, and was told, ‘Fadah, yu vote already.’ 

Father Jim called up a group of us for a meeting at the Roman Catholic Chancery, hosted by then Archbishop Edgerton Clarke. It was great to get together with fellow founding members Archbishop Emeritus Clarke, founding chairman Dr Alfred Sangster, Dr O’Meally-Nelson and Anton Thompson who still serves as a Director and Treasurer. Other members of the hard-working civic organisation are Nancy Anderson, Director and Secretary and Mario Samms, Supervisor.

Being a consultant to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), I recused myself from CAFFE, but had the pleasure of organizing a meeting between Dr Sangster and then Director of Elections Danville Walker who heartily welcomed the formation of the election monitoring body. Chairman of the ECJ, Dorothy Pine-McLarty has also praised the work of CAFFE, and participated in the Anniversary celebrations.

CAFFE Chairman Dr Lloyd Barnett used the occasion to pay tribute to Archbishop Clarke, who was celebrating his 50th Anniversary as a Bishop.  In his response, Archbishop Clarke reminded us that ‘Jamaicans are a people of dignity’ and called for respect to ‘be given from the cradle’. He said it was respect that helps people ‘to become fully human … so make that a priority in your lives.’  He said that respect can only come from honesty. “We must learn to be truthful to selves and truthful to each other,” he declared.

Friday, November 3, 2017


Dear Readers

So grateful to the Press Association of Jamaica to be included among their veteran honourees! Thank you!


The Press Association of Jamaica continues to engage the public on topical and controversial issues involving the role of the media in society, with the theme for National Journalism Week this year being "Media Accountability in the Digital Age."  National Journalism Week is  being celebrated from Sunday, November 26 - Saturday, December 2, 2017, and promises to be another interesting and engaging series of activities and events.


"The theme acknowledges the current discussions taking place locally about the accountability of the media," says PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller.


The week kicks off with the traditional church service, which is being held this year at the Temple of Light Centre for Spiritual Living, 4-6 Fairway Avenue, Kingston 10 on Sunday, November 26 at 9 am.  


The PAJ will be hosting a special event at PAJ headquarters at midday after the church service, a Pinning Ceremony & Members Lyme, to welcome new members to the organisation.


"We've had quite a few new members joining the organisation, as we continue to reach out to the media community to revitalise and renew the PAJ," says Jackson Miller. "We thought it would be a nice touch to carve out a space within Journalism Week to welcome our new members and provide an opportunity for them to meet and greet our existing members."


On Monday the PAJ hosts its popular Issues Forum, focusing on a topic of interest to the profession and the country. This year's topic "Who Watches the Watchdog" will focus on the very current and topical issue of holding the media accountable. The PAJ is again partnering with the US Embassy for this event, which will take place on Monday, November 27, at the Jamaica Pegasus, starting at 6 pm.


"We believe this topic is important at this time, given all the controversy and discussions recently about whether there is need for a type of Media Complaints Council to hold the media accountable," says PAJ Secretary Archibald Gordon, who is coordinating the event.


Seminars with the same topic will also be held in Montego Bay, at the Western Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies, at 9 am on Tuesday, November 28; and in Mandeville, at Northern Caribbean University, at 2pm on Wednesday November 29.  


"The PAJ regards these seminars as an important aspect of our efforts to broaden the PAJ's work and outreach to students and media workers all across Jamaica," Jackson Miller explained.


The PAJ's annual Veterans' luncheon will this year be held on Wednesday, November 29. The PAJ is pleased to announce that this year's honourees will be Clinton McGregor, Senior Reporter and Producer at the RJR Gleaner Group; Garfield Myers, Editor-at-Large at the Jamaica Observer;  Jean Lowrie Chin, Observer columnist and Executive Chairman of PROComm; and Phillip Green, photographer at the Western Mirror. The event is once again being hosted by J. Wray and Nephew.  


On Thursday at 9 am, the PAJ Executive will pay a courtesy call on Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid.


The week's culminating activity will once again be the National Journalism Awards at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Saturday, December 2.  Cocktails, sponsored by Flow and the Victoria Mutual Building Society start at 6.30 pm, with the Awards Show starting at 8 am, and the hugely popular and well-attended After-Party sponsored by Sagicor.


One of the exciting changes this year is the introduction of a new award for Best Breaking News Coverage, as the Awards Show continues to evolve to better reflect the work of our media organisations. Another change includes the creation, for the first time, of an Award solely for Radio, in the Best Radio Feature category, and which has attracted significant interest.

 "We want to put on another great show this year, as we celebrate the best in journalism," says PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller.  "Overall, we're looking forward to a fantastic week."


Contact: Dionne Jackson Miller, President



"A Free Press, Oxygen of Democracy"

Jean Lowrie-Chin