Kimisha Simpson resides outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within the northeast region of the United States. Kimisha is a current doctoral student at Saint Joseph’s University in the Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Program for Educational Leaders and is currently a school district administrator. She has 9 years of experience in the field of education, as a classroom teacher, lead teacher, school principal, and central office district administrator. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Temple University and master’s degree in educational leadership from Saint Joseph’s University. As an educator and mother of two Kimisha’s philosophy is to ensure our children across the Diaspora are equipped with the skills required to become global leaders.
Kimisha quickly realized her mission is to utilize her expertise to further develop communities that mean the most to her. From an early age Kimisha knew she wanted to return to the island and improve the lives of those connected to her parents’ home. Ignite Jamaica allows Kimisha to utilize her professional skill sets while achieving her dream of contributing to the prosperity of Jamaica. This led her to establishing her children’s nonprofit organization, Ignite Jamaica Fund. Kimisha’s nonprofit is founded on the principle of giving to students of Caribbean or African diasporic heritage to eliminate financial gaps and to build equitable educational opportunities. Kimisha’s impact initiatives over the past few years have consisted of providing technology resources to Christinia Leased Primary School and learning supplies to Sharon Basic School within the parish of Manchester. Kimisha also impacted those in her local community of Philadelphia, and has partnered with Chosen 300 Ministries, African Family Health Organization, and several classrooms within the Philadelphia School District.
What is your connection to Jamaica? Have you been involved in the Jamaica Diaspora Movement or Jamaican related organizations before?
Jamaica is the place I call home. Although I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania I will always consider Jamaica the place where my heart belongs. As a child I recall counting down the days until I had an opportunity to visit family and friends. As a child I would visit Jamaica yearly for summer holidays. I have continued to frequent the island yearly with my children and pass down this tradition. I am living the experience of striving to pass on and share the goals, pillars, and the legacy of Jamaica with others.
I come from a family of educators that reside on the island. My aunts and cousins highly influenced my desire to enter the field of education. They instilled the Jamaican value of education being the key to success in life. I utilize this ideal in my daily role as a public educator.
I founded Ignite Jamaica Fund in 2020, with the sole purpose of using every resource our organization has to enhance the quality of educational experiences ALL students receive. My efforts are focused on the target population of students of Caribbean and African diasporic descent. I am directly involved with surveying the needs of educational institutions in Jamaica and overseas. My organization strives to develop actionable steps to change the narrative of Jamaica and for its future generations.
If elected, what will be your main goal in this role for your constituencies?
My main goal for constituents is for them to have a platform for their stories to be told. As their varied narratives will inform the decisions made by the council to engage stakeholders and to identify focus areas of growth. My main goal is to increase awareness of the national goals, initiatives, and overall development. I strongly believe we should strive to be lifelong learners. Education is a sector many misinterpret as being limited to our youth. My vision is for our constituents to further their understanding of their local and national community. My hope is for older generations to lead as the model for our children in demonstrating the impact and power of education.
Many in the Jamaican community abroad don’t know much about the Jamaica Diaspora movement and its goals. What will you do to change this perception and get all Jamaicans in the Diaspora involved?
My goal is to disseminate the work of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council to communities across the Northeast region. I plan on collaborating with local community pillars, organizations, and business groups to support the communication with those in their neighborhoods. I will strive to immerse myself in the happenings of each member across the Diaspora. The Northeast is a vast region, so I believe it is an important space created for constituents to voice their concerns and present plans of action. I truly believe in the proverb we likkle but we tallawah. Far too often we are divided as a nation and we need to focus on building relationships and a network where we create opportunities for our own to thrive. There is inspiration in all of our stories that will ignite a spark within our future generations.
Recently there have been some who have expressed concerns about the lack of funding of The Global Jamaica Diaspora Council and if the position has any power without direction from the Jamaican Government. Do you have any thoughts on this?
I believe it is imperative to address systemic inequities that hinder the growth of those within and outside of Jamaica. It is important we continue to advocate for the resources needed for all to gain access to success. I believe a position is what you make it, and although I will continue to fight for fair funding it is crucial we continue to assess and advocate for allocation of funds to other sectors that are integral to the livelihood of Jamaicans. More importantly I want to empower our members to invest in their future. Across the Diaspora there are many Jamaicans and those of Jamaican descent that want to make a difference. The people of Jamaica are going to the change makers and can obtain the resources needed to be globally competitive.
Is there a goal that you believe the global Jamaican Diaspora can rally around?
The sole goal I believe the Jamaican Diaspora should focus on is education in every capacity. Education goes beyond the classroom and reaches all stakeholders. Education is the only weapon others can never take away from us. The continued development and educational growth of our nation is the key. When we become complacent and stagnant is when progression stops.
Thanks for your time and all the best in the election. Do you have any closing thoughts?
I truly love my culture, heritage, and lineage and am committed to its prosperity. I want to be a part of a collective that is driven around inspiring our future, investing in our communities, and igniting change in the society that means the most to me. As an educator my passion and dedication will always be to provide skills, knowledge, and tools to those in need.
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