5 Questions with Michelle Tulloch-Neil, Candidate for Global Jamaica Diaspora Council North East USA

Michelle Tulloch-Neil

Michelle Tulloch-Neil began her career in 2003 as a Victim/ witness coordinator in the Juvenile Court Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. A few years later in her continuous pursuit for victims’ rights she served as a review committee member for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program. In 2012, she accepted an opportunity that allows her to further serve the Philadelphia community as an Adjunct Instructor of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency at Harcum College, and also as an instructor for NOVA’s Victim Assistance Academy. She currently serves as the co-chair for Team Jamaica Bickle Philadelphia. Ms. Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Temple University and a Master’s of Theological studies from Palmer Theological Seminary.

What is your connection to Jamaica? Have you been involved in the Jamaica Diaspora Movement
or Jamaican related organizations before?
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and an alumna of Holy Childhood High. After completing one year of sixth form I began working for the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI). After 6 years of working for the organization, I migrated to the United States of America. In 2004, I began volunteering with Team Jamaica Bickle Philadelphia at the Annual Penn Relays through its hospitality program for the participating athletes. This gratification I received from giving back and serving our athletes led me to become a member of the organization of which I now serve as its co-chair.
As an alumni of Holy childhood high school, I have supported students by providing annual scholarships, equipment, footwear and most recently care packages during the pandemic.

Giving back is at the heart of everything I have done both here in Philadelphia and Jamaica. To that end, I have worked with the following organizations. I have served as follows:

  • Board Member of HCHS Alumni Association Northeast
  • Co-Chair for Team Jamaica Bickle Philadelphia
  • Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program
  • Trustee of ENON Tabernacle Baptist Church
  • Vice-Chair of Helen O’ Dickens Auxiliary at Abington Hospital
  • Adjunct Instructor Harcum College
  • Abington Women’s Board Member
  • Co-Chair for Pennsylvania Coalition for Victim Advocates
  • Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency
  • 24th Police District Youth Aid Panel

If elected what will be your main goal in this role for your constituencies?
My main goal for my constituencies would be to carry out the mandate of our people. This would be achieved through my continuous interaction with the various communities throughout the fourteen states. I would create initiatives to bring about change for the greater good for those living in the USA and Jamaica as well as helping Jamaica to mobilize the necessary resources of the USA to build Jamaica. It is about promoting and facilitating the diaspora to avail their skills, abilities and experience while collaborating with all people in the various sectors of Jamaica. The objective is to contribute to national development through mutual, productive and sustainable diaspora engagement which will move Jamaica from developing to developed.

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?
The first thing that I would do is have a listening tour throughout all fourteen states. During this period, I would gain firsthand knowledge of the concerns, interests and issues that have plagued Jamaica; as well as the transition period to the United States of America. Consequently, this would give me the opportunity to educate and remind others about who we are and what we are hoping to achieve to strengthen the diaspora and build up Jamaica.

I would also use this opportunity to discuss the successes of the previous administration. For example, their accomplishment in advocating for the special needs’ population, how they secured 3 million dollars in PPP loans which have kept many of the businesses afloat during the pandemic, providing high schools in Jamaica with defibrillators, and most importantly providing funds, food and shelter for students while Jamaica was on locked down.
Likewise, we assisted the Jamaican restaurants during the pandemic. This was done through partnership with the previous administration and other organizations to have a Jamaican Restaurant week. During that week, I was able to provide publicity through free television and radio airtime. This serves to increase sales and remind the public that they are still open for business. Providing this information will indicate the benefits and ways of being involved in the diaspora movement.

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?
My thoughts are that it should be funded especially for traveling expenses. The fact is that those who aspire to do this job do so out of love for people and country. The fact that we are willing to use our time, talent and treasure is a strong indicator that, even though we have migrated to the USA and started a new life, we care about and love our country. We want to invest in its growth through strategic partnership be it investment funds and/or charitable donations that would contribute to the sustainable development of Jamaica. This is a movement where we believe in connecting people to people and people to resources while having direct engagement in initiatives that complement the activities of government. It is a universal call to action that will happen regardless of funding.

It is true that the Jamaican government assisted in creating the council however, the people elected the candidates and as such we should always strive to do the will of the people who elected us. Our goal should reflect candidate’s willingness to see each other as interconnected and collaborative, and at the same time creating avenues to exchange our resources to empower all to reach their fullest potential in the country where they reside.

Is there a goal that you believe the global Jamaican Diaspora can rally around?
During my campaign stops, I was repeatedly asked about three issues. I have property and I travel to Jamaica annually why is it I am not able to vote in the general elections? For a small island the crime rate ratio must be addressed, especially murders and domestic violence as this evokes fear in me and on a larger scale affects tourism. We need better healthcare access for all people. The above areas of concern are my life’s work, I have dedicated years to education, health, crime and security. The common thread in changing the above path revolves around taking advantage of the engaged diaspora and create a mechanism where we employ individuals with the best skill, best thinking and best partnership to collaborate with Jamaicans living in Jamaica. If this is achieved, we would be unstoppable and unmatched to solve issues that have plagued us. We have the know-how, the organization and the resources, let us work together as we continue in the path of growth. There are areas and concerns that I am willing to rally around.

Thanks for your time and all the best in the election. Do you have any closing thoughts?
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself to your audience. I would like to close by quoting former President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King. President Obama stated “ change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for, we are the change that we seek. Dr. king stated in one of his famous speeches, what is your life’s blueprint? “if you cannot run walk, if you cannot walk crawl, but just keep moving. The Jamaica diaspora is a movement. We must keep moving! We must strengthen our diaspora to build our Jamaica. The previous representative Dr .Karren Dunkley did a wonderful job bringing the diaspora together with such success that if I am elected as the next representative, I will continue with the great work she has begun. I would like to congratulate all the candidates, because we all have already won.
Thank you in advance.

About the author

Xavier Murphy