RECAP: Jamaica Women of Florida 2016 Empowerment Conference

Jamaican Women of Florida aim to mentor and support young women, specifically those of Jamaican heritage. Their annual conference raises funds to, among other objectives, help local young ladies with university expenses, and help the Melody House Girls’ Home in Montego Bay. The two previous local scholarship recipients, one in medicine, one in law, maintain grade point averages over 3.8 and are apparently both destined for great success.

The morning of April 23, 2016 started with two panels populated with dynamic and well accomplished women who shared motivational life experiences with an enthusiastic roomful of attendees. Presenters included Beverley Manley, wife of popular former Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley, a last minute addition to the lineup who notably spoke about the struggle to maintain her own identity while being married to a larger than life personality. Throughout the day, other speakers with uplifting messages included Carnival VP Marie McKenzie, CNN reporter Rene Marsh and millennial marketing consultant LeToya Stairs.

The headliner of the event was luncheon speaker Paula Madison, former NBC executive, women’s basketball team owner and current owner of The Africa Channel. She spoke about the exploration of her mixed black and Chinese lineage chronicled in her book “Finding Samuel Lowe”. Most impacting were the stories about her Jamaican mother who had only an eighth grade education, and two of the great lessons she imparted – that the family was in America so that Madison and her brothers would excel in all that they did, and that they must become not just successful, but RICH. Madison also highlighted the fact that when people of color are recruited to high level positions in America, it is so that they can recruit other people of color to join an organization’s base of participants. Her presentation was extremely well received, as was the entire event.