United States Congressional Representative Darren Soto, who has represented the 9th Congressional District in Florida since 2016, honored Michelle Allman, also known as “Coach Mea,” on the floor of the US House of Representatives during Caribbean American Heritage Month for her work as a cultural advocate, magazine publisher, broadcaster, and community leader who educates and empowers members of her community toward greater health awareness and pride in its cultural contributions. Congressman Soto awarded Allman with the 2021 Congressional Community Award, which is documented and recorded in the US Library of Congress.
Michelle “Coach Mea” Allman was born to a Costa Rican father and a mother who has Jamaican, Arawak Indian, and Scots ancestry. Raised in Canada, she has lived in Florida for 38 years. Early in her career, she noticed that young people with Caribbean cultural accents were bullied in school. She then realized that there was a general lack of awareness about their Caribbean heritage and decided in 2008 to educate her Caribbean American community by founding, along with her son Michael Morgan, an online publication called “Karibbean Under One (KUO) Magazine.”
The publication highlights the richness of diverse cultures, as well as to act as a community liaison for other Caribbean organizations and businesses in providing resource, outreach, and disaster relief. The idea was to help other Caribbean Americans unite and develop their awareness of their own cultures. Relying on her own history as a survivor of breast cancer, “Being a survivor has taught me over the years to do a lot of research on my own breast cancer prevention. They say knowledge is power! Well, I have taken that knowledge and put my focus on finding ways to stay healthy and to teach others through KUOMagazine.”
Allman founded “Official Women of Kulture” in 2016 and “Men of Kulture 365 in 2018 as part of the KUOMagazine brand and as a reflection of her passion to create a welcoming community that serves as leadership in educating, inspiring, and celebrating the overall Caribbean culture while retaining the sense of each individual cultural identity.
Her 21-year history as a cancer survivor inspired Allman to become a Certified Professional Life/Health and Nutrition Coach in 2020. As a health advocate, she produces and hosts a monthly virtual program called “G.L.O.W. 365 = Greater Level of Wellness 365” to bring greater awareness of the most recent health and wellness information to the US and the islands of the Caribbean. Allman also celebrates those individuals who have overcome or who continue to fight chronic illnesses and conditions with the “Ribbons of Survivors 365” brand, which she established in 2014.
Coach Mea has served on the executive boards of several Caribbean organizations, is a member of the Heads of Caribbean, an Empowerment Speaker for KweliWorks Institute, and a Host/Technical Director for a number of their virtual shows. In 2021, Allman was named the International Cultural Ambassador for The Orlando International Film Festival – Lions Club, focusing on providing a platform for the celebration for Caribbean filmmakers worldwide.
Commenting to Jamaicans.com on receiving the 2021 Congressional Community Award, Allman said, “I am truly honored and blessed to receive this congressional award in 2021. I dedicate this award in honor of my late mother Mavis Jackson, who taught me to love who I am, my mixed culture. But, most of all, to share the richness of your Jamaican Heritage for those that don’t understand why you speak with a Jamaican/Canadian accent. She also encouraged me through coping with my ongoing illnesses after Breast Cancer to continue spreading all the beautiful diverse cultures you share in every issue in KUOMagazine, and never give up, because GOD is not done with you yet. Thank you to my children for always supporting me in all that I continue to do in my community. This award means I’ve made my mother and children proud, and that’s a blessing beyond gratitude. Thank you, Jamaicans.com for featuring me for Caribbean American HeritageMonth (June).”