Jamaican Kerry Ann Thompson Honored with PALI Global Woman in Leadership Award

Jamaican guidance counselor and philanthropist, Kerry Ann Thompson, was presented with the Pan-African Leadership Institute (PALI) Global Woman in Leadership Award at a ceremony held in Accra, Ghana, in January 2024. The award was presented by the traditional head and chief from Ghana’s Ashanti region. PALI is an executive education institute established in 1921 to educate and shape leaders. It is recognized in over 40 countries around the world.

“Surprised but happy”

An alumna of the PALI scholarship program, Thompson was honored for her work with the Kerry Ann Thompson Foundation, an organization she founded to provide support to the victims of rape and sexual violence. She said she was “surprised but happy” to receive the award and views it as a call to continue her foundation work. “It means that there’s more to be done and that I should take up that mantle and continue that work,” she said.

PALI’s philanthropic leadership course

Thompson was encouraged by a colleague to apply for a scholarship to the PALI philanthropic leadership course, and when she won the scholarship, she completed the intensive course, which gave her the chance to meet people from around the world who were seeking to transform conditions in their regions. Thompson was inspired by a mental health lesson in one of her psychology classes to shift her initial desire to be a teacher to become a guidance counselor to help others “navigate different seasons of their lives.” She completed her undergraduate counseling and guidance studies at The Mico University College and then pursued an MS in counseling and social work at The Mico, receiving her degree in 2012. She worked as a school counselor before starting her nonprofit foundation in 2018.

Establishes her own foundation

Thompson recognized her desire to work in the nonprofit sector because she wanted to help people regardless of whether they could afford the services. She believed everyone should have access to the help they need. Her focus on victims of rape and sexual violence originated some years earlier during her first stint at a children’s home in 2010. Her first case involved a girl who had been molested and placed in the home for care. The Kerry Ann Thompson Foundation provides counseling to victims cost-free; for those who can pay, a small fee is charged. The services are available to male and female victims, and there is no age limit imposed on those seeking help. The foundation understands how devastating sexual violence can be to individuals and their families and is dedicated to helping victims live “holistic lives.”

Encourages women to take action

Thompson currently serves as the Head of the Social Services Department at Christel House Jamaica. She actively encourages women to move into leadership positions. She counsels them to “shatter the glass ceiling” and tells them that they deserve every leadership position they attain. “Step into it boldly,” she advises.

Photo – Contributed