Jamaican Appointed to District of Columbia Commission


Dr. Bertram Melbourne, a local Jamaican academic and priest, has been appointed to the newly constituted District of Columbia Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs by Mayor of the City of Washington, D.C.
The recent announcement marks a new thrust on the part of Mayor Anthony Williams to reach out to the Caribbean community in the Washington metropolitan area. Mayor Williams has also reiterated the D.C. government’s desire to build and foster a stronger relationship between the District and Caribbean nationals in Washington.
The Commission members, who will serve for three years and are also eligible for re-appointment for a consecutive term, will help the Mayor develop a plan-of-action that serves to develop and enhance greater people-to-people exchanges between District of Columbia officials and CARICOM governments. A part of the Commission’s mandate is to stimulate and deepen international business, trade development and investment linkages between local entities in Washington and counterparts in the Caribbean.
In an interview with JIS News, Dr. Melbourne said his appointment was an opportunity to acquaint the Washington community, and by extension, American policymakers residing in the city, with the Caribbean agenda as it relates to the region’s social and economic development priorities.
“It is a chance to make a contribution in facilitating better understanding of the Caribbean and the issues that are of importance to us a region. But, my foremost interest, even while giving voice and advocacy to the region’s agenda, is to assist in raising Jamaica’s profile in Washington and highlighting the significant contributions that Jamaican academics and other professionals have made, to the U.S. capital,” he said. Dr. Melbourne stressed that it was important that the ingenuity and industriousness of the Jamaican and Caribbean communities be taken into account, and that public policy reflect this acknowledgement in greater outreach to the community, not only within the academic realm, but also in closer co-operation within the areas of economic and business development.
He promised to encourage the “implementation of programmes and activities that will help the (local) public better understand the critical role that our nationals have played in every facet of (Washington’s) development”.
“I will seek to promote better working relations between the District of Columbia and Jamaicans, as well as to facilitate meaningful cultural and economic exchanges that will deepen this process,” he added.
Dr. Melbourne is currently Associate Dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity and is Professor of New Testament Language. He has also been a visiting Professor at Griggs University since 1989 where he lectures on, among other things, Beginning and Intermediate Greek, Acts and Epistles and Issues in Multiculturalism.
His primary function at Howard University is to help to prepare outstanding religious scholars and teachers who can, in turn, provide effective counsel to other religious leaders who focus on issues of moral and contemporary importance, as well as questions of racial and social justice.
Dr. Melbourne received his early and secondary education at the John’s Hall Primary School and at Cornwall College. After completing high school, he entered West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University), where he studied Theology, Biblical Greek and English. He later obtained his Masters and Doctorate degrees, both in New Testament Studies, at Andrews University in the United States.

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