Jamaican to Chair Commission of Caribbean Affairs in Maryland


Prominent Jamaican-born lawyer, Ambassador Curtis Ward, has been appointed chairman of the first Commission on Caribbean Affairs in the United States (US).

Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, signed Executive Order 01.01.2012.11 creating the first Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs in Maryland, during an afternoon ceremony on June 6 in the state capital of Annapolis.

The commission’s creation and the historic appointment of Ambassador Ward, come as Caribbean Americans celebrate June as Caribbean American Heritage Month in the United States.

The creation of the body, Governor O’Malley said, shows his administration’s commitment to the Caribbean people of Maryland, estimated at over 60,000 persons.

“In Maryland, we are blessed to have a vibrant Caribbean community that is thriving, growing and helping our state move forward every day. To better serve this community, we have chosen…to create a dedicated commission to focus on the specific needs of the Caribbean Americans in Maryland,” the Governor said.

To ensure that matters of importance to the community are addressed at the highest levels of the Maryland government, the commission will be housed in the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (GOCI).

“We will focus our work in this new commission on community development issues, and our commissioners will serve as advisors on all issues related to the Caribbean community,” Governor O’Malley informed.

Ambassador Ward is a former envoy and Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Security Council and a former expert adviser to the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). He lives in Montgomery County.

When fully seated, the historic Commission will have nine members. Its mandate is to advise the Governor on issues affecting the state’s Caribbean community, including healthcare, business, workforce and economic development. 

The membership of the body will reflect the diverse ancestry and national origins of Maryland’s Caribbean community and will have state-wide representation from different geographic regions.

A number of elected state and local officials, some with Caribbean origins, were on hand for the historic signing ceremony, including delegates in the Maryland House of Delegates, Hon. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (of Jamaica); and Hon. Aisha Braveboy (Grenada). Lt. Governor Brown, himself, has Caribbean roots, his father having come to America from Jamaica. 

 

By Derrick Scott, JIS Reporter

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