Jamaican cops PALI Global Woman in Leadership Award Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Guidance counsellor and philanthropist, Kerry Ann Thompson, is the 2024 recipient of the Pan-African Leadership Institute (PALI) Global Woman in Leadership Award.

The PALI alumna was recognised for her eponymous foundation, which provides support to victims of rape and sexual violence.

Thompson, who is guided by the core values of integrity and authenticity, said she was surprised but happy for the award, which she sees as a call to action to continue her mission.

“It means that there’s more to be done and that I should take up that mantle and continue that work,” she says.

Established in 2021, PALI is an executive education institute geared towards moulding leaders. It is recognised in more than 40 countries worldwide.

The organisation held its first awards ceremony in Accra, Ghana, in January, with the Women in Leadership Award being one category.

Recipients of the PALI Awards are alumni who are recognised for their contributions to their local community, organisation or country.

Thompson, in relating her association with PALI, said a colleague who was familiar with the organisation encouraged her to take up a philanthropic leadership course, which was being offered as a scholarship programme.

“I got [the] scholarship and I went ahead and completed the course. It was quite intense, intentional, targeted and it was an opportunity to meet persons across the globe who had entered different spaces so they can transform their section of the world,” she says.

Looking back,  Thompson says that her mission to become a guidance counsellor and help others was ignited by a mental health lesson during an ‘A’ level psychology class.

It was at that time that her aspirations began shifting away from becoming a teacher.

“I thought I knew what my life was going to be, which was being a teacher, and a lot of persons said I am good at it but… I remember my teacher was talking about a case of multiple personalities caused by a neurological imbalance and how to treat those two individuals separately, but as an individual at the same time,” she relates.

“I decided that ‘Yes, I am going to either be a counsellor or a psychologist’ because I do want to help people navigate different seasons of their lives. That was my ‘Aha’ moment,” she says.

Fueled by a desire to see people live their holistic lives, Thompson took a crucial first step in 2010 by completing her undergraduate studies in School Counselling and Guidance Services at The Mico University College.

She went on to study for a Master of Science in Counselling and Social Work at The Mico and graduated in 2012.

Thompson worked as a school counsellor for several years before starting her Foundation in 2018.

“I knew that I wanted to do non-profit because I wanted to be able to help persons. Whether or not they are able to afford the services, they should be able to have access so that they can get the help to start their journey,” she says.

The focus on victims of rape and sexual violence may have been spurred years earlier, when she did her first practicum at a children’s home in 2010 and encountered a young girl who had been molested and was placed at the home for her care and protection.

“It was my first case. I remember she had all these feelings and she was just sharing. It was my first day and I was unsure of what to do, but I figured it out and reached out to my supervisor and we navigated it from there,” she relates.

Through the Kerry Ann Thompson Foundation, victims can access counselling free of cost and at a small fee for those who are able to pay. There is no age limit, and services are offered to both males and females.

“Here at Kerry Ann Thompson Foundation, we know the devastating impact rape and other forms of sexual violence can have on the individual and their families. As such, we are dedicated to the cause of helping victims live holistic lives. Since our founding in 2018, we have been determined to make an impact,” the Foundation’s website says.

Counselling is available through face-to-face and online sessions.

Mobile counselling is also offered, which allows persons to be seen in the comfort of their home.

The foundation also brings awareness to the impact of rape and sexual violence through community outreach.

For support, persons may email [email protected] or WhatsApp at (876) 382-5459.

Meanwhile, Thompson, who serves as the Head of the Social Services Department at Christel House Jamaica, encourages women to “step into every leadership position boldly”.

“Shatter the glass ceiling. You are deserving of every leadership post, and step into it boldly,” she says.