Laughter, tears and memories at Women’s Day Forum and Awards Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The warmth in the room served as an inspiration to all who attended the Women’s Leadership Initiative’s (WLI) and International Women’s Day Forum and Awards. Hosted in partnership with the AC Marriott Hotel, the Forum and Awards celebrated the organization’s 20 years of service to Jamaica and awarded the accomplishments of five distinguished female media practitioners.

Following a heartfelt tribute on behalf of the WLI delivered by Roxann Linton, Deputy Chair, to special guest and founder, former United States Ambassador to Jamaica Sue McCort Cobb, she was presented with an award and gift by Chair Grace Burnett. In her reply, attendees were treated to stories of experiences in Jamaica, bonding moments and snippets of the organization’s history before she presented awards to the eight past and current chairs.

A panel comprising; Sharon Lake, Chair- Education Committee, Eva Lewis, Chair –Mentorship Committee, and Nadine Heywood, Chair – Advocacy Committee shone a light on the continuous work by the WLI to make Jamaica a better place. The main initiatives were Mentorship of Girls, work with the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH), Conversations with Boys and our flagship Darkness to Light programme addressing child sexual abuse.

During the lunchtime break, Gem Meyers had all present, singing, dancing and joining together in a spirit of unparalleled camaraderie.

In her closing remarks Grace Burnett, Chair of WLI shared, “in the days leading up to this event, we lost our cherished sister Marcia (Erskine). It was a shock to our core but we all knew that to truly honour her memory, we had to deliver on an event that she had meticulously planned. At times, I could feel her at my shoulder and from the joy and closeness we felt today, she was here. We honoured 5 exemplary women of the media, in the way our sister Marcia would have preferred. Everyone smiling.”

Honoured for their service. Presentations to past and present WLI chair(s)by former Ambassador Sue McCort Cobb (4th left) and WLI founder with (L-R) Sharon Lake, Renee Menzies-McCallum, Patricia Ramsey, Eva Lewis, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, Grace Burnett and Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham.

Household names in their own rights, the media honourees comprised, Simone Clarke-Cooper; Exec Producer and Host of “Sim Soul Sessions”- TVJ; Susan Simes-Graham, Media Entrepreneur and Host of “The Susan Show” TVJ; Dionne Jackson-Miller, host of “Beyond the Headlines and All Angles”- RJR Communications Group; Kerlyn Brown, Broadcast Journalist and host of “Inspire Jamaica” CVM TV and the doyenne of lifestyle, Novia McDonald- Whyte;  Associate Editor-Lifestyle and Content, The Jamaica Observer. Media honouree Simone Clarke-Cooper gave a reply on their behalf and a tribute and champagne toast was followed by the indomitable Novia McDonald-Whyte

The event closed with a tribute from the honourees and sisters of the WLI to include a poem specially written by St Lucian poet and Caribbean Laureate Dr Adrian Augier, read eloquently by Eva Lewis, a video collage, as well as, moment of silence and song in remembrance led by the Deputy Chair of Membership, Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham.