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10 Caribbean Roots Women In U.S. Elected Post

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, last April, accompanied President Barack Obama on his Caribbean trip to Jamaica and the Summit of the Americas in Panama. (White House photo)

Compiled By NAN Staff Writer See Original

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Mar. 9, 2016: Worldwide and across the U.S., women, including those born in the Caribbean or of Caribbean roots, continue to make significant contributions to the social, economic, cultural and political development of the nation in elected office. As International Women’s Day was marked yesterday and as we celebrate Women’s History Month, News Americas decided to look at 10 Caribbean roots women who are serving in top elected offices across the United States. Here are our top 10:

1: Congresswoman Mia Love


US Congresswoman Mia Love is Haitian American.

Born Ludmya Bourdeau, “Mia” Love became the first black Republican and first Haitian American elected to the U.S. Congress. The Brooklyn-born Love, who is a self-confessed Tea Party-ite and pro-life conservative, has actually broken barriers before. She was the first female Haitian-American elected official in Utah County, Utah. Her parents fled Haiti in 1976 to rid themselves of the dictatorship of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and her father, as she reminds interviewers regularly, worked at several jobs — janitor and factory worker — to get her through college at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. She married Jason Love whom she met on a Mormon mission, left her Catholic Church and moved to Utah.  She served two terms on the city council of Saratoga Springs, one of Utah’s fastest growing cities and eventually became Mayor from 2010-2014. Rep. Love, 40, currently serves on the House’s Financial Services committee.

2: U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke


U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is Jamaican American.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke was born to Jamaican parents in Brooklyn, NY. Clarke served on the New York City Council, representing the Fortieth District in Brooklyn. She succeeded her mother, Jamaican-born former City Council Member Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, on the New York City Council in 2001 to represent the 40th council district in Brooklyn. In 2007, Clarke was successful in her bid for the same 11th Congressional seat her mother had failed to win prior. By 2013 the 11th district was redistricted as the 9th district covering much of central Brooklyn.

Democratic Rep. Clarke, 51, is a ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, Science and Technology. Last year, she accompanied President Obama on his first trip to Jamaica as President.

3: Attorney General Kamala Devi Harris


Attorney General Kamala Devi Harris has Jamaican roots.

Kamala Devi Harris, the daughter of Jamaican American Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris and Indian breast cancer specialist Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris. She made history in 2010 after being elected as first female, the first African-American and the first Asian-American attorney general in California. Harris, 51, was re-elected in 2014 and is currently running for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer in the 2016 election. She is reportedly a close friend of President Obama, so much so that her named was being shopped around as a potential nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

4: State Senator Roxanne Jacqueline Persaud


NY State Senator Roxanne Jacqueline Persaud was born in Guyana.

Guyana-born Roxanne Jacqueline Persaud was elected to the 19th State Senate District in New York in November 2015 after serving in the State Assembly for less than a year. Persaud replaced convicted former Guyanese-American State Senator John Sampson as district representative for the people of Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill and Starrett City, Brooklyn. Persaud immigrated with her family to Brooklyn, New York at age 17, and went on to obtain a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Pace University. She later served as a school administrator with the New York City Public Schools, and also was involved with her community board in Canarsie, and has served on numerous boards and commissions for the community.

5: State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry


State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry of Massachusetts is Haitian American.

Haitian-American Linda Dorcena Forry is a Democratic member of the Massachusetts State Senate. She has represented the 1st Suffolk district since June 2013. Forry was born and raised in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. She graduated from BC’s Carroll School of Management in 1997 and received a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2014.Forry was a legislative assistant, working for then-State Representative Charlotte Golar Richie and went on to work as an executive staff at the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. Forry won the Democratic nomination in the April 2013 special primary election to succeed state Senator Jack Hart in the First Suffolk Senate district, defeating Rep. Nick Collins.  The 42-year-old Forry defeated Republican Joseph A. Ureneck in the final election on May 28th and was sworn in on June 14, 2013 as the State Senator.

6: Rep. Hazelle P. Rogers


Rep. Hazelle P. Rogers of Florida was born in Jamaica.

Jamaican-born Rep. Hazelle P. Rogers is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 95th District, which includes North Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, and Lauderhill in northern Broward County. She has served as a Florida state rep. since 2012. Rogers was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to New York City in 1969, where she attended New York City Community College, graduating with an associate degree in 1976. She attended Pace University in 1980, but did not graduate. In 1982, Rogers relocated to the state of Florida, where she became the Secretary of the Eastgate Homeowners Association. She was elected to the Lauderdale Lakes City Commission in 1996, where she served until she was elected to the legislature. While serving on the City Commission, Rogers graduated from the University of Phoenix with a degree in business in 2003.I n 2012, when the Florida state legislative districts were redrawn, Rogers was moved into the 95th District, which included much of the territory that she had previously represented in the 80th District. She won both the primary and general election entirely unopposed.

7: State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean Pierre


NYS State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean Pierre is Haitian American.

Kimberly Jean-Pierre was elected in the 2014 General Election to the the 11th Assembly District in Lindenhurst, New York. She is the daughter of Haitian immigrant parents  and a graduate of  Brooklyn College and Stony Brook University.  She previously worked in the Suffolk County Legislature as a legislative aide as well as district Community Outreach Coordinator to Congressman Steve Israel. Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre currently sits on the Economic Development Committee, Mental Health Committee, Local Government Committee, Transportation Committee and Banks Committee in the NYS Assembly and is also part of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

8: Mayor Ashira Mohammed


Mayor Ashira Mohammed of Pembroke Park, FL is of Trinidadian heritage.

Trinidad & Tobagoroots Ashira Mohammed is the current Mayor of Pembroke Park, a town in Broward County, Florida. The 38-year-old became the town’s first black elected official when she joined the commission in 2003 at age 26 as the board’s youngest member. The town has 6,000 full-time residents, but its population doubles during snowbird season. Mohamed is a graduate of the St. Thomas University School of Law.

9: Councilmember Charnette Orelien


Councilmember Charnette Orelien of NJ was born in Haiti

Haiti-born Charnette Orelien was elected in 2012 to serve as city councilwoman of the West Ward of the city of Irvington, NJ. Orelien  migrated to the US in 1996 and has lived in the West Ward since. She is a graduate of Essex County College, Rutgers University and Seton Hall University. In the city of Irvington’s 320-year history, she is the first Haitian-American to win a seat in the city’s Council. However, more Haitians reside in the city than any other ethnic group.

10: Commissioner Lisa Cupid


Commissioner Lisa Cupid of Georgia is of Guyanese descent.

Lisa Cupid was born to Guyanese parents in Brooklyn. She is currently the Commissioner of District 4 in Cobb County, Georgia after winning a 2012 election to the post. District 4 is home to great attractions like Six Flags Park, Silver Comet Trail, the Mable House Amphitheater and the new Riverside Epicenter. Cupid , 38, was raised in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit and is a graduate of Georgia Tech engineering and Georgia State College of Law.

Farewell Remarks

Rep. Rogers

Speaker Crisafulli, I thank you for your open door policy and for directing OPPAGA to conduct a study on the issues relative to unemployment and poverty.

To my home city of Lauderdale Lakes, you believed in me and gave me my first opportunity to represent you when I ran for the city commission in 1996.  This was after losing the race by only two votes in 1995.  Vice President Al Gore should have asked me about hanging and dimpled chads and how to overcome them.

I would not have been here as part of this noble and humbling process without the loving support of my best friend and husband of 42 years – Clifton Rogers.  I thank you and appreciate the sacrifices you have made to make my service possible.

To the matriarch of my family, my mother, EulaLee Bax – I want you to know that I live for you to be proud of me and I don’t ever want you to cry for me unless it’s tears of joy.  I thank you for loving and taking care of my husband from the day you met him until today.  I am sure he would be a lot thinner if it were not for you and Kacey’s Restaurant feeding him while I am away.

Members, I had the option of taking a legislative aide with Tallahassee experience, but I chose someone that I knew would love the people of my district and bring a skills set that would be invaluable to our office.  Please join me in thanking Patricia Amiel-Young for her 8 years of service and dedication.  I would be remiss if I did not recognize my former district secretary for seven years, Elizabeth Honorat and to the lady that took the baton when she left and made the loss in my last year less stressful -- Caroline Rucker.

To my community supporters, campaign leadership, and volunteers, although I told you I had no interest in coming to Tallahassee because I hate flying -- you did not give up.  I would like you to know that I did you proud by being one of two freshman members of my class to pass two pieces of legislation in the first year.  HB293 - Motor Vehicle and Mobile Home Transfer, which governs the transfer of title for motor vehicles in a person to person sales transaction hereby protecting the seller, and HB 1493 Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service which, when implemented, will make substantive changes with regard to substance abuse and mental health deliverables.

During my first session which was a Special Session, after debating Rep. Glorioso on the true intent of the Sadowski Funds, we developed a mutual respect for each other and he and former Rep. Evers (now Senator Evers) helped to guide HB 239 through the process.

District 94 now 95, you did not just send me here – you supported me all the way by recommending bills and staying involved, thank you Mayor Kaplan and others who actively participated in the process by attending committee meetings, floor sessions, and other activities.  Colleagues, I don’t know about you. What I do know is that I am 8 years older, stronger, and wiser!

Like you, over the past 7 years, I sponsored and co-sponsored several pieces of legislation -- some have passed and have been signed into law.  In addition to the two previously mentioned, a bill entitled “Dress Code of Student Conduct” which, among other things, requires school boards to include an explanation of the responsibility of student regarding appropriate dress code during the Academic Day.  Another bill, Canned or Perishable Food Distributed Free of Charge, grants sovereign immunity to public schools with respect to the donation of canned or perishable foods to a charitable or nonprofit organization, and Exemption from Legislative Lobbying Requirements, which revises the definition of the term "expenditure" to Not include the use of a public facility or public property that is made available by governmental entity to legislator for public purpose.

The majority of my priority bills focused on small business and economic development.  Many of my priority bills never received a hearing.  A bill requiring the state to unbundle large contracts in an effort to utilize more small and minority-owned businesses, as well as, prompt payment from primes to subs within 14 days.

Another bill would have encouraged investment by the state and local partners in economically disadvantaged communities with double-digit poverty and unemployment under DEO.  Sadly, they never saw the light of day, meaning a hearing. I ask you not to forget those communities in your economic development policies and appropriations decisions.

It is said that great ideas from Democrats are hijacked by the R’s, I can testify that Dem’s do the same thing to Dems.

I am a results-oriented person and I take this position seriously.  When I am not here, I am in the community educating my constituents on policies from state and local government, such as the 40 Year Building Inspection program; depopulation by citizens and working with Citizen’s Insurance in hopes of waiving the 30-day waiting period when forced–placed insurance is involved.

I had the privilege of a visit to my district from Jessi Punnaccio former director with the Department of Economic Opportunity and his staff, also Rep. La Rosa, and most recently, Bill Johnson from Enterprise Florida for several successful and productive meetings with the local businesses.  Thank you all for taking the concerns of my community in your decision making.

For me, a special accomplishment last session was a partnership with Broward College and the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce on a program that will provide business-to-business mentoring, onsite training of property owners and businesses on the incentives and the benefits of public private partnership operating in an Off-port site Foreign Trade Zone.  Special thanks to the Economic Development staff of the City of Lauderdale Lakes.

The district Annual Christmas toy give-a-way in partnership with the City of North Lauderdale and the South Florida Realtist Women, wherein we use this fun holiday event to teach financial literacy to the children by giving them play money to purchase the toys they want.  Children learn that gifts are not always free and how to budget their money to get the gifts that they want.

I am especially proud of the partnership with Farm Share and the many successful dignified feeding events we have held in the district. More than ever we need to fund this initiative. We do have many working poor, veterans, the homeless, and the elderly on fixed income participating in feeding programs across the state.

A special thank you for those organizations, individuals and civic groups who took time to visit with me in Tallahassee.  Among them, the Lauderhill Regional Chamber, the Greater Caribbean American Chamber, the South Florida Realtist Women, The Guyanese Chamber of Commerce, Journey of Joy Children’s Events, Governor of Kiwanis, Florida District, South Florida Realtors, Fort Lauderdale Realtors, and the Latin American Association of Insurance Agents, and the American Cancer Society.

To the strangers that held my hand during many of the flights to and from the district – thank you!  And to my dearest friend Rep Gwendolyn Clarke Reed, who I have the honor to call roomie, thank you for your friendship and the fond memories.  Although we experienced a period of loss when one leg of the three-legged stool, Betty Reed left, we remained friends.

Members, March 12, 2016, one day after Sine Die, marks 20 consecutive years of public service for me. Thanks to the residents of Lauderdale Lakes for believing in me and giving me my first opportunity as an elected public servant.  I brought that experience and conviction to Tallahassee and I trust that my 8 cities over these 8 years will agree that I have lived up to their expectations.

My only regret in this process is not being able to vote with you for a pay raise for our hard-working state employees. Special thanks to the staff that makes us all look good, to include those who feed us and clean up after us.

Colleagues, it is my pleasure to have had the opportunity to serve with you.  Special thanks to my chairman, Rep. Ingram, and to Reps; Fresen; Ray; Rouson, and Albritton for your kindness and assistance and to Chair Corcoran and Leader Pafford and Rep. Cruz for always pronouncing my name as was called by my parents.

Members, lobbyists provide a valuable service to us and I thank them and Mr. Brian Pitts for the education.

To my friends from local government, Rep. Dwayne Taylor, and Rep. Mia Jones, it was nice serving with you in this process.  Special recognition to my praying colleague, and friend, Rep. Daphne Campbell.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my friend and former State Rep. and Lt. Governor who started Caribbean Heritage Day with me – Jennifer Carroll – thank you for your legacy.

Finally, to my colleagues who will be returning next year, remember it is all about meaningful, respectful and dignity of service in this great institution.

Thank you Mr. Speaker, and thank you Members.