Trailblazing Women of Belize

Posted By: Marty

Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/24/14 07:41 PM

Since Tuesday, April 8, the Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children has featured a special lady on its Facebook page each week. The initiative is being called “Trailblazer Tuesday” and according to the Special Envoy it is an extension of the Women's Empowerment Campaign started by the office with the 20,000 Strong Rally on March 6.

The Facebook page is Special Envoy Belize and three women have been featured since the launch of Trailblazer Tuesdays. Those women are Mrs. Marie Sharp, Mrs. Sandra Bedran and Mrs. Rossana Briceño. They are featured on the page along with their photo and information about the accomplishments that make them worthy of recognition as trailblazers. A new trailblazer will be featured every Tuesday and the general public is encouraged to nominate female trailblazers from their community. Nominations can be made by emailing the Office of the Special Envoy at [email protected] or messaging the Facebook page at Special Envoy Belize. A trailblazer according to the Office of the Special Envoy is a woman who has “defied great odds to excel in her professional career or in politics; given selflessly as community activists; overcome the hardships of parenthood to provide the best for their children or led the way in non-traditional roles and set great examples for our girls”.

The Guardian Newspaper has joined the campaign to celebrate the accomplishments of trailblazing women of Belize and will be featuring the weekly hero posted on Trailblazer Tuesdays. Here are the Trailblazers for April 8th, April 15th and April 22nd.

April 8th:
Mrs. Marie Sharp is one of Belize’s hottest ladies. She graduated from High School in 1958 and passed the Senior Cambridge exams; at this time there were no Universities in Belize. Before starting her own company in 1981, Mrs. Sharp worked as a teacher in the Elementary Schools for six years after which she worked for the Citrus Company of Belize for ten years ending up as an Executive Secretary. In 1988 with the help of U.S. AID and Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Sharp attended Clemson University and pursued a course in Food Packaging. In August of 2000 with the help of the Government of Belize, Mrs. Sharp did a course at Samorano in Honduras on Food Processing and undertook a course at BIM in Belize on "Starting and Managing a Small Business". With the help of Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica and Barbados, Mrs. Sharp was able to undertake several courses on Marketing and Good Manufacturing Practices. In her words, “I had to grasp everything that was offered to help me in my venture. I tell everyone that I am a graduate from the UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS.” This year Marie Sharp’s Fine Foods will be 33 years old. Her products are exported internationally and include places like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, China, Germany U.K. Canada, U.S.A. Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras. The fiery lady hopes to extend her product lines to Ireland, Dubai, Lebanon, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

April 15th:
Mrs. Sandra Bedran is the first female to serve in general management positions at the Belize Marketing Board, DFC and Atlantic Bank. She continues to be the only female Managing Director of a commercial bank in Belize. Over the years, Mrs. Bedran has served on numerous boards and committees. She was the first female invited to be a Rotarian and has served as Assistant Rotary Governor, Rotary President and as a member of the board. She has also served many years on both the Mercy Clinic and Mercy Kitchen BOD. Mrs. Bedran holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business administration and an Executive Masters in Banking. She is married to Amir Bedran and they have three daughters, Nazle, Bridget and Chandra.

April 22nd:
Mrs. Rossana Briceño is the Principal at St. Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk Town; one of the few schools in Belize that offers special education classes. Mrs. Briceño holds a Master’s Degree in educational leadership and has been in the teaching profession for over 25 years. Her first teaching job was at Stella Maris. Her passion is working with special needs students and underprivileged children. Her works includes expanding the Special-ed Center in Orange Walk which now boasts a remedial program at the school. She has lobbied on behalf of the feeding program and continues to fundraise for its sustainability. The feeding program feeds 55 students every day! Mrs. Briceño has made education easier by providing an annual scholarship for a lucky young lady to attend high school. This exemplifies her passion for the empowerment of women through education. Her works have not gone unnoticed. This year, Mrs. Briceño is a nominee for the Outstanding School Leader award in Orange Walk. With her diligent work, St. Peter’s Anglican School has risen from the bottom of the list to one of the most improved schools in Orange Walk and in the Anglican Management.


As an extension of our Women's Empowerment Campaign, every Tuesday we will be featuring a different Belizean woman who has excelled whether it be in her professional career, as a community activist, as a parent, in politics as well as in non-traditional roles. If you know of local trailblazers in your community who should be highlighted, feel free to send us their information so they can be recognized on Trailblazer Tuesdays!


Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/30/14 08:02 PM

Hon. Sylvia Flores is Special Envoy’s Trailblazer of the Week

It's time for another Trailblazer Tuesdays feature! This week we present to you, Mrs. Sylvia Flores:

Sylvia Flores should be well-known to you. She is a former Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management as well as a former Minister of Human Development and Women. In 1988, representing the People’s United Party, she was appointed the first woman Mayor of Dangriga and was subsequently elected to serve a second term.

In 1998, Mrs. Flores became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among other responsibilities, she was tasked with maintaining the Standing Orders and Parliamentary Procedures amongst representatives who were not always particularly well behaved—and 27 of the 29 were men! She also served Belize as President of the Senate.

In the General Elections of 2003, she became the first woman elected as the representative from Dangriga. It was then that she was named as Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management. As Defence Minister, she secured additional funding and support for the Belize Defence Force and partnered with the U.S. Embassy to strengthen national security and drug eradication. In 2005, she was named Minister of Human Development and Women.

As the Minister with primary responsibility for women’s rights, she made immense contributions in areas of women’s advancement and gender equality and was instrumental in revising the Domestic Violence Act, which assesses stiffer penalties for perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

After retiring from public service, she returned to Dangriga, and her first love, teaching. Mrs. Flores taught Spanish at the Stann Creek Ecumenical High School and Economics at the junior college for a total of twenty-six years. She also taught both Spanish and English for five consecutive years, for free, when the management of Delille Academy had no funds to pay teachers. Besides teaching, she also raised funds to enable girls to attend classes and meet the cost of books. She was recognized in 2013 as Belize’s Woman of the Year by the Embassy of the United States. Mrs. Flores will be the first to tell you, that there’s no greater joy than helping young women to realize their potential and be independent women.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/08/14 10:59 PM

This week's trailblazer is a little late but here's a look at the accomplishments of Mrs. Faith Babb!

Mrs. Faith Babb’s political career is best defined not by the office she once held, but rather the journey that led her to it. She was exposed to politics in her early childhood by attending political meetings with her patriotic grandparents. She became a member the UDP in her teenage years and has worked her way through the ranks of the party from foot soldier to a decision maker in the Party’s Central Executive Committee as National Director of Women. She later, along with other women, formed the UDP – National Organization of Women which certainly helped to propel her to become a candidate for National Election.

Mrs. Babb is the first UDP woman elected to the National Assembly and the first woman to serve as Area Representative for the Collet Division. She was also the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and was appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development, Woman Affairs and Youth in the UDP Administration of 1993-1998. She served as acting Minister, responsible for this portfolio on many occasions, and was eventually upgraded to being a Minister.

She was able to achieve many projects designed to improve the lives of many in the community, especially in the Collet Division. Under her leadership as Minister of State, she led the Belizean Delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt in 1994, and to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing China in 1995. Mrs. Babb served as the Principal Delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women and signed on behalf of the Government of Belize the Convention-Belem do Para, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

She was the Chairperson of the National Committee for Families and Children and during her tenure was able to get the Families and Children’s Act and the Sexual Harassment Act passed into law.

Mrs. Babb endorsed many initiatives such as the Youth Start Plan that benefited young people the National Youth Commission, National Youth Award and the National Youth Policy. She is currently the Coordinator of the Collet Education and Resource Center in the Collet Division.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/15/14 11:03 PM

It's time to highlight another great Belizean woman on Trailblazer Tuesdays! This week we feature Mrs. Pearl Stuart.

Mrs. Pearl Stuart, born in Dangriga Town, spent her teen years in Belize City where she started her secondary education at St. Catherine’s Academy and completed it at West Philadelphia Catholic High School in the United States, placing second honors in a school of 8000 students. Mrs. Stuart graduated from Holy Family College with a major in education. Her first job was as a 4th grade (Standard II) teacher in United States elementary school – Our Lady of Victory in Philadelphia.

She was the wife of the first Honorary Counsel (unpaid, part time), Paul Warren and supported his work in facilitating Los Angeles based Belizeans and visitors to Belize. This work was done out of their home. The support was provided because of the large number of Belizeans who had settled in the California area.

In August 1993, Mrs. Stuart was invited by then Foreign Minister, Dean Barrow, to become the first Counsel General in Los Angeles. Within two months the first Diplomatic Contingent arrived in Los Angeles. This ‘baptism by fire’ experience was a herculean task that did not daunt Pearl in the least. She successfully held meetings with US Secret Service personnel, necessary vetting and set up an office in anticipation of Ministers of Government that included then Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel and then Minister Philip Goldson. The Consulate provided services to Belizeans and visitors in the western states of California, Las Vegas and Arizona.

Pearl Stuart served as the Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children from 2008-2013 and is now the Committee Chairperson. She resides in Belize City with her husband, Mr. Glenville Stuart. Mrs. Stuart has three daughters and four stepchildren, seven grandchildren and seven step grandchildren.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/22/14 06:15 PM

This week's Trailblazer Tuesday features a woman we all have fond memories of, an icon in Belizean culture! Mrs. Beverly Smith Lopez (1957-2002)

At the tender age of nineteen, Beverly Smith Lopez diversified Belize’s artistic scope by becoming the “First lady of Comedy”, the first National Drama Coordinator. In 1957, Beverly was born to Earl and Hazel Smith. She attended Belize Pallotti High School. She later attained a scholarship to Santa Clara University in Northern California and graduated in 1991 with a Bachelors degree in Theatre. Beverly’s acting debut was her performance of her hit monologue – BELIZEAN GOSSIP at the Square Peg Players at Carifesta 1976 in Jamaica, which quickly raised her popularity.

By 1977, she was internationally known as Belize’s “First lady of Comedy”. With this beloved title, she represented this country at various international festivals such as Carifesta 1979 in Cuba, Carifesta 1981 in Barbados and Commonwealth Festivals in Edmonton, Canada and Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1991 she received the Charles Lampkin Award for outstanding stage performance at Santa Clara University. Her senior acting recital was said to be one of the most powerful the university had ever seen.

Beverly lays claim to credit for the emergence of drama programs all over the country, from school-rooms to jail cells, Beverly did it all with agility and zeal. As a part of her life work to nurture Belizean culture through the performing arts, she paved the way for the first National Music and Dance coordinators, and in the midst of all her success, Beverly wedded Andrew Lopez and had one son, Troy. Beverly Smith Lopez upheld her title of Director of Culture since 1994 until her death on October 9, 2002.

Mrs. Lopez is commemorated as an actress, dramatist, comedienne, educator, and administrator and more importantly, Beverly Smith-Lopez was a uniquely Belizean personality

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/29/14 09:20 PM

This week's trailblazer made waves in one of the most important areas of a nation's development; education!
Ms. Sadie Vernon (1918-2008)

No truer words were spoken of Sadie Vernon than a 1983 description of her as an “advocate for the voiceless and the powerless.” Sadie had no idea that the outcome of her 1963 proposal writing efforts would result in a permanent home for twenty-five times as many girls and boys in similar situations to those of the four mothers who first sought her help more than three decades earlier. On September 6th 1999 a ceremony was held to rename the Belize Continuation School Sadie Vernon High School.

Sadie started the institution in 1964 in the borrowed spaces of the YWCA. After they ran out of space at the YWCA they moved first to the Catholic Extension building and then to a leased space on Dean Street in 1994 before a permanent space was secured for the now Sadie Vernon High School at the end of that decade. Almost a quarter century after Sadie had begun the Belize Continuation School she established the high school preparatory institution ‘Friends Boys School’.

In practical terms Sadie was an educator, nurse, counselor, missionary, grant writer and administrator. She was born March 20, 1918 to Elsa Agatha Maheia Vernon and Frederick Vernon. Sadie began her schooling at the Shepherd School, a kindergarten operated by St. John’s Church, before going to her aunt’s private school (Ms. Annette’s private school) and the Diocesan High School (St. Hilda’s College/Anglican Cathedral College). She completed high school and worked for a little while before she left then British Honduras with a group of missionaries for a life of experiences in the Caribbean and the United States. When Sadie assumed the duties of Executive Secretary of the Christian Social Council in 1963 all the training, skills and experiences she had acquired in her ten year hiatus came into full use in Belize. Sadie Vernon passed away in December 2008 at the age of 90 but her legacy lives on!

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/11/14 11:30 AM

Trailblazer Tuesdays brings you another great Belizean woman who has contributed significantly to the country's education system.

Dr. Cynthia Eve Aird is an accomplished and dedicated educator. She worked for 18 years in tertiary education as a Teacher Educator at the University of Belize and at Galen University and is now President and Principal Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio.

Dr. Aird has served as Chair of the Association of Tertiary Level Institutions in Belize (ATLIB) for 3 terms, and Co-Chair of the Consortium on Belize Education Cooperation (COBEC), a group of Belizean and US universities and community colleges working for the improvement of education in Belize.

She is also a member of the Belize Board of teacher Education (BBTE). Dr. Aird researches quality assurance issues in higher education in developing countries, and, as the Chair of ATLIB, is working with other partners in the field to develop a National Higher Education Policy and to improve tertiary level education in general within Belize. She has presented on these themes locally and internationally.

Dr. Aird is also member of the Rotary Club of San Ignacio in District 4250. She has been involved in a supportive capacity with the Belize Literacy Project since its inception, and is now the Chair of the Belize committee.

Dr. Aird holds a M.Ed. in Secondary English Education from the University of New Brunswick, Canada where she was a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration with a minor in Higher Education from Boston College where she was a Fulbright Scholar.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/18/14 08:09 PM

Well, here's one of the first female priests ordained in Belize; Reverend Lynda Moguel!

Reverend Lynda Carmita Moguel shares the celebrated historic spotlight of first female priest with Reverend Ilona Louise Smiling; both were ordained as Priests on May 15, 1999. This celebrated occasion followed a four-year course of studies at then newly established Anglican Theological Institute in Belize City where, for the first time, all training for the priesthood, including advanced theological training, was completed.

Reverend Lynda served as a Deacon at the Orange Walk St. Peter’s Church, St. Paul’s Church in Corozal and in Unitedville, Cayo. She has been Itinerant (travelling) Priest in churches countrywide. She has worked as Assisting Priest for St. John’s, All Saints and St. Mary’s and Priest in Charge for the River Mission and for the Belize District western group of churches (Hattieville, Gales Point, and Gracie Rock). Reverend Lynda is currently the Priest in Charge for St. Steven Church in Flowers Bank (Belize River Valley area).

Following her early education at St. Mary’s Primary school and St. Hilda’s College, Reverend Lynda started her teaching career in 1957 at St. Mary’s primary school. She has worked as a teacher at several levels of the education system, from primary to highschool and higher education levels. She received her professional teacher training at St. George’s Teachers’ College in Belize, Exeter University in London, University of Calgary at Alberta Canada and Western Kentucky University.

She has also been very engaged in social services from the early 1960s as a member of the Church’s Mothers Union and as a founding member of the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), the Michigan Partners Alliance and the Belize Organization for Women and Development (BOWAND).

Reverend Lynda Moguel, born in the leap year of 1940, married Lewin Moguel in 1960 and became the mother of three sons and three daughters. She is the proud grandmother of thirteen.

This week Trailblazer Tuesday's looks at Tiffany Simpson, a young Belizean woman making her mark with technological inventions!

Tiffany Simpson, President of Belizean Artwork Publishing, has been designing educational software to guide Belizean and Caribbean students on their academic path since 2009. She is credited with the creation of Global Apps for Mobile Examination (GAME) Prep Software for the Belizean Primary School leaving Examination (PSE) and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Tiffany has received relevant licenses to make her educational software available on Google Play and at the App store to increase client accessibility.

Tiffany is quickly becoming familiar with excitement and interest she is generating as a young entrepreneur. This interest has manifested in several awards in 2013. She was one of several winners of the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC). She participated in the 5th Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship in South Africa. She won one of seven cash awards from the Taiwanese government in Belize.

This young innovative entrepreneur hopes to extend the range of her outreach, setting her design sight on software creation to encompass the Belize Junior Achievement Test (BJAT) and regional and international post secondary education practice applications.

It's time for another Trailblazer Tuesdays feature and this week we're highlighting Dame Elaine Middleton, who has done more than her fair share for Belize!

Elaine Middleton was born in Belize City, the third child of Leolin and Elston Kerr Sr. At the age of four years, Elaine went to live with her Aunt Mrs. Ethel Marshall and her husband Mr. Dudley Marshall a senior Officer of the Belize Police Force.

After passing the necessary local examinations, Elaine began her teaching career at the Salvation Army School in Belize City. She later transferred to the Methodist Mission where she taught in various schools in Belize City, Gales Point, and in Dangriga Town. During these years of teaching Elaine continued her community work as a Girl Guide Captain, Youth leader and Sunday School Teacher. She was also one of the first 15 teachers to attend the Belize Teachers Training College.

In 1957, Elaine left the teaching profession to become a Probation Officer in the Social Development Department. This department was at that time responsible for all general Welfare work on behalf of families, Women and Youth work, Probation and Court work, Work with Village Councils and Disaster Relief work. She rose through the ranks in her department until she became the Head – the first woman to be made a Head of Department in the Belize Public Service. She initiated and developed many programs, including the expansion of the 4-H movement in Belize, and establishing the National 4-H Training Center at the National Agricultural Show Grounds in Belmopan. In this movement she promoted the expansion of an exchange program between Michigan, USA and Belize in the areas of 4-H and Home Economics.

Her compassion for the wellbeing of children led her to establish the Youth Development Center at Mile 22 on the Western Highway, a Residential training facility for boys 14-21 years, where they were taught agriculture, trade skills, and personal development. After establishing the boy’s center, Elaine went on to develop a Home Economics School in Belize City for young girls and a Home for girls with behavioral problems. She also founded the first Home for neglected children, now called the Dorothy Menzies Home in the Kings Park area in Belize City.

Because of her work and passion for women, she instituted the first Women’s Bureau, which has been expanded and upgraded to become the Women’s Department, in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation. Elaine forged on with determination to institute some of her other major work and programs which included work with the Village Councils, promotion of Rural Women’s Groups, Welfare and Court Work for Women and Children, and Disaster Relief throughout the country.

In 1981 Ms. Elaine left intact a well-developed Social Development Department to become the Director General of the Belize Red Cross. In this capacity, she worked to acquire new offices for the Belize Red Cross, which is now situated at Gabourel Lane and Handyside Street in Belize City today. She expanded the various programs at the Belize Red Cross, one of which has grown into the present day Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. A major part of her tenure as Director General was beginning the process of getting the Belize Red Cross recognized as an independent society.

In 1983 Ms. Elaine left her beloved Belize with her 3 young children, Yvette, Dean and Terese and husband Winston to live in Los Angeles, California. Once there, she dedicated her time to the welfare of her family. By now she was well known by Belizeans at home and abroad for her public service; therefore, she was sought out and became a member of the Consortium for Belizean Development and worked with other NGO’s committed to the improvement and welfare of Belizeans.

After watching her last child graduate from college in the US, she moved back to Belize in 1994 and was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children, (NCFC) from 1994-1998. In 2002 Elaine worked as a short term Consultant at UNICEF for the formation of a project “Towards a National Consensus on a Comprehensive Policy and Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in Belize.

Through her hard work and perseverance, Elaine achieved numerous awards and grants from around the world: 1965 - Leadership Grant from the US Government to study Social Work Practices in the United States. 1976- Awarded Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for her services to the Belizean people. 1998- Awarded the Dame Commander of the order of St. Michael and St. Johns (DCMG) (equivalent to Knighthood for men) from the Queen of England for her outstanding services to the Belizean people.

Today, Dame Elaine Middleton continues her unwavering work for the people of Belize as she served on the board of YWCA of Belize, as President from 2002 – 2009, as a member on the Board of Management of Wesley College in Belize City, and member of various committees in the Methodist Church.

She earned a Degree in Social Work Practice from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. , has an Associate of Preceptors degree from College of Preceptors in the United Kingdom, Diplomas in Social Welfare and Administration and Applied Social Studies from the University College of Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, and a Trained Teachers Certificate from the Belize Teachers Training College.

Trailblazer Tuesday's brings you Belize's first female architect Ms. Esther Ayuso!

Belize’s first trained female architect, Esther Josefina Ayuso , was received as a small bundle of joy to Belizean father Oscar Ayuso and his wife Josefina Ayuso nee Medero one late November morning in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela. Her father returned to Belize with his young family and Esther settled into her Belizean life. She graduated from St. Catherine Academy eager to move her adult life forward. Training in her professional area of interest was not available to her in Belize so Esther went to Venezuela where she had family support and completed a five-year technical undergraduate degree in architecture at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas.

She attempted to find work in Belize but a lack of employment in her field resulted in her move back to Venezuela to start her career in 1983. Esther met and married a fellow architect and started her family in Venezuela but a military coup in 1992 provided the impetus for Esther and her family to return to the safety of Belize. Esther worked with Professional Engineering Services for three years following her return home then opened an architectural business with her husband. Hurricane Keith in 2000 totally destroyed her business and ushered Esther into another phase of her career. She started using her skills to monitor construction projects. The first of this was the Universal Health Services Hospital (Belize Healthcare Partners Limited). The most recent was the Inspiration Center which, Esther notes, was designed by a young Belizean female architect.

Esther’s architectural contributions are featured throughout Belize for private individuals and business establishments. One major architectural design was the extension of the Belize Medical Associates hospital. Other works include the remodeling, flow and extension of both Cleopatra White and Matron Robert polyclinics. Custom furniture and interior designs architecture are evident in the Hoy Eye Clinic, the main branch of Atlantic Bank and several of its branches throughout the country.

Belize’s first female architect is pleased to note an increase of women the field and dreams of the day when the fundamental courses for this field will be taught in secondary schools to better prepare young people, particularly women, for the field of architecture and other architectural related areas.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/24/14 08:10 PM

Kaina Martinez is Trailblazer of the Week

This week's feature is on a young Belizean athlete who has made us proud countless times and is currently in Scotland to represent Belize once again in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Kaina Martinez, known to many as Kaina Arzu, is a well-known accomplished Belizean athlete; both locally and internationally. She was born in Independence Village, Stann Creek District and was raised in Seine Bight by her single mother who never failed to teach her the importance of building character and being a good citizen. Kaina's love for sports dates back as far as 1999 when she attended the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Primary School and participated in the 4th National Primary School Sport Championships. She was a part of the 1999-2000 National Primary School Volleyball, Basketball, Softball and Football champions. Here history was made as St. Alphonsus was the first Primary school to win all four national championships in one year. That year, Kaina was awarded MVP (Most Valuable Player) for both basketball and softball. She went on to Independence High School where she continued in her love for sport and represented her school on numerous occasions.

While she excels in various sporting disciplines, Kaina focuses primarily on track and field. Belize’s own local track star is presently the Central American 100 meter and 200 meter record holder and was also 2010 champion in the Central American Games. Kaina has represented Belize in many countries including, India, Korea, Brazil, London and all of Central America, just to mention a few. In the past ten years, she has competed in the Central American and Caribbean games, world championships, Central American championship and the Olympics, which is one of the world’s highly anticipated games. Kaina is now in Glasgow, Scotland to represent Belize in The Commonwealth Games 2014, which started on Wednesday, July 23rd.

Kaina has received several awards among them are some prestigous honors including “Outstanding Young Belizean” by the Ministry of Education and Sports 2004, she received the Youth in Sports award twice, a certificate for community service from NOPCAN and the Sports Star Award among others.

Kaina has seen sports as a key driver on life’s road to success; she believes it builds character, determination, self-discipline self-motivation and has made her a courageous achiever who is willing to go beyond limitations. Having learned these and many other attributes, Kaina is now using sports as a catalyst to help as many young people in her community and hopes to reach out to many other young Belizeans through her summer break track and field camp games (KMTCG).

Kaina is a member of the Belize Coast Guard and was appointed an Officer Cadet in 2012. She holds an Associate’s Degree from the University of Belize. In January of December 2013, Kaina was granted a full scholarship to attend Texas A&M University in Kingsville Texas where she is presently working on a Bachelor’s in Speech Communication. She is an honour student and a track star as record holder for her school as well as the winner of Cactus Cup. She is also the All Star Conference Champion in the 100m and 200m. She is Belize’s 100m record holder and looks forward to take the 200m record.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/07/14 08:34 PM

It's Trailblazer Tuesday! Today we celebrate the arts and the first Artistic Director of the Belize National Dance Company, Ms. Althea Sealy.

Althea Sealy, born to Cutbert Sealy and Mitt Smith on December 26, 1960 in Belize City, is renowned for her love of and dedication to the arts. Unknowingly, Althea earned her place among outstanding Belizean female firsts when she became the first Artistic Director of the Belize National Dance Company (BNDC) in October 1990.

Althea Sealy has been dancing since she was eight years old, starting with the late Bob Reneau in the 1960s and 1970s. While her academic training was completed at Holy Redeemer primary school and Wesley College, she travelled regionally and internationally for her professional training in the USA, Cuba and Jamaica. She trained under the late talented Professor Eduardo Rivera of the National Dance Theatre of Santiago de Cuba.

“For the love of dance and country” may be the best way to describe the contribution of Althea Sealy over the past two decades in her volunteer role as Artistic Director. Her dance career has evolved through various leadership roles in several dance groups, including Creative Dancers. Today she leads a company that creates and choreographs an array of dances that reflects the essence and diversity of Belize. Under her direction the creations have included modern, classical, folk and interpretive dance that depict many social issues such as HIV, cancer, domestic violence, street crimes and others.

As Artistic Director, Althea’s responsibilities include decision making, event planning, and productions as well as development of short and long term plans for this nonprofit artistic group. Her most important future role is the transitioning of the BNDC in the 21st century to continue to grow and reflect the culture of Belize in all its relevant essence and diversity. She looks forward to the celebration of the BNDC’s 25th anniversary in 2015. This anniversary coincides with her own twenty-five years of service as Artistic Director.

Althea Sealy is the proud mother of two adult daughters who have amplified her joy with her teenage grandson and preschool granddaughter. Althea has one brother and one sister.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/15/14 11:02 AM

This week, Trailblazer Tuesdays brings you Belize's First Female President of the Senate

Born to Victoria Herera and Solomon Cayetano in 1943, Doris June Tomasa Garcia nee Cayetano grew up to attend Sacred Hearth Primary, Austin High and then completed agricultural training in Honduras. As a small farmer she was once a member of the Citrus Growers Association.

Doris June exited her realm of comfort and successfully ran for a seat on the Dangriga Town Council in 1983. She dared to be bold and decided to challenge to be the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) 1984 General Elections standard bearer for the Dangriga constituency. She lost this challenge.

Although she was unsuccessful, Garcia’s loss opened the door to a whole new possibility. The UDP Prime Minister, Manuel Esquivel, offered a once in a lifetime opportunity for her to be the first woman to hold the position of President of the Senate in 1984. She accepted this invitation and successfully served from December 21, 1984 to July 31, 1989. Success in this eminent role was possible because of all support of the Clerk of Court and other mentors around her.

Doris June is a proud Dangrigan with a history of the past and a front seat to the present and future of her community. She continues to play an active role as unofficial historian in the Dangriga constituency of her UDP party.

Doris June spends her retirement days enjoying her two sons and three daughters. She acknowledges the significant contribution of her mother and grandmother in her life. Her mother was very instrumental in rearing her children and this allowed her to become a success as a wife, mother, farmer and politician.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/28/14 09:09 PM

This week Trailblazer Tuesday features a very familiar face; Ms. Ann-Marie Williams.

Ann-Marie Williams will forever be remembered as the intrepid journalist who first exposed Belize’s biggest Immigration/Passport Scandal in 2002 and won her and Channel 5 a Caribbean Broadcasting Union Award (CBU) for Best Investigative Journalism.

The first girl and the middle child of six children, it seems journalism was a natural progression for Ann-Marie. She started working as a young announcer at 17 years old at the lone Radio Station at the time, Radio Belize. She was a quick study and had a meteoric rise in broadcasting having received training to read the major newscasts less than six months on the job. She also produced several programs, among them Women’s World and Fun Time.

In 1988 she was the first to win the Edison Coleman Award for Best Program Production. She completed a Diploma in Mass Communications/Journalism (First Class Hons) from CARIMAC at UWI and went on to do excellent work in Radio, TV and Print. Ann-Marie was among the first set of news anchors who read the nightly news on Channel 3, at Radio Belize and then at Channel 5, in addition to covering the beat. In 2003, she also edited the weekly Reporter Newspaper and broke several stories in the process. A woman of many talents and firsts, she started the newscast on KREM Radio in 1995 where she single-handedly gathered, wrote and read the news for a year.

While she feels that journalism is the best career, she never did her post graduate studies in that area. Instead, Ann-Marie pursued her other love—women ‘s advancement. She graduated from the prestigious Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the UK in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in Gender and Development. She returned home, went back to Channel 5 to continue her investigative work and in 2002 she blew the Immigration/Passport Scandal, story straight out of the water.

In 2008 she took up her other passion. She became the first Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission (NWC). Williams turned around the work and profile of the NWC. Her leadership at the policy advisory body to GOB on issues affecting women brought about the first of its kind Women in Politics Project which has trained 98 women for politics with incremental success. In 2011, she was the first Belizean to receive the Women in Public Service Award (the Hillary Clinton Award) as part of a group of 50 women from among 250 nominated by former U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thummalapally.

Williams serves both the YWCA and Partners of the Americas as a board member. She holds fast her Methodist faith and serves her Church in many capacities. This divorced mother of a U.S. Marine would like to be remembered as someone who always gave her very best, without fear or favour.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/06/14 10:57 AM

Trailblazer Tuesdays proudly presents Belize's First Governor General, Dame Elmira Minita Gordon!

Dame Elmira Minita Gordon became Belize’s first Governor General and the Queen’s representative when Belize got its political independence in 1981. The independent Belize’s constitution allows for a Belizean citizen to be appointed by the Queen, on the advice of ministers in Belize, to be her in-country representative with day-to-day executive powers. Dame Minita held this highly esteemed position for twelve years.

Born and raised in Belize City, Elmira Minita began her education at St. John’s Girl’s School and St. Mary’s Primary. Her professional education was done locally at St. George’s Teacher’s College and enhanced with a course from the College of Preceptors, Oxford, England. She pursued postgraduate education at universities of Nottingham and Birmingham in England, the University of Calgary in Alberta Canada and the University of Toronto, Canada. Minita became Belize’s first Belizean trained psychologist when she returned to Belize in 1980.

Dame Minita has many interests and many achievements. She was a passionate member of the girl guides from 1946 and once held the position of District Commissioner of the Girl Guides. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1974 and received lifetime membership of the British Red Cross in 1975. Her feats have graced the pages of Belizean history and are a shining example for many aspiring, hardworking women.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/13/16 05:22 PM

BELIZE'S WONDER WOMEN! The Women Who Help Make Belize Great!

Last month we announced that each month we will highlight individual stories of Belizean women from all parts of Belize doing their part to make this country great.

To kickoff this campaign our first Belize Wonder Woman will be none other than Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow!!!

Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of the Prime Minister and Special Envoy for Women & Children.

Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow is the wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, the Right Honorable Dean Barrow and Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children and Global Ambassador for Special Olympics since 2008 as well as the Founder and Director of the Lifeline Foundation, which raises thousands of dollars annually to aid disenfranchised children. Her two major projects as Special Envoy for Women and Children are a Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit constructed at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and The Inspiration Center which offers healthcare and therapy for children with disabilities.

Her efforts to raise public awareness on the commercial sexual exploitation of children includes successfully advocating for the passage of two pieces of legislation to strengthen protection for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking as well as an amendment to the Criminal Code for harsher penalties for perpetrators of sexual offences. Mrs. Simplis Barrow has co-written two booklets on sexual abuse prevention and produced multi-lingual educational videos. She has also hosted national conferences on ending commercial sexual exploitation of children and ending all violence against children. She later produced a Children’s Rights Activity Book entitled Having Fun with Rights. In her efforts to improve the situation of women entrepreneurs in Belize, Mrs. Simplis Barrow focus groups and consultations countrywide and hosted the National Call to Action Conference on Women and Girls’ Financial Health as well as a global First Ladies Conference in New York. Under the 20,000 STRONG Women’s Empowerment campaign, two national rallies were held to uplift women and in 2016, the event was used to unveil the 20-4-20 Women’s Economic Development Program.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/05/16 06:34 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Margarita Mena

We recently announced that each month we will highlight individual stories of Belizean women from all parts of Belize doing their part to make this country great. For the month of May we are proud to annouce that Mrs. Margarita Mena is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Margarita Mena started “KLIC” (Kids Learning Imagining Creating) in her backyard patio for community preschoolers. Her school has grown in attendance is such a way she built a classroom in her backyard. Her teachings are much diversified and include field trips throughout Belize to teach her students about the beautiful country of Belize. She always has parties to celebrate holidays and to teach her students the meanings behind the holidays. Margarita makes learning fun for her students. Margarita has always gone above and beyond to help one and all without any hesitation. Her willingness to help others is one of her most outstanding qualities. Her latest accomplishment was participating in the 2016 La Ruta Maya. She is a fearless competitor and never gives up.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Belize's Wonder Women! Roxy Aleman-Richard

For the month of June we are proud to announce that Mrs. Roxy Aleman-Richard is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Roxy Aleman-Richard started her banking career in 2006. Growing up in a family business from a young age gave her exposure to hard-work, financial figures, customer service but most of all connecting with people which has been my greatest passion and the one of the most important component of my success. She started as a Personal Banking Officer at Scotiabank Belize Ltd and went up the ladder to now being the Belmopan Branch Manager. Her greatest resource is her staff and therefore her drive and passion is the development, engagement and upliftment of her staff as persons in leadership roles and in their career paths. She strongly believes in inspiring her staff, leading by example and encouraging them to believe in themselves and that the sky is the limit. She maintains an open door policy to her staff, very open to feedback and provides ongoing coaching opportunities to elevate all staff to higher level. Motivating her staff through reward and recognition for their daily accomplishments has also been instrumental in driving their performance. All her staff are valued and appreciated for who they are and their innermost talents are developed to build self-confidence. She loves to serve her community. Her family has a passion for working with churches, social organizations, schools, under-privileged children, youths at risk and senior citizens. Working with these groups gives her a connection with the community and a sense of self-accomplishment in her personal life by giving back to others what God has blessed her with. It adds value to her family and gives her an opportunity to give our love and support to others that form a part of their lives.

She is a fearless leader and never gives up.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/26/16 07:11 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Elisa Castellanos

For the month of July we are proud to announce that Ms. Elisa Castellanos is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Elisa Castellanos wears many hats but is for sure a Leader. She is most passionate about her human rights advocacy work as the founding Executive Director of Tikkun Olam Belize - a non-profit organization that defends the rights of women sex workers and works toward the decriminalization of sex work through social and political activism, community building, and civil engagement. Tikkun Olam aims to provide education with sexual health, human rights, personal, economic empowerment skills and training programs to catalyze civil engagement as a strategy to social and political advocacy for the human rights in Belize. Elisa Castellanos is a firm believer in the fight for social justice and also seeks to stimulate empowerment by choice for women in Belize through their relentless work to develop programs that have lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of women and their self-actualization.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Conch Creative

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/26/16 08:34 PM

She's an amazing young woman doing great work! Well deserved recognition.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/12/16 11:42 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Maria Esther Morales

“We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men... We are who we are because they were who they were. It's wise to know where you come from, who called your name.” – Maya Angelou

For the month of August we are proud to announce that Mrs. Maria Esther Morales is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Maria “Esther” Morales was born in El Salvador, but moved to Belize as a small child. Though Esther was unable to complete her formal education, she worked hard to learn to read and speak English and earned a living as a domestic worker cleaning houses and taking care of children. Esther’s love for children is apparent in her work and the children she cares for thrive under her care. Though Esther loves her work with children and has built a strong reputation as a domestic engineer among the families she works with, she is strongly committed to the well-being of her own three children. At home, Esther’s husband is often required to travel for work for long periods, and to fill the gap Esther works full time and maintains her home. Knowing the importance of the opportunities a good education provides, Esther has done everything in her power to further her children’s education. Esther personally lobbied a local high school to gain admittance for her son after a series of schools rejected him due to space limitations. Due to her perseverance, and many in person visits, her son will be attending high school this fall. Esther is also proud of her younger daughters who are excelling in primary school. Esther is a stellar example of the many unsung wonder women that quietly go to battle everyday to secure better futures for themselves and their families. — with Esther Morales.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/01/16 07:38 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Jacklyn Burns

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Ms. Jacklyn Burns is our Belize Wonder Woman!

"A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." —Melinda Gates

Ms. Jacklyn Burns was born on October 25th 1976 in the then new village of Hattieville, Belize. Ms. Burns spent her first decade in the Toledo district where culture, etiquette and neighborly relationships were heavy focuses. At age ten, Ms. Burns, the second of six children moved, with her family, to Belmopan where she attended the Belmopan Junior School, Belmopan Comprehensive School and UCB- Belmopan Junior College. She pursued an Associate’s degree in English and after graduating with this qualification, she became a high school teacher at the Corozal Community College. She later transferred to Belmopan Comprehensive School where she still currently teaches. Ms. Burns has taught subjects to include Caribbean History, Religious Studies, Social Studies, Life skills, Literature and English. She enrolled at the University of Belize as a part time student and pursued a Bachelor’s degree, also in English. She graduated Magna Cum Laud in January 2010 and has since served the University as an adjunct lecturer in the English Department.

Ms. Burns is the Head of the English Department at her school, a counselor at the Belmopan City Council, the Chairlady of the Math and English Association for Government Secondary Schools, a member of the National Celebrations Commission and a poet. She enjoys reading, travelling and family time. Her favorite writers are Maya Angelou, Kahlil Gibran, Alysia Harris and Sista Souljah. A quote she lives by is that “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” Khalil Gibran. Jackee, as she is affectionately known has two children and her favorite of all her pastimes is spending quality time with them.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/03/16 05:35 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Senior Pastor Antonette J. Young

For the month of October we are proud to announce that Senior Pastor Antonette J. Young is our Belize Wonder Woman!

‘The empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description.’ Steve Maraboli

It all began with self-determination, values, self-worth and persistent. Mrs. Young knew at a very young age she had a special calling. Migrated to Chicago, Il. at a very young age (17) and resided there for 29 years. During her time in Chicago she was privileged to pursue her career in the medical field as a certified medical assistant and a medical laboratory technologist. She worked at a medical lab as Manager and Clinic Coordinator. In 2000 she moved back to Belize as a Volunteer Missionary to reach people in need. She is the founder and director of Parents Against Drunk Drivers, J & A AIDS a Foundation and Papi's Practical Rehabilitation Program in Orange Walk Town.

In 2003 she became an ordained licensed Pastor of United in Christ Evangelical Church until present. Throughout the years she has learnt to appreciate people and learn to love them as Christ commanded everyone to do. In addition to all the above, once a week, she prepares and delivers meals on wheels to 64 families throughout Orange Walk Town. She has no financial support but by the grace of God she meets her daily obligation to the people in the communities. She also volunteers at the OWPD as their Chaplain.

Ms. Young is Counselor in marriage, teen age runaways, drug and alcohol addicts, troubled teens, domestic violence and human trafficking victims and is also the US Warden for Orange Walk Town for the past four years. She will continue to have a servant's heart and will continue to love and serve people and it does not matter what gender, creed, color or race.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/03/16 06:13 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez

For the month of November we are proud to announce Mrs. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez is our Belize Wonder Woman!

'Empowered women who reach tough or unconventional positions make CHOICES not sacrifices.' - Kiran Bedi

Ms. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez serves as the Deputy Coordinator for the National Security Council Secretariat, Belize Ministry of National Security (MNS). In this position, she is CEO George Lovell, MNS right hand. Most recently Ms. Haylock has been charged with heading up the Technical Support Team currently revising Belize’s 2008 National Security Strategy. She has done a fantastic job coordinating with all ministries within the Government of Belize, as well as with other non-governmental stakeholders to ensure that the 2016 National Security Strategy is all-encompassing, as well as enforceable. This most recent task is in addition to her everyday tasks that include overseeing the development and implementation strategy of the Joint Intelligence Operation Center (JIOC).

Ms. Haylock is truly a remarkable woman that is routinely given the most challenging tasks within the MNS. She is the go-to person for various sections within the U.S. Embassy because she is responsive, decisive and has a never-quit attitude that will serve her well in the future as she advances in her career. Apart from her day to day work she also volunteers to help her community and was elected to be the Secretary of the Belize Alumni Association 2016-2017.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 01/03/17 06:20 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ofelia Novelo

For the month of January we are proud to announce that Ofelia Novelo is our Belize Wonder Woman!

“To educate girls is to reduce poverty.”- Kofi Annan

We feature one such individual, one that through her gallant efforts has worked hard to better the lives of women in Orange Walk. We feature Mrs. Ophelia Novelo nee Campos, founder and integral part of the group MAMAS ( Mujeres Ayudando a Mujeres A Superarse (Women helping women to excel) ). Mrs. Novelo is an artisan and instructor born in Orange Walk Town. Possessing the natural ability to care and nurture others, at the tender age of 15, she put her skills to the test and joined the medical field as a nurse at the old Orange Walk Hospital, where she assisted in birth deliveries. At age 18 she met and married Mr. Robert Novelo and they were blessed with five children. In 2005, she formed a group known as MAMAS that provides an outlet for women who wish to become self-sufficient. Training is offered in variety of fields including, but not limited to, sewing, cake decorating, beading and others. The program has graduated over 500 women and by extension touching the lives of thousands. She believes that not everyone has the opportunity or means to attend college or university but they are surely able to learn a skill to become independent, successful and most of all open their own business to be able to provide for their family and themselves.

Presently Mrs. Novelo is a volunteer and vice president of the Helpage group in the Orange Walk District, where she assists in organizing clinics for the elderly.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 02/02/17 06:55 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Carolina Verde

For the month of February we are proud to announce that Carolina Verde is our Belize Wonder Woman!

“Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.”- Michelle Obama

Ms. Verde was born on August 6 and grew up in beautiful island of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. She is presently living in Belize City, a single mother of two (2) beautiful kids along with her grandson. She's full time employed at a law firm and also has her part-time business of creating outfits, tutus, hair accessories and more. She is considered to be very ambitious, confident, strong, kind hearted and independent. She is also known to be very caring, friendly, loving and offers a helping hand to anyone. Being a single parent is not an easy task but she pushes very hard and makes sure she provides the basic necessities for her kids. In 2015 her life changed completely, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through Chemotherapy, Radiation and Surgery. She's been a fighter; a survivor; and a woman of strength. Her strong will to live for her family has her going each day.

Ms. Verde continues her battle and is working to empower women that are in her same situation.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Update: Feb 2: Mayor Daniel Guerrero, the San Pedro Town Council and Staff would like to extend its deepest condolences to the Sermeño/Verde family and friends on the passing of Carolina Sermeño Verde. Carolina was a warrior and sure gave a good fight. May her soul rest in peace.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 03/01/17 09:45 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Derricia Castillo-Salazar

March is Women's History Month, and we are proud to announce that Derricia Castillo-Salazar is our Belize Wonder Woman! In fact, Derricia is the Embassy's nominee for the prestigious International Women of Courage award, presented annually by the United States Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness, and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women's rights.

Derricia is one of the highest-ranking women in the Belize Defense Force (BDF) and is an exceptional advocate for women and human rights. She assisted in creating and implementing a BDF HIV Response, spoke at the 38th Meeting of UNAIDS in Geneva, worked as a Conflict Mediator, and is a member of the Caribbean Women's Alliance for Diversity and Equality. Derrica is the Aircraft Maintenance Officer at the BDF and a founding member of the military’s HIV committee, which conducts behavior change campaigns for members of the BDF and the Belize Coast Guard.

Derricia is also a public face and a leading advocate for human rights issues in Belize, particularly LGBTI rights. In 2014, she launched Our Circle, an NGO dedicated to active inclusion of members of the LGBTI community in Belize. Our Circle was born as a result of the obstacles she and her partner, as a lesbian couple, have faced in gaining social inclusion within the structures in Belize.

Despite frequent discrimination, Derricia continues to demonstrate courage and serves as an inspiration to countless women and girls in Belize. Derricia is truly Belize's Wonder Woman and an International Woman of Courage and we are proud of her!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/04/17 05:38 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Cynthia Ellis-Topsey

For the month of April we are proud to announce that Cynthia Ellis-Topsey is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Cynthia Ellis Topsey was born on January 16th, 1953 in August Pine Ridge, Orange Walk. She is a mother of 5 children and a grandmother to 10 grandchildren. She has been a pioneer in Belize and beyond, from mentoring youth and community leaders to improving the quality of their lives in areas of sustainability and environmental justice issues.

Her passion has been to help people help themselves. As the Champion of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Belize. She has trained and mentored several leaders country wide to aid them in promoting innovative projects such as the preservation of the El Pilar Forest Gardening.

As a Garifuna she intends to promote Garifuna youth leadership by launching the Garifuna Rennaissance of organic farming and restoration of trees through community reforestation. Her motto is building Belize one family at a time. As a woman of the 21st century she considers herself for the world. She rests in the spirit of her spiritual name Ubafu to promote people of destiny and purpose. Her mission, vision and aim is to coach , encourage and mentor anyone who wants to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/08/17 12:22 PM

The 12th Annual Outstanding Women Awards Ceremony was held in late March 2017. Twenty women were awarded in areas such as economic empowerment, youth services, health, social work, education, and culture.

Doña Ernestina Moh of Caledonia, Corozal is the recipient of this year’s “Woman of Culture Award”. Doña Ernestina has been instrumental in the safeguarding of the cultural tradition of Carnaval in her community and Northern Belize. The award was received on her behalf by her daughter Ms. Angelica Moh.

Learn more about the inspirational stories of all twenty women here.

Doña Ernestina Moh of Caledonia Village receives the 'Woman of Culture' Award for 2017

Doña Ernestina Moh was born in 1938. She has been the leader of the Caledonia Village Comparsa Group for over 20 years. Even before becoming the head of the group in earnest, she dedicated much of her life to the teaching and retrieval of the Carnaval tradition and the cultural forms that accompany it. Through her efforts, the Carnaval of Caledonia Village has been maintained, as Caledonia remains one of the few communities in Northern Belize with a living memory of the tradition, songs, music, and belief system that comprise it.

Many students and cultural activists from other communities visit and rely heavily on Doña Tina, as she is affectionately known, for assistance in translating and explaining the Carnaval songs, and to demonstrate the dances. She has trained countless young people in the traditional dance and music of the Maya-Mestizo of Northern Belize; for this she can be considered a cultural icon within her local community. Additionally, her generosity and dedication to the tradition have allowed her, despite her humble background, to arrange for the elaboration of, and donation of the materials required for the staging of traditional comparsas to the school. She has always said, “The little I know, I want to share.... While I am alive, I will do it.”

Consistent with her promotion of this cultural tradition has been her stress on the maintenance of cultural values. Her work has been based in the premise of encouraging positive identity reinforcement among the young people of Caledonia, pride in Maya-Mestizo Heritage, and respect and understanding for the varied cultural and social beliefs and practices that exist within the community, while always advocating for the promotion and maintenance of Carnaval.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/16/17 07:52 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ann-Marie Williams

For the month of June we are proud to announce that Ann-Marie Williams is our Belize Wonder Woman!

We feature one such individual, one that through her gallant efforts has worked hard to better the lives of women in the country of Belize. Ann-Marie Williams is the first and current Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission (NWC) since 2008. Ann-Marie recently participated in the highly prestigious The Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship Program focusing on “Trafficking in Persons, Policy and Prevention" at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. After completing the program, consisting of a year of graduate studies, Ann-Marie received a special certificate. While in DC, as part of her professional development, she worked for a stint at the World Bank on development issues in Knowledge Management. This former television anchor likes being an award-winning journalist best, as it has and continues to broaden her worldview on a myriad of issues, while building her intellectual capacity which is steeped in human rights. Ms. Williams has attended several leadership training institutes; however, her signature achievement came when she was selected from a group of 250 professional women worldwide, a first for Belize, to receive the U.S. Secretary of State Women in Public Service Award (the Hillary Clinton Award) in 2011. She has built a life of service in the Belizean community. As a committed board member of the YWCA for over a decade, she is passionate about improving the world for women and girls because “NOWHERE in the world do women enjoy the same rights as men.”

The U.S. Embassy also congratulates Ms. Williams on another great achievement. On June 11, 2017 in New York, Ann-Marie received an Outstanding Belize award by the Anglican Friends Supporting the Anglican Diocese of Beize, Inc. (FSADB). The award was in Recognition of her dedicated service to Family, Church community and Ministry of the Empowerment of women Worldwide.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/02/17 12:10 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Deborah Sewell

For the month of July we are proud to announce that Deborah Sewell is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Deborah Sewell is the Managing Director of the Love Foundation--the Philanthropic arm of the nation's largest private radio and television station. Her passion is youth and community development. After living in both New York and Connecticut, where she held executive roles in several nonprofit organizations, Deborah returned to Belize in 2014 to manage the Love Foundation.

Since March 2014, the Love Foundation has developed the Media Arts Academy, an after school program that teaches children, ages 8-13, reading, writing, and math through integrated learning strategies focused on media and journalism; LEAP Academy, (Learning Earning And Parenting) which provides opportunities for young women, who are single parents, under-educated, and living below the poverty line, with the tools necessary to lead productive, self sustained, and crime-free lives. The Love Foundation's motto is “Transforming Lives With Love," which it does through partnership, collaboration, and with donor support. Deborah has been working tirelessly to improve the lives of young Belizeans.

The U.S. Embassy also congratulates Mrs. Sewell on another great achievement. On June 11, 207, Deborah received an "Outstanding Belize" award by the Anglican Friends Supporting the Anglican Diocese of Beize, Inc. (FSADB) in New York.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/01/17 07:27 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Dianne Finnegan

For the month of August we are proud to announce that Dianne Finnegan is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Since 2010 Mrs. Dianne Finnegan has been the Coordinator of the Youth Apprenticeship Program in partnership with the Ministry of Education. She takes her work very seriously, this sometimes requires her to wear several hats such as “bails bonds-woman”, mother, funeral planner, babysitter, nurse, lawyer and many more. Her job does not end at 5:00 pm nor does it begin at 8:00 am. Sometimes she is awaken at 3:00 am by a phone call from one of her desperate youth, who has been arrested by the police and need her help. Sometimes it’s the hospital calling that one of her youth has been shot. As always, she quickly response and races over ready to help. She has never given up hope on the young people in Belize. Calls, text, visits them and before you know it, they are back in the program.

Mrs. Finnegan dedicates all her time and energy to the young people in Belize and has fought many battles with them but even more for them. Mrs. Finnegan is a true Youth Activist.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/01/17 08:34 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Carol Harrison

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Carol Harrison is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Mrs. Harrison works at the Ministry of Health as Senior Finance Officer. She has been working with the Government of Belize for 31 years in a number of Ministries in various capacities. Mrs. Harrison started her career as a typist at the Police Training School, later became a clerk, and then moved up the ranks by passing internal exams and acquiring additional qualifications locally and abroad. Besides her professional life, Mrs. Harrison is actively involved in church as a lay minister at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. She also served as executive member of the Public Service Union in different capacities. She is the chairperson for the neighborhood watch group in the Police Housing Area and serves on the Pension Committee. Mrs. Harrison is a member of the Belmopan Belchoral Choir. She engages with her community on every level and always goes above and beyond to help the community.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/19/17 07:14 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Beverly Swasey

Meet our Wonder Woman for the month of October, Ms. Beverly Swasey, born on March 13, 1947 to Mrs. Carolyn & Mr. Louis Swasey. She earned her Diploma in Education at the University Of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England in 1977.

She was a very dedicated teacher and started teaching on May of 1964. She taught at Belmopan Junior School, presently known as Evergreen, as well as Belmopan Comprehensive School . Besides her professional life, she is one of the founding members of the Belmopan Cancer Society and was President for 16 years. She is also a Founder of Capital Culture drama group, as well as director and producer of several original plays, and is Representing Belize in El Proyecto Lagartija Centroamericano, which is a group of Central American actors and actresses trying to raise the level of acting in the region. In addition, Ms. Swasey is a Founder of Belmopan Women's Council, now Women Empowering Families.

This Wonder Woman also served as a Belmopan City Councilor and as Deputy Mayor. She received the Belizean Patriot National Award in September of 2016.

Belmopan residents also thank her for all the hard work she has contributed to BCS and our city on a whole. She has helped to mold many of us into the successful men and women we are today.

Congratulations Ms. Swasey!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/23/17 12:03 PM

Mrs. Athelo Endora Cabral (nee Smith ) was born in Belize City on December 20th 1911. She first visited Placencia on vacation in 1936, while a Ward Maid in the Punta Gorda Hospital. Soon thereafter, she caught the eyes of Leopold (poly) Cabral and with the permission of her mother he began to court Thelo. Four long years after, they were married.

In Placencia, she volunteered to teach young people and served as the midwife during the absence of the midwives of Seine Bight and Monkey River. In 1968, she received her Official Midwife Registration Certificate.

Because of her great contribution to Belize, she was honored in 1994 with the medal and title of, " Most Excellent Order of the British Empire."

Awesome lady! Will never forget the best Sunday classes under her house! Sweetest soul ever..... Awesome love and dedication to the human spirit within all of us. What a blessings indeed.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/01/17 10:03 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Rose Anderson

For the month of November we are proud to announce that Mrs. Rose Anderson is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Mrs. Rose Anderson is presently employed as the Health Coordinator for HECOPAB at the Western Regional Hospital. A resident of Cotton Tree Village she has been involved in several initiatives to improve the village including working with the village council and serving as the president of the Women’s group for four years. During her time as the president of the Women’s group the ladies ventured into pepper farming, sewing, fast food production and later established an internet café.

She also works with her local church encouraging and sensitizing leaders to work in areas such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and Elderly Care. She has a special passion when it comes to working with older persons. She regularly supports the local programming at HelpAge Belmopan providing health talks and support to the seniors. During her visits to the rural areas in the Cayo District Mrs. Anderson takes special interest in older persons, scheduling time to visit them and listen to their needs and concerns. She has often lobbied for bedding, food and clothing for these older persons and ensures that they are visited by community health workers regularly.

Recently, she has been instrumental in finding homes for the most vulnerable persons in her community; most notably an older woman in Harmony Ville who lost her home to a fire.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 12/01/17 08:48 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Julietta Burrowes-Lewis

For the month of December we are proud to announce that Mrs. Julietta Burrowes-Lewis is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Julietta Burrowes-Lewis began piano lessons at the tender age of five at Pallotti Music School and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Florida.

Julietta has been teaching music to children and adults alike since the age of 15. She has accompanied on piano and directed numerous children’s and adult choirs including the Belmopan Choral Society.

Julietta founded and currently directs the Panerrifix Steel Band and travels extensively both locally and internationally with the band. She believes that music is the universal language and she gives selflessly to the youths of Belmopan. She teaches with the intention to promote the Arts and to take Belizean music to the world.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 12/04/17 12:14 PM

Why I think Elfreda Reyes should be a National Hero of Belize

by Yasser Musa

We have two men on our flag. And we have two men as official National Heroes.

In an August 2017 Facebook post the thinker Valentino Shal wrote about the Global Gender Gap Report citing that in terms of political empowerment Belize ranks 133 out of 136 countries and with respect to Gender Inequality 107 of 136.

There is also a huge void and gap in our learning about women in social studies and history.

Elfreda Reyes was born a British Honduras colonial subject in 1902 and died a Belizean in 1992. She grew up in the Mesopotamia area of Belize Town. She was a domestic servant who earned less than $2 per week. By 1924 she was a leading figure challenging colonial rule on the basis of class and gender. She was a fighter for the working class, a human rights activist before that was even a concept.

She championed gender inclusiveness which is a fundamental idea in modern citizenship.

In 1934 she took a frontline position with strikers against the oppressive Belize Estate Company (BEC). In 1935 she petitioned the BH Governor for the right to VOTE (sufferage) with the GOAL of creating a national democracy WITHOUT hierarchy, class, sex or race.

She became politically aligned to both George Price’s PUP and Phillip Goldson’s NIP. She was a militant leader for our nationalist aspirations, and a prominent pioneer for women’s political organization in Belize.

Our school system ignores Elfreda the same way it does African and Maya history and the same way that the Caste War of the Yucatan is a blank space in our imagination. There is no cavalry coming, we must restore the truth with creativity and technology ourselves.

When we teach citizenship or the concept of democracy Elfreda’s contributions must be essential learning. When we teach modern Belize she must be placed in the context of leader, activist, liberator, and grassroots mobilizer. When we teach society and culture she must be exalted as a person who in the face of incredible odds and discrimination stood up to power and inspired thousands of people to stand up too.

The big lesson of Elfreda’s life is that she embodied the active citizen who took to the streets so that the force of peoples’ desire for upliftment and liberation could be realized.

Two days ago Dorla Boman (Building People Movement) published a book Women Can Govern – The Development of Belizean Women in Politics. It is a great resource for teachers and students and should be made available across this country. I pay big respect to Ms Boman for her steadfast commitment in bringing important knowledge about our people into an accessible frame for us to use inside our classrooms.

Elfreda Reyes should be acknowledged as a national hero in Belize.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 01/02/18 09:11 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Dr. Gwen Nuñez Gonzalez

For the month of January we are proud to announce that Dr. Gwen Nuñez Gonzalez is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Gwen Nuñez Gonzalez was born in Hopkins Village, Stann Creek District, to Julia and Victoriano Nuñez. She earned her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Higher Education from the Nova Southeastern University in Orlando Florida through the University of Belize and her dissertation focused on Intercultural Bilingual Education.

Dr. Gwen hopes that her dissertation will contribute to the literature on the subject matter in order to ignite interest from others to pursue the value of intercultural bilingual education in Belize. She feels blessed to be doing what she loves as an Education Officer for the Belmopan area at the Cayo District Education Centre.

One of Dr. Gwen's dreams is to publish books to assist in the teaching of the Garifuna Language and to write the many untold stories of Garinagu in Hopkins and Dangriga to ensure that people understand the mission of cultural survival. She is an active member of the National Garifuna Council and has dedicated her life to cultural preservation. Dr. Gwen has facilitated several trainings and has won many awards. She finds fulfillment in seeing others progress and has assisted many students at all three levels to achieve their academic goal by paying tuition, paying for CXC exams and purchasing school supplies.

Dr. Gwen loves to travel, read, write poems, meet new people and more importantly help others. She has been blessed to represent Belize and the Garifuna Culture at the United Nations in New York, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Apart from her regular job, she loves working with the media and was a radio correspondent from beautiful Dangriga. This has given her unique opportunities to assist the less fortunate, work with many people and embrace many cultures. She believes that her calling is SERVICE TO OTHERS.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 02/01/18 06:50 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Dorla Bowman

For the month of February, we are proud to announce that Mrs. Dorla Bowman is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Dorla Bowman started her public service trail-blazing in historic Belize City where she was born. She is the first of nine children of her parents. She launched out as a Sunday School teacher while still in elementary school, and continued on organizing and working with youth in the Methodist Church. She felt teaching was her calling, so she spent 11 years in the teaching profession and as an active trade unionist serving on the National Council of Belize National Teacher’s Union.

Realizing women’s rights are human rights, she became engaged in the issues of violence against women, using the organizations in which she worked and served, the Women’s Bureau (Women’s Department) and the The National Women's Commission to address these causes. And, taking action to further address these issues by establishing the Belize Women Against Violence Movement, the shelter for battered women and the Belize Women's Political Caucus. Likewise, lead the drafting of the Domestic Violence Bill and joined hands and voices with thousands of women countrywide for its passing into law.

Her goal was always to provide user-friendly service for the vulnerable population, especially women and children. The full integration of women at every level of the country’s development was her rallying cry. The recognition of women’s contribution to the development of Belize, and their inclusion at policy and decision-making levels have been her life’s human services, monitoring and advocacy work!

Serving as Deputy Mayor of Belize City Council she exemplified what it means to enable a city, a country to move forward together in equality, development and peace. She insists that together we can, and that educating and developing Belize’s human capital is everybody’s business.

Dorla’s latest involvement has been working with entrepreneurs through economic empowerment activities, at risk children through the Children Safe Space Project, and addressing gender-base violence through the LIVE IN PEACE project. These three projects are being implemented in the Toledo District. At the national level through the project, Empowering Women to Run for Elected Office in Belize, she has been leading a series of district and national level activities, which included the research and publishing of the book Women Can Govern- the Development of Belizean Women in Politics, and a policy conference to include her story and the stories of Belizean women who have contributed to the development of Belize in the primary and secondary schools curriculum.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 03/02/18 08:59 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Anna Silva

March is Women's History Month and we are proud to announce that Mrs. Anna Silva is our Belize Wonder Woman as well as Woman of the Year 2018!

Mrs. Anna Silva is a mother of three children, has two grandchildren, and is the co-founder of Mary Open Doors, established in February 2008. Mary Open Doors was one of two emergency shelters in the entire country of Belize when it first opened its doors. Mrs. Silva draws from her experience working in the NGO community. For a number of years, she was the CEO of Cornerstone Foundation. She is someone who takes action to respond to social issues and is motivated by her passion to serve others. Mary Open Doors became Mrs. Silva’s vehicle to address the scourge of domestic violence in Belize. She, herself, is a GBV survivor.

Mrs. Silva, affectionately known to everyone in her community as “Ms. Anna,” has a profound commitment to serving those who are most vulnerable. Her passion to reach undeserved populations in Belize cannot be more evident than through her role at Cornerstone Foundation when the organization partnered with UNICEF in 2006 to address children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Belize. She strongly believes in community led efforts and utilizes her skills to mobilize people to address social issues afflicting children through UNICEF and other organizations.

Ms. Anna is driven by optimism, and remains positive in spite of the many challenges her organization faces. She has invested her personal time and money to help families through Mary Open Doors. Her approach is not simply to place a Band-Aid on the problem but to chip away at the issue until it is resolved.

Ms. Anna strongly believes in caring for those who are most at-risk and remains committed to the plight of women and children affected by domestic violence in Belize. Her organization’s mission is her guiding path to her approach to working with families. As a survivor herself, Mrs. Silva is one of Belize’s unsung heroes and an inspiration to women who are currently in abusive relationships.

Keep on doing exceptional work Mrs. Anna

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/03/18 07:19 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Rhea Rogers

We are proud to share, that for the month of April, Rhea Rogers is our Belize Wonder Woman as well as 2018 International Women of Courage Award Nominee!

Ms. Rhea Rogers is the Staff Officer for the Ministry of National Security of Belize. She liaises on behalf of the ministry on projects and public policy issues, including especially for women and youth, locally and internationally. She is the ministry’s gender focal point and an activist for gender equity and equality. Rhea has been advocating for women’s full participation in Belize’s development since 1995 and promoting equity and equality for women in the national security sector since 2003. She is a member of the National Gender Based Violence Committee and is active in a variety of government led initiatives for gender mainstreaming of public policies.

Recently, Rhea led the committee which produced Belize’s National Security and Defence Strategy (NSDS) 2017-2020. Thanks to Rhea, the Strategy now includes a gender component for the first time since its inception. Currently, Rhea is leading a Ministry of National Security team to develop Belize’s first Women, Peace and Security Policy (WPS) to address outstanding issues of equal opportunity, gender-based discrimination, and violence and to end the archaic unofficial “cap” on women’s participation in Belize’s defence sector. Rhea’s passion continues to be to improve the lives of women and girls in Belize.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/03/18 08:58 PM

Proud to have served with Rhea on the Weed Decrim Committee. She well deserves these accolades.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/02/18 06:24 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Martha Pulido

We are proud to announce that for the month of May, Mrs. Martha Pulido is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Mrs. Martha's love for what she does is truly inspiring. Mrs. Martha leads the Cornerstone Foundation Belize feeding program. She works from early mornings to late nights prepping food for many children and elderly who are less fortunate and cannot afford a nutritious meal. Mrs. Martha also spends her free time volunteering at the Octavia Waight Centre and the local hospital, where she cares for and nurtures patients. Mrs. Martha's home is open to students from other countries, so they can get the real experience of living in Belize. She has been hosting college students for internship and study abroad programs for many years now.

Mrs. Martha embodies the characteristics of empowerment and courage, yet caring, which has impacted so many people in her community!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/04/18 06:57 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Pauline Soberanis Tillett

We are proud to announce that for the month of June, Pauline Soberanis Tillett is our Belize Wonder Woman.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi. These words have continuously inspired Pauline to work tirelessly to better her community. Pauline works with the Love Foundation Belize and co-hosts PLUSTV BELIZE Morning Show alongside Fem Cruz. She enjoys working in her community, assisting those who are less fortunate. In her role at the Love Foundation, she oversees the recruitment of children for an after-school program that provides homework assistance, health and fitness education, and exposure to media and arts. Through her work with the Love Foundation, she has developed a relationship with the Rotary Club of Belmopan, helping young adults provide academic assistance to children on Saturdays at the Belmopan Public Library. Pauline is also the Vice-Chair for Women Empowering Families and an announcer on Love FM - News and Music Power.

Pauline has been an active member in many community organizations through the years. She is a Board Member for the Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities. Pauline also served as President of the Parent Teachers Association at the United Evergreen Primary School in Belmopan and Mary Hill RC School in Corozal, where she led projects such as building bus shed for commuting children, installing speed bumps for safe pedestrian crossing, and even lobbying high school scholarships for deserving students.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/04/18 12:58 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Michele Irving

We are proud to announce that for the month of July, Ms. Michele Irving is our Belize Wonder Woman! One Of The Women Who Help Make Belize Great!

Ms. Michele Irving is an activist from Stann Creek District. She has been involved in community development work for the past 25 years. Her passion is working in the area of Gender and Development for women and girls. Ms. Michele Irving is currently the Women’s Department Officer for the Stann Creek District. Her work focuses on the prevention and intervention of Domestic Violence Cases and empowerment of women and youth in both urban and rural communities. This work takes her into many communities and villages in Southern Belize, where she discusses with women the changes they want to see in their communities and in their own lives.

Ms. Michele Irving is also the Coordinator of POWA (Productive Organization for Women in Action), a community based organization in Dangriga, which provides advice and support for victims of Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS. One of the objectives of POW is the elimination of violence against women and girls.

Ms. Michele Irving also created a girls group that teaches leadership skills to girls and conducts talk sessions for victims of sexual violence. She also provides them with counseling and directs them to organizations that can assist them.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/01/18 05:11 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Nilda Ninette Sosa Riverol

We are proud to announce that for the month of August, Nilda Ninette Sosa Riverol is our Belize Wonder Woman.

Besides being a mother of two boys, ages 8 and 4, 33 year old Nilda Riverol is employed by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service BELTRAIDE since September 2011. As a person who was humbly brought up in the once village of “Las Flores”, now a community that forms part of the City of Belmopan, Nilda is very passionate about the work she does, as she believes that the impact and positive change we want in our economy is not the responsibility of one individual but the collective efforts of an active and supportive ecosystem, and those are the efforts she advocates for. Nilda has held several positions in this institution including: Public Relations and Events Coordinator, where she spearheaded several initiatives in the area of public relations inclusive of the development of Belize’s Investment Magazine “Invest Belize”. She has also held the positions of Sr. Business Advisor and Assistant Director for BELTRAIDE’s Small Business Development Centre Belize (SBDCBelize). In 2013 she was promoted to Director/Manager of this unit. Under her capacity as Manager of SBDCBelize, Nilda works towards fostering an environment that efficiently coordinates the competitiveness and development of Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMES) and Entrepreneurs. She has the ability to develop and maintain local, regional, and international professional networks, with the objective to provide a comprehensive business support ecosystem.

Nilda has played a key role in the coordination and development of Belize’s MSME Policy and Strategy (2012) and Belize’s National Entrepreneurship Strategy (2015)-which delivered an implementation work plan for Belize’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. As the point of contact for most of the MSME initiatives and projects spearheaded within the Central American Integration System (SICA) region, she sits in several local and regional committees in the areas of MSME and Entrepreneurship development. Currently, Nilda, along with the Ministry of Education, sits in the regional working committee for the integration of Entrepreneurship into the Educational system- both at a regional and national level, and has assisted the University of Belize in the design of its first Entrepreneurship Course- Level 1. Nilda is also Belize’s representative in the regional working committee who is designing the Regional Accreditation Standards -for the Small Business Development Centers in the SICA region, and will spearhead the participation of SBDCBelize in the accreditation process of the Centre in the upcoming months. Belize will be one of three countries to participate in this process, with the objective of generating an improvement plan of its processes- service delivery to enterprises and entrepreneurs, within a standard that is regionally recognized. Since 2013 Nilda has been involved in the development, implementation and monitoring of several projects and initiatives that cater towards MSME and Entrepreneurship Development, inclusive of Belize’s National Entrepreneurship Conference (EntreCon), which is one of the many activities that form part of Belize’s National Month of Entrepreneurship, introduced by SBDCBelize in commemoration of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), in November of every year.

In April of this year Nilda participate in the U.S. State Department International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) “Women and Entrepreneurship II” which is a multi- regional project that seeks to provide opportunities to foreign current and emerging leaders, and expose them to entrepreneurial efforts led by government, and non-government grassroots organizations to further aid them in the development of their countries’ entrepreneurial initiatives. The main objective of this program is to explore various business models, support mechanisms, and innovations to support MSMEs and foster an entrepreneurial mindset. Nilda is now a member of the U.S. online International Exchange Alumni where she can tap into resources and continue to build her network to contribute and strengthen the work currently being done by SBDCBelize, BELTRAIDE.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/04/18 05:49 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Kaya C. Cattouse

We are proud to announce that for the month of September, Kaya C. Cattouse is our Belize Wonder Woman!

While growing up, Kaya always excelled in sporting activities. And now, she has blossomed into a multi-sport athlete with a profound interest in cycling. She got her very first road bike at the age of 12, and at age 13, she raced in Mexico with the male junior cyclists. Her first elite female race with the Belize Cycling Association was at the age of 16. She has participated in local, regional, and international races.

Kaya is presently the National Sports Coordinator at the National Sports Council in Belize City. Her job allows her to impart values and discipline to youths through sports. Being a strong athlete has been the cornerstone for her growth and development as an admirable female athlete in Belize. Kaya remains cognizant that being an athlete requires immense discipline, dedication, and determination. Kaya is a very strong advocate for female cyclists. In an effort to encourage and attract more young females to cycling, she has singlehandedly organized and executed a Summer Cycling Series for youths between the ages of 3 and 18 every summer for the last five years. In 2016, she organized an annual High School Cycling Event for all the secondary institutions within the Belize District. From this initiative, new faces were welcomed into the female cycling arena.

Her passion for sports is viewed as a hobby and often times suppressed by the entities that manage sports in Belize; however, her drive and determination take her to places she once only dreamed of reaching. Undoubtedly, there have been challenges along the way, but she reminds herself that “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong” and that “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/01/18 04:57 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Carla Alvarez

We are proud to announce that for the month of October, Carla Alvarez is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Ms. Carla Alvarez has been an educator all of her adult life. She believes in community service, and has been a volunteer at the Corozal Mercy Kitchen and youth groups. During the 11 years that she taught at Anglican Cathedral College, besides being Head of Department, CXC Examiner, ATLIB Table Leader, part-time lecturer, she also served in the school feeding program and mentored at risk students.

In 2007, Ms. Alvarez was seconded to the Ministry of Education as a Coordinator. Two years later, she was promoted to District Education Manager and currently holds that post in the Orange Walk District. Ms. Alvarez has oversight of education at all levels in Orange Walk, is the Executive Liaison Officer in Belize for CECC/SICA, and serves on a Multi-agency committee. She works on deterring child labor and abuse in her district. One of her initiatives is a parenting program in vulnerable communities in Orange Walk. It is her belief that better prepared parents will yield children better prepared to learn.

In January 2018, Ms. Alvarez participated in the U.S. Department of State International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) “Education in the Digital Age”, which exposed her to trends in educational technologies and approaches to preparing teachers to incorporate digital tools in their classroom. One of her initiatives starting this month in Orange Walk is a Coderdojo at a local high school with the intention to expand to other schools. This Coderdojo, affiliated with the international organization in Ireland, is different from others in Belize because it is a free, volunteer-led, community-based programming club for young people. It is first of its kind in Orange Walk and Belize. Ms. Alvarez possesses a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education and a Master’s Degree in Teacher Education. She attests that her greatest blessing in life is her son.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/01/18 06:41 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Michelle Carrasco

We are proud to announce that for the month of November, Michelle Carrasco is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Michelle grew up on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker. At the age of 11 she left the island to further her education in Belize City where she has lived most of her life. She is a proud mother of two beautiful children who she loves dearly. Over the years she has faced a lot of struggles in the pursuit of achieving a career and personal development.

In 2015, Michelle broke her silence and shared her story on social media about surviving domestic abuse and from since then she knew this was her calling. To stand up and be “THE VOICE” for those who find themselves in the same situation in our country and around the world. She has worked tirelessly in helping different organizations, as well as, individuals who reach out to her for assistance or support. She believes in giving back to civil society and to serve selflessly and with humility when called upon. It took her a lot of sacrifice, faith, hope, determination, endurance and a spirit of resilience to overcome all that life has thrown at her. However, she never gives up despite how bad a situation may seem. She always sees and believes the best in others.

Her passion and drive will always be to advocate for those affected by any type of gender base violence and her greatest hope is to see a Toll Free Hotline Number established in the country for those who seek help on these issues.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 12/03/18 07:53 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Michelle Ashanti Williams

For the month of December we are proud to announce that Michelle Ashanti Williams is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Ms. Williams is an experienced yoga teacher trained in many forms of yoga like traditional Hatha, Trauma Informed, Children’s and Restorative Yoga. She credits Yoga, Mindfulness, Therapy and other forms of wellness for her ongoing recovery from depression and anxiety.

Michelle is also the proud founder of ROC - Rhythm of Change Belize (ROC), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and implementing activities that bring forth individual, social and environmental changes in Belize. It promotes peace-building in order to create better communities in Belize. Her accomplishments where recently showcased in a documentary titled, “The Power of Yoga.”

She is also the founder of The Belize International Yoga Festival (BIYF). Which is a non-alcoholic, family friendly, annual event designed to bring together yoga and meditation practitioners, aspirants and the general public from Belize and around the world to enjoy soulful moments of wellness, healing, relaxation and reflection. This festival is a time for positive interactions which is vitally important for the well-being of our communities, country and the world. It is the first of its kind in Belize and the region; patterned after similar festivals around the world and It is the signature fundraising event for the ROC.

Michelle works closely with domestic violence and human trafficking victims as well as children affected by gang violence, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and other traumas. She offers workshops designed to help caregivers working with trauma victims understand vicarious trauma and develop tools for their own self-care. She has always showcased a caring and selfless spirit.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 02/01/19 06:22 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Anna Maria Lopez Smith

For the month of February we are proud to announce that Anna Maria Lopez Smith is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Anna Maria Lopez-Smith is a dedicated Belmopan community member, a tireless advocate against domestic violence, and a passionate entrepreneur.

Anna was born in Belize City in 1965. When she turned five, her father moved the family to Belmopan. At an early age, Anna learned the values of hard work on the family farm and in the family business. After graduating from high school, Anna worked in different fields, including managing the first propane depot in Belmopan, as a payroll clerk for Hummingbird Hershey, painting signs and greeting cards, and selling pizza at her dad’s pharmacy.

After graduating from the Pharmacy School in 1991, Anna got married and had two children. Just four years later, she reopened the Lopez Pharmacy. It was during that time that she set out on a spiritual journey. Ten years ago, Anna started a small floral business, specializing in arrangements made exclusively of tropical flowers and leaves grown in her garden. She also ventured into a small housekeeping business.

In 2011, Anna and her husband opened a small five-bedroom Bed & Breakfast. Since then, the Inn at Twin Palms has been TripAdvisor’s #1 Bed & Breakfast in Belize for seven consecutive years as well as #1 in Central America and #13 of Top 25 B&B’s in the World, having hosted over 3000 guests! The B&B has grown into a very successful 16-room boutique hotel.

Anna enjoys dancing, cooking, painting and gardening, but is happiest when caring for others. Today, she is most passionate about sharing her spiritual journey of fasting and praying with other women and encouraging them to look to God first. She lives life to the fullest each day with her husband of 25 years.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 03/01/19 06:23 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Sandra Pollard Hall

For the month of March, we are proud to announce that Sandra Pollard Hall is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Sandra has worked for Belize as a Civil Servant and as an advocate for women and children. She gained a wealth of experience in the government sector both as Permanent Secretary and as Chief Executive Officer of several Ministries. Her passion and commitment to make a difference have been evident throughout her career. During her tenure of service with UNICEF Belize, she liaised with Government to ensure the implementation of the UNICEF Belize Country Programme and co-managed the first UNICEF Children’s Advisory Committee that allowed children to become actively engaged in promoting the human rights of children. As Chairperson of the National Committee for Families and Children, she monitored the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents that addressed education, health, child protection, HIV/AIDS, family and culture.

Retired, Sandra is active in her community and hopes to make a difference. She serves on the Board of Directors of Marla's House of Hope, a home that provides a safe and nurturing environment for girls who have experienced abuse or neglect. Sandra is a member of the Board of Directors of the Children of Hope Foundation-Belize securing educational support for children up to tertiary level. She also created the Mountain View Neighbourhood Watch Group and as Coordinator, addresses issues that promote safety for residents. Sandra believes that we are our brother’s keeper and should leave this world a little better than we found it.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/05/19 12:31 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Renee Wentz

We are proud to announce that, for the month of April, Renee Wentz is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Renée selflessly serves Belize through teaching self-defense and counseling battered and abused women. She is a naturalized Belizean and has been working in Belize’s tertiary educational system since 2004. Since 2011, Ms. Wentz has been the counselor for the University of Belize, serving students at the Belize City and Toledo campuses. Renee is the creator and sole instructor at S.H.E. Thing Self-Defense and Personal Safety for Women and Girlsand Personal Safety for Women and Girls, the only empowerment self-defense program in the country. Currently, she is training a former student to be her assistant. Renee teaches throughout the entire country, including the cayes.

Before moving to Belize, Renee learned self-defense and obtained her black belt in TaeKwonDo at Peace seekers Martial Arts, in Wisconsin, USA. After settling in Belize, she was asked to teach a self-defense class. At the first class, Renée meet a Peace Corps Volunteer, who introduced her to the Women’s Department Officer in Corozal, where she taught a woman’s support group self-defense skills. Renee attended the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Special Training camp and completed the self-defense for women instructors’ tract in 2006. Renee was one of only 30 women in the world who received a scholarship to attend the first-ever Global Empowerment Self-Defense camp in New York in 2017. In was at that camp that she helped create Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) Global, an international NGO. Renee looks forward to attending advanced training through ESD Global in Costa Rica this July.

After nearly 17 years, Renee has taught self-defense and personal safety to over 3,000 Belizeans. She works with the Government of Belize, schools, churches, neighbourhood watches, NGOs, businesses, and private groups. Renée has developed specialized programs for working with elderly, youth, and those with physical challenges. Even though Renée has a full-time job, teaching self-defense and personal safety and serving her community has become her passion.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/02/19 07:59 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Nefretery Nancy Marin

For the month of May, we are proud to announce that Nefretery Nancy Marin is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Nancy is a community activist creating opportunities for growth and change for youth and women in San Ignacio. Through the Nancy Marin Youth Foundation, she has continuously advocated for human rights, working closely to support the Police Department with domestic abuse victims. Nancy supports Neighborhood Watches in her community to enhance citizen. She has served as a Citizen on Patrol, in the San Ignacio Town Precinct.

Through her foundation, she supports the transformation of at risk youth and empowers community leadership in Western Belize by coordinating assistance with local and international partners, facilitating its sustainability through scholarships, training, and resource development. Nancy encourages youth integration in the social fabric of developmental and political arena in Belize through her involvement as party leader of the The Belize Peoples Front.

Nancy is currently engaged in promoting women's health issues in her never-ending fight to promote women as equals not only at home, but also as champions of justice and equality. She uses her voice to empower victims of domestic violence and to communicate with Police officers the most effective method on how to deal with trauma on the job. She assisted with the training of officers in maintaining control and proper arrest procedures. Nancy also has a passion to conserve and protect the beautiful jewel of Belize. She has worked closely with conservationist and served on the Board of Friends for Conservation and Development.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/03/19 04:55 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Dina Halsall

For the month of June, we are proud to announce that Dina Halsall is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Dina along with Ascenthium Band is bringing awareness through music to a fundamental issue such as Mental Health. At the age of 25 she is the only professional female bassist in the country of Belize. Dina came up with the idea to organize a mental health Awareness tour of Belizean High schools and tertiary institutions.

The music written and performed are based of Mental Health struggles that some of the members faced and overcame. The band is touring the country with a clinical mental health counselor and highlighting the importance of opening up the dialogue around mental Health Awareness.

Dina is one of Belize’s representative’s to Wacken Open Air International Battle of the Bands 2019. She is using her talent to act as Belize's Ambassador for arts. This smart, driven, and a real trailblazer in the rock and metal community is a total champion of women’s advancement and personifies this by excelling in her musical career.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/02/19 12:15 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Maricia Mas

For the month of July, we are proud to announce that Maricia Mas is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Maricia is the first certified female bird trainer in Belize. She has done an exceptional job educating more than 10,000 children through the Belize Raptor Center about Belize’s ecosystem. Maricia exceeds expectations in all that she does and strives to learn as much as she can to expand her work throughout the country. She successfully completed courses in Introduction to Raptor Rehabilitation and Emergency Care, Raptor Medical Care and Management, and Pre-release Conditioning and Release.

Maricia is an exemplary leader in her community. She founded a football team--an after school activity--and organized a Saturday story time event for children at a library in San Ignacio. Maricia's message to Belizean youth--never abandon your dreams!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/02/19 05:13 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Iris Centeno

For the month of August, we are proud to announce that Iris Centeno is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Iris motivates, inspires, and empowers women in her community through female football. Although she dropped out of high school, she took to heart her family's encouragement to continue education. Eventually, Iris enrolled at Georgetown Technical High School, buckled down on her studies, became captain of the school's female football team, and graduated as the Valedictorian!

Iris works very hard to enrich her community by expanding sports activities and opportunities. Her passion for football has transformed her from a “village girl” to the Director of female football. As the Director, she has multiplied opportunities for women in football and forged strong, community-based partnerships with the Belize Cancer Society and Special Envoy Belize. Iris dedicates much of her time to promoting female football in Belize and inspiring girls around the country.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/03/19 05:40 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Dr. Golda Mejia

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Dr. Golda Mejia is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Golda is the Founder and President of a charitable organization Progressive Education Assistance Team (PEAT). She is an exemplary leader, who motivates and inspires residents in her community. In 2018, Dr. Mejia led Belize’s Youth Ambassadors as a mentor during the group’s three-week long program focused on leadership skills and community service. Through PEAT, Dr. Mejia empowers Belizean youth by providing tuition scholarships to students who otherwise would not be able to attend school and focus on education.

PEAT also facilitates access to tutors and to a lunch program through various schools, as well as offers each participant a backpack with school supplies, including uniforms and footwear. Scholarship recipients also have the opportunity to participate in various leadership and mentoring sessions and to be involved in sports programs.

Dr. Mejia is also a member of the Group Hug Charity Organization, founded by the Embassy’s 2017 YLAI alum Andre Pitts. Through this organization, she assists with backpack drives and other community-focused initiatives. Additionally, Dr. Mejia is actively engaged with the youth across Belize through the Anglican Diocese. As a medical doctor, Dr. Mejia is a dynamic presenter on health-related topics relevant to Belize. Dr. Mejia tirelessly advocates respect for diversity and the importance of community service.

Leading by example and driven by her commitment to serve her community, Dr. Mejia is currently enrolled in a Community and Public Health program with a major in Administration.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/04/19 05:52 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Karen Vernon

We are proud to announce that for the month of November, Karen Vernon is our Belize Wonder Woman.

Karen has always been involved in the promotion, preservation, and development of the arts in Belize. At the age of five, she started dancing with the Bob Reneau School of Dance and continued dancing for many years. For the past 10 years, Karen has been serving tirelessly as the Theater Director at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts. Karen is a superb leader with national and regional impact. She not only manages the day-to-day operations of the Bliss Center, but also leads four signature annual events: Street Art Festival, Belize International Jazz Festival, Francis Reneau Concert Series, and Dance X BZ. This year, the Belize Tourism Board recognized the Street Art Festival as Belize’s Major Festival & Event of the Year!

Furthermore, Karen is a successful entrepreneur. She has engaged in several professional undertakings through her own company KV Events Planning. Karen also owns the Coco Devils Jouvert Band. In her continued love for the arts and culture, Karen has been involved in carnival since its’ inception and has been key in leading Belize’s #Carnival ever since then. An active member of the society, Karen is a founding member of the Concerned Belizean Women organization that leads two annual pageants—Miss African Queen and Junior Miss Belize—fundraisers for disenfranchised women and children. She is an instrumental member of the Miss Universe Belize and Queen of the Bay committees.

Outside of work and volunteering, Karen is a sporting enthusiast and the mother of two very successful, award winning cyclists in Belize. Brandon & Kaya Cattouse both have proudly represented Belize in many regional and international cycling competitions. Karen’s trademarks are steadfast commitment, top-notch professionalism, and tireless dedication, which she applies to anything she does.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 02/07/20 12:23 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Monique Usher

We are proud to announce that for the month of February, Monique Usher is our Belize Wonder Woman.

Monique has spent much of her young life as a business-oriented person. From the age of sixteen, she worked in her family’s business. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Belize (UB). In late 2012, she started her own small online Facebook business “Aueronne”.

Through an internship program with UB, she joined the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) in 2013 serving as the marketing and public relations officer. As the Marketing & Public Relations Officer, Monique assisted in the positive positioning of the organization locally, regionally and internationally. She also contributed to publications such as the Invest Belize Magazine.

Fascinated by the many working parts it takes to operate a successful business, she transitioned from marketing to small business development as a business advisor for the Small Business Development Centre Belize (SBDCBelize) in 2015. In 2019, she was promoted to the Manager of SBDCBelize, where she played an integral role in 2019 in the Entrepreneurship Fest, InnovateBelize, National Entrepreneurship Roadshow, Change Dah Story, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the National Entrepreneurship Convention!

In her role at SBDCBelize, Monique offers advisory services to MSME and entrepreneurs in business support areas such as management, marketing, finance, pricing, customer service, and taxation. She enjoys imparting knowledge as a facilitator through a year-round business development training calendar.

Monique knows the value of strong work ethics, the importance of teamwork, and communicating value through her business advisory support. When not busy building her career, she enjoys reading, cooking and listening to uplifting podcasts. She is a firm believer that the mind is the most powerful construct.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/01/20 06:45 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Shahera McKoy

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Dr. Golda Mejia is our Belize Wonder Woman!

We are proud to announce that Shahera McKoy is our Belize Wonder Woman for the month of October.

With an interest in trade and supporting business development Shahera began her professional career in 1998. She began working with Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) in 2008 as an SME officer and is now the manager of EXPORTBelize sector. The export sector aides export development and export promotion by doing outreach to the private sector in order to offer support and facilitate export readiness.

EXPORTBelize has a leading/active role in programs such as Belize Seaweed Mariculture Project, Internationalization Program and Belize Music Industry Support. Shahera also participated in Americas Competitiveness Exchange through BELTRAIDE to help empower and educate girls, a matter which she is passionate about.

Projects that she is excited to implement in the near future include the Commonwealth Secretariat to help build support for their team in Belize, Compete Caribbean to help the development of the Cocoa industry, as well as developing an online platform connected to the BELTRAIDE website to actively promote exporters and facilitate B2B connections.

BELTRAIDE remains committed to assisting various industries through the pandemic by adapting their services to include access to finance seminar webinar series, virtual client advising, online training programs and assisting the government recovery strategy through the MSME Support program.

Shahera enjoys having the opportunity to assist multiple enterprises and individuals and in doing so contributing to the growth and success of Belize.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/02/20 12:24 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Cynthia Williams

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Cynthia Williams is our Belize Wonder Woman!

We are proud to announce that Cynthia Williams is our Belize Wonder Woman for the month of November.

Cynthia Williams developed an interest in pursuing work related to gender equality due to her own experiences from growing up in a traditional community and encountering various barriers that made it more difficult to ensure that she would be able to get an education and pursue her goals. Despite difficulties, she went on to earn a BA in social work and an MA in development studies.

Cynthia joined the National Women’s Commission in 2018 as the executive director and is responsible for implementing strategies and leading coordination efforts that address the national response to gender equity and equality issues. This is achieved through cooperation with other government and non-governmental organizations in both social and private sectors. As a policy advisor, working with multiple sectors is very important as it allows the Commission to analyze various aspects concerning the development of Belize and how to best implement different services.

The Commission recently launched a gender-based violence complaint service to aid those who are not able to obtain sufficient aid. Additional efforts are also being made to expand campaigns that make it easier for people to seek help and services. Another mission central to the goal of the Commission is to increase public awareness and preventative services as well as highlight the importance of involving of both men and women to work jointly towards achieving gender equality.

In her position at the National Women’s Commission, Cynthia will continue working toward positive societal change in order to pave a better future for not only her children but women and society as a whole.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 01/26/21 06:50 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Lusiola Castillo

We are proud to announce that Lusiola Castillo is the Belize Wonder Woman for the month of January!!!

Lusiola began library related work with the following NGOs: the Belize Center for Environmental Studies and the Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR). It was from these experiences she decided to enroll in the University of West Indies Open Campus Library and Information Program. Upon her return to Belize in 2000, Lusiola was employed at the Belize National Library Service and Information System (BNLSIS) and was steadily promoted to her current position as Chief Librarian in 2016.

As Chief Librarian, Lusiola is charged with the management, development and coordination of all 46 service points and resources throughout Belize. These responsibilities include oversight of user services in order to ensure that patrons are able to interact with physical and electronic programs and services, collection development, technological development, training, maintenance of libraries, promotion of Belizean culture and history as well as promoting partnership and cooperation both nationally and internationally.

Lusiola is also a part of the Education USA Center team in Belize City, launched February 2015, which she joined in its initial planning stage. She helps ensure the continued development of the center and its advisors in order to provide information to students who would like to pursue universities and programs in the USA.

Other programs that Lusiola has been a part of that have aided her ability to develop and enhance her library related skills and knowledge include the International Visitors Library Program in 2015, the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) and COMFENALCO Antioquia in Medellin Columbia Internship Program in 2007 and the Regional Project for Central American Libraries years 2001-2008.

Lusiola notes that it is a pleasure to be able to assist in the development of Belize through the provision of informational, educational and recreational services. Seeing both youth and adults benefit from library services gives her the willpower to try harder to reach those who too can benefit from provided services.

U.S. Embassy Belize

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