JM | Feb 26, 2023

Women’s Leadership Initiative, AC Marriott to host ‘Doing It Her Way’ conference

/ Our Today

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Grace Burnett, CEO, GraceKennedy Financial Group.

Sharing nuggets from their professional journey, from setting goals to moving towards fruition and attaining success, are some of the issues that will be the focus when the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), in partnership with the AC Marriott Hotel, hosts a conference under the theme ‘Doing It Her Way’, in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), at the St Andrew-based hotel next Sunday (March 5), from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Among the speakers scheduled for the conference are Dr Marlene Street Forrest, managing director, Jamaica Stock Exchange; Sabrena McDonald Radcliffe, head of sales, marketing & corporate communications, Lake Group of Companies; Michelle Chong, executive director/CEO, Honey Bun (1982) Limited; and Naomi Garrick, personal branding coach, PR consultant, author & international speaker. 

The conference will also feature a special CEO panel with Eva Lewis, Citi Country Officer, Citi; Grace Burnett, CEO, GraceKennedy Financial Group; Roxann Linton, CEO, First Heritage Co-op Credit Union; Gia Abraham, CEO, CAC 2000 and Chorvelle Johnson Cunningham, CEO, Sagicor Bank .

“Whether through our advocacy and mentoring initiatives, education and flagship  programmes or conferences and fora, we are committed to helping our sisters realise their professional and personal visions.”

Grace Burnett, CEO, GraceKennedy Financial Group

“The Women’s Leadership Initiative has for the past 18 years, been contributing to the upliftment, empowerment and protection of Jamaican women,” said Burnett.

“Whether through our advocacy and mentoring initiatives, education and flagship  programmes or conferences and fora, we are committed to helping our sisters realise their professional and personal visions. This pre-International Women’s Day conference will do that, leveraging the acumen of women at the top of their game, generously sharing their expertise and experience, including navigating challenges, with others.”

The WLI is a progression of the United Way Women’s Leadership Initiative and ‘Building Bridges’ Exchange launched by former Ambassador of the United States to Jamaica, Sue Cobb in 2004. A special committee of the United Way of Jamaica, the WLI is one of several organisations established by women to promote sisterhood and the advancement of women, while contributing to nation building.


The WLI’s main charity is the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) which serves several marginalised inner-city communities in downtown Kingston, with a nursery, health centre and basic school. 

The WLI has helped to fund infrastructure development, teaching aids and equipment and special needs teachers and is working with the Board and staff towards achieving Early Childhood Education status.

Their mentorship programme has assisted several young women in pursuing tertiary education and boasts several graduates among its mentee community.

Eva Lewis

The WLI has also funded training in child sexual abuse prevention for hundreds of educators and employees of state agencies who have been sharing their knowledge with their peers at the workplace, and in the community at large.

Through its the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children programme it has trained facilitators from several stakeholder organisations and assisted youth serving organisations in creating and implementing organisational policies that protect children.

The Early Childhood Commission and the Ministry of Education and Youth have vetted the training programme and given full support. 

Beneficiaries have included a wide cross section of government agencies, NGOs, principals and teachers from basic and infant schools surrounding the VOUCH Basic School.


Another WLI programme, ‘Conversations with Boys’. was launched by the WLI in 2018, in a bid to help with “socialising” young boys and giving them a forum to discuss matters of concern to them including respect for women and girls, cyber bullying, empathy for other students, peer pressure and the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse. 

The WLI has over the past 18 years earned a reputation for its work in philanthropy, advocacy and mentorship. Their work, financed by several signature fund-raising events, which has spanned at risk youth, abused women and financially challenged students, won the WLI the AMCHAM Jamaica Civic Leadership Award In 2017.

The proceeds of ‘Doing It Her Way’ will fund the WLI’s outreach programmes. 


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