PHILADELPHIA, United States – There are several descriptions that readily come to mind when Dr Karren Dunkley’s name is mentioned.

Driven, pragmatic, affable, dynamic, thinker and doer are merely some of the accolades that could accurately describe this petite, accomplished Jamaican-born intellectual, who has been making a name for herself within the diaspora in the United States.

Dr Dunkley is currently making a bid for a seat on the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council (GJDC), which will be established in January 2020. The elections take place from November 21 to December 15. Voter registration closes on November 17.

If she is successful, she will become the GJDC representative for the north-east region in the United States. She will occupy one of the seats on the 28-member council that will work closely with the Diaspora and the Jamaican Government to ensure the diaspora’s contribution to the nation’s affairs.

Dr Dunkley catapulted into the United States’ consciousness in 2011 when she addressed a standing-room-only crowd on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, at the Congressional briefing on the Family Engagement in Education Act, regarding the importance of family engagement in transforming urban schools and increasing student achievement.

She captured the spotlight again in 2016 when she received the prestigious Christian R and Mary F Lindback Foundation Principal’s Leadership Award. She was recognised as one of the seven best principals in Philadelphia, the eighth-largest school district in the United States. Since then Dunkley has continued to quietly make her mark, as a leader in education in the United States and as a transformational coach and social advocate.

The daughter of a postal worker, Barbara Carmeta Bowen-Dunkley and an insurance salesman, Melvyn Duncan Dunkley, her story began in Ensom City, Spanish Town. Life was not easy for young Karren, a graduate of St Catherine High School and Wolmer’s Girls’ (sixth form), but her fighting spirit enabled her to rise from the ashes. She hasn’t looked back, except when she shares her story to inspire others.

Dr Dunkley has made herself available to seek representation for the approximately one million Jamaicans who live in the United States. The Global Jamaica Diaspora Council’s self-described mission is “geared at facilitating more effective engagement between Jamaica and the diaspora, reflecting inclusivity, expansion, and collaboration among and within the Jamaican Diaspora and reinforcing the critical partnership between Jamaica and its diaspora for national development”.

“As the north-east representative for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, my focus will be on working with the diaspora and the Jamaican Government to address issues such as education, skills training and entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, access to clean water for every household, and community development,” Dr Dunkley said.

She is committed to the success of the national imperative of ensuring high-quality early literacy programmes for every child in Jamaica and every Jamaican-heritage child in the United States.

An expert in education and leadership development, Dr Dunkley is also passionate about skills training for young adults and adults. “It is imperative that we provide access to secondary and post-secondary skills training and entrepreneurship for young adults and adults who demonstrate the aptitude to pursue these opportunities,” she said.

An action-driven leader, Dr Dunkley’s vision is to “ deliver on the promise of a brighter future for the next generation”. Currently, she is one of the most internationally recognised Jamaican-born educators in the United States. Dr Dunkley is the recipient of the Tuskegee University Education Advocacy Award, Omega Psi Phi Education Achievement Award, Philadelphia OIC’s Impact Award, and the Team Jamaica Bickle Community Educator Award.

She is also the co-owner and co-proprietor of Spiritz of Montego Bay, located in Ironshore, St James, a business she established with the aim of contributing to the entertainment and tourism landscape in Montego Bay.

Dr Dunkley emphasised the importance of Jamaicans in the diaspora registering to vote in the upcoming GJDC elections.

“This is your opportunity to have a voice. I can be that voice that makes things happen. Please register now and vote on November 21.”

The GJDC, establishment of which was endorsed by delegates at the eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference held in June, will replace the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board. It will comprise 28 members, 14 of whom will be elected from Canada, the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA), and the other 14 appointed. The council will involve persons with expertise in the areas of education; health and wellness; arts; sports and culture; citizen security; development issues; faith-based community and commerce.