C-PAC 18th Anniversary Luncheon
On October 14th, enthusiastic members of the Caribbean American community gathered at the Hotel Silver Spring to celebrate the 18th Annual Founding Patrons Luncheon of the Caribbean American Political Action Committee (C-PAC). The event’s keynote speaker was Aisha Braveboy, the Attorney General of Prince George's County.
Ms. Braveboy paid tribute to the contributions of Caribbean Americans to America. She highlighted her father's remarkable legacy as a leader at DC Water. She noted that he was known for his genuine care, respect, and attentive nature towards everyone. It is her aspiration to model her leadership style after his: placing a strong emphasis on compassion and inclusivity; echoing the belief that titles do not define a person; and being cognizant that it’s how you treat others that truly matters. She encouraged the audience to recognize the critical role of Caribbean Americans in leadership positions and how organizations like C-PAC had played a pivotal role in their journey. She implored the community to become actively involved in policymaking; and to join forces to champion important causes. She presented C-PAC’s President, Dr Goulda Downer, with a resolution for her work with various Caribbean populations.
Former Congresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen was introduced and welcomed as C-PAC’s incoming President. She informed the audience that she looked forward to taking on the responsibility of being President of C-PAC with much introspection. She noted that, “In the 18 years of its existence, C-PAC has created a legacy of achievements. Both DC and Maryland have Caribbean Commissions, and DC now has an Office of Caribbean Community Affairs. And elected officials of Caribbean heritage have not only been elected in increasing numbers but have been leaders in their respective positions and jurisdictions.”
Dr. Christensen paid homage to Dr. Goulda Downer, the outgoing President of C-PAC, and a stalwart in academics, healthcare, and emergency management. Dr. Downer was C-PAC’s President for the past eight years. She is credited with spurring the organization’s growth and many activities that benefited the Caribbean American community. Dr. Christensen noted she was not seeking to replicate Dr. Downer's remarkable accomplishments; she described her as an inspirational figure and vowed to follow in her footsteps. In a delightful display of a keen sense of humor, remarked that she would not attempt to do so while “emulating Dr. Downer's iconic high heels.”
In addition to celebrating C-PAC’s eighteenth year of existence, the event celebrated the strong presence of women in leadership roles, such as Speaker of the House in Maryland, Adrienne A. Jones, Maryland’s State Assembly Black Caucus via Jheanelle Wilkins, who presented C-PAC with a resolution on behalf of the Maryland General Assembly, congratulating the organization on its milestone, Bernice Mireku-North, D-Maryland House of Delegates, Wala Blegay, Vice-Chair, County Council, Prince George's County, representing District 6, and Natalee Snyder, Director of the DC Office of Caribbean community affairs – all of whom were in attendance.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore, in his congratulatory tribute to C-PAC via video, acknowledged his Caribbean ancestry through his Jamaican-born mother. Governor Moore referenced the Caribbean’s impact through the lens of justice and equity to the region’s musical icons.
Outgoing C-PAC President Dr. Goulda Downer extended her gratitude to the Board of Directors and the members and supporters of C-PAC for their service and their support over the last eighteen years - particularly during her time as President. She shared some of her signature global, national, and regional accomplishments including i) the Africans Unite Summit which was a global call for people of African descent to come together in unity. ii) the global Marcus Garvey exoneration effort to collect 100K signatures and submit them to the White House within the 30-day period mandated for consideration by the President iii) a Webinar on Haitians at the Border that discussed the plight of Haitians and how the Caribbean, as well as the U.S., should address this stubborn issue. Iv) the annual Caribbean Interfaith service in which Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Ras TaFari faiths worship together in celebration of its rich legacy during Caribbean American Heritage Month.
She acknowledged C-PAC’s visionary co-founders - Chris Gardiner (Bahamas), Denys Vaughn Cooke (Guyana), and Elizabeth Stanley (U.S. Virgin Islands). She also lauded the former C-PAC Presidents Chris Gardiner, Dr. Ivan Walks, and Ambassador Curtis Ward for their commitment to the organization and their unwavering support.
In closing, Dr. Downer noted the event served as a powerful reminder of the Caribbean-American community's significant contributions to leadership and advocacy and she emphasized the importance of collective action in continuing to bring about positive change.
Check Out Other Pictures from the Luncheon: