March 12, 2010
Rhonda Lee elected JEMS President

LONG-TIME member Rhonda Lee was elected president of JEMS Progressive Community Organization at a meeting on Wednesday, March 3.{{more}}

Lee replaces JEMS founder Andrew Simmons in the group’s top executive role. Simmons will remain active as an advisor to the executive team and organization, focusing his time on leadership development, capacity building and funding.

Joining Lee on the newly elected JEMS executive team are vice president Yoland London-Paul, secretary Rosanna Leigertwood, treasurer Yokan Blugh, assistant treasurer Irwin Stapleton, and public relations officer Roger Young. Additional representatives to the executive include JEMS Pre-school Director Annetta Jackson, Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) coordinator Laura Richards, JEMS coordinators Wadie Simon and Bernard Sayers, and Simmons. In addition to his responsibilities as assistant treasurer, Irwin Stapletion will also represent Southeast Development Inc. (SEDI) on the executive.

In remarks to the members following the election, president Lee remarked that she was honoured to be selected for this important role, noting that Simmons was leaving “very big shoes to fill.” She called on members to work together to build a strong team.

Lee has been a member of JEMS since she was a teenager, participating in JEMS-sponsored programs such as her school’s Youth Environmental Services (YES) club. Lee recalls that JEMS newly elected vice president Yoland London-Paul also was actively involved in the YES Club and that the two still share a lot of fond memories from those years when they served together on that executive.

Lee grew up under the mentorship of Simmons, U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Kevin Urban and teacher Amaala Mohammed. “I am especially grateful to my parents for their support in whatever I decide to do,” remarked Lee in expressing appreciation to influential individuals in her life.

While still a teen, Lee represented JEMS at the United Nations Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference in Barbados and again at an environmental science camp in Dominica. She also participated in numerous training workshops on personal development, leadership skills and environmental management. In addition to influential individuals in her life, Lee credits all these experiences as greatly influencing her life and helping shape who she is today.

Lee especially enjoys working with progressive-minded young people and believes that if they are given the right avenues, they can make positive changes in the world. Lee has chosen a career in the care-giving field, and currently serves as a counselor at St. Joseph’s Convent in Marriaqua.

“I am extremely happy with the leaders you have selected to lead the organization,” remarked Simmons following last week’s election. “JEMS is in good hands,” he continued. “I’m confident that this new executive team will be able to build on our strong heritage and continue to move the organization forward.”

Founded by Simmons in 1978, JEMS is a grassroots community development and environmental management organization working primarily in the Southeast sector of mainland St. Vincent. Together with SEDI and CYEN, sister organizations, the work of JEMS is focused on community, youth and livelihood development, environmental initiatives, HIV/AIDS education, and literacy.