KINGSTON, Jamaica – “If you are planning for a year, plant rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; but if you are planning for eternity, plant people.”
In quoting this Chinese proverb, Sen. Arthur Williams, Jamaican minister in the Office of the Cabinet, set the context for the formal launch of the Jamaican Chapter of the Global Leadership Interlink (GLI).
GLI is an international non-profit organization promoting values-based leadership and ethical nations-development. Jamaica is the now latest country to join GLI’s network thousands of professionals and university students spread across the globe.
Coming a time when the nation is about to institute nationwide reforms to its public service, the launch of GLI’s Jamaica Chapter is expected to establish a new standard for professionalism in the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean. Senator Williams quoted Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s rationale for the ongoing effort to transform the public service: “Much of our public sector is governed by a structure and a culture that we inherited from the Colonial era. Efficient operations require a flatter structure and the joining of authority to accountability. It requires both a structural and a cultural change.”
“We will need leadership in every sector of society,” Senator Williams added.
His words would not have fallen on deaf ears. The composition of the gathering at the GLI launch—some 400 people, including government officials, businessmen and professionals—signaled the strong potential for broad-based partnerships in future national development initiatives. In fact, Minister Williams, who has responsibility for the Jamaican Public Service, explicitly welcomed the arrival of GLI in the context of his government’s commitment to build a dynamic social compact with the private sector, organised labour and civil society.
The keynote address at the high-profile launch was delivered by Dr. Noel Woodroffe, president and founder of Congress WBN, the parent organization of GLI. Congress WBN is a Caribbean-birthed non-profit with operations in over 90 countries focused on values-based leadership development and community empowerment. Dr. Woodroffe profiled GLI as a timely response to Prime Minister Golding’s cry for a radical shift in national leadership standards and practices.
“Over the last two decades, we have discovered that powerful and effective leadership is the master key to national and regional transformation. GLI is the Sector of Congress WBN in which we build leaders of all ages and network them into a vast body for global collaboration, with the intent to bring beneficial impact upon their lives, their families, their communities, the institutions that they run and, ultimately, the countries in which they reside. This is the attitudinal and the philosophical context of the Global Leadership Interlink,” Dr. Woodroffe said.
Since its inception in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, GLI has grown to over 40 chapters in over 30 nations. Developmental work on the GLI Jamaica Chapter has been in progress over the past five years and the Chapter already boasts some 117 members. Speaking on behalf of the newly launched Chapter, Mark Thomas, Director of GLI Jamaica, extended a hand of partnership to Senator Williams, saying, “GLI is about advancing Jamaica.”
Thomas, a media and corporate communications specialist, heads the GLI Jamaica leadership team, which includes Christopher Smith, a civil engineer and Construction Project Manager; Saani Fong, an Attorney-at-Law working in the Ministry of Health’s National HIV/AIDS Programme; and Tracey-Ann Thomas, a Human Resource professional.
GLI Global Director Dr. Farid Youssef, a lecturer in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI), described why GLI was different from other professional associations.
“While professional organisations gather around their area of core competency, GLI is unique because we gather professionals and students around a core set of values,” explained Dr. Youssef, who heads the GLI Global Leadership Team with Dr. Graham King and Mr. Omo Igiehon.
Youssef highlighted equity, justice, integrity, accountability, collaboration, service and excellence as core values of GLI: “In our experience, we have seen these values find agreement in every corner of the earth regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic class or religious expression.”
The launch was truly a global event, with GLI members from around the world following the launch via a real time internet broadcast of proceedings at the Courtleigh Hotel and live-blog on Twitter and Facebook. Leaders of GLI Chapters from Fiji, New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Antigua and the UK also delivered greetings to their new Jamaican counterparts via video.
Dr. Woodroffe, in describing his vision for the new Chapter, declared, “We seek to partner with the Jamaican people to move the nation forward as we are doing elsewhere across the earth. The time is ripe and the nations are looking for new values-based leadership models to chart a new course into the future.”
For more information, visit www.glinetwork.org, join Global Leadership Interlink on Facebook, follow GLI on Twitter, e-mail [email protected], or contact Mark Thomas at +876 815 8025 or Fara Ebanks at +876 631 7534.