Caribbean Students Affected by Recent Hurricanes Have an Anchor in ACMF

The second annual reception for the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF) was held on November 16th, 2017 at Oceana Restaurant in New York City, sponsored by Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads. The occasion was marked by the ACMF’s first annual awards program which honored Mike Henry, Jamaica’s Minister of Transportation and Mining, and Dr. Grantely Stephenson, the CEO of Kingston Wharves.

<em>L-R: Richard Scheff, Esq., Carleen Lyden  Walker, Hon. Michael Henry, Geneive Brown Metzger, Michelle Nicholas,  Jim Luce
L-R: Richard Scheff, Esq., Carleen Lyden Walker, Hon. Michael Henry, Geneive Brown Metzger, Michelle Nicholas, Jim Luce, Tamika Bent, Jan Ivarsson. Photo: Ash Patino.

The ACMF was founded in 2015 to bring awareness of and support to the Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica. Both organizations have made great strides during the past year alone, the foundation increasing its donor and partner base at a strong pace and the Caribbean Maritime Institute was awarded official international recognition and accreditation as a “University.”

<em>Dr. Richard Lieberman, Fern Khan, Karl Rodney. Photo: Ash Patino.</em>
Dr. Richard Lieberman, Fern Khan, Karl Rodney. Photo: Ash Patino.

The success is due to the Jamaican and larger Caribbean communities’ commitment to sustainable, capacity-rich development. The University serves the entire Caribbean as a maritime engineering and transportation learning hub, the only one of its kind. It is an important endeavor in its own right and takes on further consequence with the expansion of the Panama Canal.

<em>Xiao Yu Wang, Carleen Lyden Walker, Georgia Nomikos, Yuting Lin. Photo: Ash Patino.</em>
Xiao Yu Wang, Carleen Lyden Walker, Georgia Nomikos, Yuting Lin. Photo: Ash Patino.

The ACMF was founded with the awareness that the maritime sector holds great potential as a driver of economic growth and development in the Caribbean. In addition, many Caribbean youth cannot afford the base $4,500 tuition. The University accommodates creative ways on the part of their students to finance attendance—such as assisting with construction and maintenance. Students rebuild and sell cargo containers, among other initiatives, but it is not enough to cover all the expenses. With a job placement rate for graduates at 97%, it is in the interest of the entire Caribbean economic community to increase attendance.

<em>L-R: Dr. Geneive Brown Metzger, ACMF President &amp; Founder, shares a moment with donor, Georgia Nomikos. Photo: Ash Pat
L-R: Dr. Geneive Brown Metzger, ACMF President & Founder, shares a moment with donor, Georgia Nomikos. Photo: Ash Patino.

ACMF founder, Hon. Geneive Brown Metzger LLD., in her previous role as the Jamaican Consul General in New York, saw the need to expand the scholarship pool, internship opportunities and infrastructure to serve those who are unable to pay out of pocket.

<em>Dr. Stephen Metzger (L) and Hon. Mike Henry (R). Photo: Ash Patino.</em>
Dr. Stephen Metzger (L) and Hon. Mike Henry (R). Photo: Ash Patino.

The highlight of the evening was a speech by Hon. Mike Henry, Minister of Transportation and Mining for Jamaica. Minister Henry has overseen the University since its inception with a beginning class of 35 students in 1980, an initiative between Jamaica and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway. Henry had an earlier professional career in publishing and remarked that on his many ship-board business trips, he would only see Caribbean residents working in menial roles despite their innate connections to maritime. He vowed to change that colonial era dynamic.

<em>L-R: Richard Scheff, Esq., ACMF donor,  presents ACMF Leadership Award to Honoree Mike Henry, Jamaica’s Minister  of Tran
L-R: Richard Scheff, Esq., ACMF donor, presents ACMF Leadership Award to Honoree Mike Henry, Jamaica’s Minister of Transport and Mining. Photo: Ash Patino.

Board members Michelle Nicholas and Jim Luce followed on Minister Henry’s speech with a rousing call for donations. Many in the room stepped forward, raising over $11,000 in individual and corporate donations from groups such as Tower Isle Frozen Foods, United Building Maintenance Associates, and Paradise Express Ferry.  The donations were matched, for a total of $22,000, by The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation

<em>Hon. Geneive Brown Metzger LLD and Jim Luce encouraged those gathered to contribute generously. Photo: Ash Patino.</em>
Hon. Geneive Brown Metzger LLD and Jim Luce encouraged those gathered to contribute generously. Photo: Ash Patino.

Dr. Metzger announced the ACMF’s first major donation of $50,000 from Roland Malins-Smith, Founder and former C.E.O. of Sea Freight Shipping. The ACMF was honored to have several diplomatic and business representatives from maritime countries such as China and Greece attending.

<em>ACMF board member Jan Ivarsson (2nd from  left) hosts a cocktail reception in Greenwich for the ACMF board and Hon  Mike
ACMF board member Jan Ivarsson (2nd from left) hosts a cocktail reception in Greenwich for the ACMF board and Hon Mike Henry (3rd from right). Geneive Brown Metzger, President is 3rd from left. Photo: Ash Patino.

A further awareness raising event was held the next evening in Greenwich, CT to introduce the ACMF, Dr. Geneive Brown Metzger and Minister Henry to some of the east coast yachting community. The average Caribbean person has little contact and sees no economic benefit from yacht tourism, another lack that should be met through expanding the student pool. 

Board member Jan Ivarsson and his partner, Susie De Rafelo, hosted at Riverside Yacht Club where introductions were made and relationships were forged with representatives of the recreational sailing and yachting world that often frequent the Caribbean waters. The official plans for an annual regatta were launched.

<em>Dr. Karren Dunkley, Michael Preston, Beverley Nichols, Garry Johnson. Photo: Ash Patino.</em>
Dr. Karren Dunkley, Michael Preston, Beverley Nichols, Garry Johnson. Photo: Ash Patino.

The need for the University and the Foundations’ ability to support it are underscored by the recent hurricanes that brought devastation to many communities throughout the Caribbean—displacing students whose colleges and universities have been destroyed.

Their ability to rebuild ports, docks and boats depends upon a ready supply of skilled workers, the funds, and professionally employed residents who are able to contribute to those efforts. The ACMF recognized the expanded need and announced that 10% of scholarships in 2018 will be directed towards youth from hurricane affected islands.

<em>L-R: J. Luce Foundation Executive Director Chloe Hoang, Orphans International Worldwide Executive Director Bix Saibor Luc
L-R: J. Luce Foundation Executive Director Chloe Hoang, Orphans International Worldwide Executive Director Bix Saibor Luce, Global Adviser Susie De Rafelo, Jim Luce, and Jan Ivarsson. Photo: Ash Patino.

In recognition of her superb leadership of the ACMF as well as her illustrious career supporting Jamaica including serving as Consul General of Jamaica, the J. Luce Foundation will present its Clare Boothe Luce Award for International Service at its tenth annual gala tentatively scheduled at the Indonesian Consulate on March 1, 2018.

For further information on the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation visit https://www.acmfdn.org/. You may also contact Dr. Brown Metzger at executivedirector@acmfdn.org. See the ACMF Facebook page here.

Written with Susie De Rafelo.

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