Five finalists have been chosen from a large pool of nominees for this year’s Young Caymanian Leadership Awards.
The finalists are: Richard Christian, Ventisha Conolly, Natalie Urquhart, Chantal Whittaker and Shari Whittaker.
“The YCLA selection committee was presented with an almost insurmountable task – a task to identify five finalists out of so many suitable candidates who embody the mantra of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award. The five finalists are certainly upstanding young leaders in our communities and they hail from all throughout the islands,“ said Jonathan Tibbetts, chairman of the Nomination Subcommittee.
Mr. Tibbetts, the 2006 YCLA recipient, said: “The decision process was approached with great care and attention to detail. The members spent much time reviewing, confirming and questioning the submissions.
“The five finalists were selected for their dedication to growing our island and young people; their discipline in their careers and volunteerism; and their desire to change the islands for generations to come.”
This year’s theme, Family: Building the Foundation, will focus on promoting family values and devotion to leadership building in the home.
The theme seeks to encourage all people to extend a nurturing hand and understand that ‘family’ can be extended to include those who are willing to guide Cayman’s youth to becoming productive and positive citizens who contribute to the community.
The winner will be named at a black-tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, on Friday, 6 May. The event will be televised live on Cayman27.
Tickets are limited; anyone interested in attending should contact [email protected] or call 916-8335.
Mr. Christian was born on 4 November, 1977, and is a graduate of John Gray High School. He is a servant of God, devoted husband, a proud father of two children and resides with his family in the district of Bodden Town.
He is employed as the youngest manager at Caledonian Trust (Cayman) Ltd, managing the corporate department.
In his commitment to public service and being a voice for the youth of the Cayman Islands, Mr. Christian sits on the government-appointed National Youth Commission Board, is the president of the Young United Democratic Party, serves as PTA vice president at Savannah Primary School, is the youngest elder and one of the youth leaders at Savannah United Church, is deputy chairman of the Bodden Town District Council and was recently elected president of his Neighbourhood Committee.
Mr. Christian was awarded the Spirit of Excellence Award for Exemplary Christian Service during the 2010 National Heroes’ Day ceremony.
In August 2010, he assisted in leading a youth mission trip to Haiti to build a home for two families.
He has given speeches at many youth-focused events, such as Passport2Succcess, Optimist Club, local churches and, most recently, the UCCI International Conference.
Following a string of murders in early 2010 in which a majority of the victims were young adults, he felt moved to do something and helped form the Let’s Do Som’Um Nah committee.
The committee organised a march against youth violence in the district of West Bay on 2 July, 2010.
Ms Conolly was born on 1 November, 1980, in Cayman Brac and educated at Cayman Brac High School.
She is employed at Cayman Brac High School as a physical education teacher. She was recently appointed head of the school’s Arts and Technology Department.
Ms Conolly is a past president of the Lions Club of Cayman Brac and chairperson for the Miss Teen Cayman Brac Pageant Committee.
She is president of the Sports Association of the Sister Islands, the Business and Professional Women’s Club and netball coach for the Cayman Brac team and a member of the Fellowship Baptist Church.
Since her return from college, she has been pivotal in reintroducing discontinued sports in Cayman Brac, including re-launching the Netball Club and introducing swimming, football and track and field programmes.
She has been active in securing sponsorship to ensure that these young athletes have the opportunity to compete in Grand Cayman.
Ms Conolly assisted with the re-launch of the Miss Teen Pageant, recognising its importance in building self-confidence in young girls.
She is the eldest of four children and throughout her childhood she took care of her siblings while her mother worked multiple jobs.
During those years, she made sure that her siblings did their homework and house chores and cared for their elderly grandmother.
Ms Urquhart was born on 25 May, 1976, in the Cayman Islands and was educated at Cayman Prep and High School and the Mount School, York, UK.
She earned a master’s in Art History from the University of Glasgow and a master’s in Arts Policy and Management from Birkbeck College in London.
She has been the director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands since 2009, having joined as education officer in 2002.
Ms Urquhart has driven many initiatives and programmes for youth and artists, including collaborations with Rotary Sunrise, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands National Archive, the National Museum, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation and the National Trust, among others.
Prior to joining the National Gallery as a staff member, she volunteered as public relations chairperson of Friends of the Gallery.
In 2008 she launched the Cayman Contemporary Arts Initiative, a Caymanian artist cooperative and arts administration body that provides free arts education for emerging and established Cayman-based artists.
Ms Urquhart participated in Mentorship Cayman in 2009 and was inspired to create a specialised mentorship programme for young artists and performers, scheduled to launch in September 2011.
She was awarded the Cayman Islands Cultural Scholarship in 2005 and was recognised for her long-standing contribution to culture at the 2010 National Arts and Culture Awards, where she received a Star of Creativity.
She was selected to join the Leadership Cayman inaugural class, graduating in July 2010, and she remains involved as a member of the programme’s planning committee.
Ms Urquhart is an active member of the National Museum, the National Trust, Visual Arts Society, and Cayman Islands Society for Human Resources Professionals.
She also serves as a public and private sector adviser on cultural matters and has presented papers on Caymanian arts and culture at home and abroad.
Ms Whittakerwas born on 29 December, 1982, and was educated at Cayman Prep and High School.
She obtained a bachelor of science degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Tampa in 2005, an LLB (Honours) from the Cayman Islands Law School in 2009 and a Legal Practice Course Commendation at Nottingham Law School in 2010.
She is employed at Mourant Ozannes as an articled clerk.
Prior to joining Mourant Ozannes, Ms Whittaker spent several years working at Trident Trust Company (Cayman) Ltd.
Since 2008 she has been captain of the North Side Company of the Cayman Islands Girls’ Brigade, where she mentors young girls between the ages of five and 18.
Ms Whittaker is also a member of the Cayman Islands Youth Parliament.
She is an active member of the William Pouchie Memorial Church and serves on the Youth Choir.
She was also recently elected as director of the North Side District Council Executive Board.
Ms Whittaker was born on 13 June, 1985. She earned a bachelor of science degree in Mass Communication with a specialisation in Advertising and a minor in Marketing at Campbell University.
She earned her Master of Arts in Global Marketing, Communication and Advertising at Emerson College.
She is employed by Cayman National Bank as the manager of bank marketing.
Prior to joining Cayman National, she held the post of marketing assistant at Maples and Calder and then joined Cayman National Bank as the assistant manager.
After only a year she was promoted to her current management role.
Throughout her life, Ms Whittaker has demonstrated that service to her community is an important part of who she is, and she is actively involved in programmes and events to make North Side a vibrant community, including the Pageant Committee, Pirates’ Week Committee and outreach programmes in the district.
Ms Whittaker is a leader in the Girls’ Brigade in North Side and in 2006 represented the Cayman Islands as Young Emerging Leader at the International Conference of Girls’ Brigades in Northern Ireland.
She is an officer of the North Side Girls Brigade Company and recently held the post of Acting Captain in the absence of Captain Chantal Whittaker.
She is also an adviser in the Cayman Islands Junior Achievement Programme for the Cayman National Bank team.
Ms Whittaker is an active member of the William Pouchie Memorial Church and serves as a member of the youth choir.