Attorney and driving force behind the development of the first comprehensive National Youth Policy for the Cayman Islands, Tara Rivers has declared her candidacy for one of the four seats in West Bay.
Growing up in Mount Pleasant and spending a significant amount of time in Boatswain Bay, Ms Rivers is passionate about her district.
“I am proud to be a West Bayer and I am deeply concerned about its social and economic decline in recent years.”
Ms Rivers believes it is now time for a new generation of leaders to step forward. “Our future is determined by our actions. If we want change, we have to do what’s necessary.”
Never one to sit on the sidelines, Ms Rivers has always been active in the community. Currently the chair of the United World Colleges (Cayman Islands) National Foundation, Ms Rivers was one of the youngest recipients of the UWC scholarship at the age of 15. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Brandeis University, Ms Rivers joined the Ministry of Youth in 1997 where she formed a 28-member National Youth Policy Task Force, which she led to develop the National Youth Policy for the Cayman Islands (2000). Later that year, at the age of 25, Ms Rivers contested the 2000 elections as the youngest candidate that year and narrowly missed winning a seat. In an effort to further equip and prepare herself for leadership, in 2001 Ms Rivers embarked on an MBA at the Schulich School of Business and an LLB from the Osgoode Hall Law School, both at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is eligible to practice law in Ontario, New York, England and Wales and the Cayman Islands. While studying and qualifying in England, Ms Rivers was employed by the magic circle law firm Allen & Overy LLP.
“Hard work and a sound education have been the keys to my professional success and they are two of the most powerful tools a person can use to transform his or her circumstance,” said Ms Rivers.
An education system that offers ample opportunities, no matter one’s academic strengths or weaknesses, will be an area of focus for Ms Rivers if elected.
“Everyone deserves a good education and adequate training. A strong economy requires a balanced and prepared workforce. We need qualified mechanics, doctors, trust officers, hotel managers and mental health professionals, to name a few,” she added. “In order for the country to thrive, all of our people should be able to make a positive contribution, therefore vocational training and special needs education must also be a priority.”
In addition to focusing on solutions that create more job opportunities and reduce the cost of living, if elected Ms Rivers plans to address a significant health concern in the Cayman Islands — mental illness. As a former board member of Cayman Against Substance Abuse and the Cayman Islands Branch of the British Red Cross, she believes that there is a link between mental health and the country’s social decline.
“For too long, mental health concerns have been on the back burner and our people are suffering as a result. If we look at the social decline of our Islands — the high level of recidivism of our young males, drug addiction and the abuse of our children — how can we possibly ignore the mental health needs of our people and hope that they will make a positive contribution to the economy and to society as whole?”
Ms Rivers believes that intelligent leadership is needed to create multi-facetted solutions to the many challenges the Cayman Islands is facing.
“If we do not create an environment where our people can meaningfully contribute to the economy – and reap the rewards for doing so – my son will not have a future in his own country. We need responsible leadership that will address the issues comprehensively and avoid implementing the reactive, knee-jerk solutions that have only treated the symptoms and not the causes.”
Ms Rivers also believes that the Cayman Islands deserves better representation.
“We need accountable and visionary leaders; our civil service and our entire country deserve representatives who are competent and who will lead this country with integrity.”
Daughter of Ludivene Dilbert, the late Larston Dilbert and Irvin Rivers, Ms Rivers is mother to a young son and is employed at Conyers Dill & Pearman (Cayman) Limited.