Kadi Merren-Pentney, 28, a certified public accountant with PwC, called on the audience to take up her mission to “fan into flame a new generation of leaders,” after she was named recipient of the 2014 Young Caymanian Leadership Award on Saturday night.
Mrs. Merren-Pentney was revealed as the award winner during the annual black-tie gala attended by some 250 people at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
She was selected among four other finalists: Michael Lockwood, Katrina Jurn, Chevala Burke and Lydia Warren.
“I feel so excited right now, it is such an amazing feeling …I just feel honored to be here with such amazing finalists, and I am really excited for the year ahead,” Mrs. Merren-Pentney said.
“My plan for the year is to encourage the youth of Cayman to take advantage of everything that is giving in Cayman…since we are given so much more opportunities than many other places.”
She added that she wants local youth “to believe in themselves and do what they believe in.”
As an adviser to many service clubs, past president of the Kiwanis Club and chairperson of numerous fundraisers, as well as co-owner of Tea Time Cayman, and a driving force behind the “Join In” recycling initiative, Mrs. Merren-Pentney said in her acceptance speech that youth shouldn’t be surprised if she calls on them for help, to encourage a new set of leaders.
“The theme ‘fan into flame a new generation of leaders’ came from a Biblical reference … where Paul encourages his young friend Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you,” she said, encouraging everyone to do just that.
“Find what you are good at and something that you believe in and make a difference. This will start by making choices in your life that make this possible by choosing who you surround yourself with, including where you decide to work.” Mrs. Merren-Pentney said she would not have been able to accomplish much of what she done without PwC’s support and flexibility, adding she was truly blessed and proud to work for such an incredible company.
The gala, which was carried live on Cayman 27 television, also featured a keynote address by American philanthropist Doc Hendley, the founder of Wine to Water charity.
Crediting his wife for pushing him toward success, Mr. Hendley shared the story of his many travels, setbacks and successes.
“Passion is like a campfire: You’ve got to feed it or it will go out. There are times when we think we can do it all and have it all together, but there will come those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. It is those times we have to surround ourself with people that believe in us more than we believe in ourselves,” he said.
The 2013 YCLA recipient, Shomari Scott, made his platform one of reaching out to students, underachievers and “misfits.” He said uplifting a new generation of leaders is needed more than ever, as we live in a time when negativity is constant and has started to define youth.
He also said he is confident that the next generation “will listen to the eternal magic of [you can], and as we fan those flames of leadership, it will result in a ‘brush fire’ of Caymanian excellence” in the future.
Caymanians ages 20 to 35 are nominated for the YCLA award, which is in its 14th year. The initiative is headed by the Young Caymanian Leaders Foundation and celebrates the work and achievements of local young people. Finalists are judged on specific attributes, including communication skills, personality, character, and the availability and willingness to represent the foundation.