When Governor Helen Kilpatrick arrived in the Cayman Islands in the summer of 2013, her appointment represented a number of firsts for the office:
The former director and acting permanent secretary in the United Kingdom’s Home Office was the first governor without diplomatic experience. Ms. Kilpatrick, who had spent her early career working in various London boroughs as treasurer, chief accountant and auditor, was Cayman’s first governor to hold the distinction of being a chartered public accountant.
And although not the first woman to be tasked with overseeing an overseas territory, Ms. Kilpatrick was Cayman’s first female governor. Cayman’s 11 previous governors had been men.
She brought with her a valuable skillset, given our position as one of the world’s offshore financial centers and our challenges in responsible fiscal management, financial controls and timely reporting. On her first visit to our islands, shortly before assuming her post, Ms. Kilpatrick assured locals that she was anything but a “novice.”
“It’s a change, but I’m not sure it’s an enormous change,” Ms. Kilpatrick said during a brief meeting with local media on July 22, 2013. “This job builds on my previous experience in local government, in the Home Office, in policing, prisons, in all the services retained to the governor [of the Cayman Islands]. The areas and responsibilities I have here are not new.”
The office of governor is commonly misunderstood, as Ms. Kilpatrick alluded to in her parting message to Cayman. Its duties are both ceremonial and functional.
In addition to hosting visitors and appearing at official functions, the governor presides over meetings of Cabinet, chairs the National Security Council, and is responsible for our islands’ safety and security. The governor is expected to promote good governance, giving assent to bills passed by our Legislative Assembly, overseeing the civil service and appointing members of the judiciary and public commissions.
During her tenure as governor, Ms. Kilpatrick oversaw implementation of “one man, one vote” election reforms and improvements in financial reporting by government and its statutory authorities. She made appointments to key government positions – including police commissioner, auditor general, and our islands’ first ombudsman – that will shape our islands going forward.
She leaves the office in the capable hands of Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who will serve as acting governor until incoming Governor Anwar Choudhury arrives on March 26 with his family. Mr. Manderson also held the position in the interim between the departure of Governor Duncan Taylor and Ms. Kilpatrick’s arrival in 2013.
A seasoned diplomat – a more traditional proving ground for Cayman’s governors – Mr. Choudhury will bring with him his own impressive set of skills and experience from his service as Her Majesty’s ambassador in Bangladesh and then Peru, in the British military and years spent in the foreign office.
When Mr. Choudhury and his family arrive later this month, we expect all Cayman residents will make them feel at home in their new home. We look forward to their quickly becoming an integral part of our community.