Pauline Ford-Caesar: Jamaican applauded for years of service in Alabama
Her non-traditional story is about following a childhood passion for service. Pauline Ford-Caesar, a daughter of Jamaica, went ahead and made her mark in the city of Birmingham in Alabama, United States, to which she migrated many years ago, establishing the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organisation, which, over the years, has aided international students in adjusting in addition to celebrating the Caribbean's presence in the city.
Having left Jamaica at age 15 as a student at the Gaynstead High School in Kingston, Ford-Caesar told The Gleaner that she has contributed innovative and dedicated leadership to the civic life of Alabama for more than 20 years. Her leadership has brought Birmingham together in celebration of many cultures and has shared the accomplishments of the city with an international audience.
"It's really to be a resource for Caribbean students who come here to go to school. We give scholarships and we try to get people involved with whatever is happening in the community. I take a very hard stance on our reputation; our reputation is very solid," she declared.
"It was the perfect way for me to use my skills and what I was good at to bring something to birth that I am passionate about anyway, which is my Caribbean culture. My dad is from Cuba but my mother is a 'raw-born Jamaican' who is very passionate about the country, and I grew up with that," she said.
Her sterling work and dedication has led to recognition and appreciation from various leaders in the city, including the mayor, Dr William Bell. She was also recently nominated for the Outstanding Woman Award.
Through the six-year-old organisation, she has been able to add to the cultural fabric of the city through events such as the screening of the Jamaican documentary Akwantu at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, in addition to hosting successful Caribbean festivals at Railroad Park and the Boutwell Auditorium, among other events.
"We got to know the mayor and he is a solid supporter, because he saw that we weren't playing. I really have a servant's heart and whatever I do has that element of giving back, based on the principles that my mother instilled in me," said the trained communications specialist.
... Departing president to assist in expanding CACAO outreach
Though she will be stepping down as president of the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organisation (CACAO), Pauline Ford-Caesar says she will ensure that the organisation expands its borders to provide top-class service to students.
"After six years, I will be stepping down as president. I am not leaving the organisation, however. The aim is to expand our outreach to students, because we are meeting more and more students. I have already identified who will be the student coordinator and she will be the one who will communicate with the students, make sure they are OK, make sure they have what they need, and make sure that they are not running into problems here."