Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Several years ago, Coleen Douglas entered the field of media and communications by chance, but over the years, she has steadily become a dynamic force. Now at the top of her game, Douglas recently became the marketing and public relations manager at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA).
Douglas' journey to the present began when she worked at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) as marketing manager 13 years ago. Simultaneously, she freelanced as a public relations practitioner, and that led to an introduction to media personality Judith Bodley.
Bodley later recruited her to produce a radio show. "When she called to ask me if I would produce a show, I had no experience in radio, but she offered to train me. The two-hour show involved music, interesting topics, and a myriad of guests. I liked the radio experience," Douglas said in an interview with The Gleaner.
She capitalised on her previous experiance at the ODPEM and the Jamaica Red Cross to produce the show, and made it even more interesting for the listeners. "I enjoy research, and producing the programme gave me the opportunity to find information on varying topics that would engage the audience," she said.
Fascination with EMCVPA
Fast forward to her association with the EMCVPA - it resulted from her membership on the board of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. Each year, the Reggae Month concert is held at the amphitheatre at the college and through her associates, she became fascinated with the institution.
When the post was advertised, Douglas applied and was was selected. She believes that the college is the best kept secret in town. "The college takes raw talent and refines it. Any graduate is ready for the world and upholds the creative energy of the institution," she said.
Douglas's new role includes responsibility for enhancing the image of the college through the creation of a comprehensive marketing, communications, and public-relations programme among initiatives.
The wife and mother of two has racked up valuable experience, including a year with the ODPEM in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake as communications consultant. She conducted training in disaster risk reduction, specialising in hurricanes and earthquakes, and edited and revised the Community Disaster Training Manual.
"From that exposure, I learnt the importance of health and safety. The house has to be hurricane ready, and we must always be prepared for an emergency," Douglas said. Her stint with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust has made her more aware of the rich cultural heritage and the value of Jamaican music.
"The experience brought about a level of consciousness that I am not just a woman, but a black woman and physical attributes should not define women." With her vast experience, she is ready for the task ahead.