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Former Camperdown standout pushes to lead diaspora in US South

Published:Friday | December 6, 2019 | 12:22 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Cunningham
Cunningham

Former Camperdown High School standout Dr Allan Cunningham has thrown his hat into the ring to become the Jamaica Diaspora Council member for the southern United States.

He is one of six candidates who have been declared for the elections to serve on the new Global Jamaica Diaspora Council (GJDC). They will all know the results when the polls close on December 15.

The GJDC Establishment, which was endorsed by delegates at the eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held in June, will replace the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board.

It will comprise 28 members, 14 of whom will be elected from Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (US).

Cunningham, who hails from Whitfield Town in Kingston 13 and attended the primary school, told The Gleaner that he wants to make the new Diaspora Council much more open to the people it represents.

“Matters pertaining to the diaspora have been in the background here for too long, without many people fully understanding what it is about. The word has been out there, but nobody understands what it stands for, and I am hoping to have the opportunity to change all that.

“I want to build the coalition of the barbers, hairdressers, the nurses, the carpenters, and the rum drinkers’ society, for instance, and to tie that in, while seeking all talents and professionals to pair with those on the island,” Cunningham said.

A MAN OF THE PEOPLE

According to him, the ultimate goal for all the diaspora councils is economic development for the island. He said that he is willing to bring together all supporting organisations and individuals under one umbrella, and with a single voice.

Cunningham also serves as a board member of the Coalition of Alumni Associations of Jamaica for more than 15 years.

He said that he wants people to vote for him because he is the “grass-roots candidate” who can bring the diaspora in that “neck of the woods and Jamaica closer”.

“I meet people everywhere; I can get into the trenches with them. I have always been able to represent people, and this is a challenge I am more than willing to take on, so that my fellow Jamaicans in the southern US will have a strong voice in helping build our nation, Jamaica.”

Cunningham, who has a passion for community service, is the president and founder of the People Profile Organisation, a charitable body that recognises ordinary people in the global community doing extraordinary things.

He is also a lecturer and associate professor in international business with expertise in comparative government.

Now residing in Plantation, Florida, Cunningham is the seventh of nine children for his mother. After leaving Camperdown High, he worked at several places, including at Ammar’s, Seprod, Victoria Mutual Building Society, and the Jamaica Mutual Life.

In 2002, he graduated from the Nova Southeastern University in Florida with a doctorate in international business.

However, he cherishes his humble beginnings.

“I am used to dealing with tough assignments. I used to sell Kisko, plus THE STAR newspaper, and ‘suck-suck’ (frozen juice) on Darling Street, downtown, just to survive, and the monies earned I used to purchase my own school uniforms and books, even though at the time my mother was a higgler in the Coronation Market for over 50 years,” said Cunningham.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com