Diaspora Advisory Board Member, North East USA
Akelia Lawrence-Maitland is a dynamic, forward thinking young leader within the Jamaica Diaspora community as well as the New York non-profit industry. Akelia’s educational, professional and leadership background reflects a highly determined individual who has been taking advantage of the ‘American Dream’ as an immigrant while leveraging it to support the passions of her heart – Jamaica and Jamaicans.
President of Jamaica Impact, Inc. (JAMPACT), a Diaspora organization supporting early childhood education in Jamaica. She has supported varying initiatives within the community including the Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force (JDETF) and the Jamaica Diaspora Future Leadership.
Akelia’s vision is for Jamaica and its Diaspora communities to model what it means to be a borderless global Jamaican village. A village where ‘Jamaicans’, regardless of birthplace, know they belong, are welcomed, have a voice, are supported and are contributors to a first class nation of people. She therefore takes care to put action to her words to help fulfill that vision and strives to spread the same message amongst Jamaicans.
Within a year after migrating from Jamaica in 1998 at age 16, Akelia attended one of New York’s prestigious public universities, Stony Brook University. Albeit still getting acquainted with the American cultural landscape, Akelia served in varying leadership capacities on campus including as Resident Assistant and President of the $2 million budgeted student government. Akelia eventually graduated with a Bachelor in Economics and a Masters in Social Welfare.
For over ten years, Akelia has been quickly emerging in the child welfare industry as a ‘go to’ professional and thought leader. Following almost 10 years of service with Catholic Guardian Services (or at just age 34), Akelia was tapped in April 2016 to lead, in the capacity of Program Director, Good Shepherd’s Services Youth Reception Center, a new type of pre-placement foster care program contracted by New York City’s Children Services. Through this program, Akelia provides temporary shelter to at risk teenagers entering the foster care system until more permanent care is located.
In spite a demanding child welfare career, Akelia strives to find ways to honor her Jamaican heritage through active community involvement in the Jamaican Diaspora community, spanning almost twelve (12) years. Along with other Board positions, Akelia served as a two term
Akelia is also married to Lawerence, and mother of two young children, Landan and Aleyna, to whom she is intentional about raising to know and own their Jamaican heritage while being strong American and global citizens.