JAMAICA'S first female Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, has her troops on alert, promising to “lead by example and encourage every service member to execute their duties, cognisant of our core values and committed to mission”.
On Friday, the naval officer, who has almost three decades of experience in the 60-year Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), was passed the command baton by outgoing head of the army, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, at the traditional command change parade at Up Park Camp in St Andrew.
Wemyss Gorman has indicated that she will prioritise gender neutral opportunities for leadership, and this is in keeping with her long involvement in gender issues and championing women's rights. Below we share some of her achievements in this area, plus some other facts you may not have known about this phenomenal woman.
1. Wemyss Gorman has served the JDF distinguishably in several capacities. Her excellence in service and management resulted in her becoming the first and only woman to attain a Flag Rank.
2. Her aptitude to embrace efficiency and break barriers was also evidenced in her roles as Brigade Commander, Maritime Air and Cyber Command (2018/19) and Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard (2013/18). Of note is the role she played in the establishment of the Caribbean Maritime Military Training Centre, along with the development of the core courses offered at the centre. Under her tenure hundreds of officers, locally and regionally, have become proficient in Military Maritime Operations. She has also served as Technical Director of Marine Transport in the Ministry of Public Utilities and Transport (1998/2000).
3. In 2015 she was awarded for Distinguished Leadership by the United Way Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI). She was also recognised by the Women in the Caribbean Maritime Association for contribution to regional maritime security in 2019. The WLI promotes sisterhood and the advancement of women, providing mentorship, scholarships and support for marginalised communities.
4. Apart from her many achievements in her professional career, she believes in contributing to society by delivering motivational lectures to various groups.
5. She enlisted in the JDF in 1992, immediately after completing Knox College, and completed her initial officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College in the United Kingdom. She was posted to the JDF Coast Guard as the first sea-going female officer to serve at the unit. With this, the JDF became the first defence force in the Caribbean to have women serving on the front line.
6. She has received numerous awards for her service to her nation including Jamaica's Order of Distinction (Officer Class), Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service, Medal of Honour for General Service, Medal of Honour for Long Service and Good Conduct, The Queen's Jubilee Medal, and The Military Commendation Medal.
7. She holds a Master's degree with distinction in National Security and Strategic Studies from The University of the West Indies, Mona.
8. The 49-year-old loves gardening and is mother to a teenage son.
9. She loves travelling around Jamaica to off-the-beaten-track places, and ensuring that her son is exposed to everything Jamaica has to offer.