ASPIRING MINDS FOUNDATION
She has five sisters and three brothers, she says that being the fifth child gave her the edge in dealing with all kinds of hassles in life.
She is a mother of two daughters.
Lives at Ste Madeline San Fernando
Former CEO of the San Fernando Regional Corporation, for eleven years.
Former Mayor of San Fernando between 2010 and 2012.
Appointed a Senator and Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development on June 25, 2012.
Former member of the Congress of the People, which she left to join the United National Congress, where she became the deputy political leader after internal elections.
She attended the Ste Madeleine Primary School.
She says she never liked school, partly because being born left-handed she was forced to write with her right hand. She is ambidextrous.
She placed first in tests and skipped Standards 1 and 4, writing Common Entrance at age 10 instead of 11. She passed for her first choice, St Stephen's College, Princes Town.
Being focused and career minded she sat and passed the Civil Service Exams while still in lower six.
She entered the Public Service s a Clerk 1, three days after completing A'Levels. She was first assigned to the Office of the Chief Personnel Officer where she worked for ten years and received three promotions and several acting appointments.
She believes that a wide ranging knowledge, experience and support gained on the job, prepared her to be an effective career officer.
While in an acting position of Accountant 2, she responded to an advertisement for an Internal Auditor at the Point Fortin Corporation, she was successful which began her career in Local Government.
She pursued training in Budget Analysis and Administration, "After completion, I responded to an advertisement for the position of Budget Analyst in the Ministry of Finance and was selected for the appointment." She left when the position of Deputy Town Clerk at the Point Fortin Borough Corporation became vacant. She even acted as Town Clerk whenever the occasion warranted, but she was also on an order of merit list for the San Fernando City Corporation.
"However the knowledge and experience gained on the job served me well in coping and carrying out the functions in the SFCC that was bankrupt and in disarray," she revealed.
She described as "a Herculean task" trying to build the Corporation "with absolutely no credit from suppliers, no money to pay creditors, deductions were made from wages and salaries but were not paid to NIB, BIR, insurance companies and Credit Unions. No money to pay gratuity and pensions to retired persons, or salaries and wages to serving employees. I could go on and on."
"I was compelled to perform as Auditor, Accountant and Administrator at the same time and very unpopular and hard decisions had to be made."
Because of those decisions she was nicknamed "Thatcher," and "Iron Lady," (after England's former PM Margaret Thatcher). Although many saw her as the mean, tough lady, they soon realised they could not break her. She was firm, and resolute in dealing with tough situations.
Reflecting on those days, she said: "I had to do a lot of training. Some people were genuinely not aware of Public Service regulations and procedures, some simply did not care. Others were also not in a position to influence the madness that was taking place at the time."
"There were challenges with representatives not understanding the system, some not concerned enough about people's welfare. Challenges with officials attempting to treat people differently based on political affiliation or economic circumstances; officials wanting to spend public funds or presenting unverifiable claims for payment were but few of the situations she had to set right."
She started cleaning up, but got in trouble with the Statutory Authorities Service Commission (SASC). And was transferred back to the Point Fortin Borough. She fought the transfer and won a legal battle against former PM Patrick Manning and the SASC.
In a sworn affidavit she said Manning had threatened to "deal" with her because she refused to carry out favours for supporters and friends of the PNM in her capacity as CEO of the Corporation. That battle between Herself and Manning was actively watched by the public for many weeks.
The SASC eventually withdrew the transfer order. It was a victory for her, she continued working as CEO at the SFCC serving one mayor after another.
She was seen as a person needed in a leadership position and was approached by the Congress of the People to contest the San Fernando West seat. She lost and returned to her duties as CEO.
She accepted the position of Mayor with one focus: "I believe my experience together with my concern for people's welfare would enhance my effectiveness as a Mayor."
"Challenges," she said, "have always strengthened me. I always put myself in the other person's shoes. Being cool and calm is my nature and my upbringing—"always speak out, no one can kill you for that," she stressed.
Her proudest moment in SFCC as CEO was "improving scavenging operations, training opportunities for young people, and some business ventures."
She's proud also of her pet projects, the City Hall auditorium, the restaurant, and gift shop. She is looking forward to having the laws in Local Government reviewed and amended to provide timely delivery and remove obstacles to performance.
She sees her role of mayor as "a team leader. While I would have my own views and ideas for the city, I have to hear from the other members of Council and the various stakeholders. The city cannot be about what the Mayor wants but also about hard work and the high standards I set for myself. I hate shoddy work."
She was appointed a Senator and Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development on June 25, 2012. She was appointed Minister of Local Government on September 6, 2013.