Congrats, Ms Alison Smith on running an outstanding leg – Jamaica Observer

ON Saturday night the Jamaicans in the packed ballroom of the Signature Grand in South Florida, with heads high and cheering lustily, betrayed pride as Ms Alison Smith carried out her final duties as the first black woman president of the nearly 100-year-old Broward County Bar Association (BCBA).
Ms Smith, who grew up in St Elizabeth and Manchester, Jamaica, was courted by the BCBA, first to be a member of its board, and last year to smash its long tradition of white domination when it was felt that the time had come to introduce diversity to its leadership corps.
Her choice was not by any means a flippant one, as it was based on her solid background as an outstanding young attorney who was willing to serve the legal and larger community.
Jamaicans would be happy to know that she wears her patriotism on her sleeve.
“I am extremely proud of my heritage, and everyone who knows me here knows that I am an unofficial ambassador for Jamaica,” she told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.
Seen often wearing the black, green and gold in her outfits, she had the honour of the dress she wore to her installation being displayed at Island Space Museum in Plantation, South Florida, which promotes Caribbean culture and artefacts.
The Observer had the good fortune of being able to follow the historic journey of Ms Smith; from the time she was first announced as president-elect of the BCBA in May 2021 to last Saturday’s glitzy affair dubbed The Speakeasy.
Her prodigious talent became known 14 years ago when she made partner — the first black woman to do so and only 29 years of age — at a leading law firm in Florida, Weiss Serota Helfman Cole and Bierman. In just over two decades of practice she has tackled a wide array of legal issues, before specialising in labour and employment, and municipal matters.
Ms Smith was born in New York but at one-month-old was taken by her parents — Fay and Donald Smith, an attorney who practised in Black River, St Elizabeth — to Jamaica, where she grew up with her sisters, Meisha Smith-Coulter, also a lawyer, and Dr Jessica Smith, a medical doctor.
From Manchester High School she became the valedictorian of her law class at Nova Southeastern University and graduated magna cum laude from Shepard Broad College of Law at the university.
As a trailblazer in the legal profession she has headed the Legal Aid of Broward County, the Caribbean Bar Association, and sat on the board of governors of Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center.
She served as BCBA secretary and treasurer; chairwoman of the Government Law Section and co-chair of the Bench and Bar Convention; and as deputy city attorney for the City of Miramar, which has a large community of Jamaicans.
She spearheaded several initiatives to showcase and inspire people of colour in their college career, such as Aspire to Inspire at Miami Dade College and the Ignite Your Passion programme which focuses on pairing minority students with professionals.
In the waning days of her reign at BCBA Ms Smith won the National Diversity Council 2023 Woman of the Year award and immediately began a three-day exploratory business trip to Jamaica — another sign of her love for her country.
Ms Smith celebrated turning 43 yesterday and we expect that we will be hearing much more of her in the near future.
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