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The sessions at the Jamaican Women of Florida Women's Empowerment Conference on April 8 in Miami will feature  professionals who are renowned first and second generation women of Jamaican descent who will share their experiences and insights into their professional and personal development.  The morning session Smashing the Glass Ceiling will include Commander Janice Smith - US Navy Commander; Dr. Janice Cover – Former Assistant School Superintendent of Palm Beach County; and Captain Maria Ziadie Haddad who was the first female pilot at former Jamaican national airline, Air Jamaica.

 Meet Our Panelists

Commander Janice G. Smith

Commander Janice G. Smith is a native of Jamaica West Indies and enlisted in the Navy in 1988. She served aboard the USS Yosemite AD-19 from 1989-1993 and at NAS Keywest from 1993-1997. She graduated from Troy State University with a Masters in Business Management and was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School (OCS) Program in 1997.

From 1998-2002 she completed Division Officer tours in USS OLENDORF (DD 972) as Damage Control Officer and USS NORMANDY (CG 60) as Fire Control Officer.

From 2002-2005 she served as the Cruise Missile Tactics Officer at Surface Warfare Development Group (SWDG).

She completed two Department Head tours in USS NORMANDY (CG-60) from March 2005 to October 2007 where she served as Weapons Officer and Combat Systems Officer.

In November 2008 she completed a one year assignment at the Naval War College where she completed requirements for JPME-PHASE I and earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. From December 2008 to December 2011 she served as Chief, Office of Defense Cooperation at the US Embassy in Nassau Bahamas, as a member of the U.S. Southern & Northern Command J5 Strategy and Policy Directorates.

From February 2012 to July 2013 she served as the AEGIS/ BMD Officer at Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic. She reported as Executive Officer in USS OSCAR AUSTIN DDG-79 in June 2014 and fleeted up to Commanding Officer on 2 May 2016.

Commander Smith completed five Fifth Fleet deployments and one Mediterranean deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Task Force East Africa Anti-terrorism tasking. While assigned to USS NORMANDY in 2005, she deployed to Europe and Africa in support of Standing Maritime Group One NATO operations.

Her Awards includes the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (5), Navy Achievement Medal (2) and various campaign, service, and unit awards.

Dr.  Janice Scott Cover

Veteran educator, Dr. Janice Scott Cover is the President & CEO of Improving Schools Consulting Services, an adjunct instructor at Nova Southeastern University and Palm Beach State College, an author, a philanthropist and mentor.

She began her career at the age of five on the island of Jamaica. At that time, her students were her dolls, trees, shrubs and flowers; this childish practice morphed into a lifelong vocation.  Almost four decades later she has been a teacher, school level and district administrator, and college professor in educational settings that serve diverse populations.

As a school level administrator, she was instrumental in turning around a low performing elementary school.  The processes and procedures used in the school transformation are the focus of her book, 7 Insider Secrets: Transform your Low-Performing Elementary School and Score an A in Record Time.  This experience resulted in her getting several recognitions including an article in the Principal Magazine.  She regularly shares her vast experiences with audiences that have included the National Elementary Principals’ Association Conference (Tennessee); the National Career Pathways Network Conference (Texas); the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (Barcelona, Spain); the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Conference on Best Practices in Education (Jamaica); Centeres of Excellence/Mutual Building Societies Foundation: School Leadership and Management seminar (Jamaica); and frequently speaking to high school students. She has been a constant mentor to early career and veteran educators. She has been a participant at Harvard Institute for School Leadership and twice at Darden/Curry School Executive Leadership.

Dr. Cover is the founder and current president of the Caribbean Educators’ Association (CAR.E), a (501) (c) 3 organization, that annually awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors of Caribbean descent.  In this role she leads fundraising activities and networks with her community in order to make a difference in the lives of the students and families who benefit from the scholarships.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards: Lifetime Achievement (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity); One of 25 Most Influential and Prominent Black Women in South Florida (Success Magazine); Woman of Excellence (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority); Most Accomplished Leader and Change Maker (ICABA); Blue Dove (Trust Bridge, Hispanic and Black Chambers of Commerce of Palm Beach); Luminary (Consulate of Jamaica, Miami); Phenomenal Woman – (Nova Southeastern University/Celebrating Black History.

By working with children, wherever they are, as well as with the adults who encircle them, Dr. Janice Scott Cover is doing her part to create a more educated community. She truly believes that an “educated population is essential to a nation’s prosperity …” Neil Buchanan 2012. 

Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad

Maria Ziadie-Haddad is a pioneering airline pilot from Jamaica. She was the first woman commercial pilot hired by Air Jamaica and upon obtaining her qualifications became Air Jamaica's first woman captain.

Maria Theresa Ziadie was born in Jamaica and attended Servite Convent in Brown's Town. From the age of four, she was interested in flight, but after completing her secondary education, Maria pursued a college education in psychology at a Canadian University. Taking a year off, she joined Air Jamaica as a stewardess and while attending an employment seminar on flying decided to change the direction of her career choice. She enrolled in a pilot training course with Wings Jamaica and obtained her private pilot's license in February 1978, after passing the examination of Civil Aviation Authority of London. 

In 1979, after completing her training, Captain Zaidie-Haddad was hired as the first woman commercial pilot of Air Jamaica. Initially, she was hired as a second officer,  co-piloting a Boeing 727 making her one of the first commercial female jet pilots in the Western hemisphere. She was promoted in 1982 as second officer of the Airbus A300 fleet and four years later became the A300 fleet’s first officer.

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, Jamaica was the fourth country in the Western hemisphere and the 13th in the world to hire women as airline pilots.  Captain Zaidie-Hadded was among the crew of Air Jamaica's first all-female flight (on an A320) which took place in December 1997 (JM 039 KIN-FLL). For the A320, this was said to be the second such flight in the world and the first in the Western hemisphere.

When Air Jamaica closed in 2010, Maria began flying for Atlas Air in Purchase, New York and was targeted to begin flying the Boeing 747-8 freighters.  In 2013, Ziadie-Haddad was included on the roster of the FAA Airmen Certification Database, for having met or exceeded the educational and health certification requirements of the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

Captain Zaidie-Haddad was honored as one of the pioneering women of Jamaica in a 2010 ceremony in conjunction with the Organization of American States' Year of Women celebration.

The Jamaican Women of Florida, Inc. (JWOF) will again host the third annual Women’s Empowerment Conference & Scholarship Luncheon to celebrate its fourth anniversary on Saturday, April 8, 2017.  The event will take place at the Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, in downtown Miami.

Sponsorship and vendor opportunities are still available to interested persons.  Information on details of the Conference is available at www.jamaicanwomenofflorida.com and www.facebook.com/jwoflorida  or by calling 561-320-1391. Tickets for the event are available at Eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jamaican-women-of-florida-womens-empowerment-conference-scholarship-luncheon-tickets-30811619383

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