BELIZE CITY, Sun. Dec. 20, 2020– Since the People’s United Party government secured a sweeping victory in the November 2020 elections, the John Briceño administration has come under some fire for some of its appointments.
The appointments of the new Chief Executive Officers in the various Ministries, for example, were widely criticized on social media by many in the public who expressed their belief that the appointments were acts of cronyism.
Because of the controversy surrounding a number of these appointments, the two most recent, and for this newspaper, most notable CEO appointments by the new administration, went under the radar. Those notable appointments are of Dr. Kenrick Williams, the new CEO of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; and Dr. Gilroy Middleton, new CEO in the Ministry of Immigration.
Both these men, who were born and grew up in the Lake Independence area, hold doctoral degrees in their specific fields from top East Asian universities.
Amandala got a chance to speak with the new CEOs over the weekend to congratulate them on their accomplishments and to get an idea what the future holds for these Ministries, with these bright minds at the helm.
On December 3, Dr. Kenrick Williams was appointed CEO of the Ministry of Sustainable Development.
“My training has largely been in Sustainable Development; I have a Master’s Degree in International Environmental Sustainable Development, so that training really spread across the economic, the social, the institutional, and environmental spheres.
“So, we looked at areas of energy and climate change, we’re looking also at community and community development. And then my Ph.D. and graduate work were really around the areas of environmental policy,” he said.
Dr. Williams has worked in Belize and Taiwan, where he has looked at how communities develop mitigation frameworks to respond to human and natural disturbances.
“When I came back, I served as a policy advisor to the Ministry,” he said.
In his time working at the Ministry, Dr. Williams spearheaded projects that were focused on policy assessment and the generation of new areas of revenue for the government, while addressing institutional hiccups across the various departments.
Dr. Williams has also worked as a consultant within the Ministry and other regional entities on a number of initiatives. His work has led to key environmental and institutional recommendations for the Ministry he now heads.
“Having intimately worked in the Ministry over the last four years, I am familiar with the partners, projects, the players, the policies, and so I think I will be able to come into the Ministry and move, and run, because I myself did a lot of the assessments; we did a lot of the recommendations, and now we have the opportunity to put into place a lot of those mechanisms or policies,” Dr. Williams commented.
At the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Dr. Williams said that climate change and sustainable development are two significant areas of interest.
“The disaster risk management portion of the Ministry is very much intertwined in terms of your development trajectory, and one of those key things would be climate change,” he stated.
“How we, I think, primarily adapt to the impacts of climate change, we are putting in mechanisms to mitigate climate change, but small countries like Belize will have to look at how we adapt. So, our focus, along with the Minister will be to look at mainstreaming these key areas of climate change,” said Williams.
Dr. Williams said that the Ministry will need greater synergy between the various departments in order to properly execute projects and recommendations using shared data from across the various bodies. Solidifying this collaboration has been a problem area for the Ministry in the past, he said.
The most recent CEO appointment is that of Dr. Gilroy Middleton, the new CEO of the Ministry of Immigration. Dr. Middleton is the 16th CEO to be named and will work under Eamon Courtenay, the Minister of Immigration.
“I recently successfully completed a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Keimyung University in South Korea,” Dr. Middleton said.
His background is in the area of Business Administration and Management; in fact, he is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Management and Social Science at the University of Belize. He also holds a Master’s and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business administration, an Associate degree in General Studies, and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies.
“I have experience in the government service, I have experience working with different programs that fall under its laws, and as an administrator at the university, I have experiences leading individuals,” Dr. Middleton said.
He will officially report to work at the ministry in January 2021. He said that, based on the brief he received, the roadmap for the ministry will be centered on four key areas.
“Speaking with Minister Courtenay, we looked at four key areas; the first, in terms of the Ministry’s departments to become a modern and proficient immigration organization within the region, so we’re looking at modernizing, digitizing, and training.
“Second, to provide world-class services in terms of border protection and facilitating the legal travel of individuals,” he said.
Dr. Middleton added: “The third major point that we discussed was to enforce all immigration and nationality laws in Belize. We have four units and seven laws that we will be working on that relate to those four units. Finally, to enhance travel of national and visitors, to deter illegal migration and manage the residency and citizenship process in Belize.”
Dr. Middleton said that his strong suit is research, and another undertaking he would like to spearhead is a detailed study into the immigration landscape in Belize.
While these tasks may seem gargantuan, these two sons of Lake I are equipped and fit for the task. They are among the highest qualified within the ranks of CEOs in the Belizean government, and absolute experts in their specific fields. Both men explain that their accomplishments are rooted in hard work and determination, a determination to become the change that they knew they needed for their own lives and community.
“I’m from Jasmine Street, man, Jasmine Street, and Mahogany Street,” Dr. Kenrick Williams exclaimed proudly. “Certainly, my experience has been, ‘it’s not where you come from but it’s where you want to go.’ I think my biggest thing has been to dream big, and now we call that disruption, right?” he remarked.
“But the idea is not to focus on the various societal paradigms, so yo black, yo come from Jasmine Street, yo come from Lake I, and people will do that for you, so you don’t have to. People will put you in these boxes and try to direct you, the system will and people will. You have to make a conscious effort to not go into those mainstreams when people try to put you there,” he went on to say.
“I think you really have to dream big and be determined, and push and be creative,” Dr. Williams said.
Dr. Gilroy Middleton was born and raised on Black Orchid Street in the Lake I area.
”You have to aspire to be the change that you want to see,” Dr. Middleton stated. “Hard work pays off, going to school, and focusing, listening to your parents, not only thinking about yourself, but it all starts with hard work, knowing what you want to do, planning what you want to do and striving to achieve it,” he commented.
“We need to know where we want to go, and how we will get there; at the end of the day, it’s just hard work; everyone can make it. Hard work, determination, civic pride, and working toward to greater development of your neighborhood, your area, the district and the country,” he said.
“Malcolm X noted, ‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it today,’” Dr. Middleton concluded.
We at Amandala congratulate Dr. Kenrick Williams and Dr. Gilroy Middleton on their rise to the rank of CEO in their respective Ministries.