By Tad Stoner, Pinnacle Media
The 2016 Young Caymanian Leadership Award – built around the theme “Step up, stand out” – will be the debut event at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa on Nov. 5.
The event is the YCLA Foundation’s 16th annual gathering, and will mark the opening of the new Dart Realty-owned 266-room 10-story hotel, crowning the latest exemplar of a “role model” for all Caymanians, according to Tara Godfrey, coordinator of the YCLA Foundation.
“For more than 15 years, the YCLA has worked to keep the island’s youth on track by providing them with excellent role models with whom they can identify,” Ms. Godfrey said. “This has been accomplished by involving the community, who have partnered with us by way of identifying and helping to celebrate the lives of those young persons, who instinctively ‘walk the walk and talk the talk.’
“By showcasing these wonderful young people, our point is made and the finalist will continue the dialogue via public appearances throughout the year.”
Already, she said, the foundation has nominated 16 candidates for the 2016 award – 11 women and five men between the ages of 20 and 35, in occupations from doctors to secretaries.
“‘Step up, stand out’ is a powerful message this year, so we are excited,” Ms. Godfrey said. “YCLA finalists through the years have always been on the leading edge and welcomed new challenges for amazing accomplishments.”
Ms. Godfrey declined to name this year’s keynote speaker, a perennial surprise. In the past the slot has been filled by Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin, Fox News presenter Steve Doocy and U.S. Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Last year’s event featured British-born adventurer, TV presenter, author and motivational speaker Debra Searle.
“We are still deciding the guest speaker, who will be talking along the lines of taking responsibility and extreme leadership qualities,” Ms. Godfrey said.
The 2015 Young Caymanian of the Year – named at an Oct. 17 gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – was Kellie McGee, one of a record 39 nominees and five finalists. Since winning the award, she has addressed more than 10,000 people at multiple gatherings.
Previous YCLA winners include Olivaire Watler, Dax Foster, Sara Collins, Cindy Scotland, Jonathan Tibbetts, Collin Anglin, Natalie Urquhart, Garth Arch and Shomari Scott.
“YCLA Finalists through the years have always been on the leading edge and welcomed new challenges,” Ms. Godfrey said. “This year will be another first as the premier awards ceremony will be held at the Kimpton Seafire, the first event for Cayman’s newest state-of-the-art lifestyle resort on Seven Mile Beach.”
The first YCLA ceremony, held in the event tent at the old Hyatt Regency Hotel, was in the largest indoor venue in Cayman at the time. The group remained at the tent, near the Britannia golf course, in 2001, but moved in 2002 to the Governor’s Ballroom at the Westin Casuarina Resort, where sold-out crowds flocked for three years.
In 2005, following Hurricane Ivan, the YCLA board postponed the awards, but in 2006 moved to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, for 10 years, packing the 520-seat ballroom.
This year’s move to the Kimpton, Ms. Godfrey said, is because the “Kimpton offered, and we are always looking for new and exciting platforms for our young Caymanian leaders.”
For more information, contact Tara Godfrey at [email protected] or on 916-8259.