(CMR) Cayman Connection, a not-for-profit global organization connecting and supporting Caymanians overseas, has announced the appointment of a new Executive Director. Cayman-born Ashlea Smith who is currently residing in the UK, has taken on the role part-time this month and will hit the ground running in the position full-time from 21 November 2022.
The Executive Director leads all of the activities and operations of Cayman Connection and will forge the way into a new global strategy for the organization.
Ms. Smith brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in the charitable and non-for-profit sector, having helped to develop and sustain many community and membership initiatives across the UK throughout her career. She spent her life between the Cayman Islands and England. She graduated from Loughborough University in 2015 (Sport Management) and has since worked in the sport, physical activity, and health sector working with partners such as Sport England, Public Health and Nike.
Ms. Smith extends her community development practice to her overseas work in Zambia, where she has worked on grassroots development programs using sport as a tool to support the education and development of young people and their communities.
She joined Cayman Connection in 2020 during the pandemic, and soon became a willing volunteer. Ms Smith was assigned as CC Fit Club Lead supporting the health and wellbeing of the Caymanian network and led the 2021 Fit4Feb overseas campaign to keep Caymanians fit and health-conscious whilst living overseas.
In 2021 she had everyone jumping up at the first-ever Cayman Day where she volunteered as a Soca Fitness performer, leading the carnival-themed dance section. Outside of her professional life Smith co-hosts her own podcast ‘Melanin and Me’ supporting women of colour through discussions on health, wellness and self-improvement.
She also volunteers her time to contribute her Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) expertise to UK’s Basketball England EDI Committee and expresses her entrepreneurial spirit whilst running her own Personal Training business ‘AJ Fitness’.
In 2020 Smith proudly represented the Cayman Islands in the Miss Caribbean UK pageant, where she took home
three titles; 1st Princess, Miss Personality and Best Charity Fundraiser. Commenting on accepting the position of Executive Director, Ms. Smith said:
“I am ecstatic to be appointed as Executive Director of Cayman Connection. As a previous member and volunteer of Cayman Connection, I’ve had first-hand experience of the warmth and supportive, family feel of the CC community.”
“It’s added so much value to my life and has helped me discover a home from home and connect to the place so dear to my heart, despite the distance. Through this exciting opportunity I look forward to helping even more Caymanians have positive experiences and connect across the globe,” she added.
Cayman Director Jennifer Dilbert said that “we at Cayman Connection are excited to welcome Ashlea as the new Executive Director and look forward to her working with our global teams. Ashlea has huge shoes to fill as she takes over from Kate Kandiah in this role. Kate has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to create and expand Cayman Connection to the organization that it is today. We now have over 2000 members with many more persons overseas joining in our various Clubs and activities developed to assist and support Caymanians in the UK and around the world.”
“Kate will continue to support the organization as she joins the Cayman Board and supports Ashlea as she takes the helm. With her Caymanian roots and passion for Cayman, coupled with her UK and international experience, Ashlea brings renewed energy and ideas to Cayman Connection. We know that under her leadership we will continue to play the important role of connecting Caymanians who live overseas to each other, and back home to Cayman,” Ms. Dilbert stated.
The Cayman Connection Board of Directors has welcomed Ms Smith while expressing appreciation to sponsora for their continued support.
Anyone wishing for further information on developments, to share ideas, or to make the connection with Ms. Smith and Cayman Connection, are asked to email: [email protected] For more information about Cayman Connection: www.caymanconnection.org.