(CMR) The Alex Panton Foundation (APF) has hired two Caymanians, Erin Kaufman (nee Hislop) and Emily Kelly, as part of the non-profit’s determined efforts to increase its advocacy, awareness, and support for children and young adults in the Cayman Islands affected by mental health illnesses.
Ms. Kaufman joins the organization as Administrative Manager, while Ms. Kelly will assume the role of Program Manager. Both will work alongside APF’s other full-time staff member, Caymanian Michelle Powell, who has been with the Foundation since August 2022 in the position of administrative coordinator. The appointments follow a lengthy recruitment and interview process carried out by SteppingStones Recruitment, who offered their services free of charge to APF.
“The APF Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome these two young Caymanian women to the team. The Foundation has accomplished a lot in the five years since we began this journey. However, our goals – and our hearts – continue to expand as we see the ever-increasing and evolving mental health needs in the community. There is so much more we want to do, but we recognize and appreciate that a volunteer board has its limitations,” said APF Founder Jane Panton.
“As full-time employees, Erin and Emily will be able to tackle those areas to which we haven’t been able to give our full attention, as well as identify other challenges and opportunities for APF to take on. I also believe their professional and personal experiences will inform how they carry out their roles and will help them connect more meaningfully with all of our stakeholders, especially children and young adults who are struggling with mental illnesses,” she added.
Ms. Kaufman holds a master’s degree in human and social services from Walden University and an honors bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminology from the University of Toronto. Her experience in the human services industry includes six years with the Family Resource Centre under the Department of Counselling Services, where she trained in crisis intervention and advocacy, certified as a Parent Coach, and delivered various children and family programs.
She also spent some time in the human resources field with a particular focus on training and development. She joins the APF after a period with the Gender Affairs Unit and as programs manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands.
In her new role, Ms. Kaufman’s responsibilities include providing administrative support to the APF Board of Directors and all sub-committees; establishing and maintaining the business plan, policies and procedures that govern the APF; overseeing and coordinating the financial management of the APF; managing APF’s events and public relations; and ensuring the Foundation is meeting its targets and fulfilling its objectives to meet the changing needs/expectations of the public.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to utilize my skills and share my passion to help the Alex Panton Foundation strengthen its impact in mental health advocacy and awareness. Young people deserve a concerted effort to support them in navigating the challenges associated with their mental health. APF helps to share the message that they are not alone,” said Ms. Kaufman.
Ms. Kelly is tasked with leading and/or supporting the various programs that APF has created which uphold its mission. Her duties include planning and coordinating outreach workshops in the schools, throughout the community, and for specially targeted audiences; liaising with the Health Services Authority to support the operations and public relations for Alex's Place to ensure it is meeting the needs and expectations of the public.
She will also be managing the operation and implementation of the Emotional Literacy Program; implementing the operations and management of the much-anticipated Kids Helpline; supporting research projects carried out by the Foundation; and increasing APF’s visibility, safeguarding reporting and assistance, administrative assistance and supporting funding projects.
A former NCAA Division 1 football player, Ms. Kelly obtained a Bachelor of Theatre from the University of Richmond and studied a comprehensive scope of the sports industry in the Center for Sport Leadership master’s program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her most recent position was that of Assistant Director of Sports, where her responsibilities included monitoring and managing the government’s sports programs, supervising, supporting, and guiding the department’s coaching staff.
Prior to that role, she was Director of Student-Athlete Development at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst; Amherst LEADS Programme Coordinator at Amherst College; and Student-Athlete Leadership Development Graduate Assistant at the University of Richmond, all jobs where she worked to create inclusive environments for collegiate student-athletes as well as foster a more holistic approach to athlete development which included mental health awareness and leadership education.
“The bulk of my career has been spent working with collegiate student-athletes, where approximately 33% of the population is known to struggle with depression, anxiety, and many other forms of mental illnesses. As a former collegiate student-athlete who battled some of these illnesses, I lead with mental health at the forefront of everything I do. While this has always been a priority, with the recent loss of my sister (Addison Kelly) by suicide, my eagerness to be more hands-on in this field of work has amplified greatly,” said Ms. Kelly.
“APF is an invaluable resource for our community, offering much-needed education and safe spaces for children, young adults, and their parents and caregivers. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with the Board of Directors, Erin, and Michelle, to carry out its mission,” she added.
For more information about the Alex Panton Foundation, visit www.alexpantonfoundation.ky or email [email protected].