Front Row (L): Khadijah Mohammed, Hazel “Hadiyah Solwazi” Cyrus, Zakiya Gill, Beverly Williams, Mtima Solwazi, Keston Cotton, Sherrel Patrice, Brent “Abdul Kareem” John, Salim “Doc” Razzaq, Donnel Cuffie, & Emmanuel Villafana.
Introducing the BOD
Mtima Solwazi (Founder/President)
Mtima holds a Bachelor of Sciences Degree with honors in Psychology Major with Minors in Sociology and Criminology from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, and a Certificate in Social Work from the University of the West Indies Open Campus. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Sciences Degree in Sociology at UWI. Mtima has been actively involved in community development for the past two decades working with disenfranchised youth from depressed communities in Trinidad. Mtima serves as Prison Chaplain and youth mentor at the Youth Training Centre (YTC) where he launched Changing Lives In People (CLIP). He also conducts workshops with several non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organizations, including the Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago’s Peer Educator Programme and the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business’ Youth Development Programme. A self-published poet, he is Founder and Festival Coordinator of the annual CASCADOO CNVI Spoken Word Festival. Mtima is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Hazel Cyrus (Co-Founder/Secretary)
Hazel is a Teacher 1 with the Ministry of Education, and has been involved in the field of education since 1998. She is the holder of a Teacher’s Diploma from the Valsayn Teachers’ College and has subsequently pursued her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of New Brunswick, graduating with first class honours. Along with her husband, Mtima Solwazi, she co-founded The Oral Tradition ROOTS Foundation and has served as its Secretary since its inception in 2009.
Zakiya R. Gill (First Vice President – Legislation)
Zakiya works as an Assistant Best Village Officer at the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. She obtained a certificate in Drama/Theatre-in-Education from the University of the West Indies, and she is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioural Sciences at the same institution. Zakiya is a passionate writer, poet, dramatist and actor and has been involved in the arts since the age of 12. Her first formal introduction to drama came when she won ‘Traditions of Carnival’ at the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition in 2004. In recent years she has been featured on popular spoken word series: Second Stage and The Free Speech Project. In 2014, Zakiya was nominated at the National Youth Awards for her contribution in the development of performing arts ad spoken word in Trinidad and Tobago. Zakiya also has her own custom t-shirt line, “Griot”. Zakiya is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Emmanuel Villafana (Second Vice President – Administration)
Emmanuel is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Psychology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. Though he is one of the youngest members of the team, his proven leadership qualities – from being chosen as Head Prefect at his alma mater St Augustine Secondary School, to him being co-leader of the Teenage Youth Ministry at his church – equip him with the maturity and experience necessary to contribute meaningfully to the achievement of the Foundation’s mission, vision and goals. Emmanuel is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Sherrel S. Patrice (Treasurer)
Sherrel is currently an Accounts Clerk at Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute. Sherrel is a budding song writer and poet and she was recently short-listed as a semi-finalist in the 2016 First Citizens Bocas & 2Cents Poetry Slam competition. Apart from her writing prospects, Sherrel is on the verge of launching her own culinary line, “Yum it Up Creations”. Sherrel is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Beverly is currently the Young Adult Librarian at the Port of Spain Lending Libraries, National Library & Information System Authority. She possesses a vast store of knowledge and experience as a librarian, having started off in her career as a Library Assistant at the Arima Public Library in 1993. She is the holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Computing & Information Systems (Hons), and a Post Graduate Diploma in Library & Information Science from Syracuse University. Her Interests include reading, running, sight-seeing and landscaping/horticulture.
Keston holds the position of Customer Service Advisor at Organize with Style, a company which he helped to co-found. Keston’s entire career has centered around one important principle which fuels his passion and to which he is resolutely committed: 100% customer satisfaction. With over 20 years of experience in the business of customer relation and care, he brings a reservoir of knowledge and experience to bear on the operations of the Foundation in this regard.
Donnel Cuffie (Publicist)
Donnel is currently employed in the Research and Development Department at the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics (2009), a Diploma in Public Sector Management (2013), and a Master’s Degree in Development Statistics (2015), all from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. Donnel is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the only Muslim newspaper in the region, “The Muslim Chronicle”.
Salim Razzaq (Board Member)
Salim is a head nurse at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Port of Spain General Hospital, where he has worked for the past 15 years. He has been a registered nurse since 1980 and has attained experience in several clinical disciplines. He has been the Director of Health and Education at the Islamic Resource Society for the past 17 years. “Doc” as he is fondly called has written poetry for over 30 years and has his own published collection titled Journeying Through Time. He is the lead poet of the IRS Poets and Drummers and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the ROOTS Foundation since its inception in 2009.
Khadijah K Mohammed (Board Member)
Khadijah is currently employed as a Training Clerk at the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC). Khadijah holds certificates in Public Relations and Radio and Television Broadcasting. She has been involved in a number of volunteer organisations where she gained extensive experience in event and décor coordinating, and has even hosted a live television programme on IBN Channel 8. Khadijah is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Brent John a.k.a. “Srewface” is a writer, composer and singer. He is an up and coming artiste who has been singing for the past 15 years. He has released a total of seven tracks, including “Hardship” (along with two music videos), “Be Conscious” and “Push dem down”, which received favorable airplay from some local radio stations. This talented young man is also a spoken word artist and has performed in many poetry sessions around Trinidad including Song Shine, ROOTS Poetry Slam, One Mic and Speak. He has been a member of the ROOTS Foundation since its inception in 2009 and served as the resident MC for ROOTS Poetry Slam. Kareem is also a member of the Events Management Team.
Front Row (L): Nicole S. Hendrickson, Zakiya Gill, Khadijah Mohammed, Kevin Liverpool, Mtima Solwazi, Sherrel Patrice, Brent “Abdul Kareem” John, Michael Logie, Emmanuel Villafana & Kennedy “Young Nick” Charles (not in photo Safiya Cowie-Cotton & Kate McBain)
Introducing the EMT
Kevin Collin Liverpool (Events Management Officer)
Kevin is an educator and youth worker with over 15 years’ experience in teaching and mentoring teens and young adults, with a particular interest in contributing to the development of at-risk youth in volatile communities. He is currently employed as a Community Action Officer with the Citizen Security Programme of the Ministry of National Security. He is a former secondary school teacher with 12 years’ experience, and he also teaches plumbing at various institutions. He is also a published writer. Among his published work is a 2011 article published in the Caribbean Journal of Teacher Education and Pedagogy, titled “West Indies Cricket: Legacy of the Past, Hope for the Future.”
Michael Logie (Events Management Officer)
Michael is due to restart the pursuit of his Bachelor’s Degree in English and Literature in Education at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine in September 2016. Another young member of the team, he is a very accomplished young man. In the area of sport, he has captained his alma mater, St Augustine Secondary School, to a championship in Under 17 Basketball in 2013, and he was also the goalkeeper of his school’s championship football team in 2014-2015. In addition to this, he was also a member of his school’s Peer Helpers Association and a member of the Senior Prefect Body. Michael is a passionate Spoken Word artist, and he has already won accolades to his credit in his fledgling artistic career. He is the winner of the Courts Bocas Speak Out Inter-Collegiate Poetry Competition (2015) and the inaugural Catholic Commission of Social Justice Spoken Word Competition (2015).
Kennedy Charles (Events Management Officer)
Kennedy is employed at Government Information Services Ltd (GISL) as a technical engineer. He is currently pursuing studies in Technical Theatre at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. He possesses skills in television production, sound engineering and professional camera operation. Kennedy has recently transitioned into the Spoken Word genre of poetry, having had a prior interest in rap music as a medium for self-expression.
Safiya Cowie-Cotton (Administrative Coordinator)
An enthusiastic self-starter, Safiya is the founder of Organize with Style. She has considerable experience in the areas of administration and administrative support, having operated professionally in those capacities for over 10 years at various organisations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing at the College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) where she obtained an Associate Degree in Marketing in 2011. Safiya brings her resourcefulness and expert touch for organising to the operations of the Board of Directors of ROOTS Foundation as the Administrative Coordinator.
Nicole is an experienced and dynamic leader with over 17 years experience in the areas of event management, communication and public education. She has worked with various government, non-government and international agencies over her career, including the UNFPA and UNIFEM. She is a past president of the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Club, a past chairperson of Advocates for Youth Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (AYSHR), and a past vice-chairperson of the Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM). Nicole has worked on productions with a number of local and regional performers, including: Maximus Dan, Rikki Jai, Shadow, David Rudder, 3Canal, Len “Boogsie” Sharp, Scrunter, Roger Bonaire Agard, Etienne Charles, Allison Hinds, Arturo Tappin and Grace Kelly, among others. She was one of a two-person delegation selected in 2000 to participate in the International Youth Parliament, held in Sydney, Australia. Nicole brings to ROOTS Foundation a wealth of expertise and experience as the Events Consultant.
Kate McBain (International Consultant)
Lead Training Consultant for Visiting Arts on the World Cultures Connect Professional Development Training Programme for International Work across the Arts, Kate McBain is a freelance creative strategist and training consultant with more than 15 years experience working as a lecturer, coach, researcher and strategist for the cultural and creative industries. She has taught innovation, business, marketing, entrepreneurship and collaborative practice to creatives in professional and academic institutions across the UK and Europe: and designed qualifications frameworks for music, dance, digital arts, performance and cultural events across Scotland. As a practitioner, Kate has worked as festival programmer, marketing direction and creative producer across music and the live arts. She is committed to embedding cultural diversity in policy, skills/training provision and arts programming for the purposes of building a strong, global creative workforce.