What does Fideles Ubique Utiles mean to me?

The Queen’s College motto, being faithful and everywhere useful, has been the strongest and most vivid thread running through the tapestry of my life. Even though I excelled in mathematics and science at QC and in undergraduate school, this thread energized me to pursue my passion, which led me to my current career as a philanthropy leader.

Chemical engineering was my first career.  Before graduating from City College of New York with my Bachelor’s degree, I landed covetable positions as a summer intern at E. I. DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware and as a part-time engineering assistant at Allied Signal in Morristown, New Jersey.  When I graduated in May 1990, I had my diploma in one hand and a job offer from British Petroleum in Cleveland, Ohio in the other.  My capacity to complete rigorous engineering coursework was built on my solid QC foundation.

My engineering career journey led me to a position at Union Carbide in Charleston, West Virginia, in Appalachia. When leaving Cleveland, my friends had encouraged me to find a church home. At the time, I was a CME Christian, which meant that I typically attended church at Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter.  Nevertheless, I followed their advice and found a church that, surprisingly, had a Guyanese pastor. Eventually, I started volunteering at the church, being faithful and everywhere useful, while establishing roots in my new home state. My volunteer service set my soul on fire! My life became more purposeful and even though I was earning an excellent living as an engineer, my interest in the field quickly waxed dim. 

In 1998, I took a giant leap of faith, left engineering and committed every fiber of my being to developing and implementing initiatives to strengthen families, under the umbrella of the church’s non-profit arm-KISRA. I had found my passion! I had become a “social” engineer. During this period of my life, I even made time to complete a doctorate in community economic development. With the help of God and the support of a multitude of public and private donors, KISRA grew from me working solo, to a team of over 60 employees and a $5 million annual budget.

In 2015, being faithful and everywhere useful, brought me to the attention of the search committee, charged with finding a new President and CEO for The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.  To my delight, I was offered the position!

Today, this Guyanese-American-Appalachian woman is being faithful and everywhere useful as the leader of the largest community foundation in Central Appalachia and the 82nd largest in the nation.  I believe, without a shadow of doubt, that my QC foundation prepared me for my career at The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.

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