March 17, 2023

History-making Jamaican-American attorney takes another major Florida title

article reposted by Chelsea


Fresh from receiving the National Diversity Council (NDC) 2023 Woman of the Year award on Wednesday, trailblazing Florida-based, Jamaican-American attorney Alison Smith began a three-day exploratory business trip to Jamaica yesterday.

Smith, who is currently serving out her historic term as the first black woman president of the almost century-old Broward County Bar Association (BCBA), received the NDC honour, cheered on by hundreds of women at the annual South Florida Women in Leadership Symposium.

Upon receiving the award which honours successful women leaders in South Florida, she said: “My heart is grateful to God for being so merciful and gracious and giving his very humble servant this honour.”

Smith made headlines in Florida 14 years ago when she was appointed the first black woman to become partner in 30-year-old Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, a leading Florida law firm.

Hours after receiving the award, she packed her bags for Jamaica where her itinerary includes a courtesy call on US Ambassador Nick Perry and Deputy Chief of Mission Amy Tachco this morning; attending a presentation at the Jamaica Stock Exchange and meeting later with Director of Tourism Donovan White.

Smith is accompanied by Jamaican attorney Marlon Hill, who made partner this January in Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman. The main objective of their trip is to meet with key business stakeholders to strengthen existing and prospective business relationships, she told the Jamaica Observer.

The NDC’s Woman of the Year Award is a prestigious honour that recognises extraordinary women in the South Florida area who have made a significant impact on community and national advancement, demonstrated professional excellence and consistent leadership as a role model and mentor for other women.

“The National Diversity Council is the first non-profit organisation to bring together the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss the many dimensions and benefits of a multicultural environment,” said Smith.

“Its mission is to be a resource and advocate for the value of diversity and inclusion through advancement & adaptability. The national council currently comprises state and regional councils, the National Women’s Council, and the Healthcare Diversity Council.”

A fierce advocate for Jamaica, Smith was born in New York but returned to Jamaica with her parents when she was just one-month-old and grew up in St Elizabeth. Following her graduation from Manchester High School in 1996, she migrated to the United States.

Smith has significant experience handling a wide array of labour and employment matters, including conducting training and employee investigations, representing employers in collective bargaining, and advising clients regarding evolving state and federal labour and employment laws.

She has served as treasurer of the BCBA, chair of the membership committee for the board of governors of the Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University, president of the Caribbean Bar Association as well as chair of the board of directors for Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast-to-Coast Legal Aid.

She has also established programmes in South Florida to inspire young people to achieve their goals and received numerous awards for her support of the South Florida communities.

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