12 PNP faces yearning to shine

In marking the 85th annual conference of the People’s National Party, today we feature 12 individuals who, with little or no experience in elective politics, are being prepared to represent the party in the next general election:


St Elizabeth North Eastern

“My first name, Zuleika, means ‘brilliant beauty’ said the aspiring MP. I was born and raised in rural Jamaica as the daughter of a single mother, which taught me both humility and tenacity.

“I started high school at 10 years old; university at 17 years old; and opened my own law office at 22 years old. I approach every task with grit, grace and determination. “I have represented Jamaica in numerous international competitions in the USA, India as well as Thailand, where I was a semi-finalist at the World’s Debating Competition.

“I always strive to make life better for those who are less fortunate. I believe that true empowerment of the masses, from which I spring, and the treatment of women remain the unfinished business of my generation.”


St Ann North Eastern

Dr Ryan Robert Simpson is a proud son and patriot of Jamaica. He was born in the parish of Portland and raised in the parish of St Ann in the deep rural farming community of Mcnie.

His educational experience includes a Doctor of Ministry Degree with concentration in Youth and Young Adult Ministries from Andrews University Theological Seminary in Berrien Spring, Michigan, USA, a master’s degree in Family Relations from Montemorelos University in Mexico and a bachelor’s degree in Religion from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica. Besides his native language English, Dr Simpson also speaks, reads and writes Spanish fluently, as a result of his academic experience in Mexico.

For 17 years Dr Simpson held top level administrative roles in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Bermuda and the United States of America. His last assignment was director of youth and young adults ministries with the regional headquarters for the Seventhday Adventist Church in the northeast United (Atlantic Union Conference). In that capacity he provided leadership oversight and execution of the organisation’s strategy and vision to more than 60,000 youth and young adults scattered throughout the states of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the island of Bermuda.

Ryan also served as chaplain of the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is married to Dr Jo-Ann Cousins-Simpson, a primary care physician, and they are very proud parents of three children — Ryan Robert Simpson II, Lylah Elizabeth, and Rachael Ann.


St Andrew North Central

“I am an attorney-at-law, and my practice specialises and focuses on real estate law/ conveyancing as well as estate and probate matters,” the budding MP said.

“I am a partner in the firm Grant Henry & Rhooms. I have the unique experiences of being on both the representation and regulatory side of such matters, having previously served as a senior legal counsel at the Real Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporation, and legal officer at the Administrator General’s Department. I am a graduate of The University of the West Indies with a Bachelor of Laws degree (with Honours), and a Master of Laws degree, with distinction in Corporate and Commercial Law.

“I was called to the Jamaican Bar in 2014 and I sit on the Social Affairs and Continuing Legal Education committees of the Jamaican Bar Association. I am also a member of the Council of the Jamaican Bar Association and its executive, as I am the treasurer. Being grounded in my Roman Catholic Christian faith, I am a member of Stella Maris Church where I have served as president of the ushers’ association as well as an executive member of its men’s fellowship. I am a man of enjoyment, and I enjoy parties and the usual Friday night drinks. I also enjoy swimming, water polo, and historical documentaries as without studying our past we cannot plot the way forward for our future.

I am currently the president of the PNP Patriots and the junior spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade.


Clarendon North Central

Dixon was born in Clarendon in October 1993 to parents Patricia Greaves and Audley Dixon from Colonel’s Ridge and Chapelton (Clarendon North Central), respectively.

“I attended Mt Carmel Basic School, Mt Carmel Primary School then went on to complete secondary schooling at Glenmuir High School where I served as head boy in 2011 and completed CSEC and CAPE exams with a total of 23 distinctions (11 CSEC, 12 CAPE units).

“I matriculated to The University of the West Indies as an open scholar to do medicine, and completed the five-year medical degree in 2017. During my tenure at The UWI I held multiple leadership roles, chief among which was the chairmanship of the great Chancellor Hall.

“Upon completing medical school I returned to live in my hometown, Chapelton, Clarendon, and have lived and practised medicine in the parish since. I have used my skills gained as a medical doctor to give back free medical service to my home communities as well as communities as far as St Mary — completing, along with my team, approximately 500 free back-to-school medicals per year with over 1,100 free medicals [during the] summer [of] 2023. Additionally, I’ve actively contributed to community welfare activities as well as various sporting activities.”


St James Southern

Nekeisha Burchell, an experienced communications consultant and political strategist who hails from Garlands, is poised to lead the transformation of her beloved constituency.

With over a decade of experience and a deep connection to the people, she aspires to represent St James Southern as its Member of Parliament, steering it towards sustainable development and contributing to Jamaica’s progress. Nekeisha has established herself as a dynamic professional, offering marketing and public relations expertise across multiple Caribbean countries including Jamaica, Dominica, Grenada, and The Bahamas. Her extensive career in communications and governance, including roles as deputy general secretary of the People’s National Party and advisor at the Ministry of National Security, highlights her political acumen and leadership. Her vision for St James Southern revolves around its people, products, and pride. She aims to empower residents through education, leveraging her own educational achievements, including a master’s degree in strategic communications from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s in international relations and political science from The University of the West Indies.


St Mary Central

Born in Port Maria and raised between Highgate and Islington, Omar’s deep-rooted connection to St Mary Central has shaped his mission: to uplift the lives of its residents, fostering education, infrastructural development, and entrepreneurship.

An advocate for rural development, transparency, equity, and innovation, Omar serves as the PNP’s junior spokesperson on commerce, science, and technology. His forward-thinking approach seeks to merge traditional values with modern solutions, ensuring St Mary Central is positioned at the forefront of Jamaica’s evolving landscape.

Omar’s commitment goes beyond rhetoric; he’s dedicated to the tangible betterment of his constituency, ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to thrive in a progressive and inclusive Jamaica. Omar has a first degree in management from Monroe College and a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law. He has several years of leadership experience in the public and private sectors. He is currently director and CEO of a mid-sized private sector company.


St Elizabeth South Western

She was born and raised in the district of Flagaman, St Elizabeth, to parents who were melon farmers, and grew up in a community where escallion fields made lawns straight to the doorsteps of homes.

Hampton School was where her first official leadership training began: She became head girl and president of the students’ council. An avid tennis player and community youth organiser, she further propelled, having entered UWI Mona, and became cluster leader on Rex Nettleford Hall, embarking on numerous leadership and mentorship programmes within and around the Corporate Area. A graduate with a BA in history and political science and a postgraduate Diploma in Education and Training, she later returned to St Elizabeth and began working at Black River High School, and has since been impacting youth for over 15 years. A proud achievement during this period has been the creation of an etiquette training programme that empowers young ladies and men on how to conduct and navigate themselves in various lifestyle skills and social settings.

At age 16 she became the youngest constituency secretary in the PNP under the tutelage of Donald Buchanan (now deceased), former MP. Miranda has moved through various political structures of the party — from being chairperson of the St Elizabeth, South Western constituency to becoming vice-chairperson of Region 5 with specific responsibility for political education. A former commissioner at the National Water Commission in 2002 and board member of the National Irrigation Commission, representing the district of St Elizabeth and Trelawny in 2016, Wellington has served on other local school boards and has given service and dedication to not only community, but also country.

Patrick Peterkin

St Andrew East Rural

Patrick Ainsworth Peterkin is a dedicated attorney-at-law whose professional journey has been shaped by a deep-seated passion for justice and a lifelong desire to assist the oppressed.

Born and raised in Kingston 11 area, Patrick’s early education at Penwood and Peniel Tabernacle basic schools set the foundation for his academic success. After passing the Common Entrance Exam, he embarked on a seven-year educational journey at Kingston College. During this period he briefly migrated to live with his mother but returned home, recognising the importance of being with his great-grandmother who, along with a very close family friend affectionately called “Miss Patsy”, took care of him in his mother’s absence. This sense of responsibility and compassion would continue to define his character.

Patrick’s educational pursuit took him to the University of the West Indies, where he did a double major in political science and sociology. Subsequently, he earned his LLB at Cave Hill, Barbados, followed by a certificate in legal education at Norman Manley Law School. His passion for the legal profession was ignited during this time, as he pondered questions of justice and injustice, ultimately leading him to the bar. Throughout his career, Patrick has honed his legal expertise, collaborating with prominent figures in the field, including K Churchill Neita, KC; Jacqueline Samuels Brown, KC; and Valerie Neita Robertson, KC. Currently, he co-owns the reputable law firm PeterMc & Associates in partnership with a classmate.

Beyond his legal endeavours, Patrick is a father, a supporter of Chelsea Football Club and Argentina in football and holds a special affection for the legendary Diego Maradona.


St Catherine South Eastern

Internationally recognised surgeon, trade union leader, hospital administrator, businessman, newspaper columnist, social commentator, research scientist, and now politician, Dr Alfred Dawes has donned many hats throughout his remarkable career.

However, his journey began with a passion for medicine and a strong sense of leadership during his years at The University of the West Indies, where he actively engaged in student politics, serving on the Guild of Students and even holding the presidency of the Medical Students Association. Beyond his professional life, Dr Dawes is a self-proclaimed history buff with a keen interest in current affairs and geopolitics, often immersing himself in books and travel during his leisure moments. Above all, he cherishes his role as a dedicated family man.

With an already impressive résumé, one might wonder why Dr Dawes chose to enter the often tumultuous world of politics, with its notorious reputation for character attacks and controversies. His response is clear: It’s not a choice or a dream, but a calling. Driven by a deep desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those who lack the means or access to improve their conditions, he views politics as a crucial avenue for change. While his contributions to health care continue through pioneering surgical techniques and clinical research, as well as his community involvement in health education and screenings, his primary focus now lies in representing the people of St Catherine South Eastern for the PNP.

Dr Dawes remains steadfast in his commitment to providing quality representation and fostering progress for his constituents.


St Catherine North Eastern

Andrine Higgins, a determined and dynamic political candidate, may be petite in stature, but her towering personality, unwavering leadership, and steadfast commitment to service set her apart as a refreshing presence in the political landscape.

Born and nurtured in the idyllic rural district of Coco Walk, Williamsfield, St Catherine, Andrine wholeheartedly dedicates herself to serving the constituency she calls home. Her guiding principle, “service above self”, underscores her belief in genuine servant leadership with the welfare of others firmly at its core.

Andrine’s political journey began as a grass-roots activist, with deep involvement in constituency-level activities, including canvassing, enumeration, and the organisation of political gatherings. Her natural leadership acumen and burgeoning interest propelled her into the broader political arena, where she has since impeccably served as the chairman for St Catherine North Eastern.

Renowned for her approachable and affable demeanour, Andrine possesses exceptional communication skills, underpinned by her academic achievements, which include a bachelor of science in shipping logistics and a master’s degree in government with a concentration in international relations.


Portland Western

Doreen Campbell’s remarkable journey in Jamaican politics is a testament to her lifelong commitment to public service.

Raised in Old Harbour, St Catherine, by a politically active mother, Campbell’s early exposure to the PNP ignited her passion for civic duty. She pursued education rigorously, graduating from Clarendon College and the University of Technology Jamaica with a diploma in marketing before completing her studies in law at the University of London Law School.

Campbell’s political career began at the age of 21 when she became the special assistant to then Finance Minister Hugh Small in St Catherine Southern. Her dedication and competence were evident, leading to her continued political service in the Portland Western constituency after Small’s resignation. Over the years, she has held various prominent roles within the PNP, from national vice-chairman for the PNP Youth Organisation to constituency secretary and councillor.

Today, Doreen Campbell stands as a formidable candidate in the upcoming elections, driven by her vision to harness western Portland’s abundant natural resources for sustainable development. With her extensive experience and unwavering dedication, she embodies the essence of Jamaican political leadership, inspiring future generations to follow in her footsteps.


St Ann South Eastern

Dr Kenneth Russell, the candidate-select for St Ann South Eastern, wants to use politics to positively impact the lives of people in the way good politics contributed to his success.

Russell, a father of two and married for over 18 years, has spent his adult years working to address some of the challenges he faced as a child – poverty, poor education, and social injustice. He grew up in Pedro River, located in the southern tip of the constituency which borders Clarendon, where he attended the local Bensonton All-Age school and began his work as a community activist. He almost didn’t make it to his high School of choice, Ferncourt, after ‘failing’ the Common Entrance Examination. He was able to attend, thanks to a teacher who saw potential and believed he deserved to be at Ferncourt. This experience of being marginalised by the education system has fuelled Russell’s efforts to help education systems become more equitable and oriented to serve the masses. He started his career in classrooms in Jamaica, teaching primary school at Fort George and Dupont Primary in Olympic Gardens.

Russell’s passion for change brought him to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and gave him the global platform to help governments pursue the rights of children, youth and women. With a first degree from Howard University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard, Russell led education programmes for the UN agency in a number of countries including Zimbabwe and Bangladesh as well as managed the organisation’s global response to learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic in foundational learning.