Congressional Proclamation for first Miss Ja World Joan McDonald
Joan McDonald, the first beauty contestant to win the official ‘Miss Jamaica (World)’ title (prior to that it was Miss Jamaica') was recently honoured in New York with a Congressional Proclamation from US House of Representatives member, Yvette D. Clarke. McDonald, the first Miss Jamaica of full African descent, was lauded for her remarkable achievements and for her decades of work in philanthropy, at Jamaica's 57th Independence Black Tie Gala, at the Hilton Westchester Hotel, Rye, New York.
Crowned Miss Jamaica (World) in 1978, McDonald has distinguished herself as an event planner and a personal development coach, who has groomed delegates for the Miss Jamaica (World) and Miss Jamaica Festival Queen pageants. She has extensive public service experience having worked with Jamaica Red Cross, the Lions Club of Kingston and Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE).
"This is quite a shock. I am really stumped," said a visibly surprised McDonald, moments after accepting the award.
"I am truly honoured to have been considered among this illustrious group who were honoured here tonight. I will use this as a torch to show the young people, who I groom almost every week in Jamaica that there is much that can happen for you when you remain positive," she said.
A Congressional Proclamation, the organisers stated, is similar to being given the keys to a city, and awardees are held in high esteem.
Emmy and Golden Globe nominated American/Jamaican actress, Kerry Washington, was also honoured with a Congressional Proclamation. Byron LaBeach, an alternate member of Jamaica's 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, which won gold in the men's 4x400m final and the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico City in 1954, was the recipient of a 'Brand Jamaica Living Legend Award' by event organisers and a Congressional Proclamation by Yvette Clarke.
The Black Tie Gala - Jamaica’s marquee Independence celebration in New York - was held under the distinguish patronage of the Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett. The Keynote Address was delivered by United States Federal Judge, Norman Hemming. The event was attended by over 350 celebrants under the theme 'Celebrating Brand Jamaica.'