Governor Moore Announces Appointments to the Maryland Commission on Caribbean Affairs

Published: 12/12/2023

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Wes Moore today announced appointments to the Governor's Commission on Caribbean Affairs. The Commission works to engage individuals and organizations in the Caribbean community to partner with state government to promote our shared social, cultural, and business interests. Ambassador Curtis Ward will serve as chair.

The Governor's Commission on Caribbean Affairs was created in 2012, making Maryland the first state in the union to create such a commission. The Commission has nine members who reflect the diverse ancestry and national origins of the Caribbean community of Maryland. This year’s nine appointees represent eight Caribbean countries and territories.

“Representation matters. Maryland’s diversity is its greatest strength, and this commission will work to ensure that our Caribbean communities are seen, heard, and have a seat at the table,” said Gov. Moore. “I am thrilled to work in partnership with this diverse, talented group of leaders, and I thank them for their willingness to serve.”

The new appointees include:

Ambassador Curtis Ward, Chair, from Jamaica, is an attorney and international consultant with expertise in international security law that has led to extensive work over the years with the United Nations, including a stint as a UN ambassador of Jamaica. He is founder and chairman of the Caribbean Research & Policy Center that serves Caribbean communities in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.

Melissa Buckley, from Jamaica, is a professor with Coppin State University’s Social Work Department and a leader in trauma and healing–for both individuals and communities. She is also a practicing therapist and chairs the Board of Directors for Healing City Baltimore, a “sustained movement of Baltimore's communities united in healing from trauma, violence, and racial inequity.”

Gabriel Christian, Esq., a native of Dominica, obtained his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and currently has his own law firm whose practice areas include family, immigration, and church law. He has deep ties to the D.C. area and Maryland Caribbean communities and a longstanding love of history and record of service, including his work as president for the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. 

Samantha Howard, from Puerto Rico, currently serves as the Latino Affairs liaison for Prince George’s County, representing the Office of the County Executive to the county’s Latino communities. She previously helped lead recruitment and community relations at Prince George's Community College, advising the Dean of Enrollment Services on policy, strategy, organizational forecasting, and community relations regarding the Latinx/Hispanic community and other underrepresented constituencies.

Luis McSween, from Trinidad and Tobago, tapped his long career in management with U.S. Airways to launch CariBeat LLC, creator and promoter of Caribbean-style events, experiences, and cuisine. He also serves as chair of the Multicultural Commission of the State’s Attorney’s Office of Prince George’s County.

Habacuc Petion moved from Haiti to Maryland’s Eastern Shore when he was 16 and has since become an ordained minister. He has devoted the last 20 years to community organizing, activism, advocacy, cultural promotion, and social justice with Haitian, immigrant, vulnerable, and low-income communities through his nonprofit, Rebirth, Inc.

Carla Sewer, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, has a long career as a professor of child and human development, on which she has lectured and published extensively. She currently teaches at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and maintains her elementary teaching certification in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she runs summer educational workshops.

Kassandra Tucker, from Guyana, is a senior quality control manager at Prosperity Home Mortgage. She has spent her career in mortgage banking, while also running the two Caribbean restaurants she owns in Harford County, including Island Spice, known for its authentic Jamaican cuisine and a recent winner of a county hospitality and tourism award. 

Rogelio Williams, from Panama, specializes in community development in underrepresented communities with a career spanning leadership roles at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, several banks and, currently, RW & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in community economic development planning, where he is a principal. His grandparents worked on building the Panama Canal, and when he was 12, his family moved from Panama to the U.S.