The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands has announced that Mr Joel Francis was appointed as Deputy Chief Officer for Adult Education, Youth, Sports and Public Libraries.
A Management graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mr Francis brings to the post twenty-two years of civil service leadership experience as well as many notable accomplishments in the areas in his former portfolios.
Before moving into the Ministry as an Assistant Chief Officer in 2005, Francis had a successful career as a broadcast journalist at Radio Cayman where he served to educate the public and otherwise shed light on many national and social issues of the day as a News Editor, and host of the listener participation programme, Talk Today.
His transition to the Ministry coincided with major reconstruction efforts of public facilities in the Cayman Islands following Hurricane Ivan. Those challenging times were turned into opportunities to upgrade many of Cayman’s sports facilities with improved lighting and other higher-quality amenities. These laid the foundation for many of Cayman’s sporting successes today including the boom in sports tourism events.
Some of his successes include the international certification of the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, the construction of the Jimmy Powell Oval Players Pavilion and the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium – which effectively served to boost interest and inspire talent in cricket and boxing across the Cayman Islands.
He also successfully introduced, for the first time, FIFA Two-Star rated artificial turf facilities at the Ed Bush and T.E. McField Sports Stadia. This initiative ultimately led to reduced maintenance costs, and along with policy changes, provided a catalyst for the resurgence of youth football in the Cayman Islands.
His work contributed to the successful formation of the Youth Services Unit and the establishment of the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly.
Efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan led to an enhanced vision and expansion of library services, with new district libraries at the West Bay Town Hall and George Town Library.
He has acted in liaison roles for the Cayman National Cultural Foundation and served on the boards of the Cayman Islands National Museum and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.
In collaboration with the Cayman Islands Sailing Club and Cayman Islands Rugby Union, Mr Francis supported the establishment of sailing and rugby programmes for schools.
As a former Senior Policy Advisor, he played a lead role in the updating of the National Youth Policy and the development of the first National Sports Policy and Strategic Plan for the Cayman Islands in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
“Mr Francis’ track record and extensive experience are aligned perfectly with the vision of the Ministry, and we are thrilled to have him on board. Attracting someone of Joel’s calibre into the deputy post is a great endorsement of our strategy and ambitions. He brings with him incredibly strong knowledge and experience which are vital to be successful in the role. We look forward to great things from Mr Francis,” said Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP.
“We are thrilled to have Joel on our team as Deputy Chief Officer. He has proven to have valuable insights, the ability to execute major programmes and move our islands forward,” Chief Officer Ms Cetonya Cacho, commented.
“I am today as motivated about the development and strengthening of the Cayman Islands community as I was when I started out as a broadcast journalist many years ago. I am extremely excited about the possibilities of improving the lives of those we serve. With the support of the Minister, Chief Officer and Ministerial team, I look forward to having a positive impact on my community in this new capacity,” said Mr Francis.
Joel is married and the father of three children. He is an avid fisherman and volunteers as a Director of the Cayman Islands Angling Club.