The Ministry of Community Affairs is proud to announce the appointment of Joan West-Dacres as its new Deputy Chief Officer.
Mrs. West-Dacres, who starts work today (Tuesday, 1 October), is already used to working in a high-profile public sector job. Until recently as Director of the National Drug Council (NDC), she was instrumental in initiating and developing the research methodologies the Council now uses to help stakeholders develop programmes and policies that are based on accurate and locally relevant data.
“I am delighted to welcome Mrs. West-Dacres to our interdisciplinary team,” says the Ministry’s Chief Officer Teresa Echenique.
“Her professional qualifications made her an outstanding and compelling candidate. She brings with her a counselling, social work and strategic leadership competencies that will be invaluable in helping the Ministry reach new levels of service provision and accountability,” she concludes.
Councillor for Community Affairs, Austin Harris, is equally pleased about the new senior appointment.
“We are thrilled to have Mrs. West-Dacres join our dynamic team at the Ministry of Community Affairs. We believe that her skills and previous experiences will enable the Ministry to achieve its ambitious goals and reach new heights.”
During her 12-year tenure as NDC Director (2007-2019) she constantly advocated for legal reform to ensure a preventative and proactive approach to drug and alcohol abuse. Most recently, this included providing feedback on the Liquor License Law revisions and Bullying Policy and Legislation development.
“What has been most significant for me is the building of partnerships with stakeholders and working collaboratively with relevant agencies. It’s important that efforts are united and streamlined for efficiency and effectiveness in our work,” the Florida International University alumna explains.
Asked what her most important achievement was at the NDC, the Deputy Chief Officer states that: “One of the biggest accomplishments I can speak to was the implementation of a National Anti-Drug Strategy, which saw the purchase and implementation of the mobile and airport scanners in a joint effort between the NDC and the then Customs agency.”
With more than 20 years of experience, mainly in the social and community-related sectors of the Cayman Islands, the Deputy Chief Officer has legacy knowledge of the local social services landscape. Additionally, she has a bachelors and masters degree in social work and a certificate of advanced study in evaluation on top of her 12 years managerial experience. The latter qualification includes budgeting, financial management and human resources offering an invaluable skillset at Ministry level.
Mrs. West-Dacres is looking forward to working with Chief Officer Echenique and the Ministry team to implement their current goals.
“I am excited about developing strategies to support our most vulnerable persons and ensuring they can contribute successfully to our communities. In addition, I am looking at what synergies can be developed to have a more cohesive and strategic approach to the efforts of the Ministry which will allow for more effectiveness and efficiency in what is undertaken.”
Mrs. West-Dacres adds that she applied for the key post because of the strategic and policy initiatives which are the focus of the Ministry of Community Affairs.
“This work is long-term and you don’t always see quick results and I am looking forward to working with the team to ensure positive long-term outcomes to our communities,” she concludes.