He is Christopher Chaplin, a senior associate with Opportunity Finance Network, which manages an investment portfolio of over $600 million and invests in community development, financial institutions, loan funds, venture funds and credit unions across the United States.
Mr. Chaplin's appointment became effective April 2, and he succeeds the late Dr. Alston Meade, filling a position that had been vacant for the past 5 years.
“I am greatly honoured that the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, has seen it fit to appoint me to this very important position,” said Chaplin of this latest appointment. “It is a position in which I am strongly committed to serving the Jamaica’s interests in the state of Pennsylvania.”
He praised the legacy of his late predecessor, Dr. Meade, saying “he served our country with integrity and commitment. His service to our community is something I believe in and hope to emulate.”
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey P. Marks, in welcoming Mr. Chaplin, commended his solid track record of serving Jamaica from the diaspora. “We know that Chris brings a wealth of expertise in key areas such as banking, and in that regard, we look forward to having this well-respected professionalism added to our diplomatic service. He most certainly will be a distinct asset to the Jamaican consular service, given the respect he already commands across the Jamaican diaspora.”
Honorary Consul Chaplin thanked Ambassador Marks and Acting Consul General in New York Lisa Bryan-Smart and their respective staff for the tremendous support they provided as he prepares to take on the new role.
Aside from the normal consular responsibilities required of the honorary consul, Mr. Chaplin outlined three main areas he plans to give special focus: helping to build and sustain Philadelphia-based Jamaican organizations; trade and investment; and Census 2020.
“There are several Philadelphia based organizations doing outstanding work in supporting Jamaica and it is my goal to help them build a sustainable infrastructure,” he added. Regarding trade and investment, he plans “to work with JAMPRO and the Jamaica Stock Exchange to build the institutional relationships in Philadelphia necessary to capitalize on investment opportunities.”
A former co-chairman of the Caribbean Complete Count Committee of the US Census – who worked on the last US census, taken in 2010 – Chaplin describes the upcoming US Census 2020 as “perhaps the most important in several decades.”
In that position, he worked with African and Asian groups in an endeavour that increased Philadelphia’s population count for the first time in decades, resulting in additional federal funding for the city. “I intend to ensure that we increase the Jamaican and Caribbean count again.”
The new Honorary Consul explained that his respect for public servants and love of community service “comes from my father, a journalist and civil servant his entire life, who believed in and lived a life of service to his country and community.”
Mr. Chaplin and his wife Margaret have two adult sons.
He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Kingston, Jamaica, based Chocolate Dreams Limited; a mentor and adviser to Kingston, Jamaica, based Kraas Images; and serves as Financial Advisor to FanCheer Interactive, Inc., a Philadelphia area sports technology company.
A reception is being planned for June 8 by the City of Philadelphia in conjunction with the Jamaican community. There the new Jamaican Honorary Consul will be introduced to the community and the consular corps, with Ambassador Marks delivering the keynote address for the event, which will be held at Philadelphia City Hall.
The Acting Consul General in New York and a wide cross-section of the Jamaican community, as well Pennsylvania state representatives and Philadelphia officials are expected to attend.
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