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Cayman Parent | Articles | Uncategorised | Role Model – In Conversation with Dani Coleman

Role Model – In Conversation with Dani Coleman

Danielle has 16 years’ experience working in the humanitarian sector in the Cayman Islands and overseas, specifically in areas relating to disaster response, risk reduction and human rights. Having qualified as an Attorney in 2003, Danielle left the legal world to assist in a dive recovery programme in post tsunami, Thailand. She has since worked with the Human Rights Committee, Jasmine, the British Red Cross, the Cayman Islands Red Cross and is a member of the IFRC’s Global Emergency Response Unit and the Americas Regional Intervention Team. Danielle holds both a Masters degree in Law and one in Understanding and Securing Human Rights and is a Rotary International Peace Fellow. She is very passionate about yoga, Reiki and general holistic wellbeing.

Tell Us About Your Family.

My family is undoubtedly the most important part of my life and I am fortunate to have been raised in such a supportive and dynamic family unit. I grew up with two wonderful parents who influenced the way I view the world, and who always encouraged us to explore, to ask questions, to have faith in our own decisions and confidence in ourselves; and three sisters, one who is my twin, so there has never been a dull moment. I’m blessed to be married to Darren, and to have Ali and JC, my nephew Maxi, my brothers in law and five animals in my life.

The best thing about growing up in Cayman?

We had so much freedom to explore whilst being safe to do so. There are so many beautiful things about Cayman such as the diving, the beaches, the weather, the culinary diversity, the music and cultural entertainment and the ‘ease’ of life. Unlike a number of other places where I have lived, Cayman really allows for spontaneity and living in the moment. It’s a very community-minded place to live, where people (in general) treat each other with dignity and respect. As the world changes, it’s important that we work together to ensure this respect continues for all members of our community.

What does your role at HMCI involve?

As Director of HMCI, I (along with a great team) have responsibility for the national disaster management programme, namely preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. This includes the coordination of the National Emergency Operations Centre, developing relationships with local, regional and international stakeholders, drafting national multi hazard plans and risk reduction strategies, establishing the national emergency notification system, making sure public emergency shelters are maintained and available at all times, training first responders etc. As the Cayman Islands are vulnerable to a number of different natural and man-made hazards, we are involved in a diverse range of activities and no two days look the same.

Why is charity work so important to you?

We were raised to believe that no matter how much we have or don’t have, giving back and sharing with others is such an important part of life, and that small actions – sometimes as simple as a ‘thank you’ or a smile– can have a huge impact, so charity work has always been part of my life. I’ve been involved in some remarkable organisations starting with the Girls Brigade and Cayman Islands Red Cross at the age of 8, and Meldreth Manor School for Children with Disabilities, British Red Cross Childhope in the UK; No Strings – a charity healing child victims of landmines and other disasters; the Tsunami Volunteer Centre in Thailand; Legal Befrienders, the Estella Scott Roberts Foundation, Jasmine, and Rotary Club. I have learnt so much from others as well as about myself through volunteering.

What’s the glue that holds Cayman together?

There is a true sense of ‘giving to others’ and helping those less fortunate in Cayman that comes from a long history of challenge, and at times, great hardship. We see this in the extreme during large scale emergencies; they really do bring out the best in people. Throughout COVID-19 there were some extraordinary examples of #CaymanKind. The glue that holds us together is the generosity of those who are willing to share, and do so despite not necessarily having much of their own. I’m a true believer if you do have means that you should ‘build a longer table as opposed to a higher fence’.

The lesson you’d like to teach your children?

To stand up for what they believe in, to listen with respect whilst at the same time find peaceful solutions to conflict if at all possible. I also teach them to follow their instinct and do what feels right, to always be genuine to themselves and worry less about ‘fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering the glass ceiling’.


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