Woman of substance
Donna Parchment Brown
ALMOST ONE year ago, on November 16, Jamaica’s Governor General Sir Patrick Allen appointed Donna Parchment Brown as the Political Ombudsman. Former Custos Rotulorum for the Parish of St Andrew, the woman from the Breadbasket Parish was well equipped for the task ahead.
The first child of Rosetta and J.H.D. Parchment, the journey of public speaking, leadership and volunteerism began at Hampton School. Her talent blossomed as she became a part of the School’s Challenge Quiz team and later head girl.
Fresh from high school, with an attitude to excel, Parchment Brown moved to Kingston and enrolled at the University of the West Indies. She studied government, transferred to law, completed her legal training at the Norman Manley Law School and was called to the Bar in 1981. Her quest for knowledge grew and she benefited from short training courses from Capital University Law and Graduate Centre,
Fresh from high school, with an attitude to excel, Parchment Brown moved to Kingston and enrolled at the University of the West Indies.
Kettering Foundation, Eastern Mennonite University, Cambridge University, and the School of advanced Legal Studies.
In 1990, Parchment Brown was appointed justice of the peace and received the national award Order of Distinction Commander Class in 2004. As her career advanced, she worked with distinguished firms such as Milholland, Ashenheim and Stone, The Prices Commission, The General Legal Council, City of Kingston Cooperative Credit Union Limited, the Dispute Resolution Foundation, and successor of the Mediation Council of Jamaica.
With the prayer of Jabez – everything we do shall blossom at its time and bear fruit at its season – held close to her heart, Parchment Brown, who is currently the director of the Justice Reform Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Justice, strives to fulfil the commitments made as political ombudsman “to help political candidates to fulfil their individual and organisational aspirations through adherence of law and rules of engagement to which they will give their pledge.
“I stand ready to be an advocate, mediator and arbitrator for safe conduct of Jamaica’s elections and to promote as far as possible the respectful positive presentation of the candidates to Jamaica.”
In a conversation with Flair as she reflected on the past year, Parchment Brown was grateful for a number of things. “I came into an office that despite not having an ombudsman for at least a year, the staff was well equipped and able to bring me up to speed in time for the upcoming elections. I also learned from the past ombudsman Herro Blair, and that has helped me tremendously in settling problems swiftly and efficiently.”
As ombudsman, Parchment Brown has also embarked on bringing awareness to the public of her duties, and continues to represent the public in the political arena by being their voice – a job she thoroughly enjoys.
Not only does she find her post rewarding but also affirming. “Quite often, I run into members of the public at the supermarket, hair salon, etc, who say they are ‘pleased with the work I did at x’ or ‘thanks for taking care of the situation in y’; and that encourages me a whole lot. It means not only are they aware of the office, but of the work I am doing.” She continued: “As such, I have to keep the laws and codes in hand at all times.”
Now that the local government elections are pending, Parchment Brown has her hands full. But as soon as that is over, she will continue to raise awareness, and one specific way is through a tour of institutions with ‘Conversations with young Jamaicans’ that highlight the standards of politics and gives the youth a medium to share their views, among other things. “I hope to, in January, be able to do a few one-minute YouTube videos highlights.”
An avid believer in Jamaica and her people, the wife of instructor Clifford Brown has provided advice and training throughout CARICOM, judiciaries, civil society; worked with Kingston Restorative Company, RISE Life Management, Jamaicans For Justice, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, and is looking forward to continuously serving her country.
“Quite often, I run into members of the public at the supermarket, hair salon, etc, who say they are ‘pleased with the work I did at x’ or ‘thanks for taking care of the situation in y’; and that encourages me a whole lot.”
Rosetta Parchment (right) plants a kiss on her daughter’s cheek, Donna Parchment Brown, following her Swearing-in as Political Ombudsman at King’s House on Monday, November 16, 2015.
Donna Parchment Brown with the proclamation she received from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen during her swearing-in ceremony as Political Ombudsman of Jamaica at King’s House on Monday, November 16, 2015.