Jamaica Environment Trust has a new CEO

Congratulations to Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, the new CEO for the 30-year-old Jamaica Environment Trust (JET). It is a challenging but very important role, as the environmental concerns on our island are seemingly boundless, but the possibilities and the opportunities are also there. I wish her the best of luck.

Dr. Rodriguez-Moodie has just commented on a perturbing report – that black plastic “scandal bags” are again being sold quite openly in downtown Kingston.

Black scandal bags being sold in downtown Kingston. I wonder where those cardboard boxes were shipped from, and how? (Photo: Judana Murphy, Jamaica Gleaner)

There was quite rigorous enforcement of the ban on these bags for the first year or so after the generally welcomed legislation, spearheaded by Senator Matthew Samuda, came into force on January 1, 2019. Now it seems to be slipping – and the bags are slipping into the country (or are they being manufactured here?) The new JET CEO commented:

Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) CEO Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie told The Gleaner that there has been an overall reduction in the use of plastic bags, as people are using reusable options. But the practice of accepting even reusable bags counters the campaign for a complete culture change, said Rodriguez-Moodie.
“If everywhere I go, I accept these reusable bags, then eventually I will have so much of these bags that may at some point be discarded. There is a heavy reliance on constantly accepting other alternatives. We need to get into the practice of saying, ‘No. I don’t need a bag, I have my own bag’ or ‘No, I don’t need a paper bag,’” the CEO urged.
She added that reusable bags would eventually become waste and take a longer time to degrade.
Rodriguez-Moodie also raised concern that there are plastic bags on the market misidentified as
‘recyclable’ or ‘compostable’.
The JET CEO added that a waste characterization study was crucial to determining whether there has been a reduction in plastic waste.
“We need to look at how we generate waste. Do we need all of this packaging? So, it’s not just about the consumers, it’s also about the manufacturers as well – how they produce and package,” said Rodriguez-Moodie.

Jamaica Gleaner, July 6, 2021

Here is JET’s press release:

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) wishes to announce the appointment of Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Rodriguez- Moodie, whose experience spans the fields of environmental resource management, climate change adaptation and vulnerability and project management, assumed her new role as leader of the 30-year-old environmental NGO on July 1, 2021.

Commenting on Dr. Rodriguez- Moodie’s appointment, Chairman of JET, Douglas Stiebel said: “On behalf of the entire Board, I am pleased to announce Theresa’s appointment. She has an impressive track record as an environmental consultant, and we are confident that she will achieve similar results in the NGO sector. As we celebrate JET’s 30th anniversary this year, we are excited to be entering this new phase in the organization’s leadership and fully expect more great work from the JET team. While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted JET’s operations and ability to recruit new leadership, I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish this past year, in less-than-ideal circumstances. The process of identifying a new JET CEO has been a long one, which started even before the onset of the pandemic. As a Board we knew we had to approach the task with great consideration to ensure we found someone who is the right fit. The JET Board is equipped with the experience and institutional knowledge to support Theresa as she transitions into her new role, and she is well-positioned to pick up the mantle”.

Dr. Rodriguez- Moodie holds a BSc. and a PhD. in Geography from the University of the West Indies. Her career in environmental management spans a decade working on local and regional projects for the private sector, government and multilateral agencies including the Caribbean Development Bank, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Speaking on her new role as JET’s CEO Dr. Rodriguez-Moodie explained, “Growing up I always had a deep passion for the environment and its sustainability. As the activist Wangari Maathai once said – if we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves. I have always admired JET’s work, and it is an honour to now be leading this amazing organization. I have a vision of a clean and healthy Jamaican environment, and I am looking forward to working with JET’s staff, membership, and other stakeholders to achieve that. We intend to continue to build greater awareness and understanding, so others will be as concerned as we are, we need all hands on deck”.

Dr. Rodriguez- Moodie becomes the third CEO of JET since it was founded in 1991 by Diana McCaulay. She succeeds Suzanne Stanley who took over from Ms McCaulay in January 2018, and resigned in June 2020. JET has since been led by a management committee comprised of former JET staff, including Ms McCaulay, with close oversight from its Board of Directors.

JET is a non-profit, non-governmental membership organization based in Kingston, Jamaica working in the areas of environmental education and advocacy. Often dubbed Jamaica’s environmental ‘watchdog’, JET has a solid track record of public education and advocacy campaigns and legal work, aimed at promoting the protection of Jamaica’s natural resources. For over 20 years JET has also delivered a very successful environmental education programme in Jamaican schools, the Schools’ Environment Programme, and has been the national coordinator of International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica since 2008.  

Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust, appointed on July 1, 2021. (Photo: JET)

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