July 30, 2021

Recognizing Caribbean community’s on-the-move Michelle Neil during Women’s History Month

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From The Philadelphia Tribune

Awesome! Michelle Neil is an awesome sister who is on the move. In acknowledgement of March, Women’s History Month, we have decided to feature Neil. She is a successful, well-rounded individual who is making our Caribbean community very proud to call her “our own.” Yes, our own Michelle Neil was recently appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to the State of Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. In this capacity she will work directly with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention committee which is the planning, coordinating and policy-setting body for the commonwealth.

“I feel extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve on this committee,” stated Neil proudly. “I am looking forward to working with others who have impacted changes that will impact the juvenile population.” Neil confirmed that she was recommended to Wolf by either a deputy, chief or possibly the District Attorney. They were involved in the final decision-making.

Neil has accomplished a lot in life. Since 2003, she has been the Senior Victim-Witness Advocate in the Juvenile Court Department of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. In this capacity she has seen both negative and positive changes occur in the juvenile system. For example, in 2016, there was a 20 percent decrease in overall juvenile arrests and 24 percent decrease in juvenile crimes in the schools. The decrease, said Neil, is as a result of diversion programs such as Youth Aid Panel (YAP) and Police Diversion programs. On the other hand, juvenile cases involving guns have increased approximately 6 percent.

Neil, who was born in Jamaica, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Temple University and a Master of Theological Studies from Palmer Theological Seminary. She is well qualified. She is also an adjunct professor of Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice at Harcum College. She is a volunteer with YAP, a volunteer with Team Jamaica Bickle and a very active member of her church. How does she do it? How does she balance it all?

Everyone needs a good support system and this lady is no different. She shared that at work, she has strong support. “One of the chiefs and a former deputy are extremely helpful in pointing me in the right direction,” she said. “They help me to navigate the new role that I have taken on. However, my faith in God is what gives me balance. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; therefore, if God puts an opportunity in my way, then he will certainly equip me to do the job. He did that with teaching. Teaching comes naturally for me. It is a joy to be standing in front of individuals who have a desire to learn. It doesn’t seem like work.”

When asked how she is able to balance all of these responsibilities, Neil said that she is currently divorced with no children, so balancing is a lot easier than if she was married with children. According to Neil, time management skills are extremely important.

Her advice to young women aspiring to be great and successful in a competitive world: “Females throughout the world are not being recognized for what they can contribute. They are not being paid like their male counterparts. Get your education. Apply for internships in your desired field, volunteer, speak to accomplished individuals in your desired field. Give your best in whatever you do. Learn as much as you can in all areas.”

Neil said that she credits her Caribbean background for her success. “It taught me all about hard work,” she added. “It also taught me to give my all and focus on whatever project I am working on. I approach everything that I do with a spirit of excellence. I am fully aware that this is only the beginning.”

For more on this story go to: http://www.phillytrib.com/commentary/columns/recognizing-caribbean-community-s-on-the-move-michelle-neil-during/article_66105c24-e0cb-55c8-8187-fc766893704d.html

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