As we continue our celebration of World Youth Day, we introduce you to Lizra Fabien, the Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce.
Born and raised in Dominica, she describes herself as a wanderlust by blood and nature lover at heart.
She believes that every Caribbean national has a responsibility to contribute to the development and sustainability of the region.
It’s a philosophy that’s at the foundation of all her undertakings.
Lizra began her university studies at the Andrew University extension campus at the University of the Southern Caribbean in Maracas Valley, Trinidad and Tobago and completed her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration at the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica.
After working in her family business for a few years, she left everyone and everything she knew and moved to China where she pursued the International Masters of Business at Tongji University.
She toldLoop Caribbean: “I served as the first Chairperson of the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce, a network of 21 national Chambers of Commerce in the Caribbean. I continue to support now as the Immediate Past Chair. I continue on this path to support the Private Sector locally and regionally as I am a patriot. I love Dominica and the Caribbean region, and as such, I believe that as nationals and regionals, we have a duty to make our country and Caribbean region a better place.”
Launch of CARICHAM, Barbados. April 2019.
Lizra said she’s long dreamed of travelling the world and increasing her knowledge and skillset so she would be better equipped to help build her community and by extension her country.
“My love for travel grew as a young girl while reading the National Geographic Magazines or just paging to marvel at the pictures before I could understand the text. This also amplified seeing my parents explore the unknown to countries I read of in books. At that tiny age, I would call to the planes as they passed over our house to land at the then Melville Hall airport and say to them, "plane, plane, come for me, I want to go to ..." while calling a random place from my marvels of the National Geographic Magazine.”
While studying in China, Lizra explored the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
Lizra in Teotihuacan, Mexico
She said those trips whet her appetite and deepened her resolve to see and experience as much of the world as she possibly could.
“I learned so much about others and myself that I encourage and support my family and friends decisions to explore as far and often as possible. I began conceptualizing a travel brand which could be of benefit across the region but with the demands of my day job, I did not pursue as intensely as I would have desired. Over the years, I have discovered a gap that exists coupled with my open experiences have been building my new brand called The Progressive Mind.”
Lizra said because she was blessed with great role models and an unwavering support system, her dreams of giving back to her beloved Dominica are already being realised.
Lizra in Gulfoss, Iceland
“As a young girl, I was blessed with great role models and a good support system. The adults around nurtured us in several ways. One of my most enjoyable communities was that of the Pathfinder Club where we explored nature and did outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, swimming, cooking in the outdoors, first-aid. We also learned how to be a better corporate citizen through our understanding of interpersonal relationships and outreach activities. Based on the impact this has had on my life, I now support the pathfinder club as the leader of my local church and island coordinator of Dominica. Through this ministry annually, together with my local and national teams, we support over 100 children ages 10 to 16.”
Recognizing that community goes way beyond where she lives, Lizra is always on the hunt for new ways to add value to the lives of the people in her network.
“There have been moments when I felt like changing careers to pursue my passion for travelling the world and spend a few months in a different country before moving to the next. This I have not yet pursued because I believe in my purpose and value that is being created where I am at this moment. I would still encourage others to live their dreams of such a life if they felt that this is what they need to do at the moment.”
Shortly after Lizra joined the Chamber, Dominica was ravaged by Hurricane Maria.
Lizra said those were exceptionally trying times.
Emerald Pool, Dominica (Photo credit:johnandersonphoto]
Like countless others, she was directly affected by the hurricane, but even so, she found purpose and some semblance of joy in contributing to the islands recovery efforts.
“After Hurricane Maria when I returned to the capital for work 7 days later, initially, I had nowhere to stay, however, a colleague housed me for a couple of weeks then some friends at a couple of locations for another two weeks. I prayed earnestly that I needed somewhere to stay on a longer-term basis. Little did I know that my prayers were already being answered. Through a mutual friend, I got connected to someone who allowed me to house-sit for five months. This is during one of the greatest challenging times of our history in Dominica. We lacked the comfort we often took for granted. Overcoming took a lot of mental courage and personal sacrifice. It also required that we work together to in all ways possible to overcome collectively.”
Lizra said after that experience she’s learnt invaluable lessons from every experience and encounter.
“As a result of the dynamic experience received due to my work locally, regionally and internationally, I knew that God ordained by path for this very moment,” she explained.
The young, dynamic Dominican was recently appointed to the board of Global Arise, the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction.
Lizra with her graduating class in Shangai, China
Lizra epitomizes resilience.
Despite the challenges she’s encountered along the way she remains focused on her commitment to contributing to solutions that help improve the lives of others.
“My biggest dream for the young people of Dominica is that we will all become part of the solution for the real, progressive and vibrant Dominica we wish to see. #DominicaIsARealPlace! One where all progress and we care about people, the country more than divisiveness, politics or the latest fad. The youth of Dominica are brilliant, creative, progressive! We excel locally and internationally. We can be the change we wish to see in Dominica and impact the world. By no means will this pursuit be easy; however, we must keep focused and work together,” she said.
Asked what’s next, Lizra said only time will tell.
For now, she remains focused on building The Progressive Mind, a platform she created to offer solutions to issues plaguing professionals and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean and help them in their quest to harness their potential.
She said she will be forever grateful for her family, friends and international community who collectively nurtured, supported and guided her.
Lizra said to date the biggest life lesson she’s learned to date is “It’s not how you start but how you finish.”
She said: “Now is always the best timefor a change in perspective and actions. We may not be where we want to be at this moment but our future can change with the consistent thoughts we dwell on and the habitual decisions that we make.