Kim Marie Spence, from Jamaica to the South Pole


Kim Marie Spence has been chosen for the 2009 Commonwealth Women’s Antarctic Expedition (CWAE), a multinational team of eight women who aim to ski to the South Pole to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.  Spence, the only woman on the team who is “from the Caribbean, from the Americas, and from the Western Hemisphere,” will be the first Jamaican to ever set foot on the tundra of Antarctica. The other women are from the Commonwealth countries of Brunei, Darussalam, Cyprus, Ghana, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Various fundraising events, such as the recent concert “Frozen” (see have been held to support Spence’s trip.

Spence has been making history for most of her adult life. As The Reggae News Agency describes, “From humble beginnings in a quiet working class community in Kingston, Jamaica, to co-founding the Caribbean’s first think tank, Kim Marie Spence is quietly regarded as one of Jamaica’s brightest minds and has earned herself the reputation as one of the regions foremost social anthropological researchers.”

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Spence earned a B.A. in Government and Economics before joining Lehman Brothers investment house as an analyst. Driven by her thirst for adventure and knowledge, she resigned her Wall Street job. She went to a Palestinian town in Israel as a volunteer with the women rights advocacy group Women against Violence (WAV), providing as much help as possible while navigating the complex Israeli/Palestinian relations and different types of segregation. In 2001, she joined The Global March against Child Labor and went to New Delhi as a Campaign Officer, falling in love with India. In 2002, Kim returned to Jamaica becoming the female Rhodes Scholar recipient of that year, heading to Oxford University to complete a degree in developmental studies. Then she spent time living and learning about communities in Kerela, India, before interning in the Culture Division of UNESCO in Paris, France.  She returned to Jamaica in 2005 to act as a UNESCO consultant for the renowned Institute of Jamaica, in addition to a being a distinguished research fellow at the University of the West Indies.

A true Renaissance woman, Spence can communicate in French, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish. Her many accomplishments and projects throughout the years include heading the social development program at the National Housing Trust, “instituting a number of landmark projects in some of Kingston Jamaica’s most volatile inner city communities,” directing boards of various NGOs and governmental agencies, and the founding of the semi annual event Art ‘n Rum, “which brings together the best Jamaica’s young and talented artists, painters, and sculptors have to offer.” She has also been an integral part of the Breakfast Club, one of Jamaica’s longest running morning talk shows and as a long distance runner in the JamDammers running club, she has participated in several national marathons.

It is no wonder that, in 2006, Spence was on the Jamaica Gleaner’s list of Phenomenal Women and that she has now been chosen for the 2009 Antarctic Expedition. Furthermore, as Karen Wilson reports in Yardedge, “Kim Marie is learning to ski for this journey!”

Information from and

For more on the expedition, see

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