Audrey Layne Jeffers
Audrey Layne Jeffers born in Trinidad in 1898, emerged in an era of developing feminist thought. Fondly known as the Mother of Trinidadian Philanthropy, Jeffers shaped the notion of “community care,” where communities were influenced to play an active role in lifting those most in need among them. In 1920, she established a school serving black middle-class children, earning Jeffers a reputation as a teacher of excellence. Above all other achievements, Jeffers is most well remembered for laying the foundations for social work and community development, both in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean. Many of the traditions, institutions and methodologies developed by Jeffers and her Coterie of Social Workers have continued to last in the 21st Century. The Coterie of Social Workers (COSW) allowed Jeffers to combine her concern with women, her compassion for the less fortunate and her concern for persons of African descent. In March 1936, she was honoured guest of the Negro Progress Convention, British Guiana to mark the 100th Anniversary of Slave Emancipation. In May, the Coterie hosted the First Conference of British West Indies and British Guiana Women Social Workers in Port of Spain, the first major women's conference of the English-Speaking Caribbean. Recommendations included: the introduction of a girl's scholarship, establishment of a Women's Police Force and increased employment for educated Black women. In October, Jeffers became the first women elected to the Port of Spain Municipal Council and in 1946 she became the first woman nominated to the Legislative Council. She also served as honorary counsel for the Republic of Liberia. She died in 1968.