An Attitude of the Heart: Building Bahamian Communities and Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Her Excellency Dame Ivy Dumont, PhD
Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, 1962
Her Excellency Dame Ivy Dumont did not start out wanting to build a nation. However, her natural leadership abilities, hard work, love of education, and determination propelled her from a small rural settlement to the seat of Bahamian power. Her passion for learning and forging connections is evident in her service to the people of the Bahamas, and in her own personal journey as a wife, mother, teacher, public servant, Fulbright alumna, author, and the first woman to serve as Governor-General of the Bahamas. Genuine leadership, in her words, is “an attitude of the heart.”
Her journey began at 12 years old, when she was recognized by her primary school principal for her talents and assigned as a “monitor,” or teacher’s assistant, for her classroom. She would move on from that role to earn her Teacher’s Certificate. As a young teacher in 1962, the same year the right to women’s suffrage was legalized in the Bahamas, Dumont seized the opportunity to further her education through the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. The opportunity allowed her to expand her skills and leadership abilities through educational exchange in the United States. Building on that first Fulbright experience, she returned to the United States twice more to further her education, earning a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The knowledge, skills, and experience of studying in the United States informed the work that she did in support of the Bahamian people. Upon return to the Bahamas, Dumont rose through the ranks of the education sector as Head Teacher, Education Officer, Deputy Director of Education, and Minister of Education.
After serving as Minister of Education and working in the Senate, Dumont was appointed in 2001 and confirmed as Governor-General of the Bahamas in 2002, breaking a final glass ceiling for her countrywomen. As she took on a very public position, she used her voice and platform to continue to support education, making one of her four objectives as Governor-General “to maintain my relationships with students and youth groups.” Although Dumont has retired from public office, she continues to spend time working with schools and youth in promoting literacy and writing.
A new Fulbright agreement was signed in 2019 between the United States and the Bahamas. At the signing, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis noted that “over the years, Fulbright scholars have made extraordinary contributions to the development of their countries, including the Bahamas.” Dame Ivy Dumont’s commitment to the Fulbright mission through education and public service has bettered Bahamian communities and paved the way for future global leaders. Kristen Glinton, the first Fulbright Foreign Student to travel to the United States from the Bahamas under the 2019 agreement, noted that she was an inspiration to girls across the Bahamas when she remarked, “Dame Ivy Dumont’s most meaningful impact is the lesson that there is no limit to what a young girl from a small island can do.”