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2024 Power 100: Jennifer Julien Gaskin

A woman with long dark brown hair wears a light pink dress and dark tights sitting on a grey stone bench in front of fall foliage. photo | courtesy of jennifer julien gaskin Jennifer Julien Gaskin
Jennifer Julien Gaskin Title President & founder Company Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association Employees 10 Residence Worcester Colleges Curry College, Bentley University, Boston University Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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The Caribbean is a more culturally diverse place than it is often depicted in commercials for luxury resorts and other forms of American media, but one aspect serving as an almost ubiquitous link between the region’s many different countries, territories, and islands is a love for carnival. A combination of parade and masquerade party, carnival is based in folklore and traditions dating back centuries.

As the main organizer behind the Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association, Jennifer Julien Gaskin brings the increasingly popular festival into the mainstream, while providing a valuable service to Central Massachusetts’ Caribbean immigrants, descendants, and anyone else who has an appreciation for the tropical region’s culture.

The carnival and the association behind it have persevered through a lot in the last few years. In 2021, the first year back after the coronavirus pandemic, the organization faced a financial crisis that saw it lose its office space and be denied a permit for the carnival. Undeterred, Gaskin worked with city officials to devise a plan to bring back this important cultural institution.

Tough times struck again in 2023 during the 10th annual edition of the carnival, where the number of parade participants had grown to about 500. Two men near the festival grounds got into an altercation, resulting in gunfire and wounding two bystanders, including a 15-year-old. Following the tragedy, city leaders rallied in support of the annual festival, a result of its profound impact on the community.

Gaskin’s influence goes beyond the festival; In April 2023, she released her first book, “The Exit,” a non-fiction look at the link between joy, faith, and cultural traditions. She also gave a talk at the TEDxRoxbury 2023 event, where she discussed the concept of angry black women and how society should be more focused on addressing the root causes of that justified anger. 

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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