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SEEN UP NORTH: Worrell making a difference

Tony Best

SEEN UP NORTH: Worrell making a difference

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When set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the Capitol Dome in Washington is an attractive symbol of the exercise of power and influence.

Taken together, the branches of Congress (the United States House of Representatives and the Senate) impose checks on the executive, meaning the presidency, and along with the federal judiciary they bring balance to the way the country governs itself.

But the axis on which the Congress turns is its committee system that scrutinises the provisions of every bill before the lawmaking bodies and that’s particularly true of measures to raise and spend trillions of taxpayers’ dollars every year. Clearly, the most powerful of these Congressional panels is the House’s Ways and Means Committee that was once headed by the iconic figure, US Representative Charles Rangel, a democrat of Harlem.

It was in that robust power structure on Capitol Hill that Mildeen Worrell, a product of the Alexandra School and the Garden in St James gained her expert legislative and legal drafting skills. It was also from that pivotal position as the top attorney to the Committee’s Chairman that Worrell rose to become one of the foremost legal experts on Obamacare and on pension legislation. Her expertise was used to help the panel draft some of the most important social and fiscal measures that are helping to make a fundamental difference in people’s lives.

“I always wanted to be in a position to make a difference,” said the mother of a 20-year-old student of the University of Maryland in Baltimore. “So, in a sense I am achieving my life’s ambition.”

Today, she is vice-president of the Segal Group’s Compliance Practice Group and leads its team in the eastern region of the US that includes Canada. Actually, she focuses her energy and expertise on ensuring that the firm’s diverse set of clients successfully navigate the complex world of compliance with recently enacted health care reform legislation and on retirement laws.

“Once bills have been passed by Congress and enacted into law, my role at Segal is that of an expert adviser who helps firms interpret the provisions so they can comply with them,” explained the Bajan, the sister of Edwin Worrell of Budg-Buy supermarkets and Lawrence  Worrell, a well known caterer. She also has two sisters, Ruth Ann Beckles and Iola Scott.

But before the Bajan joined Segal, she was the person to whom White House officials, foreign diplomats, federal and state government representatives, trade unionists and senior corporate executives turned to press their respective cases on key measures before the powerful panel.

Michael King, who served

 as Barbados’ Ambassador in Washington for several years, routinely sought out Worrell to let her know about his birthplace’s views on legislation in Congress.

“Yes, we often met on such issues,” said Worrell, who holds a degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a bachelor’s in Law from Boston University and a Master’s also in law from New York University in Manhattan. 

Looking back on her stint on Capitol Hill, Worrell pinpoints the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, as a historic bit of social legislation which she had a hand in fashioning and of which the Congress must be proud.

“It was pretty mind-boggling and a humbling experience when I looked around on Capitol Hill and realised that this ‘girl’ from Barbados was given the opportunity to play such an important role,” she said.

“The Affordable Care Act is a complicated law but it is vital for people in dire need of access to health care in America. When you consider that thousands of parents were forced to watch their children die because they couldn’t afford the care they urgently needed, then you would understand its importance.”

Worrell, who teaches at University of Baltimore Law School, understands first-hand what mothers go through. Her son was born with sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder, which has affected him his entire young life.