By Allessandra Inzinna
Decades before she became an award-winning Caribbean journalist and Senior Contributor at Forbes, Daphne Ewing-Chow, like many little girls, enjoyed playing with Barbies.
She and her sister, Ady, would huddle together in the modest, yet comfortable, playroom of their Christ Church, Barbados home and create imaginary lives for their dolls. Not surprisingly, when crafting a career for the plastic figurines, Daphne would always choose journalism.
“I would make little newspapers for them,” she reflects. “Journalism was always a part of me, somehow.”
Daphne was born in Puerto Rico to Eastern European parents, Joseph and Judy Burgida. Her father, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, and her Hungarian mother who was many years his junior, moved the family to Barbados when she was three. From then on, Barbados would be their home.
Now a successful journalist and food systems specialist, Daphne has spent most of her career championing the Caribbean and its people.
With a passion for the environment, her journey as a writer began as a hobby. She would pen articles about trending issues, and submit them to global and regional publications. These pieces would lead her to a communications manager position for a Caribbean climate change and fisheries project at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, in Barbados.
Eventually, Daphne landed what would become a long-standing post as a writer at Forbes. Her thought-provoking column in the renowned publication focuses on food systems and the environment.
Although writing for Forbes is a major win for any journalist, Daphne’s professional portfolio transcends her journalistic endeavors. Her career is multi-pronged and filled with many other notable, globally significant achievements.
For instance, in 2020 she served as a judge for the Rockefeller Foundation’s $2 million Food System Vision Prize. She was a judge for the $3 million Zayed Sustainability Prize in the United Arab Emirates in both 2019 and 2021. And, also in 2021 she was recognized with awards from the Caribbean Development Bank, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union for her contributions in journalism.
Daphne has spoken at events for the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. She has also interviewed world leaders, celebrities and some of the biggest names in food systems and the environment, including famed English primatologist and anthropologist, Jane Goodall.
In addition to her activities as a journalist, Daphne currently works on strategic communications for a number of global NGOs. She is a communications specialist at the World Food Programme’s Caribbean Multi-Country Office and travels the world on assignments, telling the stories of marginalized people who are struggling with food insecurity, and the people and organizations working to create change.
Daphne believes her dedication to social and environmental issues began in Barbados.
The picturesque island that she has called home since she was a toddler, sits between the calm Caribbean Sea and the crashing, tempestuous Atlantic ocean. It’s small; very small. Zoom out too far on Google Maps and the entire island ceases to exist. Amidst the golden beaches and tightly-knit communities, Daphne, her parents and sister added to their clan.
“In the absence of blood-relatives, Bajans became our family,” she shares. “I grew up in the homes of the most beautiful, wonderful people, many of whom had strong opinions about things that were going on in the world and in our community.”
And, despite her young age, she always listened.
Their musings set Daphne on a path. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and African Studies. Then, she went on to earn a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University with a focus on development and international economic policy.
For a time, however, Daphne set aside the little girl within her who was yearning to write about and explore the many issues affecting her region. She chased a different career path: finance. Admittedly, it didn’t fulfill her personally or professionally.
“Something was missing for me,” she recalls.
She would find that missing piece among her Caribbean people, in ink splotches on paper, in championing food and environmental issues around the world. She found it in journalism and advocacy.
“The Caribbean will always be my first love. It will always be the region that will pull on my heartstrings the most,” Daphne says with conviction. “I will always feel an obligation to serve.”