Joyce Sylvester (43) is acting mayor of the Dutch city of Naarden. She is the first black woman to serve as mayor in the Netherlands. Sylvester is born in Amsterdam and is of Surinam descent.
Since there is so much attention for Sandy Cane, the first black mayor in Italy who is also a member of the right-wing party Lega Nord, here is a Dutch black mayor who is a member of a party which can be compared with the labour Party in the UK and with the Democrats in the USA.
About being black and female she stated in an interview (Dutch). "Yes, I am a woman and I have a colour, so what? I have experienced no limitations because of that." But during her first position as acting mayor she saw that gender and colour did matter. "You notice the signals from the organisation. You can't escape the fact of being seen as role model."
In 1992 Sylvester survived a serious train accident. Five passengers were killed. They all sat with Sylvester in the coupe. She was seriously injured, was held in coma, was operated on six times and the prospects were poor. Her political party leader Bos said: "You never hear her complain, the accident affected her considerably. Even years later her toes had to be broken to put them straight. She is literally a woman of iron."
On her website she writes about her impressive career: "I am acting Mayor of Naarden.
From October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2009 I was acting mayor of Anna Pavlovna.
Since 2003 I am also a member of the Dutch Senate (PVDA).
My portfolios are Economy, Agriculture and Finance. I am a member of the Committee on Petitions.
I am also housing commissioner of the housing association Alliance, member of the Amarantis school Advisory Board in Amsterdam, a member of the Delta Lloyd Advisory Board, member of a Board of Supervisors of the diversity counsil of the Dutch police, member of the Advisory Council for Microfinance Netherlands, supervisor at the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra and member of the Advisory Board of the Dutch Society for Industry and Commerce. I am the ambassador of d'ONS Foundation, the acronym stands for Sustainable Development Netherlands Surinam. Finally, and I am owner of Spirit organisatieadvies bv.
I started my career as a controller at the central FEZ Directorate of the Ministry of Transport. After I became adviser to the Mayor of Amsterdam I worked for Twynstra Gudde management consultants."
Sylvester earned a Masters degree in communication science and political science from the University of Amsterdam, and she holds a PhD from the Law Faculty of VU University Amsterdam.