Carol M. Burke is a seven-generation crucian who has chosen to continue to call St. Croix her home. She received a public education until the sixth grade when she transferred to St. Dunstan’s Episcopal School. Upon graduation, she attended the University of Miami, where she received her Bachelor’s degree and graduated with honors. Burke, having a solid appreciation for politics and government workings at an early age, was selected as L.B.J. Legislative Intern with the 96th Congress of the United States, and assigned to the Office of the then Delegate to Congress Melvin H. Evans, M.D.
In 1980 she returned to St. Croix and entered the local government. She first worked with the Department of Social Welfare, and briefly with the Law Enforcement Planning Commission to pursue post-graduate education. Her exposure to government inspired her to enter the Graduate School of Public Administration at George Washington University. While in Washington D. C. she also worked as an executive assistant for the Interstate Conference on Water Problems and served as a liaison for governmental agencies and in the private sector.
When Ms. Burke returned to St. Croix, she entered government working at the Department of Labor. As Assistant Commissioner for Employment and Training, Burke developed and administered the Labor Investing for Tomorrow (LIFT), an internship program for college students. Today, this valuable program remains the centerpiece of the department’s portfolio and has existed for 33 years.
The influences of her father, Calvin Burke, led to her active involvement with the local Democratic Party, where she was instrumental in revitalizing the Young Democrats. She has served in various Party leadership positions, including Vice Chairwoman and National Committee Woman. While the U. S. Virgin Islands are not afforded the right to vote for the President of the United States, she is relentless about her push on the issue while serving as a member of the Democratic National Party, as one of the longest-serving from the Territories.
In 1997, Burke became the Majority Leader of the 22nd legislature. During that term, she also served as Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Third Extension Agreement between Hess Oil and the Venezuelan government. This was a significant issue that became highly controversial. At that time, she served with three other female senators. She was also the prime sponsor of primary legislation directing the governor to join the National Tobacco Settlement Lawsuit. The lawsuit’s proceeds have been utilized to fund the VI Cardiac Center and the VI Cancer Center construction. In 1998, Governor Roy L. Schneider appointed her to the 150th Virgin Islands Emancipation Commemoration Committee. This involvement inspired her to name miles of roadway from Melvin Evans Highway to Hamms Bluff as Emancipation Drive.
Burke joined Hovensa, LLC as Community Relations Assistant to the President, where she instituted numerous community-related initiatives to bolster its overall corporate citizenship engagements. These initiates included the Hovensa Cup, participating in and sponsoring the Agriculture Fair, and the Crucian Christmas Festival. She also developed and administered the Stellar Students Awards, which honored and recognized the valedictorians and salutatorians from the territory’s high schools. She also served as Chairwoman of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.
Today, Burke is Compliance Manager for the rum companies, refinery, and terminals at the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority. She continues to advocate for the betterment of the Virgin Islands. She also maintains membership in numerous professional organizations and community-based and civic organizations. She was recently honored as a UM Trailblazer by the University of Miami as one of its first Black graduates. Chairwoman Burke and her siblings are true descendants of Anna Heegard and belong to Calvin Burke Sr. and Gwendolyn Burke (nee) Chase. She has one son, Darnley Petersen III, grandsons, Devante and Darnley Nastacio, and granddaughters, Anizjah and D’Naizjah.