2011 National Haitian American Forum Panalists:
DIANA BIEN AIME (Host)
Diana Altagracia Bien Aime is the CEO/President of D.A.B. Ink Publishing, Inc. This versatile, young and gifted Haitian American was born in Nyack, New York . She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida in 2001. Later, she attended Barry University where she earned a Masters degree in Organizational Communications, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Leadership and Communication. Diana is a professor of Speech Communications at Miami Dade College. When Diana is not instructing, she is successfully hosting television shows, traveling the state as a communications facilitator, and promoting her poetry and motivational books that have and will continue to inspire young Christian women. Her first publication was the Lady Love of God; In Her Twenties. Diana’s aim is to inspire young women across the nation to live the life that Christ has predestined for them. She is a motivational speaker that has traveled throughout Florida sharing the insight that Christ has entrusted into her care at churches, colleges, elementary, middle, and high schools. Diana was a guest host for "The Bridge" on talk radio 980 AM. She has been a guest speaker for relationships and communication on Radio 1480. She is also the host of Island Star, the Caribbean rendition of American Idol. She was the Co-host of the Diana & Ed Show that streams live on the esteemed Haitian broadcast, Telelakaytv.com. Diana is also a beautiful queen in every since of the word. She is Miss Black South Florida 2007, and uses her platform, "Write-On to Destiny," to promote the benefits of creative writing amongst young women. Her company hosts an annual writer's summit for aspiring authors. Diana has been featured in the Miami Herald, the Haitian Sentinel and On Campus; the national publication of AFT higher education faculty and professional staff. She is a phenomenal woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. As a mentor for the Women of Tomorrow Mentor and Scholarship Program, Diana continues to put her hand to the plow without looking back. Her most recent publication is entitled A Speech Seasoned With Salt; How to be a powerful speaker using Christian Principles. She is definitely a timeless voice of the generations to come.
MARC ST CLAIR
Marc is currently one of the Managing Partner at Haiti Ventures LLC. Prior to Haiti Ventures, Marc was the Managing Director of Payfacile, a startup international bill payment company with proprietary technology that is poised to revolutionize the remittance world. Among many successes, he successfully co-led a team that won the 10K WMY New Venture Business Plan Competition at Wharton. He currently serves as the VP of Business Development at The Mullings Group where he is co-spear heading the development of disruptive analytical technology that will revolutionize the web 2.0 and Real Estate investment world. Marc has a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Miami. He is currently pursuing an MBA at Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School with concentration in Entrepreneurship and Global Management..
Ms. Desir is a 28 year old attorney, who was born in Haiti and spent the latter part of her youth in Palm Beach County. Ms. Desir received a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in Communications in 2003 from Syracuse University. She received her law degree from Loyola University. After the January 12th earthquake Ms. Desir, started Link Haiti, a non-profit organization that has sent numerous medical teams to Haiti and also strongly supports the education and agricultural sector of the country. Ms. Desir is the founder of Desir & Associates, P.C., a New York based law practice.
REPRESENTATIVE MACK BERNARD
Representative Mack Bernard was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, in August of 2009, to represent citizens within House District 84. He was subsequently reelected in November of 2010. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he moved to Palm Beach County, Florida, when he was 10-years-old. He attended Florida State University where he received his undergraduate degree. He went on to receive his Law Degrees from the University of Florida. In 2004, Representative Bernard started his own law practice and title company, which he continues to operate.
Lahiny Pierre was born in Jacmel, South East of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her first public presentations date back to pre-school years at Kindergarten Marie Carline. At the age of fourteen she reunited with her parents in Brooklyn and finished her academic studies. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Potsdam. Ms. Pierre taught high school English in the New York City schools for six years and served as an adjunct at Stony Brook University. In 2000, she received a Long Island University’s Graduate Assistantship to pursue an M.A. Her literary works include poetry, literary criticism, screen plays, and two novels, both addressing the struggle of migration, loss, and coming to terms with one’s story, which she believes, affects the present in multiple ways. She is the author of General Authority, a Haitian novel and the coffee-table photography book titled, Haiti Earthquake 1-12-2010. Publication credits include articles with Awareness Magazine, columnist with Haitian Times, Traffic News to Go
Lawrence Gonzalez, Master's in Accounting Graduate Student at Florida State University. Aspiring future Internal Revenue Agent and the current President of the FSU chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. In the past, He also served as the President of the United Haitian Students of Florida. He worked as the Haitian Heritage Museum Education Manager, the first Haitian museum outside of Haiti. An Undergraduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Arts in French with concentration in Business Management, and a minor in Criminology. He was a Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps and has served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, proficient in ground organizational repair, communication, anti-terrorism security, and unit management. His proudest achievement was to volunteer to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, sacrificing his schooling to help rebuild a city. He has over 6 years of experience working with schools, providing service and mentoring for low income, at risk students. A certified Youth mentor in the city of Tallahassee. In the past, he has worked with the Boys and Girls club of Tallahassee, with the Black Males College Explorers program at Florida Memorial College, with the Toys for Tots program at the Naval and Marine Base in Tallahassee. He currently works with the Youth Committee of the Haitian American Leadership Organization as a youth mentor, moderator, and motivational speaker. His project experience range from curriculum writing, leadership training, and event coordination. Working with the Youth has given him and understanding that the only way any society improves is through the prospects that it invest in the future. In this way, he hopes to improve his community one student at a time.
Francesca Menes, a Community Organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), was born and raised in Miami, Florida in the community of Little Haiti. She is a recent Cum Laude graduate of Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Francesca majored in Political Science and Women's Studies; minored in Philosophy, earned a certificate in National Security Studies, and was a 2008 Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her primary responsibilities are coordinating the Florida Wage Theft Task Force and building the capacity of FLIC's Afro-Caribbean member organizations. For 2 years, Francesca was the coordinator of a national network of organizations fighting for the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status. Additionally, she is the FLIC representative for the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition and the National Black Immigrant Network (BIN). Francesca also serves as a member on the Board of Directors of South Florida Jobs with Justice and was recently appointed by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman for a 2 year term on the Commission for Women.
As a business leader, Community organizer, and Speaker, Mr. Lucson Joseph has continue to positively influence his surroundings by his undying will to serve. Born in Cap-Haitian Haiti Lucson Joseph moved to the United States at the age of 13. As a student leader at Florida Atlantic University Lucson Joseph created a 10 thousand dollar scholarship for students in need. As a business leader Mr. Joseph is the majority shareholder of Swann Holding, an import and export company located in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Joseph is also a share holders and managing partner of Continental America one of the top three winners of the FAU 2011 business plan competition. Mr. Joseph is also A Co-founder and Chairman of the National Haitian Student Alliance of the National Haitian Student Alliance and is a specialist in Haitian history and culture.
MARIE-LAURENCE JOCELYN LASSEGUE
Minister for Culture and Communication of Haiti and was formerly the Minister of Women's Rights and Affairs. A pioneer of the women's rights movement in Haiti, Ms. Lassègue played a crucial role in passing progressive legislation to protect domestic laborers from exploitation and abuse and create opportunities for these workers, 90 percent of whom are women, to pursue education. She has also worked to establish paternal responsibility, minimizing stereotyping of women, and defeminizing poverty and AIDS.
Frantzsi Saget AKA Solo was born in Petite Riviere Artibonite and grew up in Saint Marc with his grandmother. He is the second child in my family. he has an older brother, and two younger brothers. He moved to Florida in 1997 where I reside until this day. He attended Santaluces High, then Palm Beach State College, and later, Florida Atlantic University from which he received a Bachelor of Intercultural and Organizational Communication, and a minor in Sociology. He discoverd his artistic talents very early; in singing/rapping, drawing, as well as painting, around the age of 11. After high school and through out college was when he started recording music professionally. He completed his first album on his own in December of 2010 which has yet to be released. His genre of music is rap or Rap Kreyol, but rap in English as well. He categorizes the nature of his music as social and classical.
Jackie Kent is the 2011 Haitian Heritage Month Essay Contest Winner . She is currently atending John I Leonard high school and is a proud member of the Mighty Lancer Marching Band. Her spare time is dedicated for music. Her intended major is in the field of music and or computer technology. At John I Leonard High School, she participates in several organizations including the Marching Band, Winter Percussion, National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Art Club, Harry Potter Club, and Future Business Leaders of America. .
MAJOR JOSEPH M.G. BERNADEL
Major Joseph Bernadel retired from the US Military in 1997 after 22 years of worldwide military assignments, which included positions as Military Attaché in Haiti and Mozambique. He is fluent in five languages: Creole, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Major Bernadel is the President of the Center for Education, Training and Holistic Approaches (CETHA. INC), a non-profit 501 c3 Florida Corporation that has established the following divisions: 1. CHARTER SCHOOLS: 10 Charter Schools by 2015. Two of them are now in operations. The Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice in Boynton Beach and the Charter School of Fort Pierce in Fort Pierce. 2. MUSEUM: The International Museum of the Haitian Diaspora which serves as a repository of the Art, Culture and History of the Haitian people in America. 3. HAITIAN HERITAGE MONTH: Celebrating the Month of May with social, cultural, academic activities culminating in the 18th of May Flag Day Festival of Palm Beach County 4. CARIBBEAN CULTURAL CENTER: Celebrating the contribution of the Haitian people in the sugar cane fields of Belle Glades in the State of Florida. 5. RETHINKHAITI.ORG, which is CETHA Outreach to Haiti. This outreach consists of initiatives in the field of education, housing, health, and economic empowerment for women. In August 2009, Major Bernadel has recently been appointed as National Education Coordinator for the Haitian League. In this capacity, he will coordinate all major education programs between the Haitian Diaspora Community and the Haitian Government. On June 6th, 2010, the Board of Directors of the Haitian Diaspora Federation unanimously elected him as the Permanent Representative of the Haitian Diaspora to a seat on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). A few days later Haitian President Rene Preval acknowledged the choice of the Federation by signing Commission Orders that officially appointed him on the Commission. Major Bernadel holds the Bachelor of Science in Administration from the University of Hawaii and has completed his graduate studies at the University of Florida in Latin America and Caribbean Affairs. His current professional priorities are to build institutions honoring the presence and contributions of people of color in South Florida and to enhance their welfare through education, political advocacy and economic opportunities
Maya Basquin is a Haitian-American Industrial Engineering student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She serves as the Treasurer of UCF’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an organization committed to partnering with disadvantaged communities to improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally sound and economically sustainable engineering projects. Miss Basquin recently returned from Haiti and after her schooling she plans to devote the next 10-15 years to the reconstruction of Haiti’s infrastructure and culture.
Bito David works as Public Relations Specialist for the School District of Palm Beach County and as Adjunct Haitian Creole Instructor and Curriculum Writer for Palm Beach State College in West Palm Beach, Florida. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Engineering specializing in Economics and Rural Development from the Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine in Haïti, a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University and a Master Degree in Education specializing in Cultural Foundations of Education from Florida Atlantic University Writer and poet, he has published several articles on issues related to Haiti. He is the author of Ayitimanya: Tragédie Tropicale (November 2009), Peines D’Une Tragédie / Lapenn Yon Trajedi / Pains Of A Tragedy (January 2011), MANIFESTE: Défis A La Nation Haïtienne (Mars 2011). Among his futrue books to be published include : Phantasmes, Spéculations, Bréviaire Du Patriote, Ayitimanya: Les Exils De Misères, Des Mots Et Des Pensées, Panse Ak Pawoli, La Vie Au Quotidien, etc. His main domains of interest are: the involvement of all stakeholders in an effective education system, the repatriation of the Haitian human resources to the motherland, the participation of all Haitians in the process of development in Haiti, the emergence of a leadership with vision, competence and integrity to serve as a motivating force to champion Haiti’s development..
Leila St Jean
Leila St Jean is a militant and a strong feminist activist since her adolescence age. She was born in Haiti. Concerned for her humanist activities under the totalitarian regime in Haiti, her family decided to send her to study abroad. She went to Jamaica for a bachelor degree in Biology at the “Western Caribbean University”, Jamaica. There, she discovered her love for nature and spiritualism. She also studied Oral communication. In 1995 she went to study Medicine in “La Universidad de Nuevo Leon”, Mexico for which she lost interest and decided to change field. She enjoyed teaching classic curriculums for a while and had the opportunity to teach Haitian folklore mixed with Yoga and meditation. She traveled around the world for some time to promote and defend the Haitian culture and vodou. She decided to come to United State after her husband tragically died. She is totally devoted, dedicated and committed to the education of her only son. She participates and volunteers in many organizations wherever she went. She is a Poet, Communicator and she strongly is a defender and promoter of woman causes. Her philosophy is to share love and form one with the universe. She enjoys helping others, and her life is centered on her family, her Work place (job) and her community.
FREDA B. LAURENT, BSN, MSN, MAPA
Versatile in Public and Private Hospital Administration, Psychiatric Nursing and Professional Management, totally dedicated to the service of quality health care delivery while maintaining strong work ethics and standards. She earned a Master in Public Administration and Management at Harvard University (JFK School of Government, a Master in Psychiatric Community Mental Health Nursing at Boston University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Boston, Massachusetts. Actually, she is working as School Health Nursing Supervisor in Health Care District of Palm Beach County; Oversight of Nursing Care Management at 15 Public Schools and Disaster Preparedness stressed for this coastal region in Florida. She was Director of Nursing Sandy Pines Hospital, in Tequesta, Florida and in Taunton State Hospital, in Taunton, Massachusetts Chief Nursing Supervisor Tufts/Bay Cove Mental Health Cent. She has excellent interpersonal skills with ability to elicit interest, enthusiasm and motivation using common sense approach. Adept at analyzing situations and developing alternative courses of action in order to increase and maintain levels of effectiveness. Some of her publications are: “Overview of Haitian Cultural Heritage” by Anne-Florence Duchard & Freda “Progressive Nursing Management: The Impact of Change in Nursing Management, Structure in a Public Psychiatric Hospital” by Joy Grunwald, Michael Laferney and Freda Laurent; and Freda Masters piece: “Haitians and Problems of Acculturation”. Among many of her community affiliations some are: Appointed to RPB Education Advisory Board, Royal Palm, Fl.; Volunteer member of the American Red Cross, West Palm Beach, Fl.; PTO member of Crestwood Middle school, Royal Palm Beach; Co-founder and 1st president of Haitian Women of Palm Beach County Inc. She did close collaborative work with the minister of Haitians living abroad. ; PTA member of Winnebrook Elementary School, West Palm. She volunteer member of Red Cross, Martin County. She is C0-Founding Member of OPADEV (Non-Governmental Organization for Peace and Development) Haiti-based with U.S affiliates. She is member of Haitian Women, a multicultural women group in Massachusetts. supportive of Haiti‘s women struggle. She was leading Member and English-Creole Translator for the 1995, 5th New England Observers Delegation (NEOD) to Haiti in solidarity with the people’s struggle. Member of the Cultural Committee for the Haitian Consulate, Boston, Mass. Official English-Creole, English-French Translator for three Haitian political personalities flown to Boston for medical care (Airport and other social functions). She is a founding Board Member of Haitian American Public Health Initiatives, Boston, Massachusetts. She is Co-founder of Top Youth of Brockton for Teens, Brockton, Massachusetts Co-founder of Haitian Nurses Association (H.N.A), Boston, Massachusetts.
Reginale is the Founder & CEO of For The Children Inc., “A place where children come first”, a successful, multicultural, nonprofit agency in Lake Worth, Florida serving underprivileged children with quality education, recreational and family support services that foster positive social, emotional, academic and cognitive growth. She obtained two degrees one in Social Work and Elementary Education. She acquired her National Director Credential and many other certifications in the nonprofit system. She is a loving mother of two beautiful children, a wife, a pioneer in the nonprofit world, a teacher, a warrior, a fighter, a winner, a youth advocate.
DR. AVRIL JESULA MARDJON
Dr. Avril is a general practitioner graduate in Haiti. During her five years living in West Palm Beach, she has helped this community live healthy lives by hosting a radio show titled "LEARN TO LIVE HEALTHY LIVES." I am "A MOTIVATIONNAL SPEKE" She gives lectures on education, health and family ect ... She also has experiences in other areas such as: cooking, baking, sewing, art, mortgage services, immigration etc ... She is an artist who can sing, dance and recite poems.
AURORA FRANCOIS, PH. D.
Long-time Educator Dr. Aurora François Is First Haitian Native To Become Principal In Palm Beach County School District. Married and mother of two children, Dr. François is an experienced educator with a passion for children and a belief in success and academic achievement for all. She has a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University, a Masters Degree in TESOL (Teacher of English as a Second Language) from Nova University, a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Barry University, and completed her Doctorate Degree in Global Educational Leadership from Lynn University. Her first year teaching was in the Glades before spending ten years in the ESOL program at Lake Worth High School. She was an assistant principal at Atlantic Community High School for the past three years. Her involvement in community activities related to education goes beyond her regular teaching responsibilities. She is an authentic voice for the language minority students for whom she always advocates.