Haitian Studies Association

Award for Service

The Award for Service is presented to a person or organization in recognition of years of dedication and service to the Haitian Studies Association, the field of Haitian Studies, or to the people of Haiti.

♦ 2023 Award Recipients ♦

Dr. Lois Wilcken

Dr. Lois Wilcken is a musician, musicologist, author, and diligent environmentalist. A native New Yorker, Lois earned her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at Columbia University in 1991. She has had the pleasure of researching the traditional music and dance of Haiti in Port-au-Prince and in the Haitian diaspora in New York City. She shares her experiences with academic and general audiences and administers and develops programs with La Troupe Makandal, such as The Drum and the Seed: A Haitian Odyssey, her theater piece on an environmental theme.

Dr. Wilcken has published essays and reviews and presented at seminars and meetings in the United States and abroad. White Cliffs Media Company published her book, The Drums of Vodou, in 1992. In 1998 the University of Illinois Press published Island Sounds in the Global City, which she co-edited with Dr. Ray Allen. Dr. Wilcken created the exhibit, “Musique Vodou en Haiti,” for La Médiatèque Caraïbes of Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe, and one may view it online in French or English at http://www.lameca.org.

As Co-chair of the Haitian Studies Association’s Working Group on the Environment (Konbit), Lois brought an important film and post-showing discussion to an international online audience. She helped create the Konbit blog and worked with its two editors to recruit contributors and assure the publication of their illustrated essays. With HSA support the Konbit has arranged for an experienced Haiti-based creator of video logs (vlogs) to convert the Konbit’s blog posts to videos for distribution on WhatsApp and other platforms widely used in Haiti. Lois has also served as a reviewer for submissions to the annual conference, and she currently brings her professional editorial background as a reviewer and editor to the Journal of Haitian Studies, with exceptional contributions to the forthcoming special issue on the environment.

Dr. Wilcken’s long association with Master Drummer and NEA Heritage Fellow Frisner Augustin is materializing in an online archive of his life and work with extensive annotation, leaving a legacy centered on the individual, on the Haitian community in New York during a dynamic phase in its evolution, and on one of Haiti’s most outstanding art forms: Vodou drumming. She is also working at this time on Mr. Augustin’s biography, a book that will blend the literary approaches of biography with scholarship.

Mireille Louis Charles

Mireille Louis Charles is currently Executive Director of the Green Family Foundation in Miami, FL, a private non-profit foundation dedicated to providing funding and resources to organizations in the US and abroad that support education, global health, community development, the arts and cultural preservation. Since 2011, she has facilitated securing numerous grants, collaborations and partnerships with organizations and entities; liaising with universities, community-based organizations, arts organizations and private foundations.

Mireille joined the Green Family Foundation following a 20-year career in both stewardship and development at United Way of Miami-Dade, the largest not-for-profit organization in the county focused on improving education, financial stability and health. During her tenure at United Way, Mireille also concentrated her efforts on informing, involving, and creating partnerships with the Haitian and Caribbean communities in Miami. Her efforts resulted in attracting many individuals of Haitian and Caribbean descent to serve on the organization’s board of directors and to become members of its affinity groups.

When she first moved to Miami from Haiti, Mireille forged relationships with community leaders. She worked as a liaison while managing the daily operations of the Haitian Task Force, a former community-based economic development organization, and the developer of the unique commercial shopping center in Little Haiti, the Caribbean Marketplace. Three years later, the Marketplace opened for the first time with 22 tenants resulting in the creation of 40 jobs for the local community and opening the way for the “Little Haiti neighborhood walks”.

Mireille serves on various boards and committees including the Sant La Fellows Advisory Board, Prizm Advisory Committee, UNCF South Florida Leadership Council, and Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) Board of Trustees.

Mireille has been recognized for her contributions and dedication to the community by the Miami Chapter of the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad (AMHE), Koze-Fanm (Women’s Issues) and the Haitian Mentorship Program at Florida International University. She was honored by Unity on the Bay for her service as a Face of Unity for the month of October 2016 and was a recipient of the 2016 ICABA Salutes to Caribbean Excellence Distinguished Achiever Award. In July of 2019, she received the Year Up South Florida Volunteer Impact Award.

Mireille enjoys listening to music, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family in her backyard. She is a proud mother of two children and two grandchildren who inspire her every day to leave a legacy of giving back to the community.

Rose Elfman

Rose Elfman earned her doctorate in theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a focus on postcolonial adaptations of Shakespeare. She has published book chapters in various anthologies including The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Performance and has edited academic books for Temple University Press and others.

Since 2013 she has been the managing editor of Journal of Haitian Studies as well as Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies. As managing editor, she is known for her dedication and meticulous attention and intellectualism in supporting Haitian scholarship, at once cultivating and promoting new directions in Haitian scholarship, as well as mentoring and supporting scholars–both emerging and more seasoned–in their writing. Renowned scholar George Lipsitz once noted that in his many decades of publishing over a dozen books, he had never worked with any editor as rigorous in their ability to integrate intellectualism to syntactic and lexical detail.

Moreover, Rose is known for her considerateness, diplomacy, and ability to process and translate difficult conversations into articulations that neither betray the fraughtness of a particular intellectual inquiry nor dilute it. As one Haitian Studies Association member has noted, her skills are also informed by an ethics of composure: “infinite patience, infinite flexibility, infinite ball-juggling skills, the ability to google her way out of almost any query or situation, planning her workload with soothsaying to be able to do the job around other people’s schedules and availability.”

♦ 2022 – Dr. Charlene Désir

Dr. Charlene Désir is a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Désir is committed to the academic, psycho-social, and spiritual development of immigrant people and disenfranchised populations. She provides assistance and guidance for personal, academic, and professional mastery through support programs, lectures, mentorship and coaching. Her research expertise, professional experience and cultural work is in children development, Pan African spirituality, and Black Psychology

She received her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a professor and scholar-educator, Désir’s academic interest is in the social, psychological, and spiritual adjustment of immigrants, specifically psycho-social trauma, and how psychosocial issues affect social, cognitive, identity, and spiritual development. Désir’s work also looks at school social curriculum, psycho-social trauma occurring in schools, and how psycho-social issues affect students. Désir has presented various papers on the topic of immigrant students and their adjustment to life in the United States. She has published numerous journal articles and papers on the topic of immigrant identity, spirituality, and becoming a reflective researcher.

Désir’s stellar contributions and commitment to service includes her work in various projects and initiatives. She founded The Empowerment Network (TEN) Global, a non-profit organization that supports the personal, spiritual, and academic development of women and students in Haiti and U.S. Her other projects include the Black Androgynous Genius Project (BAGP), a coalition of Black queer and straight allies supporting the development and resilience of Black queer young adults; the Haitian Mental Health Think Tank, which addresses Haitian mental wellness during the COVID 19 pandemic and thereafter; the Gifted Lakou, a think tank and support group of adults who are interested in creating pathways to self-healing; and Sosyete Nago Summer Camp, a youth socio-cultural and academic program that serves an indigenous spiritual cooperative community in Jacmel, Haiti.

Désir is a Vodou priestess initiated in the Sosyete Nago in Jacmel, Haiti. She is also a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the Vice President (2021–2024) of Kosanba, an academic association on the study of Pan African Religions. In 2012, she served as president of the Haitian Studies Association and was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Children’s Services Council in Broward County, Florida. Throughout her career, Désir has worked as a school psychologist, K-12 school counselor, school administrator for district and charter schools, an academic advisor and professor.

♦ 2021 – Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis ♦

 Forum Société Civile Haïtienne

The Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis is a coalition of 13 Haitian civil society groups formed in January 2021 to find local strategies to address the country’s ongoing sociopolitical crises. It is made up of representatives from the Episcopal Church of Haiti, the Protestant Federation of Haiti, the Federation of Bars and the Vodou sector. They are dedicated to formulating a peaceful political transition to stabilize the country and to pave the way to free and fair elections. The Commission has collaborated with representatives of other key sectors of civil society who understand the merits of this approach and who express a desire to participate in it.

♦ 2019 – Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald) 

♦ 2018 – Hôpital Saint Damien 

The 2018 HSA Award for Service to Haiti is presented to the Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre, Haiti. The award will be accepted by Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Saint Damien’s National Director of Health in NPH, Haiti.

Dr. Jacqueline Gautier graduated in 1981 from the Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, in Port au Prince and became a pediatrician in 1985. After a year fellowship in infectious diseases at Duke Regional Hospital in North Carolina, she was the chief of the pediatric department of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, in Deschapelles from 1986 to 1988. She became the first medical director of St. Damien in 1993, helping Fr. Rick Frechette, transform a hospice for dying children to a pediatric hospital. In 2005, she established the HIV/AIDS department of St. Damien currently caring for approximately 700 children, adolescents and a few adults, including pregnant women infected with HIV. Dr. Gautier teaches Infectious Diseases in Pediatrics at the Université d’Etat d’Haiti. She was elected 3 times president of the Société Haitienne de Pédiatrie. She became the CEO/Director of St. Damien in April 2012. Under her leadership, St. Damien opened a residency program with affiliation with the Université Notre Dame d’ Haiti and the hospital of Bernard Mevs.

Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs (NPH) was founded by Fr Wasson in Mexico in 1954. Father Rick Frechette a priest born in Connecticut brought the organization in the country since 1988. NPH Haiti has two focuses: education for vulnerable children and adolescents and health care. Fr Rick was responding to a request for help from Mother Theresa’s Sister of Charity to care for the children of the AIDS epidemic, he went on to study medicine after starting working in Haiti.

Saint Damien inaugurated a large new hospital in Tabarre, in 2006. St. Damien provides high quality medical treatment for sick children in Haiti. 50% of patients are admitted for an infectious disease such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, malnutrition while 25% are admitted for other diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney diseases. Because of poor sanitation and widespread poverty, 10% young children of Haiti die before their 5th birthday, largely of treatable illnesses. Saint Damien’s outpatient clinic treats 100 children daily for acute diseases while chronic conditions such as sickle cell anemia, congenital heart diseases, HIV and cancer are treated for months or years.

The healthcare programs of NPH Haiti are motivated by the gospel command to care for the sick and strive to offset social injustices. St. Damien Pediatric Hospital offers all children quality and dignified healthcare. Improvements in pediatric health are a vital and necessary requirement towards Haiti’s economic, social, and political development. Saint Damien can accomplish its work thanks to multiple partners locally and internationally for the benefits of Haitian children.

♦ 2017 – Marleine Bastien 

Marleine Bastien, a daughter of the Artibonite region, embarked on a lifetime of service at the age of eight. Within the walls of the school her father founded, she taught literacy skills to children and adults. She spent part of her teenage years volunteering at a hospital. These experiences informed her understanding of what it meant to be a useful part of a community. Along with the massive wave of Haitians, Bastien migrated to the United States in the 1980s. In Miami, she joined Father Gerard Jean Juste at the Haitian Refugee Center to transform the legal parameters for how the U.S. government deals with immigrants seeking political asylum.

Bastien was a paralegal and assisted thousands of refugees at the Krome Detention Center in Miami. In addition to her legal training, she attended Miami-Dade Community College and earned her master’s degree in social work from Florida International University. Against the backdrop of claims that Haitians had introduced the HIV/ AIDS virus to the United States, Bastien took proactive measures: she advocated for women-centered health protocols and created a support group for women also impacted by the epidemic.

Using this foundation of professional and community service, Bastien founded the Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (FANM) in 1991 and currently serves as its executive director. FANM provides social services to over 5,000 families while also organizing around issues such as immigration, housing, health access, education reform, gender equality, and human rights. Under her leadership, FANM successfully advocated for policies that center Haitian experiences but benefit all immigrant groups. Bastien is currently a leading voice in advocating for the renewal of the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake.

For her efforts, Bastien received numerous honors, which include the Miami Dade County Volunteer of the Year Award (1994), a Special Recognition by President Bill Clinton for receiving the Value Award (1996), the Miami Dade County Social Worker of the Year Award (2000), Ms. Magazine’s Women of the Year tribute (2001), and awards in 1999, 2002, and 2006 from the Miami Board of the County Commission. And in 2012, she was inducted to the 1804 List by the Haitian Roundtable.

The Haitian Studies Association is thrilled to add the 2017 Service Award to Marleine Bastien’s impressive list of accomplishment. We thank her for advocating for Haitian immigrants and women.

♦ 2016 – The Lambi Fund of Haiti

The Lambi Fund of Haiti, founded in 1994, has from its first days engaged in projects primarily in rural Haiti including reforestation, sustainable development, community credit, community capacity building and animal husbandry. Its work has also integrated ancillary projects such as water resource management and a path-breaking development of propagating plantains for local food and regional markets. Among its many accomplishments is the planting of three million trees in every part of Haiti. The Lambi Fund has encouraged and supported related youth education projects as well as ensuring the full inclusion and encouragement of women. Over the years, the Lambi Fund has collaborated with over 150 grassroots organizations. Community meetings are notable for their success in hearing from all voices. Thus, both the desires and the wisdom of a village or district are factored into all development efforts. The works of Lambi are in every sense well grounded.

An independent evaluation of the first decade of efforts gave the Fund high marks for inclusiveness, fostering a sense of independence and agency among participants, as well as making significant socio-economic improvements for all the communities in which it was involved. One result of this works is that rural people can make a successful living in their home villages rather than migrating into the cities. The combined result from Lambi’s multiple and interrelated projects are measurable and are noteworthy improvements in a total ecology of people and their surrounding environment.

The people to whom this award is dedicated live and work in every part of Haiti. It is presented on their behalf and in recognition of the devoted leadership of the Lambi Fund from 1994 to the present. The current Chair of the Board is Mark Schuller; the Executive Director is Marie Marthe Saint Cyr; and the Haiti Director is Josette Pérard.

Fon Lanbi d Ayiti, Depi li te kreye an 1994, Fon Lanbi d Ayiti ap travay sitou nan zòn riral nan domèn rebwazman, devlòpman dirab, kredi kominotè, kapasitasyon gwoup yo ak elvaj bèt. Li gen lòt pwojè entegre tankou gesyon dlo ak yon nouvo pwogram pou pwopagasyon banann nan manje ak mache lokal yo. Pami nan pi gwo aktivite li fè se plante 3 milyon pyebwa toupatou ann Ayiti. Fon Lanbi te ankouraje ak ankadre pwojè edikasyon pou jèn, epi li toujou asire ke fanm yo patisipe epi kore nan tout aktivite li. Fon Lanbi te kolabore ak plis pase 150 gwoup nan peyi a. Rankont ak kominote yo toujou reyisi tande vwa tout moun. Konsa, volonte ak sajès yon vilaj oubyen yon zòn toujou fè pati tout jefò devlòpman. Travay Lanbi yo anrasine nan tout sans.

Yon evalyasyon endepandan aprè premye 10 ane te bay Fon Lanbi yon bon rapò pou jan li travay ak tout moun, fason li ankouraje otonomi ak aksyon nan mitan patisipan yo, epi jan li ede kominote amelyore kondisyon lavi yo. Yon nan rezilta li se ke moun yo ka jwenn lavi nan zòn kote yo ye a san yo pa ale nan vil yo. Rezilta tout travay travay Fon Lanbi nan plizye domèn se amelyorasyon nou ka mezire nan yon ekoloji moun ak nan anviwònman yo.

Moun ke n ap rekonnet ak pri sa viv toutpatou ann Ayiti. N ap ban pri a nan non yo, epitou n ap rekonnèt gwo travay dirijan Fon Lanbi depi 1994. Jodi a prezidan konsèy dadministrasyon.

♦ 2015 – M. Frantz Voltaire

Frantz Voltaire has served Haiti as a powerful cultural ambassador for many long years as a professor, cultural critic, filmmaker, archivist and community organizer. During his long and productive career, Frantz Voltaire has contributed immensely to preserving and celebrating Haiti’s rich cultural patrimony and offering a sustained production of archival material in a variety of fields, all of which have served Haiti well within the country and internationally, particularly in Canada.

Voltaire studied at the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), at FLASCO and the Universidad de Chile, in Santiago, Chile. He has taught in Canada, Mexico, and Haiti, and published on many topics, and created exhibits in equally varied fields. He has directed at last count nine (9) films and documentaries that were well received by the public. Some of his most important film contributions include: Histoire de la Banque en Haiti 2015, Pòtoprens se Pam (1999), Les Chemins de la mémoire (2002), Le Pélerinage de Thomassin (2003), Au nom du Père… Duvalier (2004).

He has consulted for the United Nations, the Haitian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a number of agencies in Haiti and abroad. He occupied the function of Chef de Cabinet for Haitian Prime Minister Robert Malval.

For the last fifteen years, Frantz Voltaire has served as the director of CIDIHCA –the Centre International de Documentation et d’ Information Haitienne, Caraibeenne, et Afro- Canadienne, and has received immense recognition for his diligent and forward-looking work in Canada and around the world.

The Haitian Studies Association is proud to honor Mr. Frantz Voltaire with its 2015 Service Award.

♦ 2014 –  Dr. Bob Corbett

Bob Corbett Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy department of Webster University taught both on the Saint Louis and Vienna, Austria campuses. This Irish-American, born 1939in the Saint Louis district fondly known as “Dog Town” first went to Haiti almost by accident in 1982. He, his then-wife, Jane and their four children went to Haiti during Webster’s Christmas recess. Upon return they formed a very small non-profit PEOPLE TO PEOPLE, INC., which allowed friends and family to make tax free donations. Their own contribution was always to pay all their own expenses and air-fare to Haiti, so that 100% of the donated money went directly into the projects.

While Jane and daughters would assist in the work of established organizations such as Missionary of Charity Sisters and the Episcopal sisters at Ecole St. Vincent, Bob was interested in trying to aid small community organizations in the more remote rural areas of Haiti. He would hunt out groups where a community organization already existed, and then see if there was any way that People to People might aid the group in its work. Over the years the Corbett’s People to People aided several dozen such organizations in nearly every rural area of Haiti. In 2004 when Bob’s knee replacements made return to rural Haiti infeasible, the organization integrated into a larger Saint Louis Haiti aid project.

But already, in 1994, Bob had begun an outpost of Haiti –an email group that in effect was a Diaspora into cyberspace. He is best known to members of Haitian Studies Association for his 21 years as the diligent and devoted manager of a list serve that quickly became known as Corbettland. Dismayed by list serves that he characterizes as “mainly flame wars”, he wanted to establish an electronic community strictly focused on Haiti for presentation of researches and opinions, discussion, inquiries for and exchanges of information –everything from Soup Joumou recipes to reports of deeds and misdeeds of those in high places, all conducted under a strict and consistent code of civility. He began with seven people. Soon there were 100, then a thousand, then several thousand. Many members of HSA, as well as a host of others who lived in, worked in or simply were interested in Haiti subscribed to the list. Some Corbettland “inhabitants” were highly vocal while others observed but sent no messages. (Rumor has it that one of the many silent participants was Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.) The connections established from virtual Corbettland to the material world were remarkable. Often someone meeting a new person in a conference or even engaged in a casual exchange in a rail station or airport exclaims, “Oh! I know you from Corbettland!” Bob was ahead of Facebook. He was also ahead of Trip Advisor and Google Academics. Corbetteers could post queries about available lodgings, tropical medications, and where one might find useful documentation for a little known nineteenth century poet writing in Kreyol. Bob Corbett was also ahead of the pack in what we hope will become civil political and religious discourse. The focus is Haiti but the implications are international. Bob Corbett has rendered over two decades of exceptional service to Haiti, to Haitians and to all those for whom Haiti is beloved.

♦ 2013 – Viviane Gauthier

& Maison Henri Deschamps

Viviane Gauthier

Ninety-five-year-old Viviane Gauthier has quietly but persistently led the charges to valorize, safeguard, and promote Haitian dance for the past seventy-plus years. Since the late 1930s Mme. Gauthier has given instruction in traditional and folkloric dance forms on the balcony of a beloved gingerbread house on Avenue M in Port-au-Prince, the “zòn trankil” where she has lived most of her life. Born in March 1918 the daughter of agronomist Louis Alexis Gauthier and Arta Laroche and a distant descendant of Dessalines, Gauthier started her career as a schoolteacher at the Institution du Sacré-Coeur. Her introduction to dance came through Lavinia Williams, who encouraged the young Gauthier to study the tradition after noting how much she loved dancing. Gauthier has explained, “M fè dans la pasèke m te remarke ke yo t ap neglije dans ayisyen. Donk, mwen di m, nou pa ka ayisyen pou dans nou … plus belle pase dans etranje yo, pou n ap imite.” (I dance, because I observed how Haitian dance was being neglected. I told myself, we can’t be Haitian, with our dance more beautiful than foreign dances, for us simply to imitate [others].)

During the 1940s and 1950s, Viviane Gauthier toured internationally with noted folkloric troupes of the era, especially with Bakoulou’s founder Odette Weinar. Back at home, Gauthier has run dance classes for beginning and advanced students nearly every day of the week for decades. The Compagnie de Danse Viviane Gauthier is comprised of professional artists who have performed at iconic national venues such as the Rex Théâtre, but Gauthier’s school has also consistently been the only formal setting where community members can casually participate in Haitian dance. Classes and rehearsals are always accompanied by a full ensemble of drummers, making Avenue M equally a space for cultivating masters of Vodou rhythms and a revolving “who’s who” of tanbourinè. Among the thousands of individuals who have passed through Gauthier’s program over the past three-quarters of a century are notables such as Jean Appolon, currently the director of the Boston-based Jean Appolon Expressions dance company and a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the late master drummer Frisner Augustin of Brooklyn’s La Troupe Makandal, who was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with a National Heritage Fellowship.

Former student Appolon has observed that one of Gauthier’s greatest contributions to Haitian society has been in countering stigma against Vodou expressive culture and in bringing pride and appreciation to Haitian ways of life. Gauthier recently explained her method for success: “Mwen fè travay la pou mwen. Si yo renmen l, OK. Si yo pa renmen l, djob pa yo … Tèt mwen toujou dwat … M kite yo pale … Si w tande moun pale, ou p ap fè anyen.” (I do the work for me. If they like it, great. If not, that’s their problem. I remain focused, and let them talk. Because if you pay attention to what people are saying, you won’t ever do anything.) With her humble, matter-of-fact confidence in pwòp kilti pa nou, Viviane Gauthier has indeed created a legacy: her role in the safeguarding of patrimoine immatériel is unparalleled among Haitians in Haiti and in the diaspora.

Maison Henri Deschamps

Maison Henri Deschamps, Deschamps Frisch Enterprises SA, a Haitian company that has been in operation over one hundred and ten years, was established in 1898 and is one of the oldest private companies in the country. Their demonstrated commitment to the improvement of education in Haiti is extraordinary.

Their customers cover a wide range in both the private sector and the public sector. They are the largest publisher of approved curricular materials by the Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle (the Ministry of Education). Additionally, MHD is the primary distributor of school furniture and other school supplies in the country. Recently they were granted distribution rights for Promethean interactive white boards, and the first six boards were sold and are now being used; the first interactive white boards in Haiti and a distinct measure to improve the country’s education system. In 1996, in order to help improve the quality of teaching in Haiti the company opened a training center for teachers, Le Centre de formation Henri Deschamps, where more than 7,000 teachers and principals across the country, benefited from over 40,000 hours of training.

Their most recent project “Réseau de Télé-enseignement (e-learning network)” is particularly exciting during this period of education reform. This project includes the introduction of interactive digitized textbooks into schools in French and Kréyol, which includes the ability to assess student progress and share data across schools.

Additionally, the support and education foundation strives to provide educational opportunities in Plateau Central; the area with the highest illiteracy rate in the country.

♦ 2012 – La Troupe Makandal 

& Ms. Kimberly Green and The Green Family Foundation ♦

La Troupe Makandal

In 1973 a group of young artists from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, formed La Troupe Makandal, naming it after a renowned eighteenth-century revolutionary and mystic. They created a repertory that drew from Haiti’s revolutionary legacy and from oral tradition around the figure of their namesake. The company left Haiti in 1981 and regrouped in New York City, where it attracted new artists, both Haitians and friends of Haiti who continue to be inspired by the company’s dedication to black history and culture. The company has distinguished itself in the United States for its theatrical representations of Vodou, a powerful but poorly understood form of Afro-Haitian spirituality.

La Troupe Makandal channels the power of traditional Afro-Haitian music and dance to represent Haiti’s history and culture in theaters and schools. Much of the company’s repertory derives from the sacred music and dance of Vodou, widely known in the United States as “voodoo,” a term loaded with misconceptions that generate misrepresentations of Haiti in the mainstream culture. The Troupe’s performances and workshops educate, entertain, and heal racial and cultural divisions. La Troupe Makandal creates dynamic music and dance experiences one does not soon forget.

Ms. Kimberly Green and The Green Family Foundation

The Green Family Foundation’s (GFF) mission is to make a positive and meaningful impact in communities both at home and abroad. The foundation provides funding and resources to organizations that support education, global health and community development. GFF empowers under-served communities to fight the cycle of extreme poverty, leading to sustainable programs that improve lives. GFF supports grassroots initiatives that provide quality care to those in need by focusing on prevention, education and treatment. The foundation empowers communities through grants that enable progressive organizations to help build self-reliance. Since 1997, Ms. Kimberly Green, president, continues to advance her family’s vision.

Under her leadership, GFF has spearheaded a variety of initiatives that have impacted the lives of thousands of people across the world. In Haiti, where GFF has been active for more than a decade, Ms. Green’s work ranges from community health and development to cultural repatriation and preservation. GFF has built a most needed clinic and a hospital in Thomonde in the Plateau Central. In its capacity as champion of culture, GFF sponsored with Sinema Anba Zetwal (Cinema Under the Stars), the “Food for Souls” tour, which traveled along the 2010 earthquake’s fault-line and was attended by large audiences. The organization produced The Alan Lomax in Haiti: Recordings for the Library of Congress, 1936-1937, which received two Grammy nominations. Furthermore, GFF launched ThisisHaiti.org, a website that highlights Haitian music and art and focuses exclusively on positive developments in the country.

♦ 2011 – Ambassador Reginald Dumas 

Reginald Dumas of Trinidad and Tobago brings a long and distinguished record of public service and international experience to our conference. Over the years, he has represented his home country throughout the Caribbean and the world, including in the role of Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the Organization of American States (OAS). He has served as Ambassador or High Commissioner to over a dozen nations as varied as Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States of America, and Zambia. In 2004, then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, appointed him for six months as his Special Adviser on Haiti. Subsequently, Mr. Dumas, with his publishers, established the Medianet Haiti Relief Fund, of which he is the Chairman.

Mr. Dumas has also served on task forces, Constitution Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry in his country and elsewhere in the Caribbean. In 1992, he was Interim Executive Director of the Institute of Business at The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. In 1998, he co-founded Trinidad and Tobago’s Transparency Institute, the National Chapter of Transparency International. Meanwhile, between 1998 and 2004, he applied his considerable skills as Deputy Coordinator of the CARICOM team for air services negotiations with the USA. He represented the Caribbean in 1989 and 1990 on the Working Group on the Commonwealth in the 1990s and beyond. He ended his formal Public Service career as Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister and Head of the Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago. From commerce and communications to the improvement of social and educational governance, Mr. Dumas has always worked in the interest of mutual understanding and Caribbean advancement.

Reginald Dumas was educated in Trinidad and Tobago at the Chaguanas Government School and Queen’s Royal College. He won a national scholarship in 1952 and received his first degree from Cambridge University in 1957 before being selected as a Carnegie Endowment Fellow at the prestigious Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement in Geneva, Switzerland (1960-61). He later enjoyed a return to the academic life as a Visiting Fellow at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford (1979-1980). In October this year, the University of the West Indies conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD).

A regular contributor of newspaper columns and socio-political comment, Mr Dumas has published two books: In the Service of the Public: Articles and Speeches 1963-1993, with Commentaries (Canoe Press: UWI, 1995) and An Encounter with Haiti: Notes of a Special Adviser (Medianet: 2008).