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Celebrating Haitian women from across the spectrum


Haitian women come in all hues, shapes, sizes and skill sets. As we celebrate International Women’s Month, The Haitian Times is pleased to highlight just a few across backgrounds, careers and lifestyles that we see making a difference in their chosen fields and how they live. Some are prominent, others not so much. They all share a passion for seeking to make a positive impact as they move through the world, and we will feature some of them throughout the month.

Know a Haitian woman who should be included on this list? Email submissions@haitiantimes with a little bit about them. 

Photo from Love & Hip Hop.

Name & age: Jessie Woo, 35

Occupation: Comedienne, media personality and singer 

City/country of residence: Miami, F.L.

Notable works: Became a viral sensation on social media through her comedic alter ego, Cadouskha Jean-Francois, which lead to a stint as a red carpet host for BET and supporting cast member of two seasons on Love & Hip Hop: Miami.

Impact: Uses her celebrity platform to be a “loud and proud” Haitian.

Photo from Facebook.

Name & age: Mackensia Fontaine, 35

Occupation: Nurse; Midwife, responsible for maternity department at Saint Therese Hospital in Hinche

City/country of residence: Hinche, Haiti

Impact in the community:  Helps to reduce the mortality rate of mother and child. 

Notable work: To promote health generally and help through the noble profession of midwifery. 

Haitian proverb to live by:  You may hate the dog, but you must admit that its teeth are white.

Name: Maryse Jean-Jacques, 72

Occupation: Social Worker, Former Executive Director at the Centre d’Education Speciale (CES) in Haiti 

City/country of residence: Haiti

Notable achievements:

-Worked with CES on the “Ecole Inclusive” program, making sure that children with disabilities are accepted in traditional schools throughout Haiti

-Helped establish CES as a training center for parents of children with disabilities and other institutions throughout Haiti working with disabled children 

Impact: Instrumental in making sure children with disabilities, who are oftentimes marginalized, are recognized and accepted into Haiti’s school system.

Name & Age: Nadia Lafleur, 40

Occupation: Executive Director of Sant Magali pou lavi, a shelter for women and girls who are victims of violence

City/country of residence: Jacmel, Haiti 

Notable achievements:

-With Sant Magali pou lavi, she established a partnership with two organizations (Brigade Protection des Mineurs and Institute du Bien-Être Social) where they rely on her and 

Sant Magali pou lavi when they meet victims of violence

-Provides training to other women organizations in Grand Anse and Gonaives to help victims of violence and establish shelters

-A member of FANM DESIDE Women organization in southeast Haiti

Impact: Has been an emotional and psychological pillar of support to young women by helping them to regain self-confidence

Photo from The Haitian Roundtable.

Name: Leonie Hermantin

Occupation: Director of Development, Communications & Strategic Planning at Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center

City/country of residence: Miami, F.L., USA

Ties to Haiti: Born in Haiti

Notable achievements:

-Named as up-and-coming leader by the Miami Herald 

-Worked as Deputy Director for the Lambi Fund of Haiti from 2008-2011

-Works with PRODEV, an organization working to help children in Haiti have access to education

Impact: Works to help Haitians in the diaspora overcome obstacles and accede to positions of leadership.

Photo from the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida.

Name & Age: Pascale Bélony, 28

Occupation: RN and beauty queen

City/country of residence: Gainesville, F.L., USA

Ties to Haiti: Born in Haiti

Notable achievements:

-Founding member of P4H Global, an organization that works to alleviate poverty in Haiti through educational programs

-Miss Haiti at Miss Universe pageant in 2021

-Served as a Gator Nurse Student Ambassador at the University of Florida

Impact: Passionate about bringing quality healthcare to Haiti, organized health education workshops in Haiti from 2012-2015.

Jacqueline Charles
Photo from The Miami Herald.

Name: Jacqueline Charles

Occupation: Journalist

City/country of residence: Miami, F.L., USA

Ties to Haiti: Haitian-American, has covered Haiti and the Caribbean for 14 years

Notable achievements: Has won numerous awards for her reporting, including NABJ Journalist of the Year for her coverage of 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Paul Hansell Award, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for her earthquake coverage and the 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize for coverage of the Americas.

Impact: Renowned for her groundbreaking coverage of both Haiti and Haitian communities in Florida.

Elsie Hernandez is the co-founder and board president of the
Haitian-American Museum of Chicago.

Name & age: Elsie Hernandez, 60+

City/country of residence: Chicago, I.L., USA

Ties to Haiti: Haitian-American

Notable achievements: Co-founder and Board President of Haitian American Museum of Chicago

Impact: Created an institution that holds Haitian and Haitian Diaspora programs and exhibits contributing to the rich multicultural tapestry that is Chicago

Other notable work: Bilingual nursing instructor and consultant for International Educated Nurses assisting them in obtaining their Illinois Registered Nurse licenses.

Haitian proverb to live by: Men anpil chay pa lou, many hands make the load light.

ruth jean-marie

Name & age: Ruth Jean-Marie, 32

Occupation: Development consultant

City/country of residence: Brooklyn, N.Y., USA

Ties to Haiti: Daughter of Haitian immigrants

Notable achievements

-Recognized by Forbes magazine in its 2021 Next 1000 list of up-and-coming entrepreneurs

-Won a 2019 Nike competition to design a limited-edition sneaker inspired by the Haitian revolution. 

Impact: Consults with individuals, organizations and governments to maximize the social value of development projects through her philanthropy startup, The August Project. 

Jacqueline Gautier is the National Director of Health at NPH Haiti. Photo from NPH Haiti.

Name: Jacqueline Gautier

Occupation: National Director of Health at NPH Haiti responsible for St. Damien Children’s Hospital (Haiti’s only pediatric specialty hospital)

City/Country of Residence: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Notable works:

-First medical director of St. Damien Hospital, transitioning the hospital from a hospice center for dying children to a well-known pediatric hospital for Haiti’s vulnerable children

-Established HIV/AIDS department of St. Damien, caring for nearly 500 children receiving life-saving HIV therapy Impact (on community, profession, country, world, etc).

-Began a pediatric residency program at St. Damien to train a new generation of pediatricians.

Larise Antoine Shelley is the artistic director of the House Theatre of Chicago.

Name: Larise Antoine Shelley

Occupation: Artistic Director of The House Theatre of Chicago, actress, playwright and visual artist

City/country of residence: Chicago, I.L., USA

Ties to Haiti: Born in Haiti; adopted and raised in the U.S.A.

Notable works:

– Podcast: When They Were Young: Amplifying Voices of Adoptees.

– Artistic Director for the upcoming “The Tragedy of King Christophe” at The House Theatre of Chicago.

Impact: Her art making leads her back home to The Haiti Home for Children in Port-au-Prince from where she was adopted and for which she is an advocate.

Margareth Corkery is the vice president of the Haitian Network of Detroit. Photo from Facebook.
  • Name: Margareth Corkery, mid-50’s
  • City/country of residence: Detroit, M.I., U.S.A.
  • Ties to Haiti: Haitian-American
  • Notable work: Co-founder, vice-president of the Haitian Network Group of Detroit 
  • Impact: For the past 21 years, actively promotes Haitian culture, provides an environment for Haitians and friends of Haiti to network, and contributes to the welfare of Haitians worldwide.
  • Favorite proverb: Bonjou se paspò ou (Your greeting is your passport)
Photo by Ellis Dawson.

Name & age: Marla Louissaint, 24

Occupation: Performer, artist and CEO of Claim Our Space Now, an organization focused on elevating BIPOC voices.

City/country of residence: New York, N.Y., USA

Ties to Haiti: Born in Haiti

Notable achievements

-Recipient of 2015 Jimmy Award for excellence in musical theater

-2015 Gershwin Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in “Caroline, or Change”        

-Cast member of the off-Broadway show  “Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” at New York City Center

-Part of the touring cast of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

-Cast member of Netflix’s crime drama “Seven Seconds“

Impact: Works to liberate and elevate BIPOC voices throughout the world from the “throes of capitalism, white supremacist delusion and the patriarchy by living boldly and unapologetically through my art.”

Photo from Scripps College.

Name & Age: Myriam Chancy, 52

Occupation: Novelist, Chair in the Humanities at Scripps College

City/country of residence: Upland, C.A., USA

Ties to Haiti: Born and raised in Port-au-Prince

Notable achievements:

–Choice’s 1998 Outstanding Academic  Book Award for “Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile”

-2004 Phoenix Award for Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals

-2011 Guyana Prize in Literature Caribbean Award for “The Loneliness of Angels” 

-2014 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial  Foundation fellow

Impact: Renowned for her explorations of different aspects of Haiti, including women within Haitian society, the role of spirituality in Haitian life, and the impact of the 2010 earthquake on the lives of Haitians in the country and throughout the world.

Name: Marjorie Joseph

Occupation: Community organizer, poet

City/country of residence: Houston, T.X., USA

Ties to Haiti: Haitian-American

Notable achievements:

–Recently honored as a guest speaker at the Houston Chapter of the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) last year

-Received the organization’s Global Citizen award for her work with Houston Coalition Against Hate (HCAH)

-HCAH won the 2021 Juneteenth Ally Award by The Center for the Healing of Racism.

Impact: Passionate activist working throughout the country to facilitate transformative shifts against institutionalized racism

Sources: Playbill, myriamchancy.com, Houston Coalition Against Hate

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