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Source photo : soumise par Molina Jean Louis

Molina Jean-Louis ensures the vice-presidency of the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP)

The National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established by a diverse group of forward-thinking industry experts, youth leaders, faculty, public, and nonprofit sector professionals from Haiti and its global diaspora. NAAHP is focused on connecting a global community of Haitian Professionals with career advancement resources as well as fostering transformative relationships between NAAHP members and committed stakeholders to strengthen Haiti through philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

The National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals / Alliance nationale pour l’avancement des professionnels Haïtiens (NAAHP) promotes and fosters female leadership. The organization’s current Executive Vice President is Molina Jean-Louis who is at the epicenter of operations and decisionmaking for the organization. Dofen news had the opportunity to have a tete a tete with Miss Jean-Louis on her current role and challenges that she faces as a woman leader which can be read below.

Dofen News : What do you intend to accomplish in the Haitian community in your new role as Executive Vice President of NAAHP (National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals)?
Molina Jean-Louis : The role of Executive Vice-President of NAAHP carries great responsibilities. Although I voluntarily put myself at the epicenter of the decision-making process, what I hope is to make as few personal decisions as possible. I will strive to ensure that the challenges facing our community are resolved at the community level. For this to happen, we need to improve our communication within the community, we all need to listen to each other. But the most important thing is awareness of the existence of the other. This is what I recognize as essential: more communication, greater awareness and better and broader community networks. Therefore, whatever decisions are taken, it will be with these three objectives as underlying motives.
D.N : What challenges will you face as a leader?

M.J.L : This question is really important to me and I would like to thank you for asking it. The reason is that being a black leader in the United States brings both blessings and challenges. I won’t go into details about the racism and sexism that we are subject to, however, I’m sure you and your audience have seen the news about recent events in the United States. These events have sparked a wave of anti-racist protests around the world. The United States is seen as a country where ambitious career paths are possible. But on a daily basis, we are still confronted with many expectations that are almost disconcerting.

NAAHP cannot directly change all these societal habits at a systemic level. What we can do, however, is to empower ourselves, connect and share our know-how with women to ensure that they are not alone and that most of us experience the same thing. NAAHP’s Virtual Symposium on COVID-19 – Impact on Haitian Women Entrepreneurs – is just one example of articulating the challenges we face. 
D.F : Will there be any events/initiatives that will strengthen the ties between Haiti and the Haitian diaspora in the United States?

M.J.L : Yes, as I mentioned earlier, improving the culture of communication is one of the objectives I have put on my agenda. I’m one of many Haitian Americans learning how to actively engage with Haiti in a responsible and sustainable way. But mutual communication is necessary, and we need to listen to each other. What I would like to see in the future is more initiatives from Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, because I think we need more collaboration. Sometimes our interests may differ, but at the end of the day our goals should be the same.

The Haitian diaspora is still a mere shadow of our homeland, Haiti. Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in this situation where we are just waiting to see what will happen and how things will turn out. So there are no live, in-person events that I could announce at this time.
D.N : The organization has announced a symposium that focuses on the impact of COVID 19 on Haitian businesswomen, can you tell us about it?

M.J.L : NAAHP women’s leadership felt it was imperative to host an event highlighting women entrepreneurs and the difficulties they have recently experienced personally and professionally as a result of COVID-19. This NAAHP Virtual Symposium on COVID-19 – Impact on Haitian Women Entrepreneurs will host 6 Haitian women who will engage in a rich variety of entrepreneurial activities. The idea behind the symposium is to hear their stories about motherhood, mental health, and maintaining a business during COVID-19. For example, Nadege Fleurimond is a business strategist, owner of a restaurant business, and author of two books.

Christine Souffrant Ntim is an expert on emerging markets and start-up ecosystems. Cynthia Almonacy holds a PhD in psychology and works in the non-profit sector. Riva Nyri Précil is a musician, and the sweetest of them all must be Corinne Joachim Sanon Symietz, who produces chocolate from Haitian cocoa; most interestingly she does it in Haiti because she wants to give back to the community in which she grew up. I’m afraid that whatever I can say about them is not enough, because their biographies are rich and they are all successful in their fields. As I said, being a successful woman, being a leader, comes with additional challenges in all societies, not just in the United States. We can learn a lot from them, and I’m sure we will all be enriched after the Symposium, which I look forward to.
D.N : Are there opportunities for young professional women living in Haiti to attend the NAAHP annual conference?

M.J.L : Yes, and women can do so in various capacities. The Danielle Saint-Lot Haitian Women’s Foundation, which ran last year’s NAAHP conference, introduced many Haitian artisans and designers as exhibitors. So far, women living in Haiti have participated as moderators and speakers, and we don’t plan to change a good habit. However, in addition to being a speaker or moderator, which of course is an excellent option is strictly limited, all women interested in participating can do so as participants. In doing so, they can make connections, expand their social networks and hopefully cooperate on a daily basis, but not only at the annual conference. As Executive Vice President of NAAHP, I will be more than happy to hear ideas on other forms of participation.

The annual conferences of the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals / L’Alliance nationale pour l’avancement des professionnels Haïtiens (NAAHP) offer a variety of opportunities and are rich in positive experiences.

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