From the newly appointed president of Harvard to President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Haitian women continue to capture headlines on a regular basis for their achievements. And this trend is by no means a fluke, according to a 2022 book.
“Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success” says children of immigrants surpass the children of US-born parents in achieving upward mobility — a dynamic combination of money, power, autonomy and value in the community. The children from immigrants of higher income countries tend to earn more than those of lower income.
Further, the daughters of parents from the Caribbean countries of Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago do remarkably well, moving up the ladder faster than the daughters of white US-born parents. And they do better than their brothers.
“Children of West Indian parents are not that surprised to learn that daughters rise faster than sons,” authors Leah Boustan and Ran Abramitzky, researchers from Princeton and Stanford, write in the book. They point out that those parents were always more watchful of daughters, keeping them close to home.
Where daughters aren’t allowed to play outside, they explained, parents allow for “boys to be boys” and let them stay out late. As a result, staying close to home under the watchful eye of a parent, can help ensure that children finish school and stay on a path to success.
The authors based their conclusions on research projects on a trove of data sources including historical census files, Ancestry.com, Social Security earnings, IRS tax records and birth statistics.
To illustrate the authors’ findings, many successful Haitian women — immigrants or daughters of immigrants — have been gaining visibility in their fields as they make their place in America. The Haitian Times is highlighting such women throughout Women’s History Month.
We invite you to let us know of others whose stories and achievements may lift up the community by emailing email@example.com. Include their name(s) and brief bio(s), and we just might add them to this list for the 2023 edition of Haitian women to celebrate.
Ruth Jeannoel, 42, Miami
Founder of Fanm Saj, a nonprofit organization in Miami
Born in Haiti
Ruth Jeannoel is a Haitian American woman to know during Women’s History Month. Inspired by the movement for Black Lives, she founded Fanm Saj to provide a wellness space for women. The term Fanm Saj, which means both “midwife” and “wise women” in Kreyòl, speaks to the group’s goal of birthing healthy communities.
The Haitian Times spent some time with Fanm Saj recently to learn about their work. Watch the video.
Marie Lily Cerat, 59, Brooklyn,
N.Y.Associate Director, CUNY Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College
Born in Les Cayes, Haiti
Marie Lily Cerat co-authored “Education Across Borders: Immigration, Race, and Identity in the Classroom,” considered a critical resource for K-12 educators that serve BIPOC and first-generation students.
Dr. Cerat co-founded Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees in 1992, which provides ESL and adult literacy instruction to Haitian immigrants and refugees. The nonprofit also offers leadership training to help community members develop the necessary skills to advocate on their own behalf for civil, educational, social, labor/economic and immigrant justice.
A 2021 article on Cerat appears in The Haitian Times.
Dayanne Danier, 45, New York
Designer for fashion line Bien Abyé, “well dressed” in English
Born in Stone Mountain, Ga., raised in Boston area
Dayanne Danier was encouraged to dress well as she grew up. She designed her own apparel collection, which expanded to an entire lifestyle brand some years ago. Her collection proudly includes the tag, “Made in Haiti.”
“The name of my brand is a reflection of my Haitian roots and the majority of the Bien Abyé collection is made in Haiti by women artisans,” she said. “I strongly believe in the craft of Haitian artisans, and I want to share that with the world.”
She studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and worked her way up in the industry, holding positions at Perry Ellis and Phillips-Van Heusen. In addition she founded Fleur De Vie, a nonprofit celebrating its tenth year, which promotes Haitian youth education.
For more on Danier, see The Haitian Times article.
Marlene Daut, 42, New Haven, Conn.
Professor of French and African Diaspora Studies, Yale University
Born in Los Angeles, mother from Port-au-Prince
As a historian of the Caribbean, Daut writes about the history of the Haitian Revolution, literary cultures of the greater Caribbean, and American racial politics, especially as they appear in film and television.
She has written numerous books on these subjects and is the co-editor of “Haitian Revolutionary Fictions: An Anthology.” Her next book, “Awakening the Ashes,” an intellectual history of Haiti, will be available in Fall, 2023.
Daut is also the co-creator of H-Haiti, a humanities and social science platform, co-curator of a website on early Haitian print culture and co-editor of Global Black History and Theory.
For more on Daut, see her 2020 article in The Haitian Times.
Nadege Green, Miami
Independent researcher, writer, editor, community archivist and audio producer
Daughter of Haitian immigrants and former farmworkers
Nadege Green, recipient of the 2018 Ruth Shack Leadership Award from the Miami Foundation, centers her work on the lived experiences of Black people in South Florida.
Her practice and approach to storytelling, according to her website, is rooted in history and first-person narratives that explore and connect issues around race, culture, climate justice, health inequities, poverty and displacement.
She has worked for The Miami Herald and other media establishments including PRI’s the World, NPR, WLRN News and Marketplace.
Nathalie Joachim, Princeton
Grammy-nominated flutist, composer and vocalist
Assistant Professor of Music, Princeton University
Born in Brooklyn, NY; family is from Dantan, Haiti
Nathalie Joachim is a United States Artist Fellow and co-founder of the duo Flutronix. A Princeton assistant professor, her musical practice has a connection to storytelling while advocating for social change and cultural awareness.
Her next album – “Ki moun ou ye,” described as an examination of ancestral connection and self, is slated for release in 2024.
Michèle Alexandre, 47, Chicago
Dean, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Born in Port-au-Prince, raised in Brooklyn, NY
Michèle Alexandre became the 14th dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law in July 2022.
Michèle Alexandre became the 14th dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law in July 2022.
Alexandre has dedicated much of her career to sustainability, race and gender equity, economic independence and social justice, focusing on small farmers and poor populations. Alexandre served as dean of Stetson University College of Law in Florida, where she raised more than $20 million for scholarships and capital projects, among numerous accomplishments.
“I wanted to make a difference and to be of service,” said Alexandre in her faculty profile. “The Catholic mission mandates that we think of others. When you’re young and you hear that, it is a serious thing. A young person doesn’t dismiss that.”
Stacy Barthe, 37, Atlanta
Grammy-nominated songwriter, composer and singer
Born in Brooklyn, NY
Stacey Barthe has written for artists such as Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Brandy, Alicia Keys, Nipsey Hussle and Tiwa Savage.
She co-wrote the Rihanna hit “Cheers (Drink to That)“, which charted at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her most recent Grammy nomination was for “Collide” – sung by Tiana Major9 – as best R&B song.
Barthe began her career as a pop and urban marketing intern for Geffen and Jive Records, moved to Atlanta, then later signed with Universal Music Publishing Group.
Claudine Gay, 52, Boston
President-elect, Harvard University
Born and raised in The Bronx, NY
Claudine Gay will become the first Black and second woman president of Harvard University on July 1, 2023. The daughter of Haitian immigrants is known for her leadership and scholarly writings on democracy and political participation.
“As a woman of color, as a daughter of immigrants, if my presence in this role affirms someone’s sense of belonging at Harvard, that is a great honor,” Gay said in a video released to the public after her election to the position.
“And for those who are beyond our gates, if this prompts them to look anew at Harvard — to consider new possibilities for themselves and their futures, then my appointment will have meaning for me that goes beyond words,” Gay said.
Read more in The Haitian Times story about Gay’s role.
Karine Jean-Pierre, 44, Washington, DC
Press Secretary, The U.S. White House
Born in Haiti, raised in Queens Village, NY
Karine Jean-Pierre is the first Black and openly gay woman in the executive senior position.
Jean-Pierre served as deputy press secretary — part of the White House’s senior communications team during Biden’s administration. Jean-Pierre iss a familiar face in the press briefing room, occasionally filling in for Psaki, who has described Jean-Pierre as a “remarkable woman” on Twitter.
Read more in The Haitian Times profile of Jean-Pierre.
Ruthzee Louijeune, 36, Boston
City Councilor, City of Boston
Born and raised in Boston
Ruthzee Louijeune, an attorney, became the first Haitian American City Councilor in Boston, when she won the 2021 election. She runs her own firm and works with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), focusing on expanding homeownership opportunities. She also volunteers with The Guild to deliver food and supplies to residents.
Read more in Louijeune’s The Haitian Times profile.
Cyndee (Montes) Newman, Chicago
Executive Director and Founding Member, Daughters of Haiti, Chicago
Born in Haiti; raised in Chicago
Cyndee Newman founded Daughters of Haiti to serve the Haitian community and develop an opportunity for future generations of Haitian American women to understand their culture and heritage. The organization offers educational scholarships, speakers, gala and health initiative.
Newman built a career in higher education and serves as an assistant director of transfer and adult undergraduate admissions at DePaul University.
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” she says in her bio, quoting an African proverb.