Lessons Learned: Haiti Four Years After The Earthquake

Panelists:

Marie Saint Cyr is a Social Worker by profession. She holds a B.A. in International Relations, a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; she also obtained mid and executive level certificates of non- profit management at Columbia University in New York. Post-earthquake, Marie dedicated her time and effort to the post disaster response with the Lambi Fund of Haiti, and Valme Ministries’ school rebuilding in one of the most devastated areas, Leogane. She recently became the Executive Director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti. She was previously the Executive Director of the New York AIDS Coalition and the Founding Executive Director of Iris House, the first and only comprehensive program for women living with HIV and AIDS and their families. In a leadership position she oversaw the construction of the five story center with full responsibility for the funding, planning and service implementation. She led the agency to establishing 66 units of scattered site housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. She served as an appointee of Mayor Giuliani as Community Co-Chair of the HIV Planning Council of New York City. She was the chairperson of The Board of the National Minority AIDS Council in Washington. Ms. Saint Cyr developed the first program for women, Women and AIDS Resource Network (WARN) in Brooklyn, NY. Responding to the needs of the constituency she serves, she became the first Haitian Deputy Commissioner in New York City under the Dinkins Administration. She was Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights, responsible for the Community Relations Department and the AIDS Discrimination Unit, she initiated the Commission's Prison Project for Offenders with AIDS. Marie M. Saint Cyr is fluent in her native languages Kreyol and French, also English and Spanish.

Barbara Leslie, M.S., Community Economic Development, Southern New Hampsire University, Manchester, N.H. Ms. Leslie founded Haiti Circle of Friends, a volunteer based organization, in response to the 2010 earthquake. With her assistance volunteers implemented an emergency medical and educational program reintegrating abused, vulnerable, at- risk children and orphans with their families whilst providing new homes, training and mentorship to their adult care givers. Ms. Leslie is an experienced international community, social and economic development professional who is, most recently, developing programs and partnerships that will continue to create a social safety net for vulnerable women and children in Haiti. During her career at Associates of Rural Development, Inc., she successfully managed and/or consulted on several USAID sustainable community development contracts in Colombia and Haiti. As Program Developer of the Community Justice Center in Burlington, Vermont, Ms. Leslie administered a Department of Justice national demonstration project in community based restorative justice; a volunteer based organization. As a Team Leader for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in El Salvador, Ms. Leslie designed a national outreach program, Center for Communication Development, utilizing photography as a medium of expression to successfully develop community and expand civic participation during El Salvador’s post-war reconstruction effort. Ms. Leslie is also a professional photographer represented by Getty Images, Inc.

Amber Walsh is the Haiti Deputy Country Director of HELP. Amber has 12 years of non-profit management experience, many of which have been spent supporting education programs in Haiti. She began her experience in Haiti as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2000 and has since held senior management roles for Outreach to Haiti (formerly Haitian Ministries) and Save The Children, facilitating strategic planning processes as well as managing large-scale programs and operations. Amber has B.A. in political science from McGill University and an M.B.A. from Yale University.

Kara Lightburn founded Social Tap, The Haiti Initiative (THI) in June 2010 as an initiative undertaking an asset-based community development approach to disaster relief and community rebuilding in Haiti. Since beginning Social Tap she has been based in Jacmel, Haiti. 

Kara began her non-profit career after leaving a corporate role at BlackRock Financial to work at Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc. (Bridge). Bridge is a non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts which works with at-risk children. She began as an Executive Assistant to the Executive Director and was later promoted to Marketing Director. At Bridge she became a part of a team which provided comprehensive social services to over 4,000 homeless and at-risk youth. In her tenure at Bridge Kara gained extensive experience and learned important non-profit best practices administrative skills. Armed with a non-profit ‘toolbox’, she moved to Miami Florida and continued in the non-profit field. She served as a Non-Profit consultant, doing consulting work for Barry University and the Dominican American National Foundation along with other organizations in South Florida. While in Miami-Dade Florida she was recruited by the Obama campaign to work as a Field Organizer were she showed proven leadership in community development and organizing; responsible for organizing a diverse community for 900,000. During her work with the Obama campaign Kara saw firsthand what community organizing from an asset-based community development approach could do to bring about change and she was inspired by what she saw.

 Kara was the Program Coordinator for the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Social Services at Fordham University when the January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti. In response, Kara helped coordinate a trip to Haiti, and along with 14 Graduate Social Work students, Professor Marciana Popescu and Professor Manoj Pardasani the group went to Jacmel Haiti to do relief work. It was in Jacmel, where she was connected to Joe Duplan, President of KONPAY.

 Kara holds a Bachelor in Psychology from University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMASS) where she graduated as a Psi Chi Honor Student. She also holds a Certificate from Fordham University’s Executive Non-Profit Leadership Program. She is a Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni and has served on several non-profit boards. She believes that we are all citizens of a global community and it is our civic duty to utilize our assets and capabilities to engage and bring about change on the international and national levels.