2019 Haitian Ladies Weekend Speakers

Edwidge Danticat


Through her award-winning writing, Edwidge Danticat reveals the human experience by elegantly capturing and portraying the nuances of Haitian culture and the dualities of the Haitian and Haitian-American experience. Her latest work, Everything Inside, a collection of stories, was published in August. She is author of Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection, Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner, the novels-in-stories, The Dew Breaker and Claire of the Sea Light, as well as The Art of Death, a National Books Critics Circle finalist. She is the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, The Beacon Best of 2000, Haiti Noir, Haiti Noir 2, and Best American Essays 2011. She has written seven books for young adults and children: Anacaona Golden Flower, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama’s Nightingale, Untwine, and My Mommy Medicine, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance, A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel and a collection of essays, Create Dangerously. Her memoir Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow and a 2018 winner of the prestigious Neudstadt Prize, which is commonly referred to as the American Nobel.

Karine Jean-Pierre

MoveOn.org, NBC News & MSNBC

Karine Jean-Pierre's professional experience has ranged widely from presidential campaigns to grassroots activism to local politics, to working in the White House. She is the Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn and the author of the forthcoming political memoir: Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work and the Promise of America. 

She appears as a political commentator on MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS NewsHour, ABC’s "This Week,"  and HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher."

She previously served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Martin O’Malley for President. Before that she served as campaign manager for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. Previously, she managed Tish James’ successful campaign for New York City Public Advocate. In 2011, she served as Deputy Battleground States Director for former President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, managing his political engagement in key states while leading the delegate selection and ballot access process.

Before joining President Obama’s re-election campaign, she served as the Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Her interests demonstrate her concern for the integrity and the human condition. In graduate school, she explored her Haitian roots through documentary film. Later, she worked at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics and pushed major companies like Walmart to change their business practices. While working in New York, she served as Press Secretary to Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative and Budget Affairs for two members of New York City Council.

Daphne Dufresne

GenNx 360 Capital Partners

Daphne Dufresne is an expert in finance, investment and private equity. She is a Managing Partner of GenNx360, a private equity firm with $1.4 billion under management, where she is a voting member of the firm’s Investment Committee and Chair of the firm’s Exit Committee. Previously she was a Founding Partner, Managing Director and Investment Committee member of RLJ Equity Partners, a $230 million private equity firm founded by entrepreneur and BET-founder Robert L. Johnson, where she was responsible for sourcing, executing and monitoring investments, the day to day management of the firm including fundraising. She currently serves on the board of directors of Condor Hospitality Trust, UNFI, and the National Association of Investment Companies and is also involved with the Washington DC/Baltimore chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO).She was elected Chairman of publicly traded Condor Hospitality NYSE:(CDOR) and member of the board of directors of United Natural Foods NYSE:(UNFI) She is married with three children

Cassandre Davilmar

Lakou Cafe

Cassandre Davilmar is the owner and manager of Lakou Café, a Haitian-American community café and event space located in Brooklyn, NY. Cassandre worked as an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, a top international law firm based in New York City, and as an Associate investment banker at Moelis & Company. She opened Lakou Café in May 2018 to help better her community and provide an outlet for Haitian creativity and community building. Since then, the café has continued to grow through events such as Haitian Game Night, Brunch at Lakou and various art shows curated by Yvena Despagne featuring up and coming Haitian artists such as Tracy Guiteau, Steven Baboun and Watson Mere to name a few. Recently, Forbes.com featured Cassandre as a trailblazing woman entrepreneur. Cassandre hopes that through entrepreneurship she can continue to have community impact and inspire others to follow their smile and make their ideas actionable.

Swanellie Paulin

Edward Jones

Swanellie Paulin is a financial advisor who is passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals. Since joining Edward Jones Investments in 2008, She has established herself as a trusted partner among the firm’s high net-worth clients reliant on her retirement and estate planning expertise, and as a mentor training future financial advisors. In 2014, she was put in charge of a new office in Pompano Beach, Florida, where she grew the firm’s retiree market share in the region. She is recognized by Edward Jones as a regional Life Insurance Expert, and is the recipient of the Partner’s Award, Field Trainer Award, and Pioneer Award. She previously worked at JP Morgan Chase & Co. When she’s not in the office Swanellie enjoys traveling, participating in the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, and spending time with friends and family.

Jeanique Riche-Druses

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Druses is Vice President and Program Officer of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., a global leader in corporate philanthropy with over $250 million invested in communities annually. In her role, she is responsible for the firm’s Small Business and Financial Capability philanthropic strategy for the Northeastern United States.  Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Jeanique built the New York City Housing Authority’s Business Development Unit, providing access to business-building services to over six-hundred thousand persons, tailored to the specific needs of low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. Additionally, she held management positions in Operations, Strategic Marketing, Finance, and Business Development at Verizon, Mercedes Benz, and American Express and taught Entrepreneurship and Marketing in the City University of New York system. A Wharton Business School Graduate, with a dual degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management, she also holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Guerda Nicolas

Ayiti Community Trust

Dr. Marie Guerda Nicolas is a professor at the  University of Miami, School of Education and Human Development and co-founder of Ayiti Community Trust, Haiti’s first endowed community foundation. She is an author and international speaker on women’s issues, depression, trauma, and interventions for Haitians, ethnic identity, social support networks of ethnic minorities, and spirituality.  Some of the projects she is currently working on include: promoting academic excellence among ethnically diverse youth, identifying development of Black youths, and empowering ethnically diverse parents to be effective parents. She also conducts research on social support networks of Caribbean populations with a specific focus on Haitians. She is the recipient of the 2018 Humanitarian Award from the American Psychological Association.

Marguerite Lathan


Marguerite Erasme Lathan is a member of the Board of Directors for Fonkoze USA. She is a licensed clinical therapist trained in trauma resilience. She is the author of an article published in the book Art Therapy in Neuroscience. She works as an individual, adolescent, child, and family therapist in Los Angeles with a focus on at‑risk and traumatized children and youth. Born and raised in Haiti, Marguerite emigrated to Canada and then to the United States. She lives in California with her family and enjoys singing and dancing; gardening, traveling and hiking; reading and meditation; movies, and a few good jokes.


Yve-Car Momperousse

Kreyol Essence 

As co-founder and CEO of Kreyol Essence, Yve-Car Momperousse is leading an agribusiness that creates 100% natural and ethical beauty products from Haiti. The social impact business connects its sales to economic development in Haiti and has created jobs for more than 300 Haitian farmers and women. Leveraging ingredients such as Haitian Black Castor Oil, Haitian Moringa and Vetiver, Kreyol Essence is known for its plant-based products formulated for those with dry hair and skin, and curly hair. Kreyol Essence launched its black castor oil nationwide at Whole Foods Market and in more than 100 natural stores in Canada. She was recently selected by the beauty giant, Sephora, as a next generation beauty industry leader. 


Rosemonde Pierre-Louis

NYU McSilver Institute COO, NYU McSilver Institute and Chair, The Haitian Roundtable

Rosemonde Pierre-Louis is a co-founder and Chairperson of the Haitian Roundtable, dedicated to redefining the narrative about Haiti and recognizing excellence in the Haitian community. She has been a leading voice, advocate and mobilizing force on issues impacting the Haitian community. She is a groundbreaking Haitian American public servant and a highly-recognized public sector leader known for driving social and economic change. She currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University. She previously served in the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as Senior Adviser to the NYC Commission on Gender Equity (CGE) and as Commissioner of Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV).


She has previously served as Manhattan Deputy Borough President, the first Haitian American ever to serve in that role. Prior to becoming Deputy Borough President, Ms. Pierre-Louis served in leadership positions at several public interest and community development organizations and also served for six years as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. Rosemonde is the Founder of the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance and also serves on the Board of Directors of Eleanor’s Legacy and is a member of the Founder’s Circle for Higher Heights for America. In 2010 following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Rosemonde was appointed by then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve on the five-member delegation representing the United States at the United Nations Haiti Donor Pre-Conference in Martinique, West Indies. She has received numerous awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation for her work and advocacy for Haiti and its diaspora.

Suzie Armas.JPG

Dr. Suzie Richardson-Armas

New World Health Foundation

Dr. Suzie Richardson Armas is a sought-after national health expert who has made patient education and care in infectious diseases her life’s work. She is the Senior Chief of Operations for Florida-Based New Health Community Centers and works with minority communities grappling with issues of sexual health and violence and HIV/AIDS as co-founder and executive director of New World Health Foundation (NWHF). She became an HIV/AIDS Specialist from the Academy of HIV/AIDS after caring for HIV/AIDS patients at the Clinical Immunology/Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. She has been interviewed by PBS NewsHour and Science magazine on the impact of HIV/AIDS in Mami’s Haitian community. She has also served as a forensic examiner to Roxcy/Bolton Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Prior to starting NWHF she was the president of Operation Jean-Rabel 2004 which organized international medical mission trips to rural Haiti.


Naahmie Charleston

Bowie State University

Naahmie Charleston is an aspiring entrepreneur and event planner tapping into the field of Hospitality. She was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. She had the opportunity to experience life overseas during her adolescent years. She attended Middle School in Haiti while her father was there on a work assignment. During which time, she learned firsthand the Haitian culture in its specificity. Upon her return to the United States, she continues to show interest in everything Haitian by volunteering whenever she is available.

Naahmie presently attends Bowie State University where she is working on obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Her hobbies include interior decorating, photography and health fitness


Kya Pierre-Dawkins

Sidwell Friends School

Kya Pierre-Dawkins is an 11th grade student at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. For the past two years she has been involved in Junior Achievement’s Company Program, which sparked her interest in business and social entrepreneurship and which she plans to study in college. She is a member of her school’s varsity volleyball and track teams and holds leadership roles in many school clubs. Kya has been participating in Haitian Ladies Brunch and Network as a volunteer since she was 11. She also helped facilitate the first Haitian Ladies Weekend Youth Session in 2018.