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VOLUNTEERS

KCH is a small organization that depends on volunteers only. A growing network of volunteers at KCH USA and Canada assists the Haitian Program Coordinator with administrative, strategic and programmatic support, including fundraising, accounting, communications, social media and mentoring of the students. This network of more than 20 professionals includes the Washington, DC based Executive Director and Board of Directors, all committed to provide these services and engage in sponsorship and mentoring of the students.  Our work is exciting and very rewarding. We are constantly looking for additional volunteers, in Haiti, Washington, DC and Ottawa. 

Do you have special talents you would like to share or some time on your hands that you would like to dedicate to a good cause? Join us! 
For applications and inquiries please contact us at info@kidsconnectionhaiti.org or use the contact page to leave a message.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Astrid De Vries
Founder

Twenty years ago, Astrid went to Haiti for the first time and fell in love with the country and the people. Living in Haiti and working for an orphanage for five years, where she was exposed to the suffering of some very broken and traumatized children, she learned that even the most vulnerable lives could be transformed into lives of hope and opportunity, if loving support and the right tools were presented. Astrid decided to dedicate her life helping Haitian young people to empower themselves. After having worked for the orphanage of ‘Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs’ for ten years, Astrid founded Kids Connection Haiti in 2009.Astrid studied International Business in the Netherlands, her home country. Currently she lives in Washington DC with her two sons. She is fluent in seven languages, including Creole and French.

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Dave Stephen
Treasurer/Director KCH Canada

After completing a Bachelor's of Commerce degree in Montreal, Dave lived for two years in Haiti where he was a volunteer at the NPFS/NPH orphanage. Upon his return, he became a commercial airline pilot and made yearly trips back to Haiti, to volunteer with NPH and Maison de Naissance. During the early years of his flying career, Dave spent considerable time in developing countries in Africa and the Middle East using specially-equipped small airplanes to search for, among other things, water, vegetation and minerals for such clients as USAID, CIDA, the WFP, and the IOM. He is active in the Haitian community in Ottawa, sits on the board of Helping with Furniture supporting new immigrants, and is a member of the Refugee Assistance Group of Ottawa.

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Laura Grosso
Executive Director

Laura has over fifteen years of experience in international relief and development. She started her career as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic. In 1998, she completed her Ph.D. in urban design and planning at the University of Washington. She then returned to Niger, in West Africa to manage a broad community development program for World Vision. Program activities included literacy training, construction of medical clinics, repair of water pumps, and facilitation of savings groups. In 2000, Laura became a program officer for World Vision. She was involved in program design, monitoring and evaluation, budget development and review, proposal writing, donor relations, and reporting. From 2007 through 2009, Laura served as an urban specialist and specifically worked on how to plan development programs for urban contexts. These past experiences are now brought together to advise KCH’s activities with youth and young adults in Haiti.

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Marie-Jude Michel
Board Member | outreach public relations

Jude Michel takes a vison and makes it reality through sound strategy development.  She intuitively sees the threads of opportunity that wind through an organization, brings them together into a coherent whole, helps others extend their thinking, and drives material business advantage. She has a contagious enthusiasm and passionate belief in people that inspires them to become prouder, stronger, and more valuable contributors to their organizations and community. She has also led innovative initiatives to build programs organizations with management “bench strength” and staying power. Currently, as Project Manager at Evoke Research and Consulting, LLC, a privately‐held, consulting professional service frim, Jude oversees the operations of a billion dollar plus project. She led the successful launch and transition of taking paper claims to automating veteran’s claims to U.S Department of Veteran Affairs. She is now spearheading major strategic shifts for transforming business practices from a functional focus to an enabler of innovation for the business and integrating human center design strategies so that it truly supports customer service delivery. Previously, as Assistant Vice President of Youth Services Department to Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Jude led unique program development focused on service learning, student academic achievement, the pursuit of higher education and career exploration. During her tenure she utilized program development strategies to manage and increase the department’s operational budget from $1.8 million dollars to $5 million dollars. While training supervising 90 fulltime staff, she learned about development, which eventually led her to reviewing grants, facilitating partnerships, consulting, and leading the development office for nonprofits of various sizes and missions. Jude learned about the challenges and joys of nonprofit leadership from many different points of view. Jude holds an MA and a BS from Clark Atlanta University in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. She regularly volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Virginia Hospital Medical Brigade (VHCMB), So Others Might Eat (SOME) and, U.S.M.C. Toys for Tots Foundation.

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Francesca Calisti
Board Member | Social Media and photography

Francesca is a part-time consultant and full-time mother in Washington, DC. She serves on various Non-Profit Boards and works closely with clients on marketing and media communications. Her clients are primarily small and medium businesses in different sectors that include health and fitness, apparel, and tourism. She is also working with Italian firms to collect information on importing food products and ceramics to the United States. Prior to living in Washington DC, Francesca held several assignments as a freelance photographer in Italy, Azerbaijan, and Angola. In Azerbaijan she worked with a Women’s Association to improve the marketing of their handmade carpets. She also spent several years working in television, radio, and cinema production. She has produced documentaries for RAI, assisted on the “making of” a film by Roberto Benigni, and was a producer on a Pearson Television program entitled “Greed”.  Francesca has a Masters of Communication from the University of Florence, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Bologna.

Jeroen Kerssens
Board Member | Sponsorship and Corporate Partnerships

Jeroen has over ten years experience in financial services and commercial real estate. He currently works in Asset Management for an international investor in the Washington, DC area. Jeroen has worked in Real Estate Private Equity in both Europe and the U.S. Before moving to Washington DC, Jeroen worked for JLL, an international real estate advisory firm in the Netherlands. As a Senior Adviser, he was a relationship manager for corporate clients and responsible for new business development, project coordination and strategy development. Jeroen lived in several different countries and speaks five languages. With his experience in the corporate sector he contributes to KCH by building corporate partnerships and developing sponsorhip relationships. Jeroen is also responsible for the organization of fundraising events and the development of the KCH website. Jeroen holds a Master in Real Estate Finance from Georgetown University and a Master of Science in Management from Nyenrode Business Universiteit.

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johanna janukatys
Board Member | Social media and fundraising

Johanna has more than 15 years experience in public affairs, marketing and fundraising. She presently works in marketing for a small firm in Falls Church and for a U.S. corporation. Johanna has worked in public affairs and marketing in the U.S, Europe and Asia. She’s traveled and lived in several different countries and is a U.S. Air Force veteran. While working marketing and sales for a Haitian Direct Trade coffee company in 2014, Johanna met Astrid and began volunteering for KCH in grant writing, fundraising and social media. She loves to dance, hiking with her son in the mountains and beautiful beach days. Johanna holds a MA in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Government and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Golnar Jahanmir
Board Member

Golnar is a Pediatric Dentist in Rockville, MD and also teaches one day a week at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C. Golnar has been involved with the NPFS/NPH orphanages since 1998 when she first volunteered at the home in Mexico.  In 2000, she spent one month volunteering at the home in Honduras and continues to visit and volunteer annually at NPH Honduras.  Golnar first meet Astrid when they served as regional board members for Friends of the Orphans (now known as NPH USA), helping with fundraising efforts for the NPFS/NPH orphanages.  Golnar had the opportunity to visit Haiti in 2007, a visit that not only left a lasting impression on her,  but also instilled within her a great desire to help the people of Haiti, especially it's children and young adults.  Golnar has been volunteering with KCH since 2010. 

Roberte Exantus
Board Member | outreach public relations

Roberte is a young, vibrant and passionate Haitian woman. She lives in Washington DC and works full time for an international women's economic empowerment organization and dedicates the rest of her time to her native country. Roberte uses her talents as a consultant translator for MSNBC and as a Pro Bono consultant for many Haiti Focused non profits, her love for Haiti and Haiti's people is unmatched. She continues to tirelessly advocate for the rights of Haitians in Haiti and abroad, specifically Dominicans of Haitian descent and their battle for equal treatment in the Dominican Republic. Roberte currently sits on Kids Connection Haiti's board because she thoroughly believes that young Haitian children with limited resources deserve a shot at a stellar education and a solid career path and she is dedicated to help KCH push their mission to educate and empower Haitian youth. Roberte attended and graduated from Howard University with a bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Throughout her tenure at the University, Roberte  demonstrated her exceptional leadership qualities and passion for excellence. As an ambassador for the Yele Haiti Foundation, she coordinated events to raise funds for the support of communities in her native country, Haiti. She also actively participated in Howard University's strategy formulation committees for Haitian affairs. In 2011, Roberte led a delegation of volunteers to Haiti to contribute to the rebuilding efforts adversely affected by a devastating Earthquake in 2010. She is often sought my media houses to provide objective opinions and insight into the political and socioeconomic climate in Haiti.

Jessica Boisvert
Board Member

Originally from outside Dallas, Texas, Jessica graduated with a BA in International Development from American University in 2012. To gain experience "outside the Washington bubble". she moved to Anchorage, Alaska to work as a web developer for Northern Pioneer Helicopters, provide campaign support and strategy for local ballot initiatives, and organize events for young professionals through the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. Upon returning to Washington, DC in 2014, Jessica contracted for non-profits as a content migration specialist and database administrator before managing partnership programs and maintaining a network of sites for an international women's leadership organization. In her spare time she loves reading historical nonfiction and being outdoors whether scuba diving, gardening, or bicycling. Volunteering with KCH has sprouted a fierce passion for the expansion of educational opportunities to young adults outside the Global North, and refined her interest in the ability of freely available online resources to develop strong communities, families, and individuals. 

PROGRAM COORDINATION HAITI

Jackson PRERIUS
Program Coordinator Haiti

Jackson is responsible for the KCH program coordination in Haiti. Jackson follows up on each student's progress monthly and consults the school staff at least twice a year as well. Part of his work consist of interviewing new applicants and helping them choose an appropriate education and help them decide which professional path would be most likely successful for the student. Jackson works closely together with the program director in the United States and Canada. Before volunteering with KCH, Jackson was a student in the KCH program.

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Menesly alexandre
social worker HAITI

Born in Trouin, near Port-au-Prince, Menesly is a trained social worker responsible for the emotional and social well being of KCH students. He is also responsible for job-seeking advice and coaching including resume writing and interview preparation for any student who will soon graduate. In 2009, Menesly learned English at a dedicated English school. In 2010, he worked as an English translator. In 2011, Menesly entered the State University of Haiti in the Faculty of Human Sciences to study social work. Besides his duties as the KCH staff social worker, Menesly also teaches social sciences at a secondary school. He plans to increase his involvement in community work and working with youth. He also plans to study law in the future.

OUR PARTNERS

KCH is grateful for the organizations below, who have helped our program with advice, volunteerism, and logistical and emergency assistance. Some of our beneficiaries used to live with, or are still enrolled in, one of the programs below. KCH discusses with the organizations below how the support can best be implemented, following (or simultaneously with) the programs that these organizations offer. 

We are constantly looking to expand our network and creating new partnerships. Are you interested in becoming a partner of KCH? 
Please contact us at info@kidsconnectionhaiti.org or use the contact page to leave a message.

ComPASSION WEAVERS HAITI

This mission is organized by Fr. Rick Frechette MD CP to weave dignity out of humiliation, hope from cynicism and full tomorrow from a broken today. Offering education in the areas that are most affected by violence and poverty, the ‘St. Luke’ program strives to offer every child education and a meal a day.

eduhaitien

EduHaitien school scholarship program fund children in Haiti to attend early years, primary, secondary school, and the university scholarship program funds school graduates in Haiti to attend university. The full program fee covers the cost of tuition, material purchasing and tailoring of handmade uniforms, text books, work books, stationary, backpacks and footwear for each student. Kids Connection Haiti partnered with EduHaitien to provide the students in their program with the opportunity to join the KCH Basic Lifeskill Workshops.

English in mind institute

English in Mind Institute (EIM) — a non-profit, adult English program in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. EIM is a Haitian led, Haitian taught, and Haitian administered operation. They offer biweekly classes to 230 students and follow a Cambridge University English syllabus complete with internationally recognized exams. Along with their lower levels, they are one of the only institutes in Haiti to offer two advanced levels and also sponsor graduates to take the TOEFL exam.

global impact collective

The Global Impact Collective is an organization committed to doing good by impacting the lives of those who need it most. In order to promote good across the universe, this group brings together a team of intellectual problem-solvers who confront obstacles with a collective force and a pure passion.

haiti communiterE

Haiti Communitere (HC) is a Haitian based organization that strives for Haitian and International groups to operate as a community, thus increasing capacity and streamlining logistical operations. HC partners operate in a shared overhead environment, thus allowing their focus of operations to remain project based. HC continues to respond to the observed needs not being addressed on the ground while coordinating a Sustainability Resource Center that fosters creativity and connectivity while inspiring the Haitian and International development effort.

Jammin'4water

Water Charities Fundraising, the 501(c)3 organization responsible for the production of Jammin’4Water, raises funds for the WEF SYPC-Organized Service Project and Water-Focused Charities. Funds are provided annually through an RFP process depending on the financial success of Jammin’4Water. Kids Connection Haiti has been awarded grants from Water Charities Fundraising for three consecutive years (2015, 2016 and 2017).

JFL Foundation

The JFL Foundation supports education and entrepreneurship activities benefiting underprivileged people around the world for the betterment of themselves, their families, and communities. The foundation's vision is for everyone to have the opportunity to embrace their magnificence, learn, create an enriched life, and give back for a better tomorrow. 

nos petits freres et soeurs

NPFS offers a permanent home, quality education and healthcare for hundreds of orphaned, abandoned and at risk children. Currently more than five hundred children live at the NPFS home permanently and another three hundred live with NPFS temporarily as a consequence of the earthquake in 2010. The majority of KCH students grew up at the NPFS orphanage. NPFS advises and consults with KCH concerning the admission and well-being of new students.

oecb

OECB started almost 30 years ago with their first orphanage in Haiti, with only 6 children.  Since then, the organization has prospered and grown, and now has around 160 children in 2 houses. In addition to this, OECB supports many smaller Haitian orphanages through weekly food deliveries and more.

Rotaract club of ottawa

Rotaract is a service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30 who are dedicated to community and international service. Its membership totals over 200,000 in more than 8,700 clubs worldwide. Rotaract Clubs are self-governing and self-supporting and can be either university or community based. They provide an opportunity for young adults to enhance the knowledge and skills that will assist them in personal development, to address the physical and social needs of their communities and to promote better relations between all people worldwide through a framework of friendship and service.

Wynne farm natural reserve

Wynne Farm Nature Reserve is dedicated to environmental protection through education. The Wynne Farm Nature Reserve is situated in the mountains of Kenscoff, Haiti at an altitude of 6000 ft, on 30 acres of land. Kids Connection Haiti is grateful that The Wynne Farm hosted a Community Service day and educated the KCH students on how to preserve nature and teach that we all have the power to heal the Earth.