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Staff in Haiti

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.


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.


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Astrid De Vries

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.


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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Marie-Jude Michel
executive director

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.


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.

Golnar Jahanmir
Board Member | Fundraising

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. 

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 with MetLife Investment Management in Washington, DC. Jeroen has worked for private real estate investors in both Europe and the U.S. and was responsible for new business development, asset and transaction management, and strategy development. Before moving to Washington DC, Jeroen worked for JLL, an international real estate advisory firm in the Netherlands. Jeroen has 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.


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.


Laura Grosso
board member | Grant writing and fundraising

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.


Patrick Brennan
Board Member | Grant writing and Sponsorship canada

Patrick is currently serving as an advisor to the President of Vancouver Island University and is the Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Professional Training Centre, where he applies decades of leadership experience in diplomacy, program and policy development, mentorship and Indigenous affairs. From 2014 to 2018, he served as the Executive Director for McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development. Prior to McGill, Patrick served as the Manager of Multilateral Relations in the Intergovernmental and International Relations Directorate of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Patrick has also worked at the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs in support of international indigenous issues and was the Deputy Director of the Haiti Program at Foreign Affairs and assisted in writing Canada’s bilateral strategy for engagement in the country. Patrick has also worked as a program specialist at both the United Nations World Food Programme and at the Canadian International Development Agency. He was posted with the United Nations in Haiti from 1997-1998.

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.


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.