HER EXCELLENCY SONIA M. JOHNNY
Sonia M. Johnny presented her credentials to President Barack Obama on September 19, 2012, as the ambassador from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia. She had previously served as her country’s envoy to Washington from 1997 to 2007. Succeeding Michael Lewis, who had served since July 2008, Johnny is concurrently accredited as St. Lucia’s permanent representative of Saint Lucia to the Organization of American States (OAS).
Born 1953, Johnny, earned a graduate degree in International Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a law degree at the Georgetown University Law School. She was licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia in 1993.
Joining the St. Lucian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1979, Johnny rose to head the ministry’s Political and Economics Division. In November 1997, Johnny became St. Lucia’s first female ambassador, representing her country in Washington until March 1, 2007. Concurrently accredited to the OAS, she immediately became the Chairman of the Leo Rowe Fund, which provides interest-free loans under the OAS Fellowships and Scholarships Department, remaining at the helm for eight years. She was also of the OAS Permanent Council in 2006. Johnny spent much of her energies on the “banana war,” a three-cornered trade dispute among the U.S., the European Union, and banana producing countries in the Caribbean and Central America, including St. Lucia.
After leaving the Foreign Ministry, Johnny worked at OAS from March 2007 to November 2010, first as chief of the Tourism Section in the Department of Trade, Tourism and Competitiveness, and then as deputy director of the Summits Secretariat.
Sonia Johnny is married to Lloyd Jackson, an American citizen who works for USAID and is currently Supervisory Program Officer assigned to Kosovo.
JOANNE C. HILLHOUSE
Joanne C. Hillhouse’s writing has been described as “honest”, “real”, “poetic”, and “lyrical”. Her Antiguan culture is at the heart of her writing: “Obvious is the ‘writer’s ear’ for effective characterization and narrative that stays true to Caribbean island experience”
Joanne has read at Brown University, University of Miami, Middlebury College, University of Toronto, and at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference in Suriname. She was keynote speaker when University of Puerto Rico held its annual Islands in-Between conference at the Antigua State College; the inaugural author in New York at the Meet the Author series hosted by the Friends of Antigua Public Library, which also hosted the New York launch of Oh Gad!; and a speaker and panelist at the 13th annual conference of the ACWWS and the BIM symposium Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers. She was sponsored by the Commonwealth with a small group of Antiguan and Barbudan writers to attend the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica; and has also been a part over the years of the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival.
She has published poetry and fiction in Caribbean, African, and American journals including The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe, Calabash, Mythium, Sea Breeze, Tongues of the Ocean, Poui and others. In 2008, a Moonlight street festival celebrating her book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight capped off an “official summer read” campaign organized by the Best of Books bookstore and the ABILF.
As a freelance journalist and writer, Joanne has received health and environmental awards; published feature articles in Américas, Caribbean Beat, CLR James Journal, Zing plus. She’s worked in local television/film – including as associate producer of Antigua’s first feature length film The Sweetest Mango and production manager on its second, No Seed. She’s consulted on campaigns by the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, Environmental Awareness Group (Antigua), the Commonwealth Youth Program the Antigua and Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation, and others; as well as corporate, book, and anthology projects.
Writing and reading have remained her twin passions, however: “I was influenced to write by my desire to tell stories, to impact readers in the way that my favorite stories i impacted me…I’m just a sucker for a good story.”
Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When she was two years old, her father André immigrated to New York, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose. This left Danticat and her younger brother Eliab to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Kreyòl at home.
While still in Haiti, Danticat wrote her first short story about a girl who was visited by a clan of women each night. At the age of 12, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, to join her parents in a heavily Haitian Americanneighborhood. As she was an immigrant teenager, Edwidge’s accent and upbringing were a source of discomfort for her, thus she turned to literature for solace. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, “A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre,” in New Youth Connections, a citywide magazine written by teenagers. She later wrote a story about her immigration experience for New Youth Connections, “A New World Full of Strangers”. In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, “When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory…. Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice. My silence was destroyed completely, indefinitely.”
After graduating from Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, New York, Danticat entered Barnard College in New York City. Initially she had intended on studying to become a teacher, but her love of writing won out and she received a BA in French literature. In 1993, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Brown University—her thesis, entitled “My turn in the fire – an abridged novel”, was the basis for her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, which was published by Soho Press in 1994. Four years later it became an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
Since completing her MFA, Danticat has taught creative writing at both New York University and the University of Miami. She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme, on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haïti. Her short stories have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.
Danticat is a strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians abroad and at home. In 2009, she lent her voice and words to Poto Mitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy, a documentary about the impact of globalization on five women from different generations.
Danticat has also won fiction awards from Essence and Seventeen magazines, was named “1 of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference” in Harper’s Bazaar, was featured in New York Times Magazine as one of “30 under 30” people to watch, and was called one of the “15 Gutsiest Women of the Year” by Jane Magazine.
Danticat is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, she is married to Fedo Boyer. She has two daughters, Mira and Leila.
CAROLE BEROTTE JOSEPH, PhD
Carole Berotte Joseph is the nation’s First Haitian born US College President, the fourth president of Massachusetts Bay Community College (MassBay) in Wellesley Hills, MA. She will be its first woman president since its inception. She served as the college’s chief executive for almost a year already, before becoming president. Dr. Joseph, the eldest daughter of a teacher and a nurse, knew growing up in Brooklyn that she wanted to teach. “On snow days and bad weather days, I would line up the kids and I would lead in playing school,” she recalls.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dr. Joseph immigrated to the United States as a young girl in 1957 with her family during the years of Haiti’s Duvalier dictatorship. She earned her Bachelor Degree (cum laude) in Spanish and Education from the York College of the City University of New York (CUNY), and a Masters degree (magna cum laude) in curriculum and teaching and in bilingual education from Fordham University. She received her Ph.D. in bilingual education and sociolinguistics from New York University in 1992. Berotte Joseph, 57, speaks four languages: Creole, French, Spanish and English.
A socio-linguist, Dr. Joseph entered the field of higher education as an adjunct lecturer in the Bilingual Education Program at the City College of CUNY. Within a year, she became a full-time faculty member and was instrumental in developing bilingual education programs for Haitian immigrant students enrolled in the New York City public schools. In 1996, Dr. Joseph became the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Hostos Community College and was later promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Active in the Haitian-American community, Dr. Joseph is the immediate past president of the Haitian Studies Association, a university-based scholarly organization which provides access to resources and documents the history and culture of Haitians. Dr. Joseph has also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education
As a staunch advocate of community colleges, Dr. Berotte Joseph’s vision is to make MassBay one of the premiere community colleges in the state of Massachusetts. My goal is to create a dynamic environment for students with the best faculty and the highest level of support services, says Dr. Berotte Joseph.
Dr Joseph believe Community Colleges are somewhat underrated and little recognized, but they play a critical role in our economy. Many times when there is a shortage of workers in a certain sector, such as nursing, community colleges are nimble and have an edge over four-year colleges.
Dr. Joseph, joined Dutchess Community College on October 1, 2000, provided academic leadership through the creation of seven new degree and certificate programs at the College. Many of these programs were initiated in response to community needs and developed collaboratively with community advisory committees and DCC faculty and staff.
Under Dr. Joseph’s leadership, the College expanded its collaborative programs with Dutchess County high schools, increasing the number of DCC credit classes offered to concurrently-enrolled high school students.
Dr. Joseph also active in the State University of New York Teacher Education Advisory Council, a group developed by SUNY Chancellor Robert King, in which she worked to create new teacher education templates for the SUNY system. She has also been active on the SUNY Professional Development Task Force, where she initiated discussions on the creation of a Distinguished Professorship Award for faculty members at Sony’s community colleges.
Dr. Joseph Also served on the boards of the Duchess County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the United Way of Duchess County, the Family Partnership Center, and the Hyde Park Recreation Commission.*
Marlie Hall is an award-winning Broadcast Journalist. She is currently a Freelance Correspondent for CBS Newspath – CBS News’ satellite news gathering service. Before joining CBS Newspath in December of 2012, Marlie was the original Host of “Eye Opener” – a morning news program on PHL 17 in Philadelphia. Marlie is also a Correspondent and Host for One Caribbean Television – an international network broadcasting to more than 30 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as five major U.S. cities on RCN Cable.
In 2010, Marlie was a Freelance Digital Journalist with NBC Universal’s theGrio.com and Co-Host of “Profiles” – the award-winning celebrity interview show on NYC-TV. From 2004 to 2009, she served as Anchor and Correspondent for Cablevision’s HDNews – the nation’s first 24-hour High Definition News Network. In addition to anchoring the network’s nightly newscast, Marlie reported major news events from the field. She covered the historic 2008 Obama Presidential Election from states all over the country. She also travelled internationally to Haiti to report on the healthcare crisis there. It was this international reporting that earned her a Bronze Telly Award in 2009. She went to Haiti again in 2010 to report on the Haitian Earthquake for NBC Universal.
Before Joining HDNews, Marlie hosted her own show on the Food Network called “Recipe for Success” in addition to several network specials. It was this stint in the world of non-fiction programming that lead to Hosting jobs on NYC-TV, WEBMD-TV and CHIC.TV.
Prior to that, Marlie worked as General Assignment Reporter for WCBS-TV in 2003. She also worked as an Anchor and Reporter for News 12 The Bronx (2000 – 2003).
She received her undergraduate degree in Journalism from St. John’s University where she also served as an Adjunct Professor of Mass Communications and earned a Master’s of Business Administration at Dowling College in New York. She is current enrolled at Penn State studying Weather Forecasting.
Marlie currently resides in New York and is proud to be a Haitian-American.
Born in England of Guyanese parents, Oonya has lived and worked for most of her life in various Caribbean islands and is currently based in Grenada. A creative writer and novelist, she also works freelance as a researcher and consultant in the arts, private sector, with youth and international organizations, focusing on social development.
Oonya started writing in 1997 and her first novel Buxton Spice, is a story of a young girl’s growing sexual awareness and sexuality set in the multi-racial society of Guyana disintegrating under a corrupt government. Buxton Spice was auctioned in London between major publishers and was published by Phoenix House, Orion UK 1998, and by Dutton/Plume, USA 1999, Beacon Press USA 2004. Also published in Spanish (Tusquet Editores,1999 – El Arbol de los Sentidos), French (Grasset, 1999 – Les Secrets du Manguier), and in Italian, Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew, serialized for radio by BBC Radio 4.
Her second novel, Tide Running, set in Tobago, is a vernacular account of a young Tobagonian’s intimate, ultimately disastrous intersection with a wealthy interracial couple and the predicament of a young society looking to America for fantasies and heroes. It also raises unsettling questions about relationships, wealth and responsibility, racial, cultural and class differences. Tide Running was published by Picador, Macmillan UK, 2001, Farrar Straus & Giroux, USA, 2003, Beacon Press USA 2004 and won a Casa De Las Americas prize, 2002. It was also well received on both sides of the Atlantic, and Oonya was named a “Great Talent for the 21st Century” by the Orange Prize judges.
‘All Decent Animals’ is published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, USA May 2013. This novel looks at personal aesthetic choices and at the island of Trinidad, developing but rich, aiming at ‘world class’ status a-midst its poor, island cousins. It is about relationships examined around the death of an architect bridging ‘first world/third world’, and through the city of Port of Spain. Loyalties, love, conflicting cultures and creativity are central themes as well as unspoken sexuality, HIV/AIDS and euthanasia.
All Decent Animals is a forthright inquiry into the complexity of character, social issues and Island society, with all of its humor, mysticism and tragedy.
Oonya is working on a non-fiction narrative/novel in progress:
‘Ti Marie’ (working title) is based on documenting and then voicing an eighteen year old Grenadian girl’s life story of sexual abuse, violence, rape, love, sexuality and motherhood. It reflects her own and local perceptions of what is considered abuse or normal, and contrasts these with institutional and foreign views. It will look at how the heroine and her wider society deal with these issues, as she carries on with her life. The narrator’s authentic humorous language and irrepressible character will bring a fresh, vigorous approach to old universal themes and particular Caribbean psycho-social issues.
Kempadoo’s novels are used in several universities in the US, UK, Canada and the Caribbean and she has contributed to collections, anthologies and journals such as: Trinidad Noir, Akashic Books, 2008; Caribbean Dispatches – Beyond the Tourist Dream, Macmillan 2006; The Bomb, literary magazine.
Lorraine Toussaint (born April 4, 1960) is a Trinidadian-born American actress best known for her role as Rene Jackson in Lifetime drama series “Any Day Now” (1998-2002).
When deciding upon a career, Lorraine let her fingers do the walking. The accomplished actress gained her initial interest in the acting profession after somebody asked her, at the age of 11, what she wanted to do with her life. Puzzled, she opened the yellow pages, turned to the “A” section and found a variety of advertisements for acting schools. She decided to give it a try, called the school with the largest ad and quickly found herself hooked.
Toussaint studied at the renowned High School of Performing Arts in New York and The Julliard School. On her graduation day, she landed her first paying job as Lady MacBeth with Shakespeare & Company. That was the beginning for Toussaint, who spent the next 12 years working in New York theater, prior to moving to Los Angeles.
Nominated for four NAACP Image Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a TV Guide Award nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series and the recipient of The Wiley A. Branton Award from the National Bar Association, Toussaint starred for four seasons as Rene Jackson on Lifetime’s critically acclaimed series “Any Day Now. “
She has also starred on “Crossing Jordan,” “Leaving L.A.,” “Amazing Grace,” “Where I Live” and Steven Spielberg’s “Class of ’61.” Toussaint’s memorable recurring roles include “Law & Order,” “Murder One,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and, most recently, “Ugly Betty.” She also appeared in several telefilms, including ABC’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” ABC’s “Lullabyes and Lies,” CBS’s “Common Ground,” directed by Mike Newell, and HBO’s “Cherokee Kid, America’s Dream” and the multiple-award winning “If These Walls Could Talk.”
Toussaint’s feature film credits include “The Soloist” opposite Jamie Foxx, “Point of No Return,” “Psalms From The Underground,” “Black Dog,” “Breaking In” and “Hudson Hawk.”
Toussaint recently produced the Hallmark Channel telefilm “Accidental Friendship,” starring Chandra Wilson and Ben Vereen. It premiered to spectacular ratings and has earned three 2009 NAACP Image Award Nominations, including Outstanding Television Movie.
Toussaint currently lives in Los Angeles with her daughter Samara Grace.