Francie Latour is a writer, educator and diversity/inclusion practitioner. Her writing on race, culture and identity has appeared in the Boston Globe, The Root, Essence and Ebony, among other publications. She has appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today and on National Public Radio. In 2000, Francie’s essay on Haitian-American identity was selected for the anthology The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, edited by author Edwidge Danticat. After 17-year career in journalism, Francie now works in higher education, coordinating a diversity initiative for undergraduates at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a leading center for biomedical research. Francie is also a co-founder of Wee The People, a new arts-based series for kids ages 3-12 exploring social justice and activism. Francie, who lives in Roslindale, is a mother of three and a daughter of Haitian heritage. Her mother was born in Les Cayes and her father was born in Petion-Ville.
Nadège V. White
Born in Haïti and raised in the United States and Canada, Nadège V. White works in the non-profit healthcare sector, has a keen mind for numbers and finance, is an amateur photographer, and has dabbled as a performer of Caribbean and West African cultural dances. An avid explorer of beauty, diversity, and truth, Nadège has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Canada. Her self-expression is a blend of quirky sense of humor and imagination, a deep respect for the inherent “efficiency” within us all, and a penchant for hopefulness.
Nadia-Renee Patricia Taylor has been supporting JAE for several years. She started dancing with JAE's Ethno-Haitian dance classes since 2008 and has been an instrumental advocate for the company's dance programs in Boston and in Haiti for the past five years and remains an instrumental supporter. Nadia is an Educator, avid traveler, and dance culture enthusiast. Nadia is a strong believer in God who uses her talents and gifts as a community person to help people in need of which she strongly believes is God's work. A recent trip to Chennai India to participate in a non-traditional mission and cultural exchange trip, fueled that passion and her passion for more world travels. As an Educator, Nadia continues to work with children supporting their academic and social/emotional needs. When Nadia is away from her teaching responsibilities, Nadia volunteers to help feed people at her former Youth Center, and supports community festivals in her home town of Cambridge Massachusetts. Nadia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master's of Education in English as a Second Language. She currently lives in Cambridge Massachusetts.
Raquel Cardoso is an art educator and artist who believes that we are most connected to ourselves and the world around us when we are creating, whether it be painting, dancing or making music. She has spent the last 16 years sharing this vision with her students with an emphasis on themes of social justice, honoring identity and each child's personal experience and voice. She immigrated to the U.S from Portugal when she was a child and has always felt connected to others who straddle two countries, cultures and families like herself. She is an avid traveler, taking full advantage of summers off, and has traveled to numerous countries, including southern Africa, Europe and South America. She was called to the strong sense of community and powerful and grounding movements of Jean's dance class 4 years ago and has never turned back.
Daniel Solomon Koff is a design consultant who creates shared social, cultural, and multi-sensory experiences. His work ranges from urban placemaking to interactive installations, from the downtowns of old industrial cities, to the galleries of contemporary art museums. Koff has a Masters in Design Studies with a concentration in Art, Design, and the Public Domain from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In college he earned a dual bachelor's degree in Social Design and History with a minor in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.
PR & OUTREACH
Woodrick is a junior studying business management at Bunker Hill Community College, and will be transferring to the University of Massachusetts Boston in the near future. He was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved to the United States when he was 16. When Woodrick first came to the US, he was homeless himself for several years, and is very excited to be part of JAE. Woodrick loves nature, running, and playing soccer.
JAE ADVISOR Michel DeGraff, born in Haiti, is Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Michel dances as often as he can at JAE’s Afro-Haitian classes at the Dance Complex in Cambridge. On the scholarly and activist fronts, his interests mostly concern the development and structures of Creole languages, with focus on his native Haitian Creole (“Kreyòl”) and on the innovative and socially conscious uses of Kreyòl in research and education. Most recently, these interests have taken him to collaborate with MIT Sloan and Haitian colleagues on leadership and teamwork in Haiti. Michel’s research agenda has two important implications for linguistics and for education- and language-related policies toward an “emergent” Haiti: (i) Kreyòl is comparable to European and other languages in terms of its development, structures and expressive capacity; (ii) Kreyòl is an essential tool for the academic and socio-economic progress of Haitians and their communities, especially these communities that have long been the victims of social exclusion and injustice. Two of Michelʼs recent projects in Haiti, both funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and with the support of Haitian leaders and educators, have explored some of the ways in which the strategic use of Kreyòl and educational technology help improve Haitian students’ active learning of reading, writing, math and science. In the ongoing MIT-Haiti Initiative, Michel has enlisted the collaboration of colleagues at MIT and in Haiti for the development, evaluation and dissemination of state-of-the-art Kreyòl-based, technology-enhanced and open-education resources for active learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (“STEM”). The goal of the MIT-Haiti Initiative is to make high-quality education accessible to the greatest numbersof Haitian students throughout the country, while strengthening the foundations of Haiti’s linguistic and cultural identity—in a spirit similar to JAE’s work in Haiti. Michel believes that “quality education for all” in Haiti crucially depends on one indispensable linguistic tool at the root of Haitian identity and culture. This tool is Kreyòl, the only language spoken by all Haitians. Therefore, Kreyòl is the most widely accessible pedagogical asset in Haiti and an essential ingredient for economic development and nation building. It is through the innovative, strategic and systematic use of Kreyòl that Haitian students can optimally develop their capacity for acquiring and building additional knowledge in STEM, in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and in second languages such as French, English, Spanish, etc. These learning gains, to be achieved through the coupling of technology and Haiti’s national language, should lead the country to the much awaited path of research and innovation in STEM toward sustainable development, with Haiti becoming a truly “emergent country” by 2030. More generally, a stronger and more vibrant Haiti must be rooted in the wealth of its linguistic and cultural soil, along the ideals embodied in JAE’s mission. Wi, se kon sa Ayiti ap djaye ak bèlte pou tout pitit li! For more information about Michel DeGraff’s projects, see http://mit.edu/degraff and http://haiti.mit.edu.
JAE ADVISOR, COFOUNDER
Stephanie co-founded Jean Appolon Expressions with Jean Appolon in 2011 and served as Executive Director for the organization’s first five years. Stephanie is a non-profit professional with nearly twenty years of experience in arts management leadership. She has held recent leadership positions with Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium and El Sistema USA at New England Conservatory. From 2005-2008, she lived in Maputo, Mozambique where she was the Founder and Project Manager of a grassroots project called “Dance for Life,” done in partnership with a local dance company and funded by foreign embassies and corporations. From 2000-2005, she served as the Director of Outreach and Education at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), one of Seattle’s largest arts organizations and one of the major ballet companies in the U.S. Currently a freelance consultant and writer, Stephanie received a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Virginia and an M.A. in English Literature at the University of Washington.