Les Grenadiers  – Haiti National Football Team

Les Grenadiers made history this year when they beat Canada’s national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup regional tournament. Their history-making win gave Haitians a rare opportunity to celebrate in the midst of ongoing political conflict in the country.  While they had an impressive streak during the Gold Cup, their time in the tournament ultimately came to an end when Mexico’s Raul Jimenez scored on a penalty kick, leading Mexico to victory. 

“It’s crazy. Haiti’s never done that in the past, so I’m really proud of my guys, of all the staff, the fans and all the country” Duckens Nazon, the team’s star striker said in a post-game interview with a Gold Cup reporter following the match against Canada. “So now we are in the history, history for Haiti, but it’s not finished, so we want to go higher and higher and higher, so the sky’s the limit.”

President Jovenel Moïse

President Jovenel Moïse has dominated local headlines and attracted the attention of international press over his response to the civil unrest that has enveloped the country for the last 18 months. Under his presidency, inflation increased sharply, fuel prices were nearly doubled overnight, and scathing reports implicating Moïse in the PetroCaribe scandal were released. 

Despite widespread protests that have at times crippled the capital for weeks at a time, Moïse has stood firm in his resolve to stay in office until the end of his term.

Karine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre made headlines this year after the release of her memoir, “Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America“, in November. The memoir chronicles her path from New York’s Haitian community to working in the Obama White House, and offers a blueprint for anyone who wants to change the face of politics. In Moving Forward, she tells how she got involved, showing how politics can be accessible to anyone, no matter their background.

Kerby Jean-Raymond

Photo credit: Kerby Jean-Raymond Instagram

This summer, Haitian-American fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond was named artistic director of Reebok Studies, a new division of the footwear and apparel company he pitched to Reebok executives. Jean-Raymond is no novice in the fashion industry. He’s the founder and creative director of Pyer Moss. Prior to starting the label in 2013, Jean-Raymond worked as a designer for Marchesa, Theory, Kenneth Cole, and Kay Unger. In 2018, he won the $400,000 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

Haiti Capsule Collections

This year was a big one for Haiti-centered capsule collections. Both Nike and Paper Planes launched Haiti capsule collections that sold out in days. In November, Nike released a limited collection designed by Ruth Jean-Marie. The limited-edition sneakers featured colors inspired by the uniforms worn by the leaders of the revolution, as well as, the Haitian flag. In December, Roc Nation’s Paper Planes released the Global Warning: Haiti capsule collection that also sold out in a matter of days. The capsule collection featured two snapback caps, a hoodie and t-shirt. The snapback caps — “Haiti Crown Old School” and “Haiti Crown 9Fifty” — feature the signature Paper Planes logo on the front, the Haitian coat of arms on the side, and “Haiti” embroidered on the back. The Global Warning Haiti hoodie and t-shirt showcased key features of Haitian society placed in the Paper Planes’ logo printed on the front of the hoodie.

Annie Jean-Baptiste

This Haitian-American powerhouse is working to make Google more diverse and inclusive. As head of product inclusion, research, and activation at Google, Annie Jean-Baptiste is responsible for ensuring that Google’s products and services are reflective of their diverse audience. In November, she was named one of Face2Face Africa’s 30 Black Stars and has been a featured speaker at a number of conferences. She’s been covered in Vogue, Essence, the Huffington Post, the Root, Milton Magazine and the Boston Globe. She was also named “One to Watch” by the Haitian Roundtable.

Yelitsa Jean-Charles

Yelitsa Jean-Charles is taking the toy world by storm with her Healthy Roots Doll. She created Healthy Roots Dolls to help little girls learn to love their curls and see themselves in their dolls. The first doll of the collection is Zoe, whose hair is made of a fiber meant to feel like human hair. “[The] Healthy Roots Dolls name comes from wanting to instill strong cultural roots and identity in children through our dolls, as well as, teaching them to love their hair so they can have healthy roots,” Jean-Charles said. Healthy Roots Doll also caught the attention of execs at P&G. This Christmas, they partnered with Jean-Charles, offering customers free products from their My Black is Beautiful hair care line.

Henri Pierre-Jacques

In 2015, Henri Pierre-Jacques and his partners launched Harlem Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm aimed at investing in diverse founders over the next 20 years. Fast forward to 2019, Pierre-Jacques and his partners have announced the closing of Harlem Capital Partners Venture Fund I, LP at more than $40 million. The firm and its leadership have been recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30, Inc. 30 Under 30, The Root 100, and EBONY Power 100 lists. 

“We fundamentally believe we are a venture fund with impact, not an impact fund,” Pierre-Jacques said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The way we generate impact is to give women and minority entrepreneurs ownership.”

Michael Brun

With his debut album Lokal, the 27-year-old DJ brought the sounds of Haiti to an international market. The album featured Haiti favorites like Belo, Paul Beaubrun and Gardy Girault. What started as a free block party in Haiti, expanded to a multi-city tour, attracting thousands of people across North America.

“The deeper I got into my own culture, the more it allowed me to connect with others,” Michael Brun said in an interview with The Grammys. “I felt like that was so important to get a clear vision of what Haiti represents to me and that led the album, that led the organization of it and the sounds.”

He’s been featured in Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, OkayAfrica and TIME magazine.

Garcelle Beauvais

The Haitian-American actress made history this year when she became the first black cast member of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She’s also slated to appear in the upcoming sequel of Coming to America that’s currently in production. 

“As the first African American Housewife in the ‘Beverly Hills’ franchise, I am honored and humbled by this awesome opportunity to exemplify the fact that Black Girl Magic lives and thrives in every ZIP code,” Beauvais said in a statement to Bravo’s The Daily Dish. “I’m excited to share the many ongoing daily surprises, laughs and joys of being a working mother in today’s crazy world. The hustle is R-E-A-L! No games, all heart and a little dash of fashion-filled sass is what you’ll get when you step into my sphere… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Cacsmy “Mama Cax” Brutus

Cacsmy Brutus, known to the fashion world as Mama Cax, made headlines for her work in fashion and advocating for those with disabilities. The rising model, who passed away on Dec. 16 at the age of 30, had appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue and was featured in major fashion campaigns and runways all over the world. When news of her death broke, there was an outpouring of grief and condolences on social media. 

“A queen. A force. A powerhouse beauty that brought her strength to the @savagexfenty stage this year inspiring so many across the globe. Rest In Power sis,” Rihanna wrote on Twitter. 

“To say that Cax was a fighter would be an understatement,” her family posted to her Instagram account. ““As a cancer survivor, she had grown accustomed to taking on life’s several challenges head-on and successfully. It is with that same grit (fervor) that she fought her last days on earth.”

Farah N. Louis

After a contentious campaign over the City Council seat for Brooklyn’s 42nd District, Farah N. Louis emerged the victor despite the lack of support from her former boss Jumaane D. Williams. The seat was vacated following Williams’ win in the public advocate race. In October she landed the coveted cover of City & State’s NYC 40 Under 40 Rising Stars issue. Her campaign and subsequent wins have catapulted her to the forefront of New York City politics, signaling a new era for Haitian Americans in politics in the Big Apple.

“We’ve always had a platform, a voice in the community. We’ve always been influential. There is a Haitian bloc here in New York City, and I’m proud of my heritage. I’m proud and I’m thankful that Haitians came out to support me in this race. That they remembered me and that they know my work and that I am a true advocate for the community at large,” she said in an interview with City & State. “But the support wasn’t just from the Haitian community. The support was from the community at large. That’s the Orthodox Jewish, the Haitian, the Muslim community, the South Asian community. I work for everyone. And unifying above the ethnic titles is what’s important to me.”

Franck D. Joseph II

Franck D. Joseph II is quickly rising up the New York City political scene. The 29-year-old is the youngest deputy commissioner at the New York City Commission on Human Rights and was also named one of City & State’s NYC 40 Under 40 Rising Stars. In his role as deputy commissioner for community relations, he’s spearheaded the Meals as Collective Memory project focused on collecting stories of Black community spaces and Black-owned businesses in the face of gentrification and neighborhood change. He’s also worked on initiatives that’s led to legislation banning discrimination based on a person’s hair and campaigns raising awareness on the types of discrimination black and brown New Yorkers face in the city. 

Ethan Herisse

Ethan Herisse made waves in the entertainment and film industry this year, following his performance as Yusef Salaam in Ava Duvernay’s critically-acclaimed miniseries When They See Us. The miniseries, which is based off of the Central Park Five, received a host nominations including, 11 at the 71st Emmy Awards.

“It was emotionally taxing at times,” he said in an interview withThe New York Times about playing the teenage Salaam. “I feel like I speak for all of [the cast] when I say that we just wanted to get it right. We really want to tell their truth as best as possible for these men, for this story.”

Haitian Ladies Network

What started as five women of Haitian descent getting together to connect over their heritage and shared values, has grown to one of the largest gatherings of Haitian women in the Diaspora. In just one year, their Facebook grew from 300 to nearly 50,000 members, while their signature event, the Haitian Ladies Network™ Weekend, attracted more than 600 women from all over the Diaspora. 

“It has been our joy to see the growth of Haitian Ladies Network™ into a community of laughter, love, encouragement and inspiration among Haitian women,” said the 9-member Haitian Ladies Network™ Steering Committee. In 2020, Haitian Ladies Network™ Weekend will be held in Washington, DC October 9-11. The weekend features a Saturday symposium and Sunday brunch.

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