Friday, May 19, 2017
Where Do We Go from Here: A panel conversation on current issues in the U.S. featuring prominent Haitian-Americans at the forefront of sociopolitical affairs who will also reflect on how their Haitian heritage has shaped their political trajectory.
Panelists: Former US Ambassador to South Africa and former Democratic National Committee Executive Director, Patrick Gaspard, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and former Massachusetts State Representative, Marie St. Fleur
Moderator: Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times
Location: Busboys and Poets (14th& V 2021 14th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20009)
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
RSVP: Open to the Public
Patrick Gaspard is the vice president of the Open Society Foundations. He oversees the organization’s advocacy work in Washington, D.C., and Brussels, as well as provides strategic direction and oversight to its programmatic agenda. Gaspard previously served as United States Ambassador to South Africa from 2013 to 2016. Prior to this diplomatic role, Gaspard was most well-known for his time at the White House and as the day-to-day leader of the Democratic Party headquarters. He served as the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011 to 2013, overseeing the party committee’s efforts to re-elect President Obama. Previously, he was the Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration from January 2009 to 2011, Associate Personnel Director of President-elect Obama’s transition team, and National Political Director of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Prior to his involvement in national politics, Gaspard spent nine years as the executive vice president for politics and legislation for the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union, the largest local union in the United States. Gaspard was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Haitian parents and immigrated to New York City with his parents at the age of three.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine is the first elected Attorney General of the District of Columbia. With his inauguration in 2014, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) began an era of independence for the agency and accountability to District residents. As the chief legal officer for the District of Columbia, Attorney General Racine relies on his 25 years of legal and leadership experience to advise the Mayor and District agencies, defend the city in court, and use the law to advance the public interest. He has prioritized data-driven juvenile justice reform, consumer protection efforts aimed at assisting the District’s most vulnerable residents, measures to advance democracy and safeguard public integrity, and legal actions to protect affordable housing in communities across the District. In line with those priorities, since taking office, Attorney General Racine has helped to end mandatory shackling of juveniles appearing before D.C. Superior Court and led the way to increase options for the rehabilitation of low-risk juvenile offenders. A diversion program that helps these young people get and stay on the right track has so far achieved a success rate of more than 80 percent; under Attorney General Racine, OAG has increased participation in the program five-fold, positively impacting lives and increasing public safety. In 2015, Attorney General Racine established a standalone Office of Consumer Protection within OAG focused on outreach, education, and legal actions to protect consumers. He has brought tens of millions of dollars to the District through settlements and judgments in cases against corporate wrongdoers. He has also initiated lawsuits aimed at preserving safe and habitable affordable housing. Attorney General Racine has broad and deep legal experience, with a career that spans representing indigent residents in the D.C. Public Defender Service and volunteering as a law student in a clinic supporting migrant farm workers’ rights to serving as Associate White House Counsel in the first Clinton Administration and practicing white-collar and commercial litigation with leading law firms. Attorney General Racine was the first African-American managing partner of a top-100 US law firm, Venable LLP, where he led a team of over 600 attorneys, and has also served on the District’s Judicial Nomination Commission. A lifelong District resident, Attorney General Racine attended Murch Elementary School, Deal Junior High School, Wilson High School, and graduated from St. Johns College High School. He also played basketball in youth sports leagues across the city. Attorney General Racine’s deep commitment to equal justice was inspired by his parents, who fled authoritarian rule in Haiti to start a new life in the United States, and by the lawyers of the Civil Rights Movement, who used the law to effect positive social change. Outside of his official role, he remains involved with a variety of causes, including youth literacy and mentoring. Racine earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Marie St. Fleur is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children. Prior to this role, Marie St. Fleur was elected to serve in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1999, and is the first Haitian-American elected to state office in the United States. As the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, Arts and Humanities, St. Fleur championed two-way bilingual education and alternative education, and led the establishment of the new Massachusetts Board and Department of Early Education and Care. Born in Grande-Rivière-du-Nord, Haiti, St. Fleur immigrated to the United States as a child. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, St. Fleur earned a Law Degree from Boston College Law School in 1987. Following graduation, she served as a Law Clerk in the Massachusetts Superior Court. St. Fleur began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County. In 1991, she became an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth as civil litigator in the state and federal courts. Later, as Chief of the Unemployment Fraud Division, Representative St. Fleur managed a staff of Assistant Attorneys General, investigators, and support personnel, in the investigation and prosecution of unemployment fraud. St. Fleur most recently served as Chair of The Advisory Council for the Haiti Fund at The Boston Foundation, and is on the board of directors of the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, and Project Hope. St. Fleur is a former trustee of the Boston Bar Foundation and past President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. She has been featured on WCVB Television’s City Line and Chronicle, WGBH Television’s Greater Boston, Boston Magazine and Commonwealth Magazine.
Yamiche Alcindor is a national political reporter for The New York Times and a political contributor for NBC News. At The Times, she writes about the impact President Donald Trump’s policies have on the social safety net and working class people as well as the nationwide protest movement opposing Mr. Trump. She also often writes about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. Since joining the paper in 2015, she’s traveled extensively to closely cover the presidential campaigns of Senator Bernie Sanders and Mr. Trump. Previously, she was a national breaking news reporter for USA TODAY and split her time covering quickly developing incidents and stories about the social issues affecting the United States. In that position, she traveled across the country to cover stories including the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. and the police related protests in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Md. She also spends time producing videos and documentaries about societal concerns such as wrongful convictions and gun violence.