2022 NHAEON Retreat Agenda

leadership retreat
2022 agenda

moving forward, together!

official retreat Itinerary

Friday, January 28, 2022

Host Hotel: Phoenix Chandler Marriott
4:00 PM-6:00 PM

Welcome Reception & Networking

7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Marriott Phoenix Chandler
The Welcome Reception is where Retreat participants can reconnect with old friends and make new ones. This interactive networking offers dynamic opportunities to learn, exchange policy ideas, best practices, and network with a diverse group of policymakers, corporate and philanthropic leaders, and others from across the country. The Welcome Reception provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to meet & greet members of NHAEON and connect with them during and even after the retreat.


8:30 PM – 11:30 PM




Saturday, January 29, 2022

7:15 AM



 (NHAEON Members & Paid Retreat Attendees Only)


8:00-4:00 PM

  • 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM



    Christine Ellis, NHAEON Retreat Chair & Councilwoman, City of Chandler, Arizona 

    Opening Remarks:

    Dr. Alix Desulme, NHAEON Chairman & Vice Mayor, City of North Miami, Florida


    Theme: Importance of Keeping the Flame Ignited

    Mary Estime-Irvin, Councilwoman, City of North Miami, Florida 

    Former Mayor Joseph Champagne, Borough of South Toms River, New Jersey  

    Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Cook County, Illinois 

9:15 AM – 9:45 AM

  • Living with a New Pandemic: COVID-19 Best Practices for Testing, Vaccination, Community Education, and Outreach

    • As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our communities, we are forced to create a new normal while also doing everything we can to keep our communities safe. In this panel, we learn what municipal and state-level leaders are doing to educate their communities about the virus. Additionally, we will learn about creative outreach strategies that have been effective in providing accurate information around vaccines and testing. NHAEON Mayors will discuss the challenges they faced and what strategies they used in their communities to battle this global pandemic. 


Moderator:  Phara Souffrant, Assemblymember, New York State Assembly- District 57


Speaker(s): Philippe Bien-Aime, Mayor, City of North Miami, Florida 

                     Michele Delisfort, Mayor, Township of Union, New Jersey 


9:50 AM – 11:00 AM

  • Haiti: Shifting the Narrative

Haiti has made considerable strides towards economic recovery and political stability since democratic elections were held in 2006. The United States, responsible for the Haiti dossier at the UN Security Council, has been its guardian power par excellence since it invaded and subsequently occupied the country in 1915. The US remains the ultimate judge and decision-maker in Haiti’s political struggle. Last year, the country saw disaster after disaster. Today the situation is at its worst. Many are looking for answers to the diaspora and have dreamed this current administration would be the beacon of hope; unfortunately, it has been the opposite.


Moderator:  Farah Louis


Speaker(s): Paule Villard, Commissioner, North Miami Beach, Florida

Jean Senat Fleury, Town Meeting Member, Brookline, Massachusetts 

Samson Borgelin, Commissioner, North Lauderdale, Florida

  • NHAEON Working Lunch
  • A Special Presentation from Waymo

11:05 AM – 12:00 PM

  • Civic Engagement: Eye on 2022

    • This year is an important election year for many communities, but also for our nation as a whole. As Haitian-American leaders, we have a duty to encourage our constituents to be civically engaged. This panel will provide strategies for mobilizing communities as we prepare to cast our ballots later this year. And, for those who represent districts with a large Haitian population, this will be an opportunity to strategize around coalescing the Haitian-American vote.


Moderator: Claudette David, Commissioner, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3F05


Speaker(s): Rodneyse Bichotte, Assemblymember, New York State – District 42

                     Christine Ellis, Councilwoman, City of Chandler, Arizona 


12:00 PM – 1:00 PM LUNCHEON Plenary Speaker 


Conversation with Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Florida – District 20


1:00 PM- 1:30 PM

  • Creating Workforce Opportunities for Haitian Americans in the Build Back Better Plan (The Build Back Better: Opportunities for State and Local Government)

    • The Build Back Better Act (BBBA) Framework will set the United States on course to create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. The BBBA Framework promises to bring down costs and strengthen the middle class. With $40 billion in overall funding directed towards higher education and workforce development programs, the BBBA framework increases the Department of Labor’s annual spending on workforce development by 50% for the next five years. This is a historic investment that looks to close the gap in federal funding for workforce development that has been cut by nearly 40% over the last two decades. In this panel, attendees will learn about what this can mean for local and state governments and learn about various examples of how this funding can be used to directly impact our communities. 

Speaker(s): Arthur H. Sorey, III, City Manager, City of North Miami Beach, Florida

Vladimir Sterlin, Senior Director of Policy & Government Affairs, Brooklyn Chamber of          

                                 Commerce, New York 


1:30 PM- 2:00 PM

  • Haitian Refugees in Legal Limbo: The Double Standard in Treatment

    • As we recall the horrific images of the treatment of Haitians at the Texas-Mexico border, we cannot help but ask ourselves how we arrived at this point–both literally and figuratively. In this panel, immigration advocacy leaders will discuss the disparate treatment of Haitians entering the United States at various points of entry. Attendees will learn about what they can do to be effective in their advocacy and how they can leverage their positions and resources to assist our brothers and sisters seeking refuge in the United States. 

Speaker(s): Marleine Bastien, Executive Director, Family Action Network Movement (FANM)

                    Guerline Jozef, Executive Director, Haitian Bridge Alliance


2:00 PM- 2:30 PM

Women in Leadership

    • Who runs the world? WOMEN! In this panel, attendees will hear from women leaders on the importance of women being at the helm of an organization. Attendees will also learn about ways to empower women in the workplace and throughout the community, while also learning about how to be more supportive of women in leadership. 

Speaker(s): Gepsie Metellus, Executive Director, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, 

                     Theresa Therilus, Esq., City Manager, City of North Miami, Florida


2:30 PM – 2:40 PM

2:40 PM – 3:00 PM

  • Haitian Powerhouse Panel Discussion

Haitian Powerhouse is the gathering place of Haitian Political Power, where we seek to build community engagement through education and awareness of civic and social matters. We aim to influence policy and the decision-making processes that affect our communities both here and abroad by unifying as one powerful voice.

Speaker(s): Mahadya J. Mary


NHAEON 13th Annual Member’s Only sessions 

Convening: 1:00-4:00 PM 


  • Strategies on Creating Impactful Legislation: How to Put Your Constituents First!

    • When we commit to serving the public, we often do so because of our passion for service to the people. After elections, it can sometimes be difficult to balance our passion for service with the requests of developers, lobbyists, and special interest groups. In this panel, we will learn what we must do to effectively prioritize our constituencies and how we can achieve a shared vision that brings out the greater good for the community. 


Speaker: Alix Desulme, NHAEON Chairman & Vice Mayor, City of North Miami 



  • Immigration & Voting Act Legislation on the Local, State, and Federal Level

Immigration and voting rights are two issues that have hotly debated in Congress and within our communities. As we watch bills move through the Congress and Legislature, we must think creatively about how to protect our communities from attacks on their families and their voting rights. In this panel, attendees will learn about policies that can be proposed at the local and state level to ensure that our communities are protected. 


Moderator: Vanessa Joseph, Esq., City Clerk, City of North Miami


Speaker(s): Marie Woodson, State Representative, FL House of Representatives, District 101

Aniece Germain, Councilwoman, City of Cranston

2:30 PM – 2:40 PM BREAK 

2:40 PM – 3:00 PM (NHAEON Members Only) School Board Panel 

  • Haitian Students: Challenges and Issues 

Few would argue that the state of our education system has plenty of room for improvement, especially Bilingual education. However, developing a plan to take schools in the right direction is easier said than done. The first challenge lies in identifying underlying problems keeping students from learning today. This challenge, in part, is because the problems may change considerably depending on who is labeling them, whether it is students, parents, educators, or lawmakers. Haitian students faced more challenges and barriers such as economics, language, racial, cultural, and individual differences. 


Speakers: School Board Members: Sylvain Joseph & Godfrey Azima 

Moderator: Rita Joseph, Councilwoman, Brooklyn, New York 

3:00  PM – 3:30 PM (NHAEON Members Only) Judicial Panel

  • Educating members about the Judicial System

This session will focus on how the judicial system and its impact on our youth and daily lives. In this session members will learn about how the state judicial branches are usually led by the state supreme court, which hears appeals from lower-level state courts. Court structures and judicial appointments/elections are determined either by legislation or the state constitution.


Moderator: Karl A, Racine, District of Columbia Attorney General 

Speakers: Judge Dweynie E. Paul, Judge Lody Jean, Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM (NHAEON Members Only)

  • Guiding Our Work in 2022 and Beyond -Presentation by Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste 


3:45 PM – 4:15 PM (NHAEON Members Only)

  • Setting the 2022 Official NHAEON Domestic Agenda 

Co-Moderators: Chairman Alix Desulme, Dotie Joseph, State Representative, District 108, Florida & Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus McCormick 


4:15 PM – 4:30 PM (NHAEON Members Only) Elections for new Officers 


  • Officers for Executive Board


The National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON) request the honor of your presence at the Annual Leadership Gala being held during the 2022 NHAEON Leadership Retreat to celebrate and honor the historical accomplishments of national and local Haitian American elected officials and the Haitian community-at-large.

Saturday, January 29, 2022
Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Dinner Gala & Program: 7:00 p.m.

Marriott Phoenix Chandler
1600 South Price Road – Chandler, Arizona 85286
Event Attire: Formal or Black Tie Optional

SUNDAY, January 30, 2022


(By Invitation only)

Excursion: Explore the Grand Canyon!  (OPTIONAL)  10AM to 8:00 PM

Click here for tickets



The NHAEON National Leadership Retreat is held every year since 2009 as a method to continuously connect and engage with our members on a wide variety of issues affecting the Haitian American community in the United States and to discuss ways to foster better relationships between the United States and Haiti. The 2022 theme is “Moving Forward, Together!”. This year’s Retreat will gather policy makers from various states who will engage in discussions of major policy issues and is determined to improve relations between the United States as well as in Haiti. This retreat will convene the largest gathering of Haitian American leaders across the nation in the Grand Canyon State. By-Invitation only, nearly 200 business, community, non-profit leaders will attend the events along with over 50 current and former elected officials of Haitian descent from across the nation.

Below are some of the top confirmed attendees from NHAEON attending:

  • U.S. House Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick
  • Former U.S. House Representative Mia Love of Utah
  • District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine


airport info

Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl. Airport
Airport Code: PHX
3400 E Sky Harbor Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Phone: (602) 273-3300


Seize the opportunity to showcase your company’s identity and products as well as market your business at our signature 2022 Leadership Retreat events.

official hotel

Marriott Phoenix Chandler
1600 South Price Road

Chandler, Arizona 85286
Phone: (480) 732-1600


Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Phoenix Chandler/Fashion Center
1100 South Price Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286
Phone: (480) 963-5300


Hilton Phoenix Chandler
2929 W Frye Road
Chandler, Arizona 85224
Phone: (480) 899-7400