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Laura Pincus Hartman

Executive Director, the School of Choice Education Organization Director (Founder, Board Chair)

Director (part-time), Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy and Clinical Professor of Business Ethics, Questrom School of Business, Boston University

Laura Hartman served as Vincent de Paul Professor of Business Ethics at DePaul University for 25 years, among other leadership roles at DePaul, including Director of its Institute for Business & Professional Ethics and Associate Vice President of the University.  In 2015, she helped to establish the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and will continue to complete several responsibilities there this coming year.

In 2010, Laura co-founded l’Ecole de Choix and has served as its Board Chair since that time.  Choix has evolved over the past six years to a point where it is now in need of an executive director and the Board invited Laura to accept an appointment.  She began working in an uncompensated full-time capacity for academic year 2016-2017 and it it is our hope that our financial strategy will support a compensated role from next year onward.

Laura’s efforts in Haiti focus on creating access to resources and capital for people living in the most extreme conditions of poverty, while also demonstrating to both for-profits and non-profits the value of partnering with Haitian entrepreneurs. Previously, she represented DePaul in the design and implementation of the online micro-development, finance and education system for Haitians living in poverty, www.zafen.org (in partnership with Fonkoze). In her work in the private sector, she served for several years as Director of External Partnerships for Zynga.org, the philanthropic arm of Zynga, Inc.

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Ione Cassens

Director of Operations

Ione Cassens is Director of Operations and Communications Director for L’Ecole de Choix, Haiti’s School of Choice.  The elementary school located in Haiti’s countryside provides children living in the most extreme conditions of poverty access to a high quality, trilingual education with a focus on leadership development.  Through her direct and personal work with the students on campus, Ione is able to convey to Choix partners and supporters throughout the world the thoughts and emotions of a community, as she shares their voices through images and student correspondence.

Ione studied photography and journalism at Columbia College, as well as English, Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.   Though she visits Chicago periodically, Ione lives permanently in Haiti.

Board of Directors

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Julie Gedro

Associate Professor of Business, Management and Economics, Empire State College / State University of New York (Board Member)

Dr. Gedro holds a Doctorate of Education in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from the University of Georgia.  Prior to becoming an academic, Dr. Gedro served in Human Resource Management and Development positions of increasing responsibility in the finance, technology and telecommunications sectors in Atlanta, GA.  She has served in senior leadership roles in regional and national non-profit organizations. She is on the editorial boards of academic journals such as the Human Resource Development Review, and Advances in Developing Human Resources. At Empire State College, her research and scholarship have earned numerous awards, such as the Jane Altes Prize for Community Service, and the Susan H. Turben Award for Excellence in Scholarship.  Her research interests include diversity, civility, leadership, and business and sustainability.

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Georgette Jean-Louis

Member, Board Of Governors, Central Bank Of Haiti (Board Member, Treasurer)

Georgette Jean-Louis is a member of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Haiti. Previously, Mme. Jean-Louis served as COO of Fonkoze, the largest alternative bank in Haiti serving a population of people in poverty with both traditional loans and microloans, among other financial services.   Ms. Jean-Louis played a key role in Fonkoze’s response to the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, which included record remittance payouts and the emergency implementation of catastrophe insurance for clients.

Mme. Jean-Louis comes to these positions with over twenty-four (24) years of diversified expertise in various spheres of activities evolving in sectors such as: banking and non-banking financial institutions, public and private institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, of national and international scales and areas including: regulation and supervision, auditing and controls, governance and operations.

Lu Brigham

Account Manager, Commercial Sales, United Airlines (Board Member)

Mr. Brigham is a business person, compassionate individual and passionate explorer of the world.  With an expertise in finance and International Business, his work spans 30 years in the airline Industry with both TWA and United Airlines.  His work experience has included airline financial analysis, marketing, sales and contract negotiations with both US and International airlines.  His wanderlust to see new and different places has taken him to 6 continents, where he loves to see how people work, get through their daily lives and have fun.  One of Lu’s great life accomplishments was as a volunteer for 10 years with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program and raising money to fund cancer research as a participant.  Progressing up to a Running Coach, he trained more than a thousand people to walk or run a half or full marathon, while they were raising money for cancer research.

Leah Bryant

Associate Professor, College of Communication, DePaul University (Board Member)

Dr. Bryant has BA degrees in Speech Communication and Psychology and an MA in Speech Communication from Southwest Texas State University. She received her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Communication Studies.  Her research examines communication challenges in relational contexts and her projects include communication in bereaved families, stepfamily communication, sibling communication, privacy and disclosure in close relationships, and instructional communication strategies affecting teacher-student relationships.  Bryant is a committed member of the DePaul community and within her academic discipline. Within the community, Leah volunteers her time as an adoption counselor at PAWS Animal Shelter, as a Presidential Leadership Council member of the Field Museum, at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Peterson Garden Project.

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Malcolm D. Morris

Principal, MDM Development Architecture Corp. (Board MemberSecretary)

Mr. Morris is an architect with a wide-ranging background in construction and design of commercial and complex residential buildings. Senior roles in large architectural firms, his own firm, his own real-estate development company, and now as an owner’s representative working for a few select clients, reinforce his expertise in architecture, construction management, project management, building systems and details, design and real estate development.  Mr. Morris has served as the Director of Design and Development for FATEM, has played a pivotal role in the design and development of L’Ecole de Choix and, along with local architects, engineers and contractors, has served as the owner’s representative for the construction of the school.

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Rob J. Padberg

Founder And General Manager, Bureau De Nutrition Et Développement (Board Member)

Of Dutch nationality, Mr. Padberg arrived in Haiti in early 1978 after having spent almost ten years in Suriname.  Once in Haiti, he became the General Manager of a Dutch international trading company and at the same time the Honorary Consul General of the Netherlands.  A continued post, at the termination of his last contract in Haïti, with a challenge of the combination of commercial, development and organizational activities in combination with his Consular responsibilities made it possible for him and his family to remain in Haïti and to endeavor to be of service and give a little back to their adopted “home-country.”

Through BND, Mr. Padberg oversees the provision of hundreds of thousands of school meals and snacks to children throughout all of rural Haiti, often with local ingredients.

Vinny Rama

Senior Project Manager, Scholastic Inc. (Board Member)

Vinny Rama is senior project manager at Scholastic, Inc. where manages both individual technology projects and complex, multi-year programs of interrelated projects. His recent projects include cloud transformation strategies, eCommerce business applications and enterprise data warehouse initiatives. Prior to Scholastic, Vinny worked for twenty-five years in the financial district of New York City managing technology projects in the areas of risk management, portfolio management and trade support.

In addition to his day job at Scholastic, Vinny is an adjunct professor in the Philosophy department at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. In 2015 Vinny was recognized with the Award for Adjunct Excellence for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at William Paterson. The award presentation highlighted Vinny’s development of the Ethics and Community Engagement course in which his students discuss ethical issues in the news, and also participate in a practical project that addresses ethical issues in the community. Since 2012, Vinny’s students have fulfilled their community engagement requirement by supporting L’Ecole de Choix. They have hosted fundraisers on campus, sent medical and dental supplies to Haiti, and sponsored individual students at L’Ecole de Choix.

Vinny has also been active in the management of his local community in Packanack Lake, New Jersey. He has served on the Board of Governors for the Packanack Lake Community Association and has participated for over fifteen years in the Packanack Lake Athletic Association as president, commissioner of adult athletics and coach of youth baseball, football, soccer, softball and basketball. In recognition of his many years of volunteer work in support of the Packanack Lake Community, Vinny was inducted into the Packanack Lake Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2012.

Marly Schott

Administrative Assistant of Programming, Chicago Community Trust (Board Member)

Ms. Schott received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago and recently completed her Masters of Nonprofit Management from the Spertus Institute. She spent several years working as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, currently works as a Project Manager in the market research industry, and is looking forward to shifting from the corporate world into the non-profit sector. As a member of the winning team for the 2012 Grameen Foundation’s Social Venture Business Plan Competition, she was introduced to Choix and believes it is a great way for her to combine her background in education with her future in non-profits.

Toni Sottak

Co-founder and Managing Director of Wired Island (Choix Communication Director) (Board Member)

Toni Sottak is co-founder of Wired Island International LLC, a full service, independent PR agency that provides strategic marketing-communications services to companies in high-growth segments in the technology and travel sectors. For the past two decades, Toni has worked with entrepreneurs and technology pioneers, developing and implementing product, corporate and investor communications programs for companies such as: Apple Computer, Autodesk, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and the Turks and Caicos Tourism Board. From Silicon Valley to the Caribbean and now Europe, Toni has lived and worked in three different countries gaining invaluable experience in cross-cultural communications, as well as recognition in a book called Life 2.0 by Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes, that highlights how people transform their life by finding the “where” of their happiness.

Toni serves as Choix’s Director of Communication and is the main point of contact for all press or information inquiries related to Choix.

Nancy Walton

Associate Professor, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University, and Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development on technology-enhanced learning (Board Member)

In addition to her above positions, Dr. Walton is currently the Chair of the Women’s College Hospital Research Ethics Board and also has served as Chair of the Ryerson University Research Ethics Board (2004-2013), Vice Chair of Senate, as well as an elected member on numerous search committees (President, Provost, VP Research, Chief Librarian), policy review committees and task forces.

Dr. Walton has a PhD in Nursing with completion of the Collaborative Program in Bioethics from the University of Toronto (2003) and an undergraduate degree in nursing science from Ryerson (1992). She has published and presented on priority setting and decision-making, ethical considerations of internet-based research,
research ethics board composition, and ethical and legal considerations in other aspects of her research.

Prior to her academic career, her clinical nursing work included roles as a staff nurse, nurse clinician and research associate in cardiology and cardiac surgery. She also worked as a researcher at the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Costa Rican Institute of Research and Education in Nutrition and Health) in Tres Rios de Cartago, Costa Rica (1995-1996).  Dr. Walton was a longstanding member with expertise in ethics on the Research Ethics Board at the Hospital for Sick Children, and has served both community and professional organizations with her medical and ethics expertise.  Notably, in 2016, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards.

She is the Canadian author of the textbook, “Ethics and Issues in Contemporary Nursing” (3rd edition, Nelson, 2017), among others books and journal publications.

Leslie West

Senior Vice President, BCD Travel; Board Chair, BCD Travel Foundation (Board Member)

Ms. West is a global operations executive who created BCD’s first global organization, consolidating disparate divisions and setting the pace for management of large, multi-country groups. Ms. West has been credited in driving account revenue from an $800K annual loss to more than $4M profit. Her flagship product effort—a multiyear, large business intelligence reporting platform project, represents one of the largest initiatives in BCD’s history. Designed to provide customers with an innovative, web-enabled reporting platform, the project represents a shift to the next generation of business intelligence and has positioned BCD Travel in the forefront of the market.

Ms. West’s previous roles include Vice President Travel, Vice President Corporate Travel & Meeting Operations, Vice President of Back Office and Wholesale Leisure Director Operations Leslie managed a large groups of travel counselors, handled meetings, incentives and event management, call centers, managed large facility build-outs and led financial and data aggregation system operations.

Ms. West studied Agricultural Science at Texas A&M University, and holds a Six Sigma Yellow Belt from Motorola University. She is a USCG Licensed Master Captain and member of the American Professional Captains Association and United States Power Squadron.

Advisory Council

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David Sherman

CEO, Sherman Residential (Advisory Council Member)

David A. Sherman is the Chairman of Benj. E. Sherman & Sons, Inc., a Chicago-based real estate firm  focusing on apartment ownership around the country.  Mr. Sherman completed his undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and received his MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Mr. Sherman is vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, immediate past Board Chair of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, an $80 million social service agency, and previously was the chairman of JUF’s Annual Campaign.  Mr. Sherman has received multiple honors and awards for his service and, in 2012, was the youngest person ever to receive the highest honor offered by the Jewish Federation, the Julius Rosenwald Award.

David is married to Susan and they have five children.

Educators and Other Staff

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Jean-Claude

Technology Lab Supervisor

Jean-Claude has completed his studies in Computer Science and is preparing his thesis for his license. He has a superior background in networking programming, has worked as a network administrator for the organization 1000 Jobs – Haiti, and also teaches office automation.  He has also worked as as Computer Center Supervisor for FATEM, the Mirebalais community organization. He speaks Creole, French and English (along with computer languages!) and is originally from the Mirebalais area.

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Wastoode

Educator

Originally from Jérémie, Haiti, Wastoode’s degree is from the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti.  He then taught at Notre Dame d’Altagrac (Delmas 44), at Ecole Evangelique le Lutherien (Delmas 75), and at Ecole Marie Reine Immacule (Jérémie) before joining the Choix faculty this year.

Wastoode dreams about a new form of education for Haiti and believes that education is the true key to changing the world.

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Lominy

Educator

Lominy is originally from Jérémie (Abricots), Haiti.  His degree is from the Education Science at CFEF/FEDM at the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti.  He is also continuing his study of English at the Haitian American Institute.

Lominy believes that children are the light of all society.  The world is facing many difficulties, especially Haiti.  He believes that, to participate in the brainstorming of solutions to those difficulties, children must receive a quality education – they will then be able to help to transform a Haiti of tomorrow.

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Josue

Educator

Bio to come.

Kenson

Kenson

Educator

Bio to come.

Richardson

Richardson

Place of birth? Port au Prince

Name of the university or other professional school attended and location? Collège Universitaire de Christianville (Gressier, Port au Prince)

Years of study there? 2003-2007(Gressier, Port au Prince)

Highest degree earned, and subject of specialization? Licensed in the Sciences of Education (has his bachelors) and currently pursuing a Masters in Education

Why did you decide to become a teacher? Licensed in the Sciences of Education (has his bachelors) and currently pursuing a Masters in Education

Why did you become a teacher? “I decided to become a teacher in order to contribute to effective education in Haiti.”

What do you find to be most inspiring about working at Choix? “The educational environment that promotes better learning. Also I find the school program very interesting and the treatment toward teachers very satisfactory.”

Yves

Yves

Educator

Bio to come.

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