X

NAAHP Blog

Vania Andre

5.18.2015

Leadership Spotlight

Tell us about yourself

I’m a first-generation Haitian American, born and raised in New York. I grew up in Cambria Heights, a community in Queens with a large Haitian population. Growing up in a close-knit community, where many of my neighbors and friends came from the same cultural background as me, enforced the traditions and customs of Haiti in my heart.

I attended Hofstra University, where I received my bachelors in psychology and public relations, and my masters in journalism. I’m currently the editor in chief of Haitian Times. I’m also a part of the Haitian American Caucus, where I assist with their communication and outreach efforts.

What led you to pursue your career?

I’ve always had an interest in writing and storytelling. As a child, I was obsessed with shows and movies like Ghost Writers and Harriet the Spy. Even though I had an interest in writing, I never seriously considered it a career option until my first year out of college. A colleague of mine at the time was running a small paper and offered me a position, after finding out I was editor in chief of one of my school’s papers. That was the first time it dawned to me that this is a path I should follow.

How were you able to get started?

Taking that first writing job, gave me confidence to branch out. I took time to understand the media industry, and made sure to expose myself to the different ways people tell stories. I’ve been blessed to have opportunities open up to me in TV, print and online — all which have helped me become a better journalist.

When did you realize that you were making real progress with your career?

I realized I was making real progress in my career when my work started to speak for me. I would meet people who had either read my articles or was familiar with me as a journalist.

What have been some of your professional highlights?

Taking on this role, running Haitian Times, is the highlight of my professional career so far.

Although I’ve worked at big companies like NBC Universal and ABC News, my roles there weren’t as impactful and fulfilling as the work I do for Ht.

I’m at the very beginning of my career, and haven’t accomplished a fraction of what I’ve set out to achieve for myself. I have no doubt that this is the start of a great journey.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve had to face?

Challenges that I’ve had to face include, juggling a heavy workload, and having limited resources.

Whether you’re employed at a major news network or are a freelancer, the media industry is all about having an entrepreneurial spirit. There’s a shortage of money and resources to some degree on all levels. This forces journalists to become a “jack of all trades.”

Do you personally know other Haitians in your field?

Yes. I’ve come across and had the pleasure to work with several other Haitian journalists who all have a passion for reporting on community news and playing their part in changing the narrative of Haiti. I see this especially with first generation Haitian Americans, who have a sincere want to present the best of Haiti.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you most admire?

Maureen Sullivan, president of AOL.com. She’s only 32 years old and is leading one of the biggest digital media brands today. In less than two years she was able to take AOL.com from seventh on industry ranking charts, to number 1. She understands her readers and has surrounded herself with a team of millennials who have an innate skill for finding content audiences will gravitate to.

Do you feel as though you’ve helped break barriers?

In a way. Although, I’m not the first woman to run a publication, I do come across people who are surprised to find out that a young woman is running Haitian Times.

What do you feel is next for your career?

Taking Haitian Times to the next level and expanding how we share stories about what’s going on in communities all over the country.

Do you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else?  How has that experience changed you?

I’ve had a few mentors along this journey. The first was a college professor who encouraged me to pursue journalism and saw something in me before I did. Right now, the publisher of Haitian Times, Garry Pierre-Pierre, has really taken me under his wing. He’s given me direction in all areas of running a publication – from the business aspect, to editorial tips. Working with him as changed how I view the industry as a whole, and see opportunities where I previously thought there weren’t any.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Pursue a career in something that truly interests you. Don’t make it about the money.

What do you think can be done for Haiti to develop financial assistance without having to be reliant upon others in times of crisis?

I think the first step is supporting our Haitian professionals and businesses here in the Diaspora. The money from that support will find its way to Haiti either through strategic partnerships or business deals. We should rely on the wealth of knowledge and expertise that the Diaspora has amassed and use that to develop Haiti.

Do you believe a campaign highlighting the positives of Haiti would be worth exploring to take away the stigma of it being impoverished?

It is worth exploring, but it will take much more than just a campaign. Those have been done before, and while it does make nice for publicity, the stigma won’t change until there is real improvement for the masses in Haiti – not just the Diaspora or elite.

Would you recommend NAHP to Haitian students and professionals? Why?

Yes. I advocate joining any organization that brings you closer to your peers and like-minded people. It’s all about community support. There’s real power in that.

NAAHP
NAAHP

National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals

NAAHP is focused on connecting a global community of peers with career advancement resources as well as fostering transformative relationships to strengthen Haiti through philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

Comments are closed.

You may also like