NAAHP Member Spotlight on Daniel Tillias
What led you to pursue your career?
I grew up in Cite Soleil watching many talents of the youth being wasted because of lack of opportunity. I decided to look for alternatives that could help the next generation find their spark and use it for them and their community.
How were you able to get started?
Starting SAKALA in my home town in Cite Soleil, the largest community center for peacebuilding and community development in the neighborhood, to offer alternatives to teens from joining gangs.
When did you realize that you were making real progress with your career?
When the leadership of the community center that I started became more of the past beneficiaries. When gang members would ask us to take their kids in our program.
What have been some of your professional highlights?
Being recognized by CNN as the CNN hero nomination in 2019. Being invited to several important boards to provide personal and professional input for their work.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve had to face?
Foreigners know more of my work than Haitians. Also I choose to continue the work in the midst of so much instability and within a gang violence ridden environment.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
Until the people own it, nothing will work. Also it has to be beyond words, your action needs to match the values set.
Do you personally know other Haitians in your field?
My work gets me to collaborate with many other community leaders.
Do you feel as though you’ve helped break barriers?
Being a role model in Cite Soleil breaks so many barriers. The youth there now believe that with some opportunities anything is possible.
What do you feel is next for your career?*
Engage the Haitian diaspora in creating 100,000 jobs in Haiti every year in environmental and agriculture services through the recently launched initiative called JOB POWER.
Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?*
I have a few mentors and I mentor some of the youth. I learned that no one knows all. You learn more by listening than speaking.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Find their spark and start small right now..
Who or what inspires you?
Haitian history is my inspiration. Knowing what our ancestors did makes me feel that I need to continue in the same route for uplifting people’s lives everywhere.
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
In my back room writing all that comes to mind.