This past summer, I joined the Konbit Sante team, and on October 1, I stepped into my new role as executive director of the organization. It has been a busy three months, as I have been working closely with the former executive director, Dr. Nathan Nickerson (known to most people here and in Haiti as “Nate”) to understand the approach of our work in Cap-Haitien and our long-term partnerships. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the privilege of working closely with our staff members in Maine and in Cap-Haitien to understand the breadth of our work, which includes strengthening the capacity of our healthcare partners and providing access to quality health care to all patients.
I have had the opportunity to connect with our healthcare partners on the ground—Justinien University Hospital, Fort Saint Michel Health Center, Unite de Lutte pour la Sante (ULS), and Haitian Baptist Convention Hospital. It is evident that our partners are tirelessly working to provide access to quality health care to the patients of the greater Cap-Haitien area. Konbit Sante has a long and rich history of partnerships in Haiti as well as globally. During my time over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to connect with our partners in an effort to continue fostering and strengthening those relationships. More so than ever, I understand the value of such partnerships to make impactful changes on the ground. After all, we can accomplish a lot together. As I continue to learn more about our donors, volunteers, and supporters, I am humbled by your commitment and dedication to Konbit Sante. Thank you for trusting us and standing by our side over the years. I look forward to your continued support in this next phase of growth.
As you are aware, Nate has been a part of the organization since its inception along with our founders, Dr. Michael Taylor and Mrs. Wendy Taylor, and he became the organization’s first executive director in 2005. As executive director, Nate developed partnerships with the aforementioned healthcare facilities and with numerous others in the Greater Cap-Haitien area. Nate formulated and strengthened the focus of the organization by constantly looking for ways to better express our mission and values. His clear vision to keep the people of Cap-Haitien in mind, first and foremost, has helped sustain the organization throughout the years. The organization’s approach to strengthen the building blocks of the health system has allowed us to work in various aspects, from management and leadership to health facility infrastructure and from research, data, and evaluation to much more. Notably, Nate worked with our team in Haiti to ensure we retain our legal status in the country, which allows us to maintain a franchise to import humanitarian goods duty-free. This has certainly strengthened the organization’s ability to thoughtfully partner with organizations all over the world in terms of obtaining essential supplies, medicines, and equipment. Through his work at Konbit Sante, Nate has dedicated his time to the people of Cap-Haitien and Haiti.
At this juncture, I would like to thank Nate for his tireless efforts, genuine commitment, and unique vision. Konbit Sante is strong because of his leadership and the collaborative team he has supported, both in Haiti and in the US. While he has stepped down as executive director, he is currently serving in the role of strategic advisor for the organization. There is no doubt that he will continue to advocate for access to quality health care even as he takes on new roles. Please join me in thanking Nate for his vision and leadership.
I am aware that I have big shoes to fill and much more to learn as I transition into my new role. I am excited about this next phase of Konbit Sante. I grew up in a low-resource setting in Tanzania and have previously worked in the field of public health in Haiti. Both experiences helped shape my perspective of public health and what it means to provide access to quality health care to all people. My experiences in the field of infectious diseases, in particular tuberculosis, drive me to advocate for the rights of those who are disproportionately affected. I have enjoyed writing over the years, and while my past publications have focused on issues surrounding homelessness, I now look forward to also writing about our work in Haiti.
I have accepted this position at an interesting time in our world. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased our society’s awareness of public health. Similar to what has transpired due to the pandemic, in countries like Haiti, public health workers are at the forefront striving to strengthen healthcare systems. I look forward to my new role as a leader and as a public health worker. I am committed to promoting the mission of Konbit Sante to support key programs, build strong partnerships, and provide access to quality health care.
In the coming months and years, I look forward to your support. We have a great team of staff and board members along with honorary advisors, volunteers, and donors. I look forward to continuing our work in Cap-Haitien together. I am eager to hear from all of you, so please feel free to reach out via phone or email.