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Caribbean-American Heritage Month 2019 Guest Contributor Post: We Are A Voice That Cannot Be Ignored

As a Haitian-American woman born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, raised in Miami, FL by very loving and supportive parents, giving back to others was never an option in our household, but a way of life. It was a critical part to my upbringing—a principle lived out daily through consistent gestures and acts of kindness to others. As a proud student at Florida A&M University (FAMU), I did not consider politics as a career, but rather a calling to serve the least, the underserved, the forgotten and the voiceless.

An opportunity to impact the minds of the youth and young adults; to carry out our God-given right towards civil liberty where brown and black communities are a part of the electoral process.

My roadmap into the political landscape began after being laid-off from an international business development career in the private corporate sector, where I developed, managed and traveled to over twelve (12+) Caribbean countries for an education corporation. After years of wanting to leave this company, the lay-off became my blessing in disguise! It opened a door with the 2016 Hillary for America Presidential campaign, where I became the Haitian-American Coalition Director for the State of Florida. It was then that I experienced the importance of mentorship for Caribbean women in politics and the dire need to include us in conversations that occur at the senior level. I had a platform in which I could use my voice for a greater good! As a Caribbean-American woman, I was needed.

Although I’ve always been civically engaged, even serving as an executive director of a political action committee, I entered the presidential race “green”; a newbie. But that newness came with a passion for a cause and determination to give Haitian-Americans a solid voice as a voting electorate. I had a hunger for change at every level of politics. I was mentored, nurtured and developed by other amazing women of Caribbean descent, who came before me who laid a roadmap for me to be great! Although I was excited and ready to jump back into a career in corporate America, denying my calling in politics, I continued to work on other local and national political races, such as a gubernatorial and U.S. senate race. It also led me to co-founding a political consulting and fundraising firm that helps define and prioritize political and fundraising strategies for Democrat candidates.

As a former campaign director for both a presidential and U.S. senate race, partner of a firm and President of the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida, I’ve been blessed to lobby on Capitol Hill with members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress on foreign issues concerning immigrant communities. Through this work as a Caribbean brown girl, I find it imperative that we increase representation of Caribbean women of color in politics. That those in key political positions listen to us, value our expertise and respect what we bring to the process. It is through our resilience, faith in God, foundation in family and dedication to our community, that Caribbean women are equipped with the skills and toughness to navigate through the changing political climate - that’s what makes us needed in the political process. We are a voice that cannot be ignored, and I am proud to be one of those voices creating a mark and pathway for another talented, skilled, smart and beautiful Caribbean brown girl to make her grand entry.

Dr. Cassandra Arnold, MBA is a Partner at Diverse Strategy Group and the President of Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida.

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