April 22, 2021 – Click below to view our 2020 Annual Report!
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Luc Castera is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and business leader who has founded multiple successful companies, including job509.com, htmlsig.com, businesscards.io, and octopi.co. He was born and raised in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and has degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and Georgia Institute of Technology. Currently, he is serving as Engineering Manager at QuickNode, a developer platform for blockchain-powered applications. Luc has been a board member of Roots of Development since July 2022.
Jenna Willits’ career has spanned more than 13 years in the Retail Industry including Financial Planning positions at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Alexis Bittar, Elie Tahari and most recently Ramy Brook as the Senior Director of Retail Planning. In 2019 after relocating from New York City with her family back to Massachusetts, Jenna shifted careers to the Food and Beverage Industry as Director of Business Development at La Bonne Maison, and is currently Chief Operating Officer at Ivory and Bone Interiors. Jenna specializes in establishing and maintaining relationships, financial planning, forecasting and deep analysis including advanced Microsoft Excel skills etc.
Jenna received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (minoring in both Education and Urban Development & Social Change) and Masters of Public Administration from Clark University in Worcester, MA. While studying at Clark, Jenna travelled abroad for semesters in London and Israel as well as a stint at American University (for the Brasil Practicum) in Washington, DC, where she was first introduced to Roots President & CEO Chad Bissonnette and has thus been a supporter of Roots of Development since inception. Jenna and her family reside in Needham, MA.
Christopher Wells is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the Personalized Medicine Coalition, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to advance a new approach to health care involving the use of diagnostic tests to confirm that a treatment will work for a particular patient before it is prescribed. Wells, a published expert in public affairs and nonprofit management, oversees the development of the Coalition’s marketing and communications messages and leverages a comprehensive portfolio of digital and traditional communications tools with an international reach. He also oversees content development for the Annual Personalized Medicine Conference at Harvard Medical School.
Prior to joining PMC, Wells worked as a research assistant at Binghamton University, where he graduated with a master’s degree in public administration and received the University’s Department of Public Administration Alpha Student Award. He also holds a B.A. from the State University of New York at Brockport, where he was honored with Department Scholar’s Awards in both journalism and international studies.
Jean François Bauer was born and raised in France. After earning a PhD in economics from the Sorbonne, he joined the World Bank where he worked primarily on infrastructure projects in Africa and South East Asia. A major lesson he has drawn from his experience is that, without community support, the “best” projects will not succeed. He sees his involvement with Roots as a way of applying this lesson.
Karl Racine is a Haitian American political and legal leader who served as the first independently elected Attorney General for the District of Columbia from 2015 to 2023 and has recently joined the elite global law firm, Hogan Lovells, as a litigation partner in their Washington, DC, office, leading its State AG practice. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia School of Law, and, with his mother, produced the first-ever Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary. In addition to becoming the first Black managing partner of a top-100 law firm, he served as a Public Defender for the District of Columbia and as associate White House counsel under the Clinton administration. During his tenure as DC Attorney General, Karl became a national figure, using his office to pursue juvenile justice reform, protect consumers from unfair business practices, advance democracy, and preserve tenant rights.
Brenda is Director of Global Regulatory Policy at Merck, a multinational pharmaceutical company, where she focuses on US regulatory policy for vaccines and infectious diseases. She holds a BA from the University of Delaware, a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder, a JD from George Washington Law School, and a MPH from Johns Hopkins University. She has past tenures at the health care consulting firm Avalere Health, the law firm Finnegan, and FasterCures, a Center of the Milken Institute. Brenda has been a board member of Roots of Development since January 2023.
Rudy Brioche, a Haitian American, is Vice President & Policy Counsel at Comcast. He has served on the board of Roots of Development since 2019, and just concluded his tenure as Vice Chair. He holds a BA from Rutgers University, a law degree from the University of Maryland, and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School. He has also served as Legal Advisor to the FCC Commissioner and Counsel to the United States Senate.
Team East Hampton High School is a group of students from East Hampton, Connecticut, led by their teacher, Emily Van Dyck. Groups from East Hampton have been raising money for Roots of Development since 2009. Join them in raising money for the La Gonave Community Leadership & Development Center!
Barbara lives in Connecticut with her husband, Steve. Steve and Barbara have been Subway pioneers since 1975, at one point owning 10 stores before becoming development agents for Subway, managing and advising a territory of 115 independently owned and operated Subway restaurants. They are now retired. Steve and Barbara have been supporters of Roots of Development since 2012.
Capital Springs is a group of Roots of Development supporters in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. They invite others in the DMV and elsewhere to join their team and help them raise the most money for the La Gonave Community Leadership & Development Center!
Aurelie Mathieu is a first-generation Haitian American blazing trails in the law realm and serving her community in the DC-metro area. She currently serves as attorney advisor for the Federal Communications Commission. Before joining the FCC, Aurelie served as Assistant Attorney General for Policy and Legislative Affairs for Attorney General Karl A. Racine, where she advocated for housing, immigration, criminal justice and consumer protection policies. She is working on policies to bridge the digital divide and prevent digital discrimination in her current role. Aurelie received her Juris Doctorate from the American University Washington College of Law. Aurelie has been a supporter of Roots of Development since 2020.