Bennett Rathbun, Co-founder and Executive Director:
Bennett has been an avid music fan all his life and is a full-fledged believer in the transformative power of music as a vehicle for lasting social change. Bennett's professional development transpired at a management consulting firm in New York City working closely with the leading investment banks in the bond market. Upon traveling to Haiti and witnessing firsthand the destruction and human suffering brought on by the massive earthquake of January 2010, he decided to find a way to help make an impact in the country going forward. After forming a close friendship and working partnership with co-founder Pierre Imbert, Bennett and the newly formed Hope on a String team formulated an innovative concept for achieving grassroots social transformation in Haiti and embarked on their current mission. Bennett graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 2007 and has transformed his private sector experience into a role with Hope on a String as co-founder and Executive Director. By night, Bennett is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management from NYU's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service while maintaining his full-time responsibilities with Hope on a String.
Pierre Imbert, Co-founder and Senior Country Advisor:
Born, raised and educated in Haiti, Pierre commands a sophisticated understanding of Haitian culture and the devastated country’s socio-economic framework. Additionally, years of education and experience in the United States have earned him a mastery of community planning, management and public administration. Pierre’s successes include supporting the health, welfare, and integration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in New York, Massachusetts and California. He brings unique expertise to Hope on a String’s team and is poised to leverage two decades of executive experience in not-for-profit, philanthropy and government to advise program implementation and operation as co-founder and Senior Country Advisor.
Lara Berry, Country Director:
Lara’s deep personal commitment to Haiti commenced in 2005, when she first traveled to the country and began volunteering for a grassroots, Haitian-led organization. Lara forged her dynamic skill set in helping this organization thrive, focusing on everything from program management, fundraising, and operational administration. Later, she served as an early responder to the devastating earthquake of 2010, working hand in hand with the Haitian people coordinating supplies and logistics in the ravaged capital. Before joining Hope on a String, Lara spent time working with the International Rescue Committee and the Pacific Council on International Relations in her home state of California. A dancer by training and at heart, Lara brings a creative and vibrant approach to her role as Country Director for Hope on a String. She graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2007 with a degree in Third World Studies.
Jonas Imbert, Music Programming Advisor:
Jonas brings both his education in Music Business and Management from Berklee College of Music and his experience as an active drummer in today’s Haitian music industry to Hope on a String. Currently a member of the legendary Haitian band, Tabou Combo, Jonas also has performed with many important American and international artists and will help Hope on a String integrate native music and international sounds into the Musical Engagement Program. His ability to shape the program to expand the cultural awareness and music education of the Haitian people will be vital in his role as Music Programming Advisor.
Luisa Mariano, Music Programming Advisor:
Luisa has valuable experience in project management and marketing campaigns where music has been used as both an educational and motivational tool. In addition, with her degree in Music Business and Management from Berklee College of Music, Luisa’s creative ideas for Hope on a String will result in a versatile and inspirational program. As Music Programming Advisor, her guidance on instrument collection and educational programming will ensure that Hope on a String leverages the power of music to educate and grow individuals and communities.
Stacie Kosinski, Legal Counsel:
Stacie brings to Hope on a String experience in law, international economic development, community organizing, human rights advocacy and immigration. She is passionate about Haiti and has worked with the Haitian community domestically and abroad. In Haiti, she worked closely with governments, NGOs and private donors to implement development programs in microcredit lending, education and child welfare. In the U.S., Stacie worked as a advocate for Haitian immigrants. Having completed her Juris Doctorate, she is currently a litigation associate at a law firm in Boston, Massachusetts. She will act as counsel for Hope on a String, providing legal guidance to the organization as it develops into a leading nonprofit.
Felix Rigaud, Program Manager:
Felix grew up in Corail, Haiti and is an active participant and leader in Hope on a String’s community development initiatives. Felix is highly respected in the community for his ability to take on tasks that require important leadership skills. He is known for his sense of wisdom and ability to solve complex problems, which he has demonstrated in numerous ways throughout his participation with Hope on a String. Prior to joining the team as program manager, Felix led a team of local electricians in planning and installing the solar electrical system that now powers our community center. Felix's dedication and skills promise to help build our capacity to deliver effective services at Hope on a String.
Marie Ducassema Pierre:
Ducassema is one of Corail's brightest young leaders and she contributes to the Hope on a String community center with the respect and authority. Here's what she has to say about Hope on a String:
I work for Hope on a String because I like to help and share what I know. Hope on a String has given me the possiblity to realize one of my greatest dreams: helping my community. Hope on a String has made me more mature and I have become more confident in the idea that our country is changing.
Since our founding, Watson has been the heart and soul of Hope on a String in Corail. Everyone in the program knows that he's there to help the community come together through music and learning.
I love the idea of Hope on a String. Because of this I started working whole-heartedly. I like to work for advancement and I like the respect I get for my work. I work to help my community advance, for myself to advance economically, and finally because it is a positive thing. And all things positive I like.
Cassandre Weendy Chéry:
Cassandre brings her positive team spirit to all her work at Hope on a String. From handling administration to coordinating badge creation in Port-au-Prince to translating, she's always there to make Hope on a String better.
I work for Hope on a String because I like development and I believe tomorrow can be better. I am ready to rebuild Haiti so if I want to get there I must start rebuilding in the area that I'm from. Moreover, I work for Hope on a String because I feel good about what I do. Hope on a String allows me to know my community better. That is where I need to start to know what is important and rebuild it. Also Hope on a String helps me practice my English more often!
Gilda's reserved nature belies the organization, confidence, and great ideas she has that keeps our small office and community center running smoothly. Whether taking notes during staff meetings or keeping track of our 600+ participants, she's an undeniably crucial part of our team.
I work for Hope on a String because I like the philosophy of Hope on a String and I like to help my community become stronger. I want to participate in changing my country. Hope on a String makes me believe in my capacity to make a little money. I'm happy because with what I make and with Hope on a String, my dreams appear more achievable.