Last week Mercy Corps hosted the Haitian Minister of Tourism, Patrick Delatour, in Washington, DC to spur thinking about how the government, private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can work together to promote recovery in Haiti.
Held on an outdoor patio on Capitol Hill, more than 60 guests — including members of the Obama Administration and Congress, leaders in business and the NGO world, and experts on Haiti — convened with a shared commitment to Haiti’s development. Among the guests were the Haitian Ambassador, Raymond Joseph; Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana; and Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey.
The reception underscored the importance of multi-sector engagement around the theme “Partnerships for Development.” Minister Delatour was the keynote speaker on the subject in a lineup that included Nancy Lindborg of Mercy Corps; Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; Mark Schneider, a Haiti expert at the International Crisis Group; and Eleni Kalisch, a Vice President at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. All echoed the importance of coordination and sustained engagement in Haiti’s reconstruction.
Professional events are a dime a dozen in DC, but I was particularly impressed by the diversity of the audience at this reception. Haitian small business owners spoke with Red Cross officials; the Haitian Ambassador met with executives from the apparel industry. It was this sort of spontaneous dialogue that we hoped would lead to new perspectives and spark creative solutions.
As the co-mingling subsided and the crowds receded, the guests left the event with the colleagues they had arrived with. But, if our ultimate measure of success if realized, this cross-pollination of leaders will have planted the seeds of partnerships for recovery in Haiti.